Disney World Aquarium Dive - Epcot

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Our buddy, Mark, invited us out to do the Disney aquarium dive at Epcot last year. He was in town with his family and generously extended the offer to crash his vacay for an awesome experience underwater. Unfortunately for us, we had already planned a trip north to visit family and we just couldn’t make it happen. Bummer, man.

So, finally…we made the trip. The Epcot aquarium was our first dive this year. In fact, it broke a 133 day surface interval. We are not proud of this by the way but we tell it like it is. So we fought traffic.

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Three hours later for our projected two hour trip. We get there with 15 minutes to spare. It was a Friday and the snow birds and early spring breakers make navigating the roads a little trickier (and slower, painfully slower) than usual. But we made it.

Our group was awesome! Our tour guide was awesome! The dive was awesome! Eagle rays and stingrays. Guitarfish. Reef sharks, hammerheads, bonnet heads, and sand tiger sharks. Tons of fish. An enormous sea turtle brushed her fin on my thigh while we were gearing up. A little fresh for the first date but I was game.

One of the coolest parts of this dive was actually being a part of someone else’s Disney experience. Wow, was that fun! We played rock, paper, scissors with the kids and waved at the families eating dinner. The aquarium forms the major wall for the fine dining experience. People took our pictures and we had a blast making their Disney days even more magical.

Better believe in it, folks. This dive really was magical. It had all the beautiful critters you’d wanna see and everyone there is looking for a little magic. The good vibes flowing through the place really made it special. People just being excellent to each other, as it should be.

This is one for the books. See for yourself!

The Scuba Machine

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Are you sure ol’ Jacques done it this way?

We can’t help but ask. Ben and I have our reasons for not being dive pros. You can read about them. There’s a formula to SCUBA. Just like pop country. Verse, chorus, verse. Fiddle, banjo, steel guitar. OW certification. Advanced. You’ve come this far, diver. Why settle for master diver when you could be a DIVEMASTER and make money from your passion? Then assistant instructor and on up. Maybe you’re a REAL adventurer. A true convert. A dyed in the wool badass. There are underwater caves, you know...and don’t forget the magnificent nothingness at 100 meters!

There’s nothing wrong with any of that. We just find it odd that there’s not a whole lot of innovation in the industry. At every turn, it’s the next certification, the next trip, the next gadget, the next…. Hey, man! Let’s just hop in and get wet alright? Let’s kick around on the bottom and play with the fish and hang out by the reefs. Let’s enjoy what brought us here in the first place. THEN, let’s share it with others so they can see for themselves what goes on beneath the surface.

We love when we see amateur SCUBA video online. It takes a great deal of courage to put your work out there and share your sport with the world! Sharing the underwater world is what this thing is all about. It also takes a great amount of fortitude to ask strangers on the internet for diving advice. Unfortunately, the online dive communities are rife with zealots who can’t understand why someone would do something any differently than them. We need to be excellent to each other. Support those new divers! Support the next generation of SCUBA leaders. Show them by your excellent example how to carry the torch - and pass it when they fall.

...and where’s the original content guys? This is the 2010’s baby. Top ten lists are getting old. We need some substance. What happened on the dive? How did it make you feel? Who was with you? Only people who do what you do care about your gear and which camera and which lens. The rest of the world wants to FEEL it. They want to live your adventure. They have to get goosebumps thinking about the impossibly cold water. A little apprehension has to grip their throats envisioning the dark swirls. Muscles ache after leaning into their screens, imagining those first moments when you splashed beneath the waves to bring things unseen into the light.

Diving is adventure and magic. It makes you a better person. It lets you see through to the soul of the world.You meet wonderful people and share the best of times. Your life is filled with the higher things as you explore what lies below. The camaraderie grows out of shared experience and the knowledge that there is more to the world than meets the eye. That is SCUBA. And that is what keeps us coming back.

Be excellent to each other.

Be Excellent to Each Other

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This is what defines diving for us. From day one, we have been surrounded by the finest people the dive world has to offer. Our questions were handled with patience and a knowing grin. Our enthusiasm gently reigned in by experience. Our fears and discomforts tempered by steady resolve.

As time went on, we took advanced courses and learned more. We certainly learned more about how little we know. We spent time with the local dive club. Our group of divers became good friends. A tiny microcosm of the dive community nestled in the unlikeliest of places in the heartland.

It continued further. We were suddenly helping with new divers and answering questions. Swapping out gear at the quarry and working as officers in our little dive club. Traveling with the regulars on the annual trips and truly enjoying what this sport offers.

All of these wonderful experiences are a direct result of being excellent to each other. Giving other people your best. Being willing to receive it. Opening yourself up to the experience.

It gets talked about a lot. The concept has lent itself to industry jargon and buzzwords that end up being void of the intended message, or really any meaning at all.

When we got out and started doing our thing, we realized that not everyone gets the same experience we had. We’ve met some of the finest people around. We've also met some folks who just don't “get it.”

