MERIDIAN LIFE 2014 – TAKING A DIVE

 

TAKING A DIVE

By Michelle Ochsner

They were once called frogmen – naval special operations combat personnel trained to dive for tactical assault missions. Today, divers go by many names and dive for countless reasons such as recreational, technical, scientific, or professional. Over the course of the last seventy years, scuba has become a world-wide special interest.

Two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and there are many interesting places to visit under the sea. Some will even take you back in time.  For most divers there is no other place in the world better than Chuuk Lagoon, formally known as Truk Lagoon, north-east of New Guinea. During World War II over 60 Japanese ships were sunk and are still loaded with fighter aircraft, tanks, bombs, and weapons.  Notorious for being a diver’s paradise, the shipwrecks lie in crystal clear water free from normal ocean currents.

Charlie Sterling, owner of the Boise Scuba Center has trained in the Treasure Valley for over thirty years and has certified thousands of divers. Charlie’s scuba career and his passion for diving have opened up exciting opportunities. “I have always loved the water and water sports. One night I was watching a James Bond movie and it had several diving scenes. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to know more about diving. Soon, I enrolled in a course and love it so much I wanted to become an instructor and make it my career. There is no greater career! I love teaching people how to dive, counseling them on the correct gear to buy, and then escorting them to various dive destinations around the world.”

Diving is a great activity for the entire family and kids can learn as young as ten at summer camps. Charlie encourages women to put aside their protective instincts and internal safeguards and try this sport. “Woman have always been cautious about learning but once they do, they tend to be the best divers.”

Dive trips are put together for local divers to explore sub aquatic locations in the Caribbean and South Pacific. Scuba store owners and instructors work with wholesalers out of places such as California and Florida to get group rates for destinations based on the popularity of the dive community. From Australia to Bonaire, groups up to twenty-four are accompanied on warm, safe, and easy diving trips.

PADI and NUAI certification courses:

With the motto, “The way the world learns to dive,” PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is an open water course that breaks down instruction from Entry Level to Master Scuba Diver. More recognized, PADI has taught over 136,000 professionals world-wide for more than forty years.

Incorporated in the state of California in 1961, NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) is a non-profit educational organization with tens of thousands world-wide members. NAUI’s motto is, “Dive safely through education.”

NAUI’s qualified instructors educate with academic freedom while meeting NAUI standards. Balancing diving skills and conservation with focus on safety and awareness, NAUI conception is; diving is not just a recreation, it’s a passion. This mindset fashions NAUI training to be more comprehensive.

Regardless of course choice, real diving experience  before partaking in an underwater vacation will make it all the more enjoyable. Classes generally take about 44 hours and certification upon completion of four to five open water dives in places such as the springs in Hagerman. Scuba instructors stress that no one should scuba dive and not know how to rescue a fellow diver. Equipped with knowledge to aid in an emergency could mean life and death.

With over five miles of trails, Eagle Island State Park hosts many family events.  There’s times when scuba professionals are sought after as volunteers so the festival is prepared if an emergency should arise. Those with Rescue Diver Certifications are encouraged to take part.

Locals that learn to dive in Idaho’s harsh environment, discover ocean dives to be extremely easy. Frigid water temperatures and unknowing climate changes can make even the up most expert shiver in their flippers as hypothermia becomes imminent. Redfish Lake in Stanley, Lucky Peak Reservoir, and Payette Lake are just a few places in Idaho that one may open water scuba dive.

Blue Heart Springs near Hagerman is a favorite among Idaho divers and attracts scuba divers from all over the country. With surprisingly unlimited visibility and a constant year round temperature of 58 degrees, scuba divers enjoy unusual aquatic life and over 300 square feet of natural springs pushing through the walls and floor.  On the floor of the springs, water actually bubbles out of the sand, creating a magnificent sight.

There are many underwater marvels in Idaho for scuba divers to explore and enjoy. Most excursions are just a short drive from Meridian and there is no better way to connect with nature. Travel on beautiful scenic byways, hike, boat, and experience the scenic wonders of Idaho.

SIDEBAR:

As with any sport, there are some risk involved when scuba diving. Descending into the depths of an awe-inspiring body of water, a person is completely dependent upon their training and equipment. Having proper instruction in safety and emergency training assures divers have the knowledge to resurface without working gear. This is why it’s absolutely imperative that you buy gear and receive professional training from reputable scuba training facilities.
Scuba diving is a safer sport than many other extreme pastime. This fun and exciting recreation will have you going to the most beautiful parts of the world. Not only will your vacation be one of wonderment on the surface, it will also be an underwater adventure and you’ll be left with a lifetime of magical moments.

MERIDIAN LIFE MAGAZINE


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