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I’ve always been interested in marine life. My love as a kid to visit Aquariums brought a sense of comfort to me. It was safe to view some of the most oddest and unknown creatures on the earth. The colour blue normally brings a sense of calm and coolness also, which allows for a more joyful experience and an easy feel to the surroundings. A whole new world was available for me to take and accepting that this world would heavily involve scuba diving. The sport that allows to be part of the ocean and to see the wonders for myself. I began to travel so my curiosities widened and one of these was going scuba diving. However, the ride was a rough one and it took me nearly two years to get to the point of feeling completely interested and comfortable with the ocean.
I remember really wanting to test myself doing a Scuba dive. I was in Koh Tao, Thailand. Notorious for newcomers to diving, its cost, the location, the number of dive shops – all contributed to this being a well known dive location. I signed up with my travel partner Rob at the time. I remember being stoked to do it. The kid in me was coming out, wanting to see what diving was all about. In England, I guess its not a big hobbie compared to other places. Mainly because of the temperatures and musky waters, well at least up north anyway.
We arranged to do a discovery dive with a company called French Kiss. To be honest, I didn’t really feel comfortable with them from the start. Maybe the difference in culture, they weren’t that accommodating nor assuring. They were more like, lets do it. Which is a good way of looking at things, being thrown into the deep end, but without knowing any of the logistics, nor anything about Scuba diving, it had me a little anxious. Plus the fact I had barely Snorkelled before, so my experience breathing underwater was very limited.
The first time..
The morning we went, my fear kicked in. I realised, I was going to do something I had no idea about. Despite sometimes that being part of the rush, the others around me seemed more confident to do so, and more experienced. When we were heading out to the boat to head to the dive sights, one of the instructors looked at us all and said’ Cheer up, your going diving!”. Whether we were all hungover, nervous or just tired, no-one really seemed stoked.
The equipment was heavy and uncomfortable. I didn’t feel free as I thought I would, but you deal with it and move on. After going into the water three of us including the instructor swam to shore. The whole shock of not breathing through my nose was a terrifying one, not to mention my gag reflex is terrible and the regulator kept making me bork. Did I mention I despise the taste of salt water too? I couldn’t get us to not breathing through my nose. After a while, I got on with it. I didn’t get use to it at first but I managed to get down to about 10m. The shock to me I couldn’t handle and had to go a little higher. This one was a time where I knew in my own head what I needed to do. I had to get use to the breathing.
After a couple of half dives, cramp in my left leg and complete fatigue due to my fast breathing, my first dive experience wasn’t great. It was very shaky and didn’t fill me with confidence. Nor did the dive instructors. Maybe it was just me, but they didn’t seem bothered. Unfortunately this put me off for months, well years really. However, I always knew, I just needed to get ready, because this scuba diving activity, was, is, something I’m to love. I know once I get use to it, it’s going to be a big hobby of mine.
I look back in Asia and think I regret not doing more scuba dives due to the locations I went. The islands, the beauty of the coral, white sandy floors, turtles and sharks. I did manage to go skin diving snorkelling) with a whale shark, but with just a mask on. I also went spear fishing in a similar fashion in Indonesia too. Both great experiences but they weren’t scuba. Looking back I thinking logically I told myself it would have been more costly to do this, and I wasn’t ready-ready, so let it be. I did however attempt to my PADI on my own in Koh Chang at the end of my travels in Asia, but I literally ran out of time. However, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to do it one on one, no pressure and slowly
One year on after living in suburban Melbourne in Australia, no real interest nor scuba diving opportunities came my way. Until I headed to South America that is. I had a feeling I would do something about it here. But it was in Tobago during a tour that I randomly seen a scuba dive shop. I felt confident and able to get over the breathing situation, it had been nearly 2 years since my first experience. I was on my own and came across Frontier Divers. Feeling confident I booked a discovery dive and there I was.
That morning I was more excited than nervous. Basically because I knew its something I could do, develop, get over, learn from. I spoke to Big Dougie who the owner. He had been a PADI specialist for 20 years. I explained I wanted to do this alone with him, so on a Sunday morning, we met up. We talked for ages, into detail and he really made me feel comforted. I explained my issues and experiences. We had a laugh and felt no nerves really at all. It was a personal experience, no pressure, and our goal was to get me happy with breathing underwater.
Going for it in Tobago
It was a shore dive from Sandpoint Beach. At first, the regulator took me a few minutes to get use to. I tried to put my head under, but the same fear came. I feared the worst and remembered my previous experience. Dougie was cool though. He said take my time, get use to it. I was checking everything, equalising, breathing and hearing. I came up onto the surface a couple times every 10-20 minutes, just to feel that sense of freedom to get out, you know? My breathing had got better I noticed, at a better pace. Its psychological murmurs Dougie and I knew that. I just had to feel comfortable in myself. Someone can’t tell me this is the way, I have to feel it for myself.
After an hour or so underwater from 10-15m, I got my confidence of breathing. I went onto other activities such as clearing my mask, taking my regulator out, equalising at more pressured areas, buoyancy control and balance. This is only the start. I have got my confidence back. For many people they do it straight away. We are all different. The life I was apart of and introduced to in the UK, none of this was regular, it was foreign, I was oblivious to it. I got my confidence back and I was ready for more underwater life.
A whole new world had opened to me.