So we ask you divers, instructors, shop owners, boat operators: be excellent to each other. Remember what brought you here and what brings us together. Be kind and be patient. Work every day to make the sport better. Be open to new ways of thinking. Be excellent to each other in every way. See you soon.

Here is a video from our recent drive on the Duane in Key Largs. This dive has a great story we will share in an upcoming blog post.

When Winds Change

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” 
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Recently we decided to take a spontaneous trip up to Blue Grotto Dive Resort. The resort is about three hours north of us and a dive was desperately needed. Waaaaay too much surface interval… So we packed up and hit the road. 

Everything was moving along quite famously until we got on 75, then things came grinding to a halt. We creeped along for two hours. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Mostly Stop. We watched the estimated arrival time drift further and further into the future until it hit 4:15pm. The latest divers can drop in is at 4pm. We pulled off at a rest stop to consult a map and regroup.

There was some scuttlebutt drifting around as to why we were all stuck on 75 headed north. It was spring break and maybe there was an accident. Or construction. Or….?     Well, whatever the cause, we weren’t diving today. 

But that wouldn’t do of course. We had spent too much time looking for a spot and getting ready. We’d already been on the road half the day. It wouldn’t hurt to just get a little dive in somewhere nearby, right? Right! 

The new course was set for Hudson Grotto. A little recalculating and a U-turn later we were on our way. It was an hour and a half but we’d still get there in time for a dive or two….and we did! 

Hudson is deep. 110 feet straight down. It’s dark. Not just from depth, though. It’s brackish water is tannic and looks like tea. Luckily, it’s not too chilly! Just like the other springs and grottos, it is 72F year round. Still dove dry though. 

The guys at the shop were awesome and gave us everything we needed. Maps, good tips, very friendly. We had an awesome experience. As far as the diving, we will let the video do the talking. Viz was a little worse than usual from what we were told so another trip will be in order. We really didn’t see much! 

At the end of the day though, we got to dive a new spot and meet some wonderful people. Sometimes when you’re out looking for a dive - or anything - things just don’t go as planned. If the winds change, learn to set a better sail. Be flexible. Let things happen for you. 

Untold Diving

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It’s easy to forget what the full color spectrum of diving looks like. When most people think of SCUBA, they conjure up images of the Caribbean or Southeast Asia. Sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Who doesn’t? 

But all over the world, in quiet little spots you’ve never heard of, people are diving. And not only are these people diving, but they dive ALOT. I knew this of course, and you may know it too. I was one of them. My first year diving, 90% of them were in the same rock quarry an hour and 15 minutes from my house. Sure I dove many other places, but that one was home. 

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Maybe you wouldn’t think there was much to talk about, diving the same old spots over and over again. Hanging out with the small group of like minded divers week after week and month after month. Over time though, you realize it’s not the diving that calls you back, it’s your friends. It’s the way that group makes you FEEL. 

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These groups exist all over the world. Every single body of water a diver has been to and declared serviceable has a family of divers gathered around it. Every group shares the bond of the dive. Every dive has a story. 

With that being said, one of our new friends at underwater.world is Martin Pospisil from Duchcov, Czech Republic. He reached out to us on Facebook and told us about some of his adventures diving Central Europe. Hearing him talk about Neptune Divers and reading his blog made us feel right at home. Like we’ve been diving with them for years. 

So here is another strand in the beautiful tapestry woven together by our collective efforts as divers. Your story is our story, Martin! Thank you!

 

Why Creating Activists Doesn’t Work

This one may sting a little. It was hard to write.

Diving is an amazing sport. I don’t care why you do it. Everyone’s got their reasons and every reason is valid. I’m really just happy you’re here! I mean, what better way to interact with other humans in the technology age than to go 40 feet below water and not have to speak to them? That’s a joke guys….come on!

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Some people start for something to do. A new adventure. Others dive to take their photography to the next level. Some dive to study marine life. The military dives to better defend the nation. Public safety personnel dive to better serve the populace.

Once we start diving and see firsthand things we knew conceptually, but didn’t know emotionally, things begin to change. We begin to see how the things above affect those things below. We experience things firsthand that many, many people will NEVER experience. We become connected to the future of the underwater world because we can no longer ignore it.

Consequently, I get asked a lot why there isn’t more conservation activism among the dive community. Personally, I think there’s a lot already but it doesn’t seem to quite go far enough for some people. There is an awful lot of money being thrown at the issues of plastic in the ocean, climate change, wildlife conservation, species protection, the list goes on….but is it enough to see systemic change? Well, it’s getting there.

A quick disclaimer. I’m not an expert on this topic. I don’t play one on the internet. I’m still learning about diving in general, let alone something as weighty as saving the oceans. These are just some ideas from an ol’ Indiana boy fresh from the cornfields.

