Underwater Wakulla- May 11, 2017

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After Certification By GREGG STANTON

After Certification

Over 80 percent of newly certified divers, never dive again. I suppose it’s a bucket list thing. It may also be a lack of opportunity. Find opportunity.

Now that we are training new divers again this summer, the next student question I get is where do I go next? If you lived near more tropical waters like Hawaii, the Caribbean or the Florida Keys, the answer is simple: Just Dive! Most dive opportunities there are right off the beach. Many coastal communities have dive clubs. That not only can point the way, but provide maritime social outlets as well. Around here, there are more advanced divers who own boats and often seek additional participants occupants since diving is a social event.

Dive clubs are found in Tallahassee. I am most familiar with the Seminole Dive Club out of Florida State University. The Tallahassee Friends Dive Club may also be available. on Facebook. The Wakulla County Dive Club became very specialized to cave diving and may be dormant at this point. Regardless, after certification is complete, new dive students need to work on skills.

This past Monday I went off shore with folks that were rusty with their diving skills. We reached 60 FSW, made one short dive and returned to the dock by 1 p.m.  It was a great day. We had configuration issues, ears the were sluggish to clear, an anchor that slipped, navigation challenges, current fishing regulations not on board, sea sick surface support, all well exceeding the three “oh s___ts “rule.  But we did see a boost in confidence, which made the day worthwhile.

When I lived closer to the Florida Keys, I would load up the truck with who ever was willing and drive down for a weekend of diving. There are more dive shops clustered in the Keys than anywhere in the country. Be sure to take your certification card and your dive log. Most diving is done from a boat, but there are backwaters and canals that are interesting. Just find any excuse to dive!

Of course we can drive 100 miles to Panama City. Except for the Jetties, most diving is also done from a boat. Panama City has artificial reefs in abundance, but all require boats to get to them. Schedule a ride on one of them after reviewing the weather and securing a place to stay. If diving the Jetties one day, also check the tides to align your twin dives to the peak slack of the high tide.

Access to Bimini Bahamas east of Miami has become faster (2 hours) and less expensive now that they have a shuttle boat that costs $105 for a day trip. It’s called the Bahamas Fast Ferry. Check out the dive options once at this small island. You may want to stay for a few days! Dive shops have boats and instructions for shore dives. Since you are at sea level, there is no waiting to fly challenges before taking your ride back to Miami.