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A Beginner Diver’s Journey

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Ever wondered what it’s like to learn to dive?  Marketing Executive Chloe Spencer-Ades from The Scuba Place shares her experience…

I’ve always been a natural sports fanatic, getting involved in anything and everything I could to do with sport. I am extremely competitive and from a young age I was heavily involved in athletics and rugby, which drifted into football, and hockey and so on. Our family weekends consisted of getting up early, driving me to a match on a Saturday, and then the same on a Sunday, until I was old enough to drive myself. I’ve carried on at university, where I play hockey for Loughborough. So, it seemed fitting when I was introduced to the scuba world by my dad, and I knew I’d never look back!

My first ever dive was in Mexico in 2016. I did a try-dive at La Musa, the underwater sculpture museum created by Jason De Caires Taylor. I had no idea what I was doing, but at the young age of 16, I didn’t have any fears (a quality I wish I still had now). I was in extremely safe hands and was itching to get in the water. When I think about that first diving experience, I don’t remember setting up the kit, the pre-dive safety checks, the entry or descent – but I do remember the overwhelming feeling of “I can’t believe I’m doing this, this is crazy!” All I thought about was how little sense it made that I was breathing as normal, underwater, watching fish dash past me, weaving in and out of the Volkswagen Beetle sculpture. It didn’t make sense, but I knew that I had to do it again! I also remember having to sort my mask out a ridiculous number of times, as I was constantly smiling and laughing, and it leaked and leaked.

My next scuba diving adventure was about a year later and this time it was becoming official, I was set to take my PADI Open Water Course! I was rather nervous considering I had only been on one Try Dive over a year ago! I did a lot of studying at home (probably too much) and completed the online theory section of the course before we flew out to Egypt. We spent the week in Roots Red Sea in El Quseir, which sits between Hurghada and Marsa Alam on a really quiet stretch of coastline. If you haven’t been there, it’s a must! It’s a great base for learning to dive as well as for those who are already qualified – even at expert level!

Day One, and we were straight into the pool for our confined water skills such as taking my mask off or filling it with water. The Instructors were amazing, friendly, patient, super-relaxed and honestly, they made it so easy and fun. All the other drills and skills, like buddy-breathing, trying to hover and even simulating running out of air were far easier than I had expected! Then it was off to the house reef to put the skills we had learned in the pool to use – and WOW! Breathing underwater, surrounded by beautiful corals and exotic marine life. It wasn’t easy to concentrate on what we were supposed to be doing at all!

The biggest ‘learn’ for me was that this wasn’t like I had expected it to be – the learning is fun, and it isn’t difficult either. Every lesson or skill has its use, and every dive you do, the skills fit into place more and more.

On Day 4 of our trip, we had one more dive to do and then we were qualified as Open Water Divers!! This last dive was really fun – no skills to demonstrate or learn, and we got to really focus on looking at the corals and marine life – we even spent time watching Nemo on a bright red anemone. It was beautiful. Then, as we headed up to the shallows to make our exit, we spotted puffer fish, a blue spotted stingray, some cuttlefish and some beautiful angel fish.

Once I was a Certified Open Water Diver, I felt like part of the group, a true scuba diver! I was rewarded on my first dive with a visit from a huge green turtle, who could believe it? My first ever turtle encounter immediately after passing, I was in awe!

Three years had passed since my certification, and much to my disappointment, I hadn’t been able to fit in anymore diving. Studies had taken over my life as I took my A-Levels, got into Loughborough University and settled into the university lifestyle. However, I was due to do a placement year where I secured a job with a physiotherapy clinic. As well as working there, my dad made the best decision of his life to hire me as the new Marketing Executive at The Scuba Place in mid-2020!

After a few months of working in my placement year, I was settling in and finding my rhythm. It hadn’t, by any means, been the easiest year for anyone due to Covid-19, let alone for a company working in the travel industry, but we were determined to soldier on. After having several trips postponed, we were eager to get the wheels off of the tarmac. Following some extensive research and planning, The Scuba Place put a trip together to Grenada for October 2020. To say that everyone on the trip was looking forward to it would be an understatement. Unfortunately, nothing comes easily as we did run into some troubles with travelling due to the pandemic. We have an article on this, so check out our other blog post ‘Travelling During a Pandemic’ to see how we handled it all.  Thankfully, we made it to Grenada.