I didn’t grow up near the water, but I understand conservation. I’m a Hoosier, so let’s use deer as an example. Each year the Indiana Department of Natural Resources takes stock of the deer population and determines how healthy and robust it is for each county. Then they set limits on how many deer can be harvested by hunters. Let’s leave gun activism at the door please and stay on track. Hunting is used as a control on the deer population to prevent them from becoming a nuisance. The healthier the deer herd, the more can be harvested. If for some reason, the health of the herd starts declining, The DNR tightens up and restricts the number of deer tags they issue.

A similar thing is going on with lionfish as we speak. Everybody knows they’re invasive and will sting you. For most, that’s reason enough to go after them but they happen to be quite tasty as well. Bonus! So, we know conservation works. Could we possibly be allowing other issues to divide us?

My first thought about why “creating activists” doesn’t work is simple: Not many people want to jump in the ring and argue about the methods. The reason most ideas don’t get past the “Yeah, let’s do something!” stage is because of this reason alone. The cause is soon forgotten and the method gets all the press. There are two kinds of people in the world. People who please methods and people who please results. I think we can all agree that results are what we’re after. As to methods there are many. Principles are few. Let’s spend some more time working out the principles and coming to a consensus there. THEN we can choose our methods responsibly. (Hopefully with less cuss and more discuss!)

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Another thing that comes to mind is labels. Human beings like things to fit in the box. Country. R&B. Rock. Good. Bad. Pretty. Ugly. Rec. Tec. Cave. This is understandable. It’s even necessary to our psyches I’m quite sure. A second observation about activism are the images that get conjured up when you hear the word. Is it fists in the air at a march? The quiet opposition of a sit in? Tiananmen square? Donating money to a cause? Going out and doing the work? Being politically involved? Maybe the word activism has been used in conjunction with behaviors that many people consider to be radical and as such, do not want to identify with. To some, this isn’t an issue. Others may find it distasteful. Being an “activist” may cause someone to be perceived in a way they don’t like. Managing perception when you want people to be on your side can’t be understated. The issue could simply be that people don’t want to be called an “activist” because it has a negative connotation to them. Can you blame them?

This next thought is one that people don’t talk about much. I think they know it intuitively but maybe can’t express it. Take money as an example. Most people have never seen $100,000 cash. Like all at once. Sitting on a table. Neatly stacked and strapped. Maybe you are one of the lucky few who has. Have you seen a million? A million seconds is 11.57 days. A billion seconds is 11,574 days or 31.71 YEARS. The economies of scale at work here are insane. My point is this: eight million metric tonnes of plastic ended up in the oceans in 2010. I can’t grok that guys. Most people can’t envision it. We’ve never seen it. It’s like the tooth fairy to most of the world. Without a yardstick to measure against, how can someone get emotionally involved with it?

Kind of makes you feel sorry for those poor souls elected to Congress. They’ve never seen a million cash and they have to impact trillions of dollars. Puts things in perspective don’t you think?  

So, how do we get involved? I don’t know what the answer is to be honest. I submit to you, it starts by being excellent to each other. We all have a tendency to take things personally when we discuss issues we care about. But like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse, we need to be nice. That’s easier said than done. When you talk about something really big and somewhat onerous to fathom like climate change, you can argue there isn’t time for niceties. Things need to change right now to impact it….and you may be right. But changing an entire nation’s (or world’s!) perspective on it takes more than a well thought out article with cited sources. It takes time and education. It takes effort. It takes breaking down the issues at hand so they are easily understandable. It takes consistency in delivering the message. It takes understanding WHY the message isn’t being received.

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And about that message... How is it being framed? I can easily be turned off by the wrong message. Or more to the point, even if I agree with the message, I can be completely shut off by its delivery. For instance, I love being sold to. I know, this sounds nuts. I love going to a men’s store and looking for a suit and having a professional salesperson make suggestions. You would probably prefer this style. Your neck looks like a 16 1/2 and shoulders at a 42. That shirt doesn’t work for you, try this. The colors here compliment each other. When it’s time to make the buying decision, they clam up. Whoever speaks first, loses.

The opposite can happen though. They can sell me the suit because that’s what I came in for, but it won’t feel good. You know when you’re getting the old hard sell, complete with tie down questions like, “how does that sound?”  or “fair enough?” If you pull the trigger on it, you just feel kind of slimy. I may agree that I need the suit, but I really disliked the delivery. Framing the message with the end goal in mind - “What am I trying to accomplish?” And “How will it be recieved?” - are super important.

So, anyway... we didn’t solve the world’s problems or anything but I wanted to share some thoughts. I could be way off base here. What do you think?

Until next time: Be Excellent to Each Other

Designing a Life You Don't Want to Escape From Part 2 - The Resistance

Part 2 in our Lifestyle Design Series. If you missed part 1, you can find it here.

