Diving in Iceland

So much blue
So much blue
Believe it or not, you can go scuba diving in Iceland. Situated in a fissure where the North American and the Eurasian continental plates meet, the Silfra dive site at Thingvallavatn is world famous for its visibility. On a good day, visibility is 100 meters (~300 ft) and since the water is glacier runoff, pressure-filtered through basalt for about 100 years, it’s always a good day. It’s also cold (just above freezing when we were there in October), so you have to have the right gear. That means thermals and heavy socks, then a thermal layer they provide, like a thick jumpsuit with integrated rubber boots, then a drysuit to keep the water out. A hood and gloves complete the ensemble. Those don’t keep the water out, at least not well, so you’ll definitely feel the water bite, at least for a few minutes. Then exposed skin goes numb and you don’t care so much.
Mom In Dry SuitThis is Mom, modeling the latest in Silfra fashion. She doesn’t dive so she elected to go snorkeling instead. It’s a bit different than snorkeling in the Caribbean. No beautiful corals or fish here. Actually, there are fish, but they only come out at night. So she was just in it for the chills and thrills. Mostly the chills.
Me In Dry SuitReady for diving, or a night on the town in Reykjavik. I’m good either way.
lookingUpAtSilfraNever been drysuit diving before. It was…interesting. Buoyancy control is a lot different. I actually didn’t have that much trouble once I got used to it. My dive buddy, on the other hand, spent most of the time either bobbing on the surface (I’m looking up at him in the shot above) or clanging on the bottom. Fortunately, max depth was only 20 meters or so. The dive guide told me later with a pained expression that it wasn’t his first attempt diving Silfra. He’s a kind of scout for Chinese tourism, traveling around, doing different activities and evaluating them, determining the likelihood that his countrymen will enjoy them. Obviously, it can mean a huge amount of money if he gives your business a thumbs-up so the guide did his best to accommodate him, but he confided to me later that if he wanted to try the dive again, he was going to make him complete the drysuit certification course first. Considering the flailing I witnessed underwater and the blood coming from his nose post-dive, I’d say that’s an excellent idea. Make no mistake, the Chinese are coming. But based on what I saw, they won’t be diving.

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