When your dad is a scuba instructor and you love diving, it can be really great. The minimum age for open water diver certification is 10, but it’s junior open water. That means you must dive with either a parent or a dive professional (divemaster or above), and you’re also limited to a depth of 12 meters/40 feet. Usually that’s just fine. You tend to see more fish at those depths, breathing uses less air, and you have much longer bottom times (the amount of time you can dive safely to avoid problems from absorbing too much nitrogen) when you’re shallow so you can enjoy being submerged longer. But when your dad is an instructor, it can also stink.
Sharks tend to hang out at deeper depths. Octopi come out to play at night. Junior open water divers don’t usually do night dives. Plus, you get to hear about how Dad got to go wreck diving. At least a few times a week. You’d love to join, but really you can’t because the wreck at Utila, where you’re living at the time, is way beyond your depth limit.
At age 12, you get to upgrade to junior advanced, which means your new depth limit is now 21 meters/75 feet and you just have to be with an adult when you dive. Yay! You can do some fun adventure dives, like a night dive, but still you can’t go deep enough for most wrecks. In fact, you can’t to the wonderful shark dive at the nearby island of Roatan either, since it’s 2 meters below your limit.
All of this means you get to wait until you’re 15 years old before you get to be a full advanced open water diver so that you can go to 30 meters/100 feet. It’s only another 5 years. Of course, when you’re 10 that’s half your lifetime. Sounds kind of long.
We lucked out when we went to Roatan. As a certified diver, it’s your responsibility to dive within the limits of your training. When you’re with your parent, it falls on them. When your dad is an instructor, well, it’s a little easier to find a dive shop willing to just trust parental judgment. And because of that he got to go shark diving last year.
Now we’re on Cozumel again. You’ve seen part of the local wreck, the Felipe Xicotencatl, while snorkeling as you watched your dad and his friends diving below. You weren’t a diver then so it wasn’t an option. Now you are, but it’s still out of your reach. Really sucks!
Unless you find a dive shop who knows your dad well enough to say sure, it’s all on Dad. And so you finally get to go wreck diving!
Tigger got his nickname because he’s bouncy. He doesn’t walk, he bounces. Really, he’s no different in the water. One of his favorite things to do while diving is bounce up and down. Not a good thing while diving for a few reasons, but an absolute crap idea if you plan on entering a wreck.
During the week leading up to his 1st wreck dive, we reviewed safety issues several times. Plan A was to go to the wreck and swim around and over it. It’s actually a cool wreck to explore just on the outside. But, yeah, it’s way more fun to go inside. So, the deal was if he could control his bouncing and pay attention to my signals, then we would penetrate, or enter, the wreck.
He was doing so well, that we got to do just that. And my chest was positively bursting with pride as he did so well I could even take him into some narrower areas. Even more fun since I didn’t have to float above him and push his tank down so that he didn’t bop his head or something.
It was an absolute blast to get to take him to do one of my favorite types of diving. He loved it, too. I’m hoping he’ll write about it. But, just like the #1 rule in diving: I won’t be holding my breath.