By Finbarr O’Mahony
“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.” – Dave Berry.
So due to the first really inclement weather conditions since I’ve started working at Oceanaddicts I’ve been tasked by Graham to write a blog. Anyone who knows me would believe me when I say I would much prefer to be out on deck with an angle grinder, scrubbing the decks or pulling my fingernails out with a pliers right now, but sometimes you’ve got to take one for the team. As I could never hope to follow on the previous incumbents informative blogs I will just write about my early experiences here as a dive centre assistant/DM.
Its been roughly six weeks since I came on board Embarr for the first time, nervous and feeling unsure if I was making the right decision. Would I settle in? Would my lack of experience of boats and cold water diving make me look like a rank amateur? Should I be continuing my early mid-life crisis? Is there even anything to see underwater in Ireland?
Well its for others to say if I look like a rank amateur or not (all replies will be filed in the appropriate rubbish bin) but as to the other questions I can answer with a empathic YES. Having taken up diving in my early thirties and doing most of my diving in warm tropical waters I had virtually no experience of Irish diving but I was amazed at what is to be found under the surface, from the numerous crustaceans, brightly coloured sponges and anemones, to the cheeky blennies and playful seals. Even a type of hard coral, which was a relief to this self confessed coral geek. As for snorkeling with 6m Basking Sharks for half an hour, well I haven’t processed that one just yet. I read some snorkel masks reviews, and finally bought a new snorkel mask. There are just so many canyons, swim throughs and caves to explore not to mention the amazing wrecks – with the variety of diving and dive sites, life will never be boring while blowing bubbles. (And thanks to Annes amazing baking the extra buoyancy around my waist may even help me develop a tolerance to the cold!)
Life on board has been great (even if I had to get used to new terminology from Captain Ahab). And there is so much diving knowledge and enthusiasm walking around deck (some in neon green crocs) each day, from both the owners and clients, that it is hard not absorb some of it. Everyone has been really helpful in sharing their experience, and passing on what they know. I’ve got to assist some excellent Instructors on the Open Water courses and have enjoyed showing our multi-national clients how eye opening the diving is here. I’m resisting the urge to get involved in the incredible underwater photography sessions, but my resolve is weakening daily! They say variety is the spice of life and definitely no two days are the same down here. Its not a bad place to spend your mid-life crisis.
So if any of you are still awake at this point I just have to say, come and join us for a splash, the pool is open but don’t forget your stab jackets (whatever that means).