by B N Sullivan
I've always loved the water. I learned to swim at a young age, and -- as family legend has it -- when we went to the beach, I was always the first kid in the water, and the last one to come out.
When I was 10 years old, my father gave me a dive mask, a snorkel, and a pair of swim fins. It turned out to be a pivotal event in my life. From the moment I first put on that mask and looked below the surface of the water, that was it: I was destined to be a diver.
That first experience was not even in the ocean. It was in a lake in Pennsylvania, where I spent my childhood. There wasn't a whole lot to see: pebbles on the muddy bottom, a few sprigs of some kind of aquatic plant, legs and feet of people wading in the shallows -- but I was utterly fascinated with being able to see what people on the surface could not. My fate was sealed.
From that time forward I found it difficult to venture into any natural body of water -- lake, pond, river, sea -- without my mask and snorkel. I dreamed of learning to SCUBA dive, and finally found the opportunity to do so in the spring of 1970. I was living in Greece at the time, and my first instructors were U.S. Navy divers who were stationed there. They started a dive club, offered their own training course to prospective members, and issued a club 'certification.' (More on this in posts to follow.)
About a year later, still in Greece, I completed a course sanctioned by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) and was duly certified as a SCUBA Diver by that agency. A number of years later I completed a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification course.
When Jerry and I first met in the mid-1970s, one of the many things we discovered we had in common was a love of the ocean. He had grown up participating in ocean sports in Hawaii -- especially body-surfing, (board) surfing and snorkeling. He told me that he had often thought about taking a SCUBA course, but he didn't know anyone else who was really into that sport until he met me.
A year or so before we were married, Jerry became a certified Open Water Diver through a NAUI training program in Honolulu. Somewhat later he, too, acquired a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification. By then we had logged many hundreds of dives in each other's company.
Meanwhile, I had begun my underwater photography hobby, and we had begun to travel together to exotic locations around the globe to dive and take pictures underwater. At some point, we found it expedient to pursue additional dive training. We first trained together to become certified Rescue Divers. Finally, we qualified together as PADI Divemasters.