THE FAMILY THAT DIVES TOGETHER...
Last Christmas my husband bestowed an amazing gift upon our family… the gift of learning how to scuba dive!
It was an amazing start to 2022. After diligently studying the safety and theory of diving we spent the better part of two days in the pool with our VERY patient dive instructor, Mattias, before heading out to the reef with Pro Dive for three days and two nights of scuba diving to become PADI certified Open Water Divers.
Summer, our 15 year old daughter, was the driving force behind the gift of our scuba diving certification. It has been on her wish list for some time so she was particularly excited her dream was being brought to life. Our 12 year old son, Lloyd was that excited that he barely baulked at having to learn all the theory behind scuba diving before he could get the gear on and get into the water.
Being surrounded by their excitement, I put on my brave pants and hid the fear and anxieties that welled inside me at the prospect of trespassing shark territory. Reminding myself of the (very low) statistics relating to shark attacks off Cairns, I chose to embrace the opportunity and enjoy the experience that millions of people from around the world dream of having; scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef.
And I’m so glad I did! I finally get the desire to submerge and explore the underwater world on our back door. It really is another world down there! Observing schools of fish darting in and out of coral bombies was a kin to watching people dancing in a nightclub or dining in a restaurant, with some bombies clearly a lot more popular than others. The shapes and colours of the fish, the unique structures of the corals and the interactions between the different species were so intriguing. It was magical!
"I put on my brave pants and hid the fear and anxieties that welled inside me at the prospect of trespassing shark territory."
Then came the night dive. On the first night we watched the other group don their scuba kits and sink into the dark abys, the glow of their torches moving slowly away from the boat as they explored the reef under the cover of darkness. The prospect of doing the night dive terrified me, and then the sharks arrived. As I watched them lazily meandering around and disappearing under the boat, I wondered how I was going to convince myself to relax and get amongst the action the following night. Dave and the kids, on the other hand, could barely contain their excitement.
There were many conversations between me, myself and I over the next 24 hours and then the moment arrived. Harry Highpants would have been amazed at just how high I managed to pull those brave pants up that night before I silently kissed life goodbye and leapt into the big deep.
"Sleepy turtles resting on the sea floor beneath me, cheeky fish dancing amongst the coral.. it was so mesmerising!"
Breathing as slowly as I could to push through the anxiety, I resolved that at least it would be a memorable way to die. As I relaxed into the moment, I found myself in awe of the reef by moonlight. Sleepy turtles resting on the sea floor beneath me, cheeky fish dancing amongst the coral.. it was so mesmerising! And the sharks didn’t faze me. They were right there, gliding past us, barely interested in these intruders as they continued on their merry way…
Our next dive was at 6.30 the following morning. It was our first solo family dive – all of us buddies. And it could have been our last dive, as a family at least, with Lloyd seeming to forget the importance of sticking close to your buddies and the legal depth limitation of our certification. Dave and I nearly ran out of air in the first 20 minutes our anxiety levels were so high! The dilemma – do we follow him down to the ocean floor where he was playing in the sand, absent mindedly following fish and generally pretending we didn’t exist or do we wait it out for as long as our air allowed us? Like a turtle, Dave surfaced briefly to see how far away we were from the boat so he could guide us safely back. Finally we got Lloyd’s attention and after another turtle peek or two, we made our way back on board. Lloyd was suitably chastised by the Dive Master for overstepping his depth and berated by us for being a bad buddy.
We sat the next dive out, not quite ready to see what the next dive would bring. After a lot of contemplation, we decided to do the last dive as a family before the boat headed home. That was the best dive of the trip! Lloyd fully redeemed himself, Summer demonstrated that she is definitely part mermaid and the fish put on a playful display amongst an amazing array of corals.
So thank you again for the spectacular Christmas gift, Dave. A gift that will give for a lifetime. It was a magical experience to share as a family, one that I’m sure we’ll all remember till our last breath.
Pro Dive Cairns not only does scuba diving lessons but they also do live-aboard tours, swimming with whales and day trips out to the wonderful Great Barrier Reef!
Find out more about the wonderful experiences that Pro Dive Cairns offers or book a tour by clicking the link below!
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