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Before we get into the rest of the story, we would be remiss not to point out the duality of the universe we live in. You can’t have an up without a down, an in without an out, a positive without a negative. You can’t change this. You can’t change human nature. When we decided to move and began putting things into motion, there was resistance. People would say things like: “I like to vacation there but I wouldn’t want to live there.” “The schools are terrible in Florida.” “They have a HUGE drug problem there.” “Don’t you think it’s unwise to just quit your job and have nothing lined up?” And on and on and on.

It was scary. It really was. We want to make an effort to get this point across. We are rational human beings with control issues just like you. We don’t do well with grand plans and no details just like you. We don’t enjoy the unknown just like you. The whole idea made us...well, queasy.

But we did it anyway. Why? BECAUSE OF REASONS!

It’s been said that to achieve a goal, to push past the resistance, you have to have a goal worth failing for. The goal was to make underwater.world better. To expand our lives. To have a life worth living. One we didn’t want to escape from. To choose every detail in our lives with the express purpose of making them better. We can’t think of a better goal than that. I think that’s a goal worth failing for.

And so the resistance continued. In fact, it compounded and multiplied exponentially. I went two months without a job. I haven’t had a period of unbroken employment since I took my first job at 12 years old. Sure, I could have taken any old job to make a buck. But I didn’t want to settle. Once I did get the job, the schedule was awful and I was on call all the time and working in the middle of the night, etc. Guess I jumped too soon. No time for blogging and diving. Ben’s job lined up quickly but wasn’t what he was really looking for either. High stress, no mental bandwidth for blogging or diving. Just awful.

The home buying process. This was a huge step for everyone involved. Remember that cute little duplex on the beach that was too small? We fell in love with it and decided to buy it. Without using a realtor. We had never done that before. Also, Ben had never financed a house before. It’s a long, painful financial rectal exam. Ouch.

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Why was this such a critical and soul churning adjustment? My family of four plus dog was downsizing from 3,000 square feet to 950. Ben was taking his household from 1,600 down to 950. Time to purge. Everything must go!

Ben kept his Indiana house and found a renter. Normally, this would be a headache but somehow this was the smooth part of the process. With the crazy schedules, calls in the middle of the night, roadblock after roadblock with the financing, arguments with the seller, having your entire life packed up in a storage unit, and three adults plus two kids and a dog sharing 950 square feet (we only got to use one side!) things were extremely stressful. Just the day in and day out stuff grated on everyone’s nerves. There was a lot of emotion and anger - along with a lot of apologies. Ben and I quit eating. Not because we wanted to, mind you. The entirety of the situation left us so nauseous we couldn’t stomach anything. We each lost 10-15 pounds. Some days were so bad, we couldn’t do anything but stare at the palm trees and wonder if it would eventually all be worth it.

Now, keep in mind we can walk to the beach and have toes in the water in about 3 minutes. During this time, we made it to the beach maybe twice a month! It was easily the hardest adjustment I’ve ever had to make in my life. Everything was different. The people, the driving, the work pace. Everything was foreign to me. The stress was comparable to the nine months I spent in Iraq. Not quite on the same level of course, but close enough to recognize it.

Using only one side of the duplex meant the other was being rented continuously throughout the process. We weren’t even sure when they were moving out. The washer broke. So now there are trips to the laundromat. Can’t use the washer next door. The seller is in and out moving stuff when we aren’t on the best of terms. Constant and never-ending stress. Waiting for the next phone call. The next text. The next shoe to drop.

The resistance to our changes was stronger than any of us expected. But that’s the way of the world, is it not? Any time you move in a new direction or chase what you really want, there’s going to be some work involved. You can’t have the muscles without the heavy lifting, the sunshine without the rain, or the light without the darkness. See you next week...

Come to Canada - we have interesting diving, I promise...

Our friend and guest contributor Alisha Postma of Dive Buddies 4 Life joins us today to extol the wonders of Canadian diving. Makes us want to go north for a visit.

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For all those divers who think Canada is a write off dive country, I’m here to tell you, you couldn’t be more wrong. 
 
Sure we may only enjoy 4 months of summer, have cold northern temperatures and play a lot of hockey, but we also love to dive. With 202,080 kilometers of coastline, diving in Canada offers some of the most pristine and untouched marine environments in the world. 


Diving in Canada is Cold

It’s very understandable that cold water diving gets a bad reputation - it certainly takes a special kind of person to brave the elements. Maybe it’s the copious amounts of thermal protection or maybe it’s the fact that you need so much weight to compensate for the gear. Regardless of why, for most people diving in cold water is unpleasant, awkward and lacks the thrill of the sunny south.  

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Depending on where you live in the world, your concept of hot and cold water will vary considerably, but most divers agree that Canada is COLD! Most Canadian divers use either a drysuit or 7mm, two piece wetsuit with gloves and a hood to weather the low temperatures. 

