Ocean Diver and Seal Fanatic
I'd always fancied being able to scuba dive, and had considered learning whilst abroad, but never chose to take time out of a family holiday to do it.
In 2017, at the Cranleigh Carnival, I noticed the BSAC club were offering 'try dives' - but I got distracted and let it pass me by. Later I regretted that I'd not done anything about it. So, I went looking for them at the Carnival the next summer and I took my daughter Jemma with me, in the hope we could learn together. I strode over to them and said "I want to learn to dive - can you teach me please?"
Jane did a 'try dive' with me and I will always be grateful to the woman who showed me how to breathe underwater. I'd forgotten how happy being in and under water made me. I felt like a kid does, in the summer holidays again. This was gonna be so much fun!
That autumn & winter, Jemma and I trained most Tuesdays along with two other newbies at the pool in Cranleigh School. We got to know our clubmates and often went to the Social Club after the pool session. We made new friends and were made so very welcome.
We were invited to go on the next summer's club trip to the Isle of Man, even though we'd only just joined, and they totally assured us we'd be ready in time. So, we signed up to that trip as well since it would be something to work towards!
Jemma and I completed our Open Water dives in March and April together. And then I went out on our club boat Raffles a couple of times and finally got to dive in the ocean.
On my first trip out, we dived twice and I was thrilled to bits. My buddy helped when I made rookie mistakes (my left fin came loose) and everyone helped each other getting back on board, etc. I just couldn't stop smiling.
Some of my clubmates missed their chance to go down. But, while they were 'up top' taking care of the boat and us, a small pod of dolphins came by. I'm so glad they had this 'consolation prize' but also quite envious.
These boat trips took place on weekends and unfortunately Jemma had to work. So, the first time she would be in the ocean was going to be on the trip to the Isle of Man. We all went up in a minibus and stayed in a shared house together which was really good fun and everything we needed was on hand.
So, it’s our first day out and the boat has a lift. That’s gonna make things easier!!! Jemma buddied with Keith, and I was with Jamie. We stepped off the boat over a glorious kelp forest. The first thing that struck me was the colours. The sunbeams were shining through the water and lighting up the kelp forest. It was gold & green & mauve & beautiful - I was in an underwater wonderland. I just hung in the water watching Jamie and looking all around.
We were swimming through the kelp towards the wreck that was the focus of this dive and I was so happy. Then the Magic struck. He (or she) stuck out his silver head to look at us, then came out to play and swim around with us. WILD SEALS!!! I must have just watched for about 20 min.
There were five buddy pairs of us down there and we all had seals come and check us out. I watched 'our' young, silver, curious seal swim around and below us - so quick and supple. I could see other buddy pairs a little way off and seals around them also. So, everyone was having this amazing experience!!! I stayed under for as long as possible and was tired, cold and wet on the way back up (I'd stupidly let water inside my dry-suit – won’t make that mistake again).
What an enchanting, wonderful experience it has been!