Island Times Blog

The Value of New Experiences

February 18th, 2014 by Tucker Beckett |

The moment the icy water spilled into my boots, I knew it was a whole new ballgame. Having spent all of my dive time up to this point in the always-warm water of the Caribbean sea, I expected to be a bit outside my comfort zone when jumped in the car on that October evening for a ride to Jamestown Rhode Island for my first New England dive, a night dive no less, but nothing could have prepared me for this new sensation.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s start with me. My name is Tucker, and I’ve been shipping out with SeaTrek for five years. I’ve been a Divemaster for two years now, and today I’d like to share with you, readers of SeaTrek, tales of my new experiences as a New England diver, and how valuable it can be to get a little outside your comfort zone. Still interested? Kick back and read on.

By the time my buddy and I arrived at Fort Wetherill, the dive site was already packed. It was a rush to be once again surrounded by divers, and I barely remember setting up my gear on the rented tank, the skills I’d honed at SeaTrek taking over automatically. Following safe diving procedures, we set up a plan after observing the conditions in the sheltered cove and getting some information on the site from some of the locals. Then, the formalities dealt with, we quickly checked and re-checked each other’s gear before making our way down to the shore where the black waters of the Atlantic lapped at our feet. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have trusted such unfamiliar waters at night. However, knowing I was with a group of experienced local divers from the University of Rhode Island SCUBA club assuaged my concerns about the dive, and after being out of the water since that summer at SeaTrek, I was more than ready to get back under the water.

Even in the warm seas of the Virgin Islands, the sensation of water flooding through a wetsuit is an odd one, and nothing could have prepared me for the shock of the cold flood rushing in under my 7mm neoprene shell. However, once my head dipped beneath the waves it faded into something bearable, comfortable even. Not that I dwelt on it for long, for there was too much to see. For those of you who haven’t dove up north, let me tell you, it’s a completely different world under the surface. Gone are the vibrant corals and myriad fishes. Instead, large algae dominate the rock surfaces, waving gracefully in the swell. Arthropods such as lobsters and crabs of various shapes and sizes roam the sandy floor. Small, timid fish hover in the shadows of the rocks lining the coast. Despite it lacking the bright colors of the reef environments we’re all familiar with, it is just as full of life and has an understated beauty all its own.

Since then, I’ve traveled across the northeast with the SCUBA club, gaining new experience all the while. I never realized how limited my experience of diving was until I went outside the warm comforting waters of the Caribbean to do it, and it’s made me realize just how important it is that we, as divers, diversify our experiences if we want to get better. And this goes for students as well as staff; if you can, get out there and try something new underwater. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find a place to get in and dive. Even if you’re not on the coast, quarries and lakes present excellent opportunities for freshwater diving. Look for a local dive shop, ask around to find the best local spots. Those of you in college, see if your school has a dive program or club. You can often get great discounts on rentals and gear by going through these institutions, as well as access to inexpensive dive trips. (For a point of reference, I got a full day of wreck diving off New Jersey for twenty dollars.) Diving is growing in popularity across the US, and it’s only getting easier to get in the water. What I’m saying is, get out there and find it!

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