 

 

The Canadian Marine Flora and Fauna

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 One thing prospective divers need to wrap their head around when contemplating a dive in Canada, is the visibility and marine life expectancy. As much as we’d love to say we have tonnes of biodiversity and can see for miles, the reality is diving in Canada isn’t like diving a tropical reef. Don’t get me wrong, there is flashes of brilliant colour here and there, in certain fish, anemones and algae, but in all honesty most of the plant, substrate and even water tone will be a variation of brown, green and beige. 

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Some Top Diving Ideas For Canada

Canada is a huge country with plenty to see and do, both above and below the water. Being the second largest country in the world, don’t expect to dive it all in one shot. Here are a few Canadian dive adventures to put on your scuba diving list:

Dive the Bay of Fundy

If extreme and unique appeal to you, try your hand at diving in the Bay of Fundy.

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Home to the largest tides in the world, the Bay of Fundy is nestled right in between the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Because of the extreme tidal range the flora and fauna in this area is bountiful, but the visibility and water can be unpredictable so make sure you visit Fundy with a knowledgeable dive guide.  

A definite spot to check out, and one of our favorite dive sites on the east coast of Canada, is Deer Island, part of a small collection of islands at the entrance to Passamaquoddy Bay. Here the largest tides in the world form a mighty and powerful whirlpool like effect during high and low tides. As daunting as it sounds the underwater biodiversity is so bountiful I have yet to find another site like it on the Canadian east coast.

Indulge in an Ice Dive

There is nothing more fitting than putting “Ice Dive” and “Canada” in the same sentence. 

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The frozen world is a place unlike anything you may have explored to date. It’s super clear and majestic, but if not done correctly can also be very dangerous. Strap on your drysuit an sink into some of the chilliest waters you have every dipped your fins in. Canada is the perfect place to dust off that ice diving bucket list item. 

The PADI ice diving course can easily be done over a weekend with a small amount of book study and three ice dives. With tonnes of inland lakes that freeze over in January, February and March, in Canada you will have lots of choice on where to do your ice diving course, but be warned ice diving is not an adventure for the fainthearted. 

Explore the Nova Scotia Coastline

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The maritime province of Nova Scotia is known as Canada’s ocean playground and with good reason. The beautiful expanse of coastline, extensive fisherman population and famous Peggy’s Cove lighthouse make this region of Canada a fun filled place to visit all year round. 
 
Diving in Nova Scotia is a very popular hobby. There are tonnes of boat and shore diving sites that can be visited by many-a-diver. For those with their own transportation and dive equipment, the shore diving sites are easy to find and even easier to dive. Here is a small list of our favorite Halifax and area shore diving sites.

If you are more of a boat diver, there are local dive shops that will be more than happy to take you out to the many wrecks resting at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Dive in Beautiful BC

You haven’t dove in Canada until you have sunk beneath the wave of British Columbia.

Canada’s west coast is a fan favorite among tourists. Maybe it’s the incredible views of the Rocky Mountains, or maybe it’s the azure blue alpine lakes, whatever the case, visit once and the beauty will have you coming back again and again. 

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From amazing macro life to creature riddled walls, it should come as no surprise that the emerald waters of Canada’s most western province is a jewel to dive. Between shore dives and boat dives, the sites to explore are endless and the diving season is open all-year round! 

 

Visit Lake Country Ontario

That’s right! If you want to try diving in a lake, Ontario is the freshwater diving capital of Canada.

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Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, and Ontario is home to 4 of them. The Great Lakes and their associated rivers were, and still are, a major transportation route in North America. They are also known for causing violent storms that arise quickly and unpredictably. Because of this tonnes of shipwrecks can be found littered along the bottom of the lakebed.

Talk to any lake diver and everyone will have a different opinion on which lake diving sites are the best. But the few that seem to remain a fan favourite are Tobermory, 1000 Islands and the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior. 

For divers looking to get their fins wet in lake country, expect to get your fill of wreck diving.

Come and Dive Canada

Sometimes adventures happen where you least expect them, and in Canada the underwater world is a relatively untouched place just waiting to be explored. Canadian waters may be cold, but there is still so much life, fragility, and unique things to see. Don’t let the cold stop you from trying a dive or two in our neck of the woods!

About Alisha Postma of Dive Buddies 4 Life:

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From staring down a 300 lb sand tiger shark to currently being a certified PADI divemaster, Alisha Postma’s resume is pretty jam packed with extreme water hobbies. A scuba diver, photographer and ocean activist with a background in marine biology, Alisha loves being underwater and the only thing she’s missing is a tail. Alisha and her husband Joey are plunging into as many strange and exotic waters as possible and share their adventures on their scuba diving blog. Together they hope to promote ocean conservation and help the world understand what a beautiful place the aquatic realm can be. Connect with Alisha and Joey from Dive Buddies 4 Life on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram.

Designing a Life You Don't Want to Escape From - Part 1

I don’t know where we heard it first. Maybe Tim Ferris of “The Four Hour Work Week.” Maybe it was one of the many blogs we read or YouTube channels we like. It doesn’t really matter. Just like Leo DiCaprio in Inception, the idea took root and wouldn’t let go.

