My first dive in Belgium

When Jan joined the diveclub Dolphin Buddys , he started enthousiastically diving in Belgium as well. I remained a "salondiver" as they say in Dutch: a diver only on vacation in hot clear waters.

But after being in the club for 8 months now and seeing Jan and the others leave regularly, it started tickling after all. So I started looking on the internet for some second-hand equipment and got it last week. And Jan couldn't wait to take me along underwater.

I knew that my foreign experience would not add up here in Belgium at all. Diving in cristal clear hot blue water isn't quite comparable at diving in cold water with low visibility. I knew that I'd probably use more air due to this new situation. Yet the incredible hot weekend really made me look forward to jump in the cold water :p.

The biggest challenge was getting dressed in the parking lot. Putting on a double 7 mm neoprene suit with hoot, socks , boots and gloves while it's 27C eum...well it's incredibly hot! Hot hot hot hot. Uncomfortably hot. And then you have to walk across the parking lot, down a little trail down to the little lake. By the time I was there I couldn't wait to jump in anymore!!!

The dive started with some confusion as apparently a cord from one of the vaulves on my BCD was being pulled by other straps without my knowledge. As a result, when I inflated my BCD on one side, I immediately deflated it on the other side. "Jan jan, I'm sinking", I said while I was treading water frantically. He simply thought I was deflating conciously in order to test whether I was wearing enough lead and said "ok good , then we can go down".
"Noooo, I don't want to sink, I hear a leak in my BCD"

Fortunately my BCD was alright, except for the string that was stuck. Once Jan had fixed that, my BCD could get inflated properly...I could float a bit in order to rest before we started our dive.

The dive itself wasn't quite my best dive. It's very strange to dive for the first time with boots and gloves etc. E.g. clearing my ears with those gloves isn't the easiest thing to do. Now that I was wearing boots, I had much more difficulty to keep my buyancy (floating equilibrium). For some reasons my legs always went up and up and I have made some strange tumblings. The nice floating feeling I had in Egypt was totally gone. I believe I'll have to go and buy some ancle lead that many women wear. And keep practising huh...

Other than that I was really glad that I didn't feel cold at all, except for my cheeks at the start. The water at surface was 23C but at -10m it was only 10C anymore. But I now know my double 7mm is sufficient to dive in those temperatures. And I felt ok with diving with lower visibility, although I completely followed Jan's navigation, who has been in this little lake multiple times now and had already done navigation excercises there. And he brought me nicely back to the side after 30 minutes.

me at one of the sunk sculptures


Snooker said…
Hey Goofball, thanks for dropping by my site. Yes, I'm a diver although I haven't been wet this season. We haven't even escaped to a blue water location in the winter which is usually a wonderful way to start.

I know about your feet lifting problem. Before you go buy weights and then have to carry them around, try to shove your tank DOWN as far as you can on your BCD. Usually this problem is because you are unevenly weighted, in this case you would be top-heavy. Test this while being at least 4 meters down.

Another suggestion I can offer to a "blue water diver" is to wear tights/hose/um, whatever you call them on TOP of your bathing suit, UNDER your dive suit. The hose actually keep you a bit warmer underwater AND make it easier to slide in and out of wet neoprene.

I can't wait to read more about your diving adventures!
Lilacspecs said…
Sounds interesting...which lake is it? I've never heard of one here with sunken sculptures. Did it used to be a village?
This sounds interesting, but kind of strange to be diving in waters like this lake.
Haley-O said…
Fascinating! I LOVE that picture of you underwater! Wow!
anno said…
Your pictures make the experience seem so enticing, but in my heart of hearts, the thought of spending any length of time underwater fills me with EXTREME panic. Thanks for letting me enjoy this from warm, dry land.
Goofball said…
@snooker: Hey thanks for taking the time to give me some good advice! It could be very usefull for my next dive! I'll keep it in mind. But I already had the feeling that my tank was low as it bothered me...but Jan says it's not low at all. We'll check it out next time.

@lilacspecs: It's in Ekeren near the Antwerp seaport. It must have been used to dig up sand and later on it's been filled with water and became a little nature green spot. It's not uncommon to sink some "attractions" in lakes that are frequented by divers. In 't Zilvermeer in Mol, they try to create an underwater museum. And in July we'll go nearby Charleroi in some dammned water reservoirs. There would be underwater a bus from "De Lijn" and a helicopter :p.

@Jen: well we have not much choice if you want to keep on practising. This is much more challenging but also rewarding and it truly sharpens your skills. In the estuarium of the Scheldt in the south of the Netherlands are interesting dive spots full of lobsters etc...but you need to be a good navigation diver as visibility is very low there and there are currents.

@ Haley-O / Cheryl/ Anno: thanks! yes it's cool.

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