Underwater my dad resembles a newborn giraffe that’s just figured out how to use its limbs. I’ve never seen someone use their hands so much scuba diving (dad, your hands don’t help propel you through the water!) and if I had a dollar for every time I saw him reach for his inflator hose I’d have… enough money for a pretty decent bottle of wine. But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t mind giving him a bit more training, but diving with people that you love is such a great experience, no matter their skill level. That’s the amazing thing about diving. You can meet someone for the first time on a dive live aboard and become instant friends, or you can dive with people who you already care about. Either way, you’re drawn together over a passion for scuba and the sea, and what better way to celebrate this than to jump in and do some ocean exploring? Diving unites people, and there’s nothing like diving to strengthen a bond between friends, new and old.
Think back to a time when your dad has embarrassed you. From safe sex conversations to cheesy jokes, dads are a wealth of cringe worthy moments waiting to happen. I thought I’d seen the last of these once I left home and got a real job (is working on a dive live aboard in paradise counted as a real job?) but I was so very wrong.
I learnt to dive and became a scuba instructor whilst working on a live aboard in the Great Barrier Reef. My family decided to come up from Sydney and celebrate my mums 50th birthday by going out on a charter to the outer Great Barrier Reef with the dive company I was working with. We had perfect conditions. Epic visibility of 30 metres, and beautiful weather that winter in tropical North Queensland is so renowned for.
On this trip in a single dive, my dad managed to tick off every diving ‘don’t’, which is actually a fairly impressive effort. After getting too close to the reef in an attempt to snap a good photo, he had tried to propel himself backwards in a way that resembled a sea turtle stranded on its back, flailing his arms and legs about. He managed to manoeuvre himself away from the coral, right on to one of the most poisonous animals on the reef, the Crown of Thorns starfish. The thing about Crown of Thorns is that they are slow. Almost inanimate. To get stung by one is a pretty hard thing to do, but my dad, he did it. After that trip I was left with a dad hobbling around the Whitsunday’s on one leg, and a work crew that wouldn’t let me live my dads’ poor diving skills down.
It looked like my old man had hung up his fins and mask for good after this little incident, and he refused to go diving with me again. The best thing to do once you fall off the horse is to get back on it! Sometimes you just need a little confidence, and practice makes perfect. My family is heading to Lady Elliot Island in the Great Barrier Reef later in the year and I can’t wait to jump in the water to go for a dive with my dad.
I know plenty of people who make diving a family affair. Most of my diving buddies got into diving through their parents, and if not it didn’t take them long to share their newfound passion with their family. In today’s over-stimulated society that’s so reliant on social media and technology, scuba diving is not only a way to spend time with loved ones, but also a way to get back outdoors and unwind.
The fact that I can share my passion and career with my most loved people is something incredibly rare, and if you’re a diver I encourage you to get your family involved in your hobby. Family holidays are so much better spent 15 metres below the oceans’ surface, watching mantas, turtles and a rainbow of fish swim past you, rather than getting burnt to a crisp at a beach resort. So, to all those awesome diving dads out there including my own, Happy Fathers Day. Your kids love diving with you, no matter how cheesy your jokes are or how good your buoyancy is.
Have a great diving experience (or an embarrassing one!) that you’ve shared with your family or friends? We want to hear about it! Let us know by commenting below.