It was on the way back from the Bahamas. We talked and talked and talked about the trip and what we wanted to do with Underwater.world. We had already been diving at most of the spots within driving distance of our old Indiana homes. We even made time for the longer trips.

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So there on the plane, we decided we’d move to Florida. Someplace far enough south we could take advantage of excellent weather year round. Someplace within a five hour drive of all the best diving the state has to offer. Someplace on or near the beach. Someplace with lots of palm trees.

When we got home, we made a list of must haves for the house. We did the usual stuff. Three bed, two bath. Open layout. Walking distance to grocery. Close to entertainment. Then the more detailed: Near or on water. Decent schools for the kids. Close to the job market. On the gulf side. Minimal maintenance. I’ve been accused of laziness for this one. You see, I grew up working on farms. One was cattle, chickens, goats, llamas, and a horse. The other was all llamas and Alpacas. I also lived on 3/4 of an acre. I spent the greater part of a decade going from property to property cutting grass and pulling weeds and trimming whatever bristly, prickly devil bush grew out of the earth. Checking oil, gassing up, yanking the starter cord, cussing, and sweating in the August sun. Minimal maintenance was high on the list. Good on you if you’re into that kind of thing. A lot of folks take pride in it and I respect that. I will admire your handiwork from my side of the fence!

Then we sat on the idea for awhile. We hunted online for homes in the Tampa Bay area. I hadn’t been to the area since I was a teenager and frankly didn’t remember much. Ben had never been to the area. Geographically though, it met all our requirements. So here’s point number one: We didn’t have all the information necessary to be “absolutely certain” this was the right place. 

As you already know, we had media passes to cover DEMA 2017 in November. It was held in Orlando. As the day grew closer, it hit us: why come back? The thought of shivering our way through another Indiana winter was the last thing we wanted to do. Indiana is gray and painful January through March. Every year, I would absolutely slog through those three months wondering why in the world I was putting up with it. ¡No mas, señor!

I called up an old friend who had some beachfront rentals and negotiated a three week rental agreement. The plan was simple: one week hunting houses with a realtor and job hunting, one week at DEMA, one week of scouting a short term rental while the house buying and selling process went down. Ben and I put in our two weeks notice at our jobs. He was involved in an interview process. I wasn’t having any luck as an out of state applicant and I’d been at it since late August. This is point number two: We just had to make a decision and do it. We would be in the tail end of an Indiana winter if we waited for things to be perfect. Actually, we’d probably find ourselves still there ten years from now. 

We packed up half our lives and made the 18 hour trip. We arrived, very tired of course, to our rental on the beach. A cute little duplex we would call home for the next three weeks. My friend asked if we’d like to buy it as she was considering selling it. Each side has about 950 square feet and as much as we liked the looks of the place, it was just too small. So there we were, standing on Madeira Beach with no jobs, no long term arrangements, no idea where we would end up, and a plan we banged together in about two days. 

Funny thing is, we didn’t care. Not in the slightest. We didn’t have anything except the unshakeable belief that we had all the tools necessary to make it a reality.
 

The Turtle at Jupiter!

Today we have the final video of our diving in Jupiter, Florida. Captain Dustin McCabe said it was unusual to see sea turtles in the cooler months but we got lucky. This one was calmly munching breakfast when we arrived on the bottom.

Well, things are finally starting to settle down since we moved to Florida and we’ve got stories... We have lots of stories actually. Anytime you step out of the norm to do bigger things, there will be resistance. So we will be sharing the ups and downs there - along with more diving of course!

Be Excellent to Each Other!

Jupiter, Florida Diving and How it Came to Be

First of all, thank you for following along! We are over 2,000 strong on Facebook and growing each week. How cool is that?

A huge benefit to being connected with the dive community is people reaching out to tell us their stories and inviting us to dive. Dustin McCabe of Florida Scuba Charters is one example and you can watch his story here.

Send us a message here or on FB @adventuresunderwaterworld. We’d love to hear from you!!

Dustin was kind enough to take us out on his boat and show off the beauty of east coast Florida diving. There was a lot to see and we barely scratched the surface!

When we drove out to the boat, we were certain we would get stormed out. It was pouring rain and flashing lightning. I called Dustin and he assured me the weather would clear out in 45 minutes and seas would lay down. I looked at Ben and said good luck to this captain’s next job because he may be on his way out of this one....but I turned out to be dead wrong! By the time we pulled in, the rain quit and the wind stopped blowing. Not only did the seas lay down, but it was almost to the minute! Nobody on the crew was surprised at Dustin’s accuracy and there were whispers about the captain who has wizard-like insight into the weather patterns of the area.

So here’s the first segment in our Jupiter installment. We hope you enjoy it. Take some time to look us up on Facebook and as always: Be Excellent to Each Other!
 

