If you would have told me seven months ago that I would become a divemaster on this journey, I would have laughed and called you crazy. I come from landlocked Saskatchewan. I didn’t even see the ocean until I was nineteen years old. And I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with water. I love to be in and around it, but have never been a strong swimmer. I tried taking my open water scuba diving certification back in Saskatchewan, and quit halfway through because I hated the cold, nearly zero visibility lake dives.
Nevertheless, I thought that since Utila, Honduras was the cheapest place in the world to get certified as a diver and since we were passing right by anyways, we should stop and try diving in the ocean at least once. Just to see what there is to see. After the certification and a few fun dives each, we would move on. Ha!
After only five minutes in the water, I was totally and completely in love. It turns out diving is a lot like travelling… if you take the time to get below the surface, there is a whole new world to explore. The closer you look at something, the more vibrant life you see. And snorkelling doesn’t even compare… even with short free dives, it seems very two-dimensional. Scuba adds the exciting third dimension to it all.
So I had to do something to keep diving. And the divemaster program was just that. In addition to improving your basic skills, developing your underwater navigation skills (finding the boat doesn’t seem like magic anymore), and increasing your overall comfort level in the water, the divemaster course had another huge draw… free diving for life! We signed up with only 13 dives under our belts, and haven’t had to pay for another since.
Ultimately, we are leaving Utila with 105 dives each (in case you’re wondering, we totally followed tradition for dive #100), 74 1/2 hours underwater, and the following certifications: open water diver, advanced open water diver, rescue diver, EFR (emergency first response), deep diver (allows you to go 40 m), wreck divers (allows you to penetrate wrecks), and nitrox (allows you to breathe enriched air with a higher oxygen content, increasing your maximum bottom time).
And all of this (courses, certifications, course materials, reef fees and everything else) cost us an average of $13/dive per person. Not too shabby, eh?
I definitely know that, now that I’m Divemaster Ash, I want to keep diving. A lot. I may even start wearing a robe tied with a rope and saying things like “In order to dive, one must first enter the water” (okay, Josh, I totally stole your joke here). We won’t make a fortune as divemasters (at our shop they earn $2/hour in the shop and $2.50/diver per dive when they lead dives), but it’s one way to keep diving for cheap.
We still don’t know how becoming divemasters will fit into our future travel plans. Likely, we will spend more time on the coasts, in places where the diving is good. We may even stop somewhere and get jobs. Who knows… maybe we’ll even become instructors?