Yesterday we started together, me and Nina, with the open water course. She has already done the necessary theory and the first training dives are a fact. Things are going really well, but as with most students, there is a challenge to overcome. For Nina, that's clearing the mask.
The weather is fantastic with a wonderfully blue sky and a radiant sun. Currently waiting for new guests and we are heading out this week to dive the wrecks and reefs of the northern Red Sea from the liveaboard. And there are this week's first guests, including Madi and Jovi from the UK. This young couple has never been on a liveaboard vacation before and obtained their Open Water and Advanced certification 3 years ago in Thailand with around 20 dives in the logbook. They are really looking forward to it, but Madi still has her doubts about whether they are experienced enough for this trip. Of course it is always better to come on board with a lot of experience, not so much because otherwise you cannot make certain dives. But more because with more experience you are just less busy with yourself and can therefore enjoy the dives much more. In their case it is wise to go diving with the guide and directly behind the guide. That way we can easily help if there is something.
It all started about five years ago. I was working in advertising at the time and after all those long days at the office I wanted something new. It was time to change course and I did so drastically, grabbed my bag and jumped on a plane to go diving. Nowadays I jokingly call myself a professional holidaymaker and no I don't lie on my ass all day, although I can enjoy it immensely. What do I do? Well what else than; diving, diving and more diving, as a guide on safari boats. You probably know them, one of those luxurious floating hotels that takes you to distant dive sites for a wonderful diving adventure. And so I visit quite a few countries, from Egypt to Indonesia and from the Maldives to the Bahamas, as long as it's slightly warm and the diving is fantastic, then I'm up for a trip. And so one day I set out from Hamata on my way to the deep south of Egypt. We had a British BSAC diving club on board and the atmosphere was great from the start. On the first day we did some check dives , check the equipment, make buddy pairs, go through procedures and most of all relax and enjoy. It is, after all, a holiday for our British guests.
You have probably already experienced that mother nature can pleasantly surprise you. Now I spend a lot of time underwater and that means that these surprises are regularly reviewed. For example, I was on a liveaboard as a dive guide and had 24 guests for that week, to dive the northern wrecks of the Red Sea from Hurghada. During the check in I got to know Chris, he was a frequent guest on our boats and he had 100+ dives to his name. Yet he was no further than an open water diver and so I had to advise him not to dive deeper than 18 m. Chris fully understood it, but still wanted to go to the 30 m, so I offered him the option of taking a course.' How about a deep adventure dive or you can even think about an advanced open water course'. The latter appealed to him the most, but he didn't want to miss any valuable dives for the course. In the end he wanted to dive and have a nice holiday and a course was just an extra. I explained to him that this was no problem at all, on training dives we prepare well and during the dive we do some exercises and then we have enough time left to make a super dive. And Chris agreed.
Every time I went on a diving holiday and I preferred to do that on a liveaboard, I thought when I saw the dive guides; 'I like that too! Who knows.' And when I finally lost my real job about nine years ago, that thought became an inspiration. I had a conflict with my employer and in the process of contesting it, government statistics showed that it would probably take me 3.5 to 4.5 years to land a comparable job. When my lawyer told me that I was surprised and in the same sentence he asked me; "And what are you going to do in the meantime?" Well… I didn't have to think long about that. I already dived a lot, had a diving school for fun and was active as an instructor for years. And so I spontaneously shouted 'Nice diving!' and I actually did.
It's great that everyone is diving again on their holidays. We have missed that so much in recent years and how nice it is to see mother nature again. As a guide, I am of course extra happy to see you in the tropical waters again. Great diving together, although for most it takes some getting used to. Suits shrunk a bit, and quite the job to set it all up again and then that first dive. Still need more weights than the last time on vacation a few years ago and the air consumption, oops goes sky-high again. Well that's part of it for a while, but after the first few dives almost everyone is enjoying themselves again and they don't worry about weight and air any more.
That we like to take an underwater stroll and preferably as we have planned, is the general rule for us divers. The strange thing is that when we plan it, we also expect and sometimes oblige ourselves to go diving. We don't want to disappoint our buddy or have been looking forward to the dive for so long and how about I traveled half the world for it. All bad reasons to take the plunge if you feel a sense of doubt before entering the water. Of course it depends on the reason of doubt, for some it's okay if you go, but for most it's really better to sit out the dive and get help if possible.
I am now on transit in Istanbul on my way back to Amsterdam and these are the moments when I have time to reflect on my diving adventures. The exciting dives I've already made, the eye-catching places I've seen, the nice people I've met and especially the new diving (travel) adventures. As a passionate diver, I am blessed with a life as a dive guide and love to meet new people. I love divers and think we're kind of an exclusive club of underwater adventurers with a common denominator that goes beyond just diving.
As a child I was not as fond of the sea as I am now. I always had the idea that big wild scary animals would bite my feet off if I walked into the sea. And to be honest I was also afraid of the deep part of the pool after seeing 'the killer whale' a fantastic movie about the revenge of an orca. Anyway, I'm pretty much over my fears now as I'm at sea full-time and like to explore the depths where I've never seen such a scary beast as my fantasy showed me when I was a little girl. Yet I still have the feeling that we are being watched and occasionally I meet the spy myself.