One of the most profound experiences my wife and I had while raising our children has been scuba diving as a family.
My scuba experiences began in the early 80’s. Unfortunately, as the old expression goes, “life got in the way” and well, I fell out of the sport after our careers and family took center stage. Our son earned his scuba certification as a Boy Scout when he was 12. We started to dive together soon after, and he was so entranced by everything to see, he simply forgot his buddy principles and would wander off occasionally. I would then hear that little voice in my head (let’s be clear, it was my wife’s voice) repeating to me, “do not lose Wil!” I often joked about attaching a “Jon line” to his backplate so he could not stray. I actually threatened him once when diving in the Florida Keys after he wondered off and left me while on a deep wreck. As time passed, he became more aware and developed into a conscientious dive buddy. Attentive, asking questions and simply more in-tune with the fact that we depended on each other. This happened just in time for my wife and daughter to take the plunge and join us on what would be a family adventure!
Our path to diving as a family almost did not happen. While on vacation one year celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary, my wife and daughter signed up for a scuba experience at the resort. Wil and I were planning to dive a few times and he wanted to upgrade his Jr. Open Water certification. Meanwhile, Meg and Maggie’s experiences turned out to be a “check the box” type of event for their bucket list and it was over. After returning, Wil and I decided that we would take a few courses, go on a few dive trips and dive a local quarry during the summer months. Meg and Maggie soon were intrigued enough with our excursions that they once again ventured into the sport and became certified. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Once certified, Meg and Maggie caught the bug and we began taking trips as a family to many amazing places. Each began to explore different avenues of scuba diving from fish identification and wreck diving to sidemount configuration and underwater photography. Meanwhile, Wil and I were on our way to becoming Divemasters. Soon all of our vacations and holidays were spent on some island or a liveaboard vessel diving, shooting video, taking pictures and enjoying the “life aquatic.” We are fortunate enough to have made these family memories. It has driven us to develop a passion for the sport and branch out into sailing as well (another passion I had as a young teenager that was never fully explored). It’s no wonder Meg and I agreed that as part of our retirement plan, we would spend time diving and sailing while teaching and sharing lasting memories on board with guests. This is how Compass Dive and Sail came about.
I am not suggesting that a family simply jump right into the life of diving. However, if you have done this as a young adult or want to have a different sort of family vacation other than the regular trips to the beach or Disney World, branch out and give it a look. Check out scuba diving as a family and show your children the other 70% of the planet. It truly is a safe, fun, nurturing and eye-opening experience! For all of you who have “water baby” children or just love adventure, try something off the beaten path. You will never regret your decision.
Doug Carlson – SSI and PADI Master Instructor, DAN Examiner, Business Owner