“Wake up, we’ve got 20 minutes” It was a last minute weather call as to whether or not we’d go scuba diving. There was a storm system coming in and if we missed today, there’s be no scuba diving a shipwreck during this trip. With the call made, there was a mad dash to pack a day pack, gather our logs, apply sunscreen and get out to the dive center. I’m not even entirely certain we were awake as we zipped down to Tucker’s Point Watersports Center on the scooter. In fact, if my heart wasn’t beating so fast with excitement I’m sure I’d be asleep still!
The center owner Terry and his team greeted us with easy going smiles, as we went through the paperwork and got outfitted for the day.
Fear of Water
This is when I start to get a little nervous. You see, I’m as comfortable as a cat in water…and going into the ocean sends my heartbeat into overdrive. I took swimming lessons as a kid and enjoyed the lake growing up, but there’s something about open water that riddles me with fear. I pretty much blurt out: “I’m not good with water!” and nervously laughed as soon as I meet the dive master. Thankfully they are easy going and experienced. “There’s no rush, and it’s all about making this the best experience for you” they tell me. Ok, no rush, I’m in control…yup, fears subside!
Never Rush The Student
After going over the equipment, protocol and the dives, we jump on the boat. There are three instructors and three of us divers. Terry explained that there’s two things they do differently from other dive centers; first, they keep the numbers of divers on the boat to a minimum which maximizes our experience and secondly, they never rush a student. The dive is at your comfort level.
Now I’m smiling a little more! Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited, but I was scared that my nerves would be slowing down the group. Not so since I had an amazing dive instructor all to myself! (I still sucked back a crazy amount of oxygen when I first went into the water until I found my “muuuuu-sahhh” moment, ha ha)
The first dive was of the Rita Zovetta. She’s a 5107 ton steamship that sunk off of St-David’s island on the northeastern end of Bermuda in 1924. The clarity of waters around Bermuda is something that still boggles my mind, it’s as crystal clear as a pool! The shipwreck was beside a reef system, you’re able to see the break just above the water.
Navigating through the reef system, I’m remembering what Terry said about the current “Don’t fight the current, she’ll win every time”. As the current moves you forward you kick, and as it pushes you backwards you relax. The result is the same as moving ahead three paces, and backwards one. It was like a slow dance with the ocean, and the ocean was leading.
As we’re swimming towards the shipwreck, its massive body surprises me and I can’t help but think of the movie The Abyss (most likely because I’m starting to feel really small in a very large ocean!). The main piston is intact, along with the huge boilers. The ribs of the ship open up to more darkness that makes me shudder. It takes a moment to take the imagine in, and I can help but try to imagine what it was like on the ship before she sank.
The Second Dive
The second dive was of a coral reef not too far from the shipwreck. It’s more lighthearted with the colourful coral and parrot fish. Still holding my dive instructor’s hand, we explore the shallow caves and abundance of sea life. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face on the ride home. I was pretty proud, not only did I brave scuba diving once again, but I got the DIVE A SHIPWRECK!
It may not be trekking the mountains in Malaysia or for skydiving with the military, but this was a huge accomplishment for someone who finds open water challenging! The tropical paradise of Bermuda was the perfect spot to calm those fears.