In the past, I’ve written stories about the “Daddy-Daughter Dive Trips” Brittany and I take each year. Last August, we went lobster diving in the Keys. In the past we’ve dove the blue hole in Belize to 140 feet and even swam with a whale shark.
Over the years, I’ve made hundreds of dives all over the U.S., Caribbean, and Central America but have come to love diving with her. She’s an excellent diver.
If we happen to be making a trip on a charter dive boat, it’s generally advisable to be one of the first teams off the boat if you hope to see anything special before everything gets spooked by the commotion of a boat load of divers descending on the site. She’s always suited up and ready to go and she never complains. Well … almost never.
On those times when it’s rough and the captain has a hard time positioning the boat, it’s common to spend several minutes wallowing in the swell with diesel fumes blowing back on you. In these situations, it’s also common to see divers become queasy. Though this feeling generally dissipates upon entering the water, such is not always the case and the recommended procedure if you have to “blow your cookies” is to do it through your regulator.
On one of Britt’s first dives, we encountered rough seas. Unbeknownst to me, she found herself queasy. Not only did she not mention it, it was only several days later when I learned she had used the aforementioned trick … and never said a word.
This week I am including an essay she wrote describing her love for diving. I hope you enjoy it.
Life Beneath Surface Level Begins
By Brittany Wilem
Growing up, I knew that once school dismissed for the summer each year, my family would head for someplace tropical. Someplace with a beach and an ocean. My parents, brothers, and I would pack enough food and clothes for several weeks, load them all onto our boat, and head out to sea to our chosen vacation spot for the summer. Most of those years, we chose someplace in the Bahamas – to spend our summer snorkeling, scuba diving, and doing our best to find some sort of adventure.
I am the youngest of three children, with my older siblings both being brothers. As you might imagine, this led to me spending a lot of time playing sports, or doing anything I thought might entice my much-older brothers to play with me. However, in the Bahamas my dad and brothers were often 40 feet or more underwater scuba diving, and when I was too young to dive, I snorkeled along behind them on the surface. For years I could only watch and dream of the day I would join them and see the reefs and fish up close, rather than from the surface.
Those hours I spent snorkeling – watching my dad and brothers scuba diving – were my motivation to become a certified scuba diver one day. My dad surprised me on my 10th birthday by telling me I was now eligible to start taking the necessary classes to become certified. I remember going to the dive shop with my dad to sign up and pick up my books, and being so excited to finally start getting my license. As soon as I got home, I began watching the videos and reading the book immediately.
Sitting in those classes was not the most entertaining thing, but thinking about finally being next to my dad and brothers while exploring reefs in crystal clear blue water kept me focused. After weeks of classes and training in a swimming pool, I was finally allowed to go on my first dive weekend ever to Panama City, Fla. There were three required dives over the course of that weekend, with a list of skills to be performed during each dive, all designed to prove that I had mastered the material well enough to receive my scuba diving certification.
The first time I put on all of my gear and jumped feet first into the ocean is something I will never forget. I was standing on the edge of the boat, looking down into the water, preparing to jump, and nothing else had ever compared to that moment. Those summer days spent watching my dad and brothers, those hours spent reading scuba textbooks and watching videos, and those nights spent sitting through the classes and trying to pay attention had all led up to this moment. This was the moment I would finally get my chance to prove I was ready to go underwater rather than watching from the surface, never allowed to go deeper than ten feet. This was the moment I had dreamed about for all of those summers.
I became a certified scuba diver that weekend and I have loved every minute I’ve spent underwater since then. I mostly scuba dive with my dad now, and every year we take a trip to a different location, where we dive every day for a week to ten days. We started taking these trips about six or eight years ago, and have affectionately named them our “Daddy/Daughter Dive Trips.”
Each of these trips holds a special place in my heart, and each one has given me fond memories that will certainly last a lifetime.
Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.
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