Freedivers at Ginnie Springs

A nice side benefit of diving is the stuff that happens along the way. It could be a chance encounter or an experience you never had before. It could be a great story or a sunset. In our case, it was just being around other people having fun. Check out our last video from the dives at Ginnie Springs!

 

 

The Turtles of Ginnie Springs

During our trip to Ginnie Springs, we got to do something I’ve always wanted: swim with snapping turtles. Growing up in Indiana, I fished all the time. I fished so much, it wasn’t uncommon for me to reach in the tackle box for a bobber, hook, or sinker and have nothing left.

As time went on, I accidentally hooked my first snapper. When we pulled him out of the muddy water, he was none too happy with the hook in his mouth. Snapping turtles have a reputation for being crotchety and a little mean. When properly motivated, they can lunge a few inches off the ground and three feet forward. They have also been known to climb chain link fencing.

Over the years, I always wished for the opportunity to see what it was like for them under the surface. Finally, it came. Let us know what you think!

Ginnie Springs

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 After Christmas ended, we started calling around to see who would be open on New Year's day so we could get some dives in. The choice was easy since most places were closed. Lucky for us though, a place we’ve been doing to check off our list was Ginnie Springs. 

Ginnie Springs is in High Springs, Florida and sits just off the Santa Fe River. There are five e different dive options. You can drift dive the Santa Fe in certain parts of the year when visibility is decent.

Then you've got the Devil Spring system which is three cave entrances. The first is Little Devil. Basically it's a four foot wide crack that drops down to 40 feet or so with an opening in the bottom. Next, there's Devil's eye and Devil's ear, which are two more cave openings. Devil's Ear is actually in the Santa Fe and the clear water flowing out mixes with the muddier river water, creating some really cool visual effects.

For the first dive of the day, we picked Ginnie Ballroom. It’s a cavern dive deemed safe enough for open water divers to explore. Up to that point, we had never been in a cavern. Well, if you don't count the cave mouth at Vortex Spring anyway. The site itself isn't very big but we were the only divers there and it was nice having the place to ourselves!

The water was 72F but the air was cold at 40 degrees. Thankfully, we had the foresight to bring the drysuits! We dropped in and headed into the cavern. They’ve set up a nice guideline leading inside. Toward the back is a grate where fresh spring water flows out so the current inside the cavern was pretty strong. I kicked against it for awhile and realized I wasn't going anywhere, so I just relaxed and let it push me back up and out towards daylight. Well, mostly. Actually, I ended up drifting towards Ben and grabbing the guideline with my glove. As I gently swung around, I blinded myself in the camera lights. Facepalm.

We made our way back to the spring pool and ran into two divers on their way in, as well as a group of guys swimming and blowing bubbles rings which we will share coming up. The dive was a blast and we finished by shooting some video in the shallows. Have a look!

Be Excellent to Each Other

This is what defines diving for us. From day one, we have been surrounded by the finest people the dive world has to offer. Our questions were handled with patience and a knowing grin. Our enthusiasm gently reigned in by experience. Our fears and discomforts tempered by steady resolve.

As time went on, we took advanced courses and learned more. We certainly learned more about how little we know. We spent time with the local dive club. Our group of divers became good friends. A tiny microcosm of the dive community nestled in the unlikeliest of places in the heartland.

It continued further. We were suddenly helping with new divers and answering questions. Swapping out gear at the quarry and working as officers in our little dive club. Traveling with the regulars on the annual trips and truly enjoying what this sport offers.

All of these wonderful experiences are a direct result of being excellent to each other. Giving other people your best. Being willing to receive it. Opening yourself up to the experience.

It gets talked about a lot. The concept has lent itself to industry jargon and buzzwords that end up being void of the intended message.

When we got out and started doing our thing, we realized that not everyone gets the same experience we had. We’ve met some of the finest people around. We've also met some folks who just don't “get it.”

So we ask you divers, instructors, shop owners, boat operators: be excellent to each other. Remember what brought you here and what brings us together. Be kind and be patient. Work every day to make the sport better. Be open to new ways of thinking. Be excellent to each other in every way. See you soon.

What a year it has been

Wow, what a year!

It’s hard to believe, but UW is a year old! Five states, two countries, and 27 dive sites later, we have emerged on the other side to begin 2018. We are ready for another amazing year! Thank you so much for reading and contributing to UW and this crazy cool underwater sport!

We kicked off the year in Vortex Spring, Florida where we showed you how to dive on a budget. The adventures continued as the months got warmer and we kicked around the quarries and lakes in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. By September, we had wrapped up our amazing trip to Nassau, Bahamas and spent a whole week diving in Michigan. October 22nd, we moved to Florida so we could be driving distance to all the diving we wanted. Morrison and Vortex Springs were our first visits, followed by some upcoming action from Jupiter, Florida as well.

