I’ve been a certified SCUBA diver since before there were certifications (time reference: Mike Nelson (played by Lloyd Bridges) and his double-hosed regulator on Sea Hunt TV series). Also been fortunate to dive all over the world…feeding trigger fish with day-old French bread in Bora Bora; drifting in the three-knot current over the Palancar Reef in Cozumel; vertical cave exploring in Jamaica; dropping down 120 feet on the color chart to the blue hazy edge of The Tongue of the Ocean trench off Nassau in the Bahamas; exploring a sunken ship and fending off a hungry five-foot barracuda with a flipper in Key West. Weightless freedom in an exquisitely beautiful, exotic world beneath the waves.
I’ve come nose-to-nose with a black-tipped reef shark while searching a sandy canyon between two coral reefs, been stung by man-of-war pieces chopped up by a propeller blade, and scraped by fire coral, but wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything.
Picture lying on your back in a lava tube off the big island of Hawaii shooting photos of poisonous lion fish hanging on the ceiling, or riding on the back of a green turtle in Shark’s Cove on the north shore of Oahu.
I even tried ice diving in a lake once in Ohio, where I earned my NAUI, PADI and YMCA cards, but hate cold water or anyplace I have to squeeze into a second skin wet suit.
Funny wet suit story…we were staying at a Club Med in Guadeloupe, which is a French island, and diving off a nearby smaller island called Pigeon. The water there is crystal clear with visibilities up to 200 feet. Warm Caribbean waters require only a t-shirt at most if you’re staying at around 35-55 feet for 45 minute to an hour. But on the sloop ride out to the reef, these two French ladies, for some reason, decide to put on wet suits. Apparently the French like to SCUBA naked under their wet suits, so these well-endowed ladies take off their bikinis and proceed to hop up and down vigorously, trying to pull on their wet suit bottoms. One American chap, sitting on the rail, became so enamored of this sight, he actually fell overboard, and the captain had to bring the ship about and go back to rescue him.
Always wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef and its 3,000 meters of coral and wide variety of sea life…it’s mecca for SCUBA enthusiasts. But unfortunately when I finally made it to the North Queensland coast, I discover it’s a two-hour boat ride to the reef, and I get violently seasick if I don’t take Dramamine. As many of you know the drug makes you sleepy and slows down reactions…not a good place to be when you are breathing compressed air, under 14.7 lbs. per square foot pressure times 60 feet down, in a potentially hostile environment (They have great white sharks there).
If the boat ride to the dive site is reasonable short, I lash myself to the mast, and pardon the pun, “gut it out,” until we get there. I am always the first in the water and the last to get out, and on occasion have offered to swim the five miles back to shore. So…no Great Barrier Reef for me.
But there are many more wonderful sites I can’t wait to dive, like the South China Sea, which I hear is wonderful. I recommend highly you get certified and start your own adventures. See you, as Sebastian sings, “Under the Sea.”