I have been scuba diving for over two years – since December 2012. Not only that, I had 100 dives within 10 months, and I had another 100 dives within another 10 months. I LOVE it! I am 59 years old, a retired IT professional, not athletic or mechanical in the slightest. How did I get here?
When we got married in 1992, my husband and I made a deal. He would not buy a Harley, and I would not go scuba diving. That way, we thought we could keep each other alive for a good long time. I have always had friends who scuba dived, and I have long been intrigued by it.
I swam for exercise in college – or more precisely, struggled through maybe 10 lengths a session. It was awful and so difficult, but for some reason, I did it. I did not enjoy it at all. Fast forward 25 years, and we went with some diving friends to the Yucatan for vacation. They did some diving, and we all snorkeled one day. I was terrified! I did not understand how I was supposed to breathe underwater. But I made myself jump in and try it, and within a minute or two, I was having a great time! There were lots of glamorous fish! Who knew? And I really enjoyed being in the water – which was also a surprise, after my college swimming experiences.
After I retired in 2005, I decided to go to graduate school in Spanish Linguistics at the University of Houston. The parking is horrible! (The classes were great!) I soon realized if I had a motorcycle or scooter, I could park in the designated areas much more easily. So I bought a Vespa scooter! When my husband got over the shock, he got himself a Harley! So now I had permission to scuba dive! (We now both really enjoy our motorcycle trips together!)
I had permission to scuba dive, but on the other hand, I knew it was an expensive habit. I was reluctant to get a lot more “stuff”. We already had plenty of stuff. Being overweight, I didn’t think there would be enough weight available to keep me down (seriously). I also knew myself it could be dangerous – I had looked at some books detailing scuba diving “incidents” and they are pretty scary. You wonder why anyone comes back alive!
In the fall of 2012, my friend Donna Collins (another scuba diver, and Oceanic Ventures, Inc. denizen) and I were planning to go on a cruise to Costa Rica and Panama. She suggested that we could go snorkeling, and she might try to go diving. I was enthusiastic – I had not had a chance to go snorkeling in years! She took me to Oceanic Ventures to look into getting my own mask, snorkel, fins to take on the trip.
My First Trip the the Dive Store
Ann, Alex and David Morris were in the shop, and I will never forget the warm welcome. David took me under his wing and explained everything I wanted to know about masks, snorkels, fins. I could not believe how expensive they were! But I was sold on the part of getting good equipment so I could really enjoy the experience. I left with the mask, snorkel, fins, a bag, a skin, and maybe a few other goodies. David offered to give me a snorkeling class for free, which I gladly took him up on, since I was certainly not an expert snorkeler, having only done it once.
At the snorkeling class, I learned quite a bit, especially how to “duck dive!” David offered to give me a Try Scuba session, and I was, well, OK, sure! If he’s offering, I sure will try it. Within a few days, I was trying out the scuba equipment in the West U pool, and learning the first rule of scuba. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but the next inevitable step was signing up for Open Water Scuba classes so I could go on the Cozumel trip that December. And buying all my equipment. Oceanic Ventures made it so easy. I could not have chosen (and still can’t) between Buoyancy Compensaters, Air Delivery System’s or computers. I trusted their advice, and I really liked the idea that they had a lot of experience with the equipment they sold, and they believed in it for all levels of diving.
Open Water Scuba Training with Oceanic Ventures
I had a great time in the Open Water Scuba training with David and Alex. It was hard for me to clear my mask, but eventually I figured it out. It was hard remembering all the steps for sharing air, or the out-of-air ascent. But I did it! The Cozumel trip was fantastic. I did my open water dives there with Alex as my instructor, and it was so much fun! He was so calm, and knowledgeable, and encouraging. I could see it was going to take some time for me to get really comfortable with my buoyancy, and the breathing, but I was plenty comfortable enough to enjoy the diving, and the Oceanic Ventures group was so wonderful. All those experienced divers were so encouraging and helpful to the brand-new,” baby diver.”
David had let me know in the Open Water Scuba training that he was the first Oceanic Ventures student to get 100 dives in a year. That sounded like a challenge to me, and I like challenges! Also it was quite clear after the Cozumel trip that the more experience I had, the more fun I could have as a diver. So I set myself the informal goal of getting 100 dives in a year. In order to keep diving through the winter, I started drysuit training and bought a drysuit. I started Advanced Open Water Scuba training, if for no other reason that it was more diving experience! I went with Oceanic Ventures to St. Croix, Belize, Cozumel, and then to Grand Cayman in August! (Donna and I did get to do a few dives on our trip to Costa Rica.) By the time I got to Grand Cayman, I had achieved the 100 dives, between the trips, the training, and being a fun diver at Blue Lagoon and 288 Lake.
Where I Am Now…
So what about all the concerns I had, and my husband had? Well, first off, safety is obviously the first priority at Oceanic Ventures. Now that I am diving, I wonder how people got themselves into those situations in those scary dive books. Of course, mistakes can happen, but most of those incidents are inconceivable on an Oceanic Ventures trip. Yes, diving is expensive, and I have a LOT of stuff. I am still dealing with how to organize it and where it all needs to go between trips. Oh well! The experiences I have had as a diver, and the friends I have made, have been more than worth it.
I love being a part of the Oceanic Ventures “tribe.” It feels like home. I am very impressed with the emphasis on safety and professionalism at Oceanic Ventures. Ann and Eric Keibler run a tight ship, with little room for error, but lots of room for fun. It is easy to have fun when you have confidence in the trip leader, the dive location, the divemasters, and the choice of dive sites. And you get to go play with your dive peeps!
My husband has put up with all this graciously, taking me to the airport and kissing me goodbye as I go off on my next diving adventure. I am so happy to report that since his retirement last August he has become a certified scuba diver, and we are going on our second trip to Cozumel with Oceanic Ventures next month!