scuba: PADI certification

*spoiler alert*
We are legit scuba divers!

It only took five chapters of reading scuba literature and five contained- and open-water dives, and we are now both Open Water PADI certified.

Love this look
We knew before moving to Grand Cayman that we would pursue diving certifications. The Cayman Islands are noted as some of the best diving in the world, and with warm temperatures year-round, diving is a popular activity for vacationers and residents alike. NS, always looking to strike a deal, decided to rally other new accountants on the island and present ourselves as a group to a recommended dive shop called Happy Fish Divers in order to get a group rate. With seventeen interested divers, we simultaneously helped Happy Fish make bank and used up all available study books on the island!

All of the divers in our group will admit that getting the required reading done on time (while working and maintaining a social life) was a challenge. Also, the PADI book included a lot of information on how to choose your gear, including many mentions of how to make sure it's all color-coordinated. Seriously, if I need advice about how to match my mask and my fins, I'm probably not mature enough to take on a potentially life-threatening sport like scuba. That chapter could have been shortened. The rest of the information, though, was informative, and, frankly, essential to saving one's own life while swimming, breathing, and exploring 60+ feet underwater.

The Happy Fish instructors, located at Macabuca in West Bay, initially split our large group into two just to make things manageable. The two smaller groups then began to fragment a bit over the course of our five required dives to accommodate everyone's various learning speeds. Breathing underwater is harder than it sounds. There is something quite unnatural about sinking down to the sea floor while breathing in and out - in fact, holding your breath under water is against the rules. This posed a hurdle for some of the group, and would have for me also had I not had a somewhat stressful snorkeling experience three and a half years ago that taught me to calmly trust my gear and breath underwater. 

During the dive sessions, there were a few required skills that we had to demonstrate to obtain the certification. First, we learned on-shore skills like setting up and breaking down the dive gear.

photo credit: DK
Checking out the air tanks
Then we moved onto in-water skills; clearing a flooded mask, using our buddy's spare regulator (the thing that goes in your mouth), controlling buoyancy, navigating with a compass, and sucking air from a free-flowing air stream were all things we practiced while 10-20 feet under water. 

photo credit: DK
photo credit: DK
We also learned about performing repetitive dives and using dive tables to safely plan and executive our dives. At the end of all the instruction, we took a 50-question test to ensure we had covered all the book's material and could effectively go dive (in pairs) on our own. NS and I passed and have since received our PADI cards in the mail. Yet another form of photo ID to add to my wallet!

One of the things I like about diving is that it is purposefully relaxing. The harder you work while under water, the faster you'll use up your air, and the sooner your dive must end. For that reason, diving is relatively slow and deliberate. It's a nice way to kick off a Saturday morning, for example, which is what we did a week ago before the Pirates Week Parade in GT. We met four accountant friends at Lighthouse Point and did a single-tank dive along the reef and down the mini-wall. It was a wonderful way to see the beautiful sights under the sea - a landscape that is impossible to put into words due to the variety of colors and sea life existing there. I also love feeling free and weightless (relatively speaking, considering a huge tank of air is strapped to one's back) while under the sea. To turn to look for my "buddy" (you guessed it - NS) usually means doing a full spin, providing a 360-degree view, just because it's fun and easy.

To be honest, I'm still not 100% confident in my diving skills. Six dives just aren't enough to make me feel like an expert at dealing with unusual circumstances (should they arise) underwater. However, we've met many seasoned divers - like JS, from church, who's experienced over 250 dives. That's who I want leading me when diving the North Wall. Hopefully we can use this new certification on a regular basis to take advantage of our surroundings while living in Grand Cayman. And besides, we have a Lionfish or two to snag.


  1. Looks like a blast! Pics are great! Happy diving!

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