Stop diving?

Sooner or later we all play with the question: is it perhaps better to stop diving? I myself have been a big fan of this sport for over 20 years, but sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you expect and you may not feel fit enough to dive like you always did. So is Sue, a fantastic lady I met on the liveaboard trip from this week. With a lot of young people on board Sue is a relatively mature lady, I don’t know her exact age, but it’s obvious that she belongs to the seniors. During our trip to the ‘golden triangle’ of the Red Sea (Brother Islands, Daedalus reef and Elphinstone) Sue realizes that these kinds of trips might be a thing of the past and she even considers stopping altogether.

Simply the best route

Rolling backwards of a zodiac in a nice swell plays its part, especially because we have to do a negative entry. And she increasingly has problems with her ears. During the briefing I explain that we like to go for a dive to the north of Small Brother Island, a fantastic reef known for her dramatically deep falling walls, strong currents and the good chance to dive with sharks like longimanus, gray reef, thresher and silk shark.This week is all about shark diving including 4 shark workshops that I run throughout the week.

An eagle ray

Sue is extremely fascinated and interested and has dived many times with these fantastic animals in the past. However, she decides not to make the dive because she is afraid that she will not be able to make the negative entry of the zodiac because of the strong currents and she talks about this with one of the other guides. And so we go out without Sue and as soon as we roll back from the zodiac we are right in the eye of the dive. The current is strong and splits where we entered the water. Large schools of fusiliers swim around us, they schoot away and are chased by a large trevally. Docter fish hang one above the other forming a wall of fish in the middle of the split point of the current, tunas join the action as a gray reef shark passes us in the blue water. What an action and how beautiful is mother nature!

Stunning pipe fish

After the dive we come back on board with enthusiastic stories and I hear from the other guide why Sue didn’t dive. I see her sitting on the sundeck and looks very dazed and I notice that it touches me, my heart feels her sadness. My fellow guide thinks it is not so smart to talk to her because she is very sad. As a female dive guide I think differently and take the plunge and as soon as I changed my clothes I look for Sue.

A juvenile scorpion fish

She realizes that she is getting older and has not dived for 3 years because of corona. She simply can’t take it anymore, she says and is strongly considering to stop this beautiful sport completely and she is very sad. She talks about all the things she can’t do anymore, like swimming against a strong current, climbing back in a zodiac and even getting back on board the big boat is challenging. She only learned to dive after her 60th birthday and has already made many beautiful trips and thinks that these fantastic experiences only belong to the past, she says as the tears well up in her eyes. My heart is breaking, I can’t imagine ever having to stop diving. Those who know me know that it’s my lust and my life and of course I understand that it just can’t go on forever, but my feeling is having a very hard time with it. I open my arms and give Sue a huge hug. She’s right, these challenging dive trips might be a little too challenging and I totally agree with her. But for her age she is still very fit and why couldn’t she continue to enjoy the underwater world? Maybe with a private guide or in waters that are less turbulent or a day trip with a day boat. And we can help her by taking her gear off in the water before she climbs aboard. I present my ideas to Sue and at first she reacts somewhat incredulously. “Do you think I can still do that?” she asks me. Sure, there are so many places that are fantastic, so many ways of diving that are less demanding, so why not? It is of course very good to realize that it is all getting less, but that doesn’t mean you have to hang your fins in the closet right away, does it?

A ribbon eel

We spend quite a bit of time together and then did a few more individual dives with her, just off the boat and not in the strong currents, lovely shallow ‘bimbling’ over the reef. It doesn’t have to be fast or deep at all,sunbeams falling into the shallow water, enjoying such a wonderfully relaxed and summery feeling, isn’t that fantastic? Sue comes to the conclusion that even if things are not going well, the end is definitely not there yet. She won’t do those tough big boy diving anymore, but she certainly won’t give up on enjoying mother nature underwater. She is very grateful to me and cannot repeat enough how grateful she is. That’s not necessary at all, for me it’s heartwarming to see her start to enjoy diving again instead of fighting herself. That beautiful smile from a super chick like Sue is the true gift for me…

Love life… Blow bubbles…