As you know, I have been working on a liveaboard for a while now. I spend a lot of the time in the galley, but the truth is, people don’t eat around the clock. Divers do eat a lot, also in between the dives, because they need energy to stay warm, but I also have quite a bit of free time. So when I bring the snacks to our guests, I listen to their stories about the dive they just made. It is not just about what they have seen, but rather the enthusiasm and the smiles they carry when they return. They all have a passion for diving and every dive is a good dive. So I wanted to experience this for myself.
Sometimes we have guests on board who also pre-booked a course while they are staying on the liveaboard. In that case, there is also a scuba instructor joining us on the trip. So on the latest trip, I got my guts up and decided I will try it. We were cruising for 6 days around Saint Thomas and Saint John. I already knew instructor Jason from previous trips and we had talked about it. So this time, we were heading to Coral Bay on the Eastern part of St John and there I made my first splash with scuba gear.
Jason had explained the basics the day before after dinner. He taught me how the pressure changes underwater and how this will affect my ears, he demonstrated how to equalize the pressure and lectured me about proper breathing techniques while scuba diving. I can see why diving is often considered to be an extreme sport, especially by insurance companies. But I believe with proper instruction, this is all very well manageable.
The next morning we got the equipment on and jumped off the diving platform at the back of the boat. We were close to the shore, so it wasn’t deep there. Under close supervision of Jason, I was breathing from the scuba regulator for the very first time with my face down. I believed the fish under me were laughing at me. But I was smiling as well, this was wonderful. Slowly Jason guided me down along a mooring line. He showed me how to get the water out of my mask which was leaking in (I hadn’t shaved in the morning, so the mask didn’t seal very well.) We did a couple more skills and then we went down to the sandy seabed. A school of fish crossed our path and I could at least see 25m ahead. Jason helped me get my buoyancy in order so I swiftly slid through the water. It feels like flying, looking down I see the marvellous colorful corals below me. Jason told me later that we were 11m below the surface. I had no clue! All I remember is the silence underwater, except for the bubbles which I exhaled. The sun rays were creating a surreal atmosphere, producing changing beams of light in the water. What a pristine and relaxing environment. I finally understand the joy and the smiles of our guests each time they get back on board.