When I arrive at White Strand I reverse the van into the parking space. This way I don’t have to stand barefoot or on my diving socks on the chippings when I change into my wetsuit as there is a concrete pavement alongside the grass. Moreover I can sit comfortably on my bed and possibly read or write while keeping an eye on the bay in case Dusty appears. But before I take my observation post I lay everything ready so I can change as fast as possible. Of course I can go in even a lot faster if I go into my suit right away, but I seem to be slightly allergic to neoprene as after a while my forearms begin to itch. Also I like to pee before I go into the water so it does not go inside my suit while out there or shorten my dive.
I pull the monofin out of the woodwork above my table and lay it upon the little bank that runs along the concrete pavement. Next I take the waterwing out from between my two spare ones behind the chairs in my cockpit. Then my weight belt and I am ready for my software. I hold my red Ortlieb bag upside down and all of my still soaking wet gear falls out. First I take my suit outside out by inserting my arm into the trouser-legs and sleeves and pulling the cuffs through them. I slap the sand, if any, from the insides of my diving socks to prevent a ‘round wound’, or else I can’t swim for a week. Then these also go outside out and are pulled on. This way my feet go through my trouser-legs a lot easier and also my socks get to be inside. On the outside they may slip down by the drag and only slow me down. Then I put on my togs. This is the coldest part. As my wetsuit is very tight around my body it is quite a wrestle to get it up to my collarbone. Only then my arms go in, first the left one, then the right.
Sometimes I forget to put on my weight belt. Then I walk light-footed and in spry pace towards the water only to come back to fetch it a little later. Without a weight belt I cannot swim properly as I lie too high in the water and diving is totally out of the question. At the waterside I first pull my diving cap over my head in such a way that no hairs are sticking out. If these get caught in between my mask it will trickle full. This happens slightly anyway, but this I sniff through my nose to my mouth and then blow it out through my snorkel.
First I rinse the mask, then I spit in it and rub this over the entire inside glass. Then I rinse it again, put on my mask and see to it that the rubber straps are spread evenly across the back of my head and pull them tighter if need be. My snorkel I always place inside my left mask strap. A final check if the inlet of air is turned backwards and then into the brine.
Basically there are two ways. When the tide is in part of the rock ledge is submerged. Then carefully I slide towards the water as far as possible as the rocks can be treacherously slippery. There I put on my monofin and drop myself into the rather shallow water.
When the tide is out I walk down the sand until nipple deep. After a full breath in a floating sit I put on the monofin. The waterwing I press under my left arm to prevent Dusty taking off with it.
At first I let myself float, to acclimatize. I love sports where you can lie down, so here I’m in my element. As, thanks to Archimedes, gravity hardly carries any weight in the water, I have called this ‘In the arms of gravity’.
Then I let my body go into a light, slow undulating movement. Thereafter I take a shallow dive and a small stretch under water to get into the mood. This way I become one with the water.
Usually I swim to the double buoys to rattle the chain. This way Dusty knows that I’m around if she’s there. Then I go closer to the shore and swim through the miraculous world of weeds and fishes. Often I feel a presence. I turn my head and see Dusty behind me. As soon as she sees I have spotted her she swims closer to my side and the party can begin.