The Summer after my sophomore year in high school, I earned my Open Water Certification. It was the best day of my life, and a day I’ll always remember. I left the dive shop that day with large strides, my head high, and my shoulders cocked back, knowing I had just earned something I was certain was worth its weight in the currency of pussy. I was a SCUBA diver now, who wouldn’t want to sleep with me? I was ready to conquer the world, ready to dive into her salty snatch. Before I left, I was the only one out of the class who stuck around to talk to the instructor. I asked him where a good dive would be for a seventeen year old solo beginner on a budget. He spit out some ideas, and finally came up with San Carlos, Mexico. I began saving money for the trip. By the time I had saved enough, it was the middle of the first semester of my junior year in high school, and going on this trip would mean missing class. I didn’t care, so I paid for the dive package online. The next day I told my parents and my teachers that I’d be missing school for about a week, my teen rebel logic figured it would be easier to convince my parents after I had already paid for it. “You’re going where for a week?” Everybody had the same reaction. “And your parents let you do this?” Of course my parents didn’t let me do this, you silly, non-certified twat, but I’m going anyway. Now eat your sack lunch, mortal.
The following week, I was on my way south for sunshine and senoritas. I was in a caravan full of complete strangers, not one of them younger than thirty. San Carlos was beautiful, at least, it was for seventeen year old me, who had never left U.S. soil before. It was a quaint little town, with a few cantinas, some beautiful views, and a couple of mama and papa grocery stores and gas stations. There was a large, uniquely shaped mountain in the distance the locals called Teta Kawi, or “Goat Tit.” That’s exactly what it looked like too, a goat’s tit. See for yourself.
On the day of the dive, we took a three hour boat ride to San Pedro Island. I remember looking out onto the rocks of the island, and seeing the hundred of seals, lazing around like dogs. It was about nine in the morning, the water had a cool light green color that reflected off the cliffs, and the overhead of the boat. I didn’t know much about visibility those days, but I remember looking down to the bottom, thinking it must have been hundreds of feet deep. I was ready to get into the water, and I was tired of waiting. I got paired up with a world class jackass named Jeff. Also on the trip alone, but much more experienced, he didn’t want to spend his dive babysitting a newbie (completely understandable, but it’s me we’re talking about here). He ditched me pretty quick, but that’s a story for another time. I was having trouble with my weights, and as soon as I hit the water, I remember looking down, and sensing (imagining) a shark circling me, eyeing me down. I kept thinking about the movie Jaws, how the camera would zoom in on the victim’s feet from under the water, just when the shark was about to attack. When our guide noticed I hadn’t descended yet, she asked what was wrong. I said I was just adjusting to the water, it was my routine. Finally, I popped my regulator into my mouth, grabbed my balls, and deflated my BCD, I was on my way down baby.
Our guide had joined us on this dive, and the next two. I fell in love with diving that day. It was all fun and games, but the next day was what I signed up for, it was the reason I took a week off of school, the hammerhead dive. I was so excited the night before, I lost sleep. I had my cheap underwater disposable camera ready, and I was going to bring home the coolest pictures to my friends and family.
The next morning came, everyone was suiting up, but not as fast as I was. That’s when our guide pulled me off to the side, and gave me the news. In a very sweet, tender voice, she said “you’re a good diver, but this is a deep dive, a lot deeper than the others, and… I’m afraid you just don’t have the experience for this one.”
For a minute, and I mean sixty seconds, I just stared. You fucking bitch. You cunt. You think you can tell me where I can or can’t dive? I’ll be damned, I want my money back.
“But, I’ll be okay, really!” I said shyly.
“I’m sorry, but not today. If you want, I can show you some other really cool places at this site.”
No! Hammerheads, now bitch, or you can get on your knees and serve me…
“Yes, that would be a real treat!” I said timidly.
I was crushed. When everyone got back from the dive, they were all talking about the hammerheads. I wanted to punch a bulkhead. I remember this old dude on the dive, he looked like an old Sailor or something, with his long, white, saltwater-washed hair, his mustache, his colorful tattoos all over his arms, chest, and back. He had all this cool diving equipment straight out of a James Bond movie. He even had a cool DPV (Diver Propulsion Vehicle), with a shark’s mouth painted on it. He came out of the water and everybody gathered around him, “first I saw these huge 200 pound tuna, then I went a little deeper, and that’s where I saw them, the hammerheads, dozens of ‘em, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
From that day forward, I swore, I would never lose out on an opportunity to dive again. When I got back, I found the answer to my prayers. The Advanced Open Water certification. Listen while I tell you lads, get this certification. If you never get another certification your entire life, get this one. Here’s a place you can find out more information about it. Leave a comment, or a story telling me how getting the Advanced Open Water Certification saved your life.