10 years of diving!

Today I celebrate the 10 year anniversary of my diving career 🙂 Ten years ago I made my first Discover Scuba dive on Gozo, Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Steve, instructor at St. Andrews divers cove, guided me, and buddy/brother Niels, trough Xlendi Bay. I was instantly taken by the beauty of the under water world and the freedom of being weightless. For 45 minutes we were guests in this new, alien world. Four days later I was a certified ‘Open Water Diver’ and another four days after that I was already an ‘Advanced Open Water diver’. I had made 10 dives, went to 30 meters and was able to come back alive and even managed to ace the exams. I was feeling awesome. However, after a bumpy plane ride home, diving was put on hold. Why would you want to dive in those muddy lakes in The Netherlands? How wrong I was…

Fast forward for 2.5 years. Being far too busy building a solar powered racing car I forgot about diving for some time. I didn’t even go diving while I was in Australia. In 2007 a friend and study mate convinced me to take up diving again. First some pool dives to get the skills back under control, and then to the Wijthmenerplas, a muddy lake in Zwolle. Visibility was shit and it didn’t really look like fun. Thick suit against the cold, annoying cold water gloves… But 1.5 weeks later we made another dive, this time in Zutphen and visibility was actually quite okay and there was stuff to see! Fish, plants, vertical walls and garbage. Lots of it, including an ironing board, a swinging bench, and even a passenger car! It turned out this was put there for the divers. Ohw… okay. At least it attracted some fish 🙂

By the end of the season I had made almost 70 dives and took a Rescue Diver course in preparation of becoming a Dive Master. A bunch of specialties and some more diving later I received my Dive Master certification. After switching organizations this became a Dive Control Specialist certification, a.k.a. ‘Assistant Instructor’. I was happy with my level of training and spend a lot of time assisting with Open Water courses at my club, ZPV-Piranha. Here I also met my great girlfriend/no.1 buddy Saskia, with whom I today have made over 250 dives with. I never really got tempted to become an instructor, and later I found out why: basic open water diving courses are put together to teach people not to die, instead of how to dive. Of course, not dying is important, but after being on a couple of diving holidays and seeing divers kick up silt, damaging coral, losing their buddy and running out of air I knew something was wrong. If my name was going to be on a certification card of a new diver, then they needed to be able dive, not just survive. This realization made me pick up technical diving. I still don’t plan on becoming an instructor any time soon, however I try learn ‘my’ students as much as possible about proper diving skills when assisting a class.

Late 2010 and early 2011 I spend most of my diving practicing skills. Perfecting trim and buoyancy until I felt in control and doing air sharing drills and valve shutdowns in the pool to make sure it became part of my ‘muscle memory’. The Advanced Nitrox and Technical Foundations course was the start of a new diving career. I was dreaming about going to Mexico or Florida to dive in the caves and going to new, unexplored wrecks. This however, as a student, was still far away and dreaming would be as good as it got.

This changed on my birthday in 2012 when Saskia too was bitten by the cave bug and was going to take me to Mexico for a Full Cave course. We practiced cave skills during TekCamp in England and met some great divers/instructors there. Three more friends had joined on the cave trip and with our Dutch instructor we had an unforgettable three weeks in the Yucatan in January 2013. After that we picked up wreck diving an visited more and more caves. Last month the first trimix course was done to open up greater depths and even some first steps in cave exploration were taken.

I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years of diving will bring!

Love to dive!

~ door ehoogma op juli 10, 2014.

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