So much waiting, so much rain!

Nine weeks after finishing Anui’s maintenance at the Boat Works, we are still on the Gold Coast. So much waiting and rain… and you know how much we like that!

We have used the time as best we could but overall it has been tedious. Things did not exactly go to plan. Why is it taking so long to get away? COVID, avoidance of cyclones, persistent wet and stormy weather, medical checks all combined to limit where we could go and to keep us in SE Queensland.

Another soggy day in paradise

While hanging around, we have of course taken the opportunity to do some maintenance on Anui and on the crew! Winches greased, corroded TV aerial fiddled with and new one ordered, first COVID jab for Chris, skin checks and biopsies (all clear) and even a visit to the vet for Bengie for anti inflammatories as she is a bit arthritic…

Feeling a bit sleepy

We had just about made up our mind we’d leave next week but then Wade discovered fraudulent transactions on his credit card and we need to stay here until his replacement card arrives! So we keep waiting and waiting and waiting.

Freediving Training

Training for free diving has been a good way of using the time but here too we have had delays. The last part of the course is the ocean session during which you gradually dive down to 20 meters and practise rescues, but it requires a calm day without swell. With the bad weather conditions it has been cancelled several times. After a week of 20-40 knot wind, bucketing rain, 3 to 4 meter swell out in the ocean we are hoping the conditions improve and we can finish the course. It is excitement plus as we are booked on the dive boat for Saturday! If it does not happen we will leave without the certification and finish that off at the end of the year when we come back south.

Photo credit: Gold Coast Freediving

The good thing is that with all the waiting, we have had time to practise and get the requirements of the program down pat: breath hold, underwater swims, duck dives, equalizing techniques, safety protocols. Much of this is done either at the pool or on board. Apnea training and learning a new equalisation technique can be done sitting on the couch or lying on the bed!

Is it all worth it? Definitely. Is it hard? Quite hard for Chris and not particularly pleasant for either of us! But we have improved a great deal. As with anything that puts your body through extremes, there are practical and mental learnings.

The most significant practical skill was learning the Frenzel equalisation technique. Most people equalise the pressure in their middle ears as they dive by pinching their nose and blowing, thus ‘popping’ their ears. This is called the Valsalva method. You do this snorkeling, you certainly use it scuba diving, when you are going down at a gentle angle or descend feet first at a slow pace. But Valsalva does not work with freediving because you go down head first, vertically and quickly while trying to conserve the limited air in your lungs. The Frenzel equalisation method teaches you to use your tongue and soft palate to direct the air in your mouth to your Eustachian tubes. It is a game changer for efficient and painless descents but it is a change of habit so takes time and practice.

On the mental side, it is the mind over body challenge that is remarkable: the emotional control to stay calm, resist natural urges and condition your body to deal with higher levels of CO2 and lower O2.

We have stretched our usual breath hold and diving depth boundaries well beyond what we could do before, but we are also very much aware that we are not youngsters nor are we particularly fit thus need to be very careful. There are increased risks with age and health conditions, so at the very least the course is teaching us how not to kill ourselves freediving!

A word of warning: if you wish to learn free-diving, ensure you take an accredited course for your own safety. And don’t assume that because you can scuba dive you can free dive; they use different techniques and safety protocols.

Photo credit: Barefoot Yachts Indonesia

At least by the time we can escape, the cyclone season will be nearly over and we will be able to head off for our up and coming season at the reef. Can’t wait to put all that training to good use!

21 thoughts on “So much waiting, so much rain!

  1. Wow, the credited photos are beautiful! I hope your weather calms soon so that you guys can complete your training. Bengie is a beautiful cat, I hope she feels better soon, sweet kitty. I think you are into the winter season there now, Las Vegas has begun its spring warm-up. Soon it’ll be 115F again. 🔥🌴

    • Hi John, they’ve just confirmed the freediving session for Saturday! Fingers and toes crossed! It’s autumn here… nearly the end of the cyclone season!

      • That’s good news, have fun finishing your training. That’s too scary for me to be down so far from air. No wonder you’ve got so much rain, stay dry!

  2. Oh man … I now understand about the waiting. We had six weeks at Beauty Point (Tamar River), waiting for a suitable weather window to cross Bass Strait. Oh boy did it mess with my head! Questioning my decision making. I didn’t realise there were three other boats also waiting: one longer than us. We all left within an hour or so of each other. A little convoy on AIS. I felt better after that.

    • It does your head in, Pete, particularly when it is not just wind but bucketing rain and you can’t get off the boat! You got to find ways of passing the time: vids, breath holding comps 😆!
      And now you probably have some waiting at the Lakes before you get around the corner! At least Cunninghame jetty is handy to everything!

  3. Yes I can imagine. We stayed at anchor for three weeks, then the the Yacht Club marina, once we realised we would be there until Easter (as the locals had told us all along!) My brother is meeting us for the leg to Sydney, so we are here until the 17th at least. We’ve been waiting for the Easter crush to settle before heading into the lakes for a look-see. Next week looks good.

  4. Really enjoying the insights into your free diving development in particular. I think I’d like to do similar at some stage. We’re getting ready to depart Melb, northward bound in a couple of weeks. We were lucky enough to have a lovely 6 week stint down in Tassie in Jan/Feb; and have pleasant crossings each way. Hope the weather improves up your way soon and you get on your way, Good Sailing Bryn & Kerry (Nautilus II)

    • Nice to hear from you guys. Tassie is always special. We hope to go back there next summer for a change of scenery. The free diving has been an education in mind and body control! But we know we will enjoy our time at the reef more with this training! Hope to see you somewhere along the way.

  5. Layout are nearly there, I hope tomorrow goes well and you both pass. Then it’s way up north you go.

    • No Mick – you’re supposed to hold the breath in, not blow it out! On the other hand blowing up your air mattress might help you hyperventilate 🌬😂

  6. Waiting is hard–you never get used to it. Somehow I think that impatience is the normal human condition, at least in Western societies. It is good to see that you are managing to stay productive. Every time that you describe the breathing techniques for free diving, Chris, it seems harder and more complicated, but clearly you are making progress. I hope the weather cooperates so that you can get the certification. As always, it is great to see Bengie–she looks so sweet when she is sleeping.

    • Hi Mike… the breathing technique is simple: you hold your breath… well simple to explain, hard to achieve! It’s probably the technique to equalise the inner ear as the pressure builds when you dive down that is hard to both explain and do. There is nothing very easy about freediving really, both physically and mentally. We are glad we have now completed the course!

      Bengie is getting older and sleeps a lot, but seems contented and healthy apart from being a bit stiff. We are hoping the course of long term anti inflammatories will perk her up.

      • Congratulations on completing the course. Your description of Bengie sounds hauntingly familiar and could apply to me as well–“is getting older and sleeps a lot, but seems contented and healthy apart from being a bit stiff.” Have a wonderful week, Chris.

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