The great expectations bucket list trip. The take-money-out-of-the savings-account trip. The trip of a lifetime. Or maybe not.
My excitement turned to jitters a few months before my December 2016 departure. During a visit with my orthodontist. A wonderful friend and highly trained scuba diver who’d just returned from the identical Galapagos scuba trip. Same liveaboard yacht – same trip on which I was about to embark.
Our conversation left me feeling uneasy. He’s level headed and not one to exaggerate. He calmly described crazy strong Galapagos currents – so strong a diver needed to hold onto the rocks for dear life or risk being swept away. He described the challenges his dive buddy – a small woman like me – had in the currents. As well, he spoke of rocks so sharp they could rip a hole and flood your drysuit (a drowning hazard). Don’t take an elaborate camera set up, he said. You could lose it and besides you need free hands to hold onto the rocks.
The most worrying bit of info: that a woman diver on the yacht had drowned about a year earlier in November 2015.
What had I gotten myself into?
The Galapagos is known for its tough diving conditions – among the toughest in the world. Cold water and strong currents. I trained in cold water and dive in a drysuit. Wasn’t concerned about that so much.
As for the currents, what exactly is a ‘strong current’? Surely, I was experienced enough. I’d done dives in extremely strong currents in the Sea of Cortez, Cozumel, Bali, and in Palau at the Blue Corner dive site. Where we had to hook ourselves onto the rocks. I handled all of it like a champ.
Of course, I’d be okay in the Galapagos. I met the experience criteria outlined by the liveaboard operator and then some. As well, I planned to carry ALL the recommended safety gear, which I’d also practiced using. I’d been running and weight training. What possibly could go wrong?
Quite a few things, it turned out.
To be continued…