DEMA 2017 of course was a highlight. Some of the most wonderful people in our sport were there. It was an amazing opportunity all around. Here’s one of our faves:

Want to see the highlights? We can’t tell you how hard it was to get this video down to watchable length. There is absolutely no way we could fit it all. Here are some of our favorites of 2017. If you’d like to see more from this year, you can check it out on Facebook or YouTube. It’s all there and we’d love to hear your comments!

So what are we doing in 2018? Much more! We will keep diving and blogging of course. It’s our job to bring the diving to you and we will continue to do it. Expect more stories from other divers. People who are working towards better diving and a better world. The movers and shakers, the innovators, and the veterans. The people who live it. We are all part of the same story - and what a beautiful story it is.

One last thing: As we step out into a new beginning, let’s make it our resolution to be excellent to each other. Take care of each other. Make new friends. Show the world the best of our dive community - and have a blast doing it. See you soon.

Why We Aren’t “Industry Professionals”

People often ask if we teach SCUBA and when we say we don't, the next question is always, “Why not get a job on a dive boat?” That’s a fair question since we obviously love diving, so we wanted to talk about it.

Diving is wonderful in every way. It REALLY is. If you’ve never tried, stop reading now, and find a place to try it! Seriously though, we knew right away we wanted to be divers for life. When we started telling dive stories here on UW, we discussed at length whether or not we should pursue the professional route and get our divemaster certifications.

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We just kept coming back to this simple point: to rely on dive lessons for income, makes it a job. Ferrying divers to and from reefs on the water is a job. There is nothing wrong with either of these professions and they are needed! We have the privilege of knowing and learning from some wonderful instructors who love what they do and are very passionate about it. It's just that when we are in the water, we want to enjoy it to the max.

There are just so few things in life that I can do day in and day out, over and over, that I won't eventually get burnt out on. Well, I can think of a couple… Ben feels the same way. So, burnout is a concern.

We are storytellers who want to show the world what it’s like below the surface. Salt, fresh, ocean, quarry, river, lake… all of the above and more! So we want to avoid being tied to a single dive operation or limited geography as well. This is what we are passionate about.

What about retail? We could sell gear in a dive shop. Again, nothing wrong with that. I just think about my friend who's a car mechanic. He drives a junker because at the end of the day, he's tired of working on cars!

Would I get tired of talking about the latest Doo Dad? Yeah. Because no one remembers the gear as long as it worked as it should. Nobody comes back from a dive saying, “That whaleshark was alright but my face mask was the real clincher. It fit just right, the strap stayed in place, I didn't have to clear it, it never fogged….. you get the point. It’s the experience!!!!

So that's what we focus on because that's what we want. Awesome experiences! Spending the cash on certifications we don't intend to use is money taken away from a sweet trip.

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Just because we aren't paying for C Cards doesn't mean we stopped learning. We are always learning and improving. You don't need to look far in the diving world to find examples of people with all the creds who are short on experience.

Which brings me to my last point. Be excellent to each other, divers! It's not cool to make fun of divers on the internet by posting pics and video of them kicking up the bottom, doing unsafe things, or making poor decisions. We should be encouraging them to become better, through personal example and soft words. People new to diving are intimidated enough. If your issue is with training, take it up with the organizations. Especially if you're a dive professional. Divers help other divers. It's what we do. So please, be excellent to each other! That's what it's all about.

Quarries are Gross, Right?

For those of you who have been with us awhile, I hope we’ve shown they aren’t!

Everyone who asks me about diving in freshwater says one of two things: “Visibility must suck.” Or “That’s gross.” At first glance that might seem true. My first question was about visibility as well. Guilty. The reality though is that it depends. We dove quite a bit at Philips Outdoor Center in Muncie. That was our “Home” site in Indiana. Visibility varies wildly from 18 inches to 50 feet and often varies with depth.  Most of the dives we’ve logged this year were between 15 and 35 feet in visibility with the average being over 20 feet. This is just fine! For recreational divers who want to get wet and have some fun, there is plenty to do and see even when conditions aren’t “perfect.” As for quarries being gross, they usually aren’t. Dive sites are maintained and kept clean for the most part and you aren’t swimming in a pool of yuck and muck and empty beer cans.

It’s often repeated throughout the dive community that if you can dive the midwest year round, you can dive anywhere. The visibility challenges, temperature variation, and variety of dive situations make better divers of those willing to sharpen their skills. Becoming a better diver makes the “perfect” dives even more enjoyable.

Quarry dives have been awesome to us. The challenges and rewards they provide have made us better and made our dives more fun. Things aren’t always tough in these spots either. Visibility is rumored to be close to 100 feet in winter below the ice and of course we’ll keep you updated as we have those adventures.

If you’re looking for a place to go that’s inexpensive and a blast, you shouldn’t need to look much farther than one of your local spots. There are plenty of opportunities to meet other divers and hear their stories and they can be a lot closer than you think. Keep an eye out for some of them here at Underwater.World. Here are a few clips from the quarries we have visited this year.