I'm the first one to tell you I'm not normally conditioned as the "adventerous, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" kind of gal. That award goes to my sister Blaire who didn't hesitate to go sky diving out of a 1960s plane in Florence, Italy. She made it back, thank god.
But it was I (according to my boyfriend) who suggested after booking a future vacation to Belize, that we get ourselves certified Open Water Scuba divers.
So I did just that this past weekend as part of a fantastic team of 8; 3 dive masters and 5 students with the AWESOME guys over at Seattle Scuba.
I highly encourage anyone to get certified with the good people at Seattle Scuba. Tell Craig the owner that Jessica, the smallest bravest scuba student to ever roam the face of the earth sent you.
But before I send you out on this adventure, I wanted to share 5 things I learned along the way.
1. Get certified with a reputable company like Seattle Scuba. A scuba school's affiliation with either PADI "Open Water Diver Certification" or NAUI "Scuba Diver Certification" ensures that your certification will be accepted anywhere around the world. I'm a PADI certified diver.
2. Bring a buddy! Gabe and I went through the course together (well, kind of, it's a long story which resulted in doing our dives on separate weekends). That being said, it's always more fun when you have a buddy to get certified with. Although I loved meeting new friends during my dives, there's no one I rather'd have at arm's length away 50 feet underwater than my boyfriend.
3. Learn to equalize properly. If you've had sinus troubles or ear infenctions, I suggest becoming a pro at equalizing your ears. I wish I had done more practicing before doing my open water dives. It may have saved me a trip to Dr. Edmond Kay, renown Director of Hyperbaric Medicine with HealthForce Partners and Diving Medical Officer for the University of Washington. I'm really glad I visited Dr. Kay though as he was able to provide incredible tips to help me during my dives in Belize.
4. Suck it up, you're going to be a little cold in the Sound. I received gasps when I told people I was diving in Puget Sound in December. But, it's just what one has to do if you live in this part of the country. Washington State has some of the best diving in the nation (notably, the San Juan Islands) and you're going to have to get use to wearing a really thick 7 mm wetsuit or drysuit. It will be worth it when you venture to a tropical destination to dive and realize you're carrying way less weight without your booties, hood, gloves, etc.
5. Buy your own gear. Some schools like Seattle Scuba give students $100 rebates after they get certified to buy their own gear. If you take a liking to diving, it's much better to get your own mask, snorkel and fins. And if you're a Northwest diver, at a minimum it's probably smart to invest in booties and gloves as well.
For more information on Seattle Scuba, check them out on Facebook!
And a big thanks to my dive masters Craig, Larry and Raquel for taking good care of me this past weekend. :)