Growing up on the prairies on a farm and never seeing the ocean until I was into my thirties did not stop me dreaming of the sea and its wonders. I remember wanting to be an oceanographer as young as 10 or 12 years old, however, my parents were people of a different generation and thought it best I focus on something reliable like a teacher or secretary. The ocean and its animals continued to fascinate me, watching Jacque Cousteau on TV.
As I grew the thought of experiencing the ocean wonders became less and less of a priority in life. Until one day, life had taken a twist, and I started living on the coast of British Columbia.
The day I decided to get certified
I realized that life had not entirely passed me by. With this one decision, my life changed in so many ways. I was standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean – feeling quite sorry for myself that day. I was gazing out into the great blue abyss; my thoughts turn to swim with the fish. I realized that my dream had not died and I was near the ocean and could indeed learn to dive! I was 38 yrs. Young.
I researched and went on forums to learn the best dive shops in the area, and within that month, I found and signed up for an open water course. I immediately went from open water to advanced, moved quickly to rescue, and eventually dive master. In the first year, I had logged 100 dives. I would go under every weekend and even some weekdays. I would travel an hour and a half one way. On the days I didn’t get wet, I would hang out at the dive shop and listen to stories from the owner and the teachers that had made scuba diving their life. These divers had thousands of dives under their belt. I loved hearing stories of their underwater adventures. The freedom to travel, scuba dive, and teach. I was obsessed!!
Diving has always been an outlet for me. My experiences have changed since I became certified in 2006. First learning to dive in cold water is cumbersome, with dry suits and extra weight and mostly shore diving in the chilly green 44F water of the Pacific Northwest. I started diving with a pack of divers that cared about “trim” and “buoyancy” and all the rules of a good diver. We challenged each other to get better with all the skills we learned in all the classes we took.
When I looked on in awe of the divers that had 100 if not 1000’s of dives under their belt, many of them assured me that it takes at least 50 dives to “really” become a diver. Not having to watch your air or buoyancy but be so comfortable in the training that one could relax enough to enjoy the experience. I can feel the pressure in my ears and body and almost know my depth. Of course, always being aware and checking the gauges. So as a new diver don’t be too hard on yourself and each dive gets better and better.
Cold water is challenging with the temperatures, visibility, and currents but so beautiful; however, it was tough some days with the visibility like pea soup (local shore diving) our navigation skills became honed because we couldn’t see where we were. It was never about what we could see but more about a feeling we felt when we were diving. But close to Vancouver Island and by the Georgie straight, beautiful crystal clear green water with 100 Ft visibility and some of the prettiest topography I have ever seen.
Diving saved my life in more ways than one. I found a new family. Divers I know are unique and are different from the landlubbers. They are helpful and passionate about the state of our oceans. They are all a bit quirky, maybe even a little rebel.
I am blessed to live in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where the conditions are not so severe. Warm blue waters, boat dives, and service to the point where I can’t remember the last time I put together my dive gear. With Cabo Pulmo only a 2-hour drive away, local diving is a 5 min boat ride, and the surface interval is as exciting as the dive with whales jumping, Mobula rays bouncing and slapping like popcorn on the surface, sea lions playing and sunning themselves on the surface. It doesn’t get much better than this.
All year round there is something different going on. Just this last month the locals flooded to a little rock about a mile from Spirito Santos Island by La Paz BCS. Giant Manta Rays – they were spectacular and not shy at all. It’s the first sightings of these beauties for several years. No one knows why they are back.
One New Year I went diving with the staff of my local dive shop, and that evening I could hear and feel the vibrations of the whales singing. Local white tip sharks living in a cave by Lands’ End a popular dive spot.
We can’t forget about my favorite sighting of an octopus, sometimes even out in the open. Of course, they are just little guys that don’t compare with the Giant Pacific Octopus but still smart and fun to watch all the same.
Diving, however, has not even about all the cool stuff I see but more of needed relief from the workweek. As soon as I start to descend, my head clears, and all the problems of top-side disappear.
I am in Mother Nature’s womb, I feel instant peace. I start to meditate. Listening to the sounds of the ocean, and my breathing. I slow my body down to the point that my air consumption is minimum (something else we used to work on when we were diving in PNW), the diving crew always joke with me that I must not breathe and I am a mermaid.
Jacque Cousteau said it best,
“From birth; man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface, and he is free.”Jacque Cousteau
Diving is my therapy in life.