I set myself the challenge of furthering my diving experience and education with the Advanced Open Water, Nitrox and Deep Diver certifications during the Grenada trip. For someone who hadn’t been diving in three years, I was a little nervous. However, as soon as I hit that water and dropped down, that feeling of uncontainable excitement was there. It all came back so naturally, and I was loving it! Every bit of coral, tiny little shrimp, fish and the underwater world itself blew me away all over again! I truly felt like a kid in a sweet shop, and I couldn’t believe all the wonderful things I was seeing!

During the trip to Grenada, I saw my first ever shark, had my first encounter with eagle rays, dived my first ever wreck, saw schooling creole wrasse at the aptly named dive site ‘Purple Rain’ and so many other beautiful things. I passed my Advanced Open Water, my Deep Diver and NITROX certifications! I also made a big gang of friends and buddies who I can’t wait to dive with again! I was so proud of myself, but especially thankful to everyone on that trip. From the dive centre staff, to my instructor, and our clients and friends. That is what scuba diving is all about and that is why I love it. It’s a true community. Everyone you meet shares the same passion, enthusiasm, care for others and love for scuba diving. That’s the most wonderful feeling, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.

I haven’t been diving long, and my journey has only just started, but I can’t wait to get back in the water as soon as we can to continue it!


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

The Scuba Genies are John and Mona Spencer-Ades, Directors of The Scuba Place, a small yet specialist Tour Operator. John started his diving career as a teenager on the beaches of Cornwall and set up The Scuba Place in 2010. John is a PADI Dive Master and has logged over 2000 dives. Mona started diving in 2004, has logged over 400 dives, and is currently undertaking her PADI Rescue Diver. Mona hails from Houston, Texas and moved to the UK in 2016 after getting married to John in Mexico, and joining The Scuba Place as Operations Director. Find out more at www.comedivewithus.co.uk and www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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Dive Training Blogs

My Dive Buddies Episode 1: Alejandro Dutto’s Best Wreck Dives! (Watch Video)

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My Dive Buddies Episode 1: Alejandro Dutto’s Best Wreck Dives!

The first in a new series, where I invite my local scuba diving buddies into the Dive Locker for a beer and a chat! This week I’m chatting with Alejandro Dutto, Co-Founder of the International Scuba Divers Club and Publisher of the digital scuba magazine ‘Trim.’ I know Alejandro is a man after my own heart. Before covid hit, we dived South Florida wrecks together frequently and I’m looking forward to getting back in the water with him.

But for now, I’m happy to have a beer with him and talk about our top three favourite South Florida Wreck Dives. Alejandro also talks about the challenges of filming at technical diving depths and about his new Spanish language dive magazine.

Please follow Alejandro’s channels here:

Thanks everyone! D.S.D.O James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Dive Training Blogs

SSI Launches New Website

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SSI, the world’s largest professional dive business-based training agency, has launched its new website.

Over the last four months, SSI has been hard at work, redesigning its website to make it more user-friendly for divers and more profitable for SSI centers. With increased interactivity, dive customers can easily search for dive courses offered at their level and explore other related activities like freediving and mermaiding.

SSI also put a lot of time and effort into redesigning their website to drive traffic to their SSI Centers. With the “Find Your Training Center” map prominently displayed on every course page, SSI is driving potential business to its Training Centers around the world.

Here’s a comprehensive list of what the new SSI website has to offer new divers searching for their first certification, current divers looking to expand their dive experience, and valued SSI dealers.

  • Quality course and product content – Each page now features a link to a Free Course Preview and map of Training Centers currently offing the course. There is also a revised facts table based on actual SSI Training Standards with a link to the pathway poster and various certification options, if applicable.
  • Intelligent cross-linking to other tools like the SSI Center Locator with Event Calendar and MyDiveGuide DiveSpots and Destinations. SSI always aims to drive business directly to SSI Training Centers and Resorts.
  • New Site Map with enhanced navigation has a stronger focus on the user experience with the start-continue-lead approach, and an updated Header/Footer with optimized search functionalities.
  • SEO optimization for better search results and higher reach, as well as updated landing pages to create leads.
  • Improved performance by consolidating and simplifying the SSI system architecture. This will also centralize data and content management in one place.
  • More possibilities for Cross-Marketing Campaigns with strategic SSI partners.

Go to Divessi.com to explore SSI’s interactive course offerings and map to get you dreaming of diving again.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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