Well Its been a crazy slow ride in Florida these past months. I have been working tirelessly to get my Divemaster Cert. This would be the beginning stages of the professional side of diving, allowing me to guide and accompany groups of divers and individuals on trips. I managed to crush out my Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Rescue Diver in our first month and a half. That is when everything went sideways and life took control again. Sierra and I were running lower and lower on finances and changed our focus full time to working.
I took a job with Snuba and she did as well. Boy were we in for a surprise of our life. It was nothing of what we expected. Snuba is a cross between snorkeling and SCUBA diving. Each diver has a regulator and a harness, that connects to a 20ft air hose that leads to a floating raft on the surface. In the raft is an air tank that two people will share as they swim under the water. Each diver is weighted as well so they are neutrally balanced in the water. Our boat would then take them out into the ocean where the reef was and they would then take a tour of the reef. My job was simple, give them a great tour, problem solve, and keep them alive. The concept is fairly straight forward but in practicality it was anything but.
The first regularly occurring issue was probably the biggest. One would think given that we are miles from shore, in 30 ft of water, that everyone would know how to swim, at least somewhat. NOPE, the largest portion of our clientele not only couldn’t swim, had never been swimming before and had a fear of the water. Yet they chose us to conquer that fear, not a pool or swimming lessons, the open ocean. The best part about guiding people on land is that no matter what they have air to breathe. In the water, everything is life threatening due to panic. As soon as they spit that regulator out they have no air and are 20 ft down.
Each day the stress grew more and more for me, the constant barrage of people trying to kill themselves and me keeping them from doing it. I gained weight, slept less and less, and became quite irritable. I hated it, the job, the conditions, the clientele, all of it. With the hours I was putting in I had no time for diving, to finish my Divemaster. I sat at 95% finished for months upon months. It wasn’t until I quit that I had the time to finish it up and finally received my PADI Divemaster with around 300 dives to boot.
Besides the frustrations on the boat and with the clientele, the money was an issue. Not what i was getting paid, the driving to Key West everyday. By months end I was making just under a busboy in Sierra’s restaurant. She, since she quit long before me, was making 1.5 to 2 times what I was making serving in a local restaurant. That was my final straw, I took a new job on our island and never looked back.
Our Island of Marathon is a peculiar one. It is roughly 7 miles long with only half of it being developed, the other half is too narrow for buildings, and its a little more than half mile wide. That’s it! There is absolutely nothing here but diving and fishing. The entire island shuts down by 10 pm and doesn’t open again till 10 am. We are miles from any thing big and corporate. Things are slow here, so slow it can get frustrating at times. With the tiny community it means we have to travel for the big box stores. Anything and everything comes from amazon and or we go to Miami for things we need. Since seafood is abundant down here we occasionally will don our dive gear and get some lobsters for dinner, when we’re successful it looks like this.
Since quitting my Snuba job and working for another dive company in marathon, I am more than happy being a server for right now. Everyone asks me if I am alright, my response is always the same, at least they aren’t drowning. Things couldn’t be better for us and for our preparations. We are both on the same schedule and that has allowed us to compete in the 2nd Annual Poker Run Paddle, where we took 2nd in tandem and 5th overall in a kayak. We attended a lionfish Workshop to get certified to take lionfish from sanctuaries. In doing that with REEF we have gone a few dives and removed over 30 lionfish from our waterways through spearfishing. We’ve also attended the 33rd annual Underwater Music Festival. So far we seem to be taking advantage of our location as mush as we can.