A year of diving!
A year ago today we took our first tentative steps into the water guided by our self-described skinny lizard instructor Lorenzo, under the hot sun at Redang Kalong on Redang Island in Malaysia. I say steps as there is no confined water at Redang Kalong so our ‘pool’ skills were acquired after a short walk into the sea until we were at neck height and put our faces into the water, regulator in place and breathed our first underwater breaths. Mine were pretty short because I kept popping my head up and professing how much I really didn’t like it and didn’t know if I was going to be able to carry on, big baby.
Thankfully I found some balls and persevered and we were soon going out on the boat with the grownups and dropping into the blue to begin our exploration of the magical world beneath the waves. I remember being slightly terrified and mostly exhilarated, there are big sharks in Malaysia, well big to me. The movie Jaws while fascinating to some, ruined the ocean for a lot of people myself including and the main reason I had never even contemplated diving was that I had a very big fear of being eaten by a shark. Now I’m not saying that fear is totally gone and I won’t be diving in great white or bull shark territory oh like ever but I also now know that fewer people die by shark attack each year than die in accidents involving chairs and as I’m not planning on stopping using those I think the odds of me not being eaten by a shark are pretty high. Also, let’s be honest, we’re all going to die and that’s got to be one of the cooler ways to go. Oh so how did your wife die? She was eaten by a shark. I mean seriously he’ll be the coolest widower ever.
I’ve had the honour of sharing the water with a few sharks in the last year of the black tip, white tip, bamboo and leopard variety and happily my go to reaction has been AWESOME! SHARK! I have also dived with a myriad of gorgeous fish, beautiful alien families of squid, magnificent dolphins, stunning eagle, manta and marble rays and the mind boggling oceanic sunfish aka the mola. I’ve been swum at by sea snakes and mesmerised by octopus and discovered I am not an adrenaline junkie diver and am as happy seeing the big stuff as I am spotting toothy morays or colourful nudibranchs.
One of the few things I haven’t liked from the beginning were the occasional divemasters who would rush us into the water. Diving is not a race or a rush to the finish line and being comfortable and completing predive safety checks are an essential part of making sure you return to the surface safely. Thankfully J and I were always together when I was learning so we would go at our own pace, even when our guide had disappeared below the surface, until we were ready and happy to descend and now as a divemaster I go as slowly as the divers I am with require.
I’m still learning on every dive and am not the most elegant of divers it has to be said but I’m not the most elegant on land either so why should I be any different underwater! I’m comfortable in current but equally enjoy a good current free meander and am slowly kitting myself out in pink and orange scuba gear – there are more than enough black seal looking divers in the world 😉
There are many people I want to thank and who I would not be here without; AB and Tim the zen masters at Divers Den who gave me the confidence even to contemplate diving; Lorenzo and Janine our first instructors who guided us skilfully through the PADI Open Water Certification; Waz at Blue Marlin Meno who took the baton and led us through our Advanced and Rescue Certifications, Nico, his irrepressible partner in crime, who made our Rescue so unforgettable; John, Sue and Ben at World Diving for seeing me so memorably through to Divemaster! And not least all of the divemasters, boat captains, guests, dive buddies and DMTs along the way who have been my unknowing teachers and from whom I’ve taken as many ‘what to dos’ as ‘what not to dos’.
A year ago I could not have imagined I would be here today, a PADI certified divemaster enrolled on an Instructor course in a few months time. There’s something to be said for making a plan and following it to your dreams; and something to be said for being open to new dreams sweeping you off your feet along the way Xx