Missing Divers!

Missing Divers

Missing Divers

Even though I have only been a scuba diver for three years I have been a lover of the underwater world my whole life. I had always wanted to learn to dive, but with living a busy life it never seemed to fit in. There were other priorities that seemed to justifiably get in the way.  It was a tropical vacation to Mexico that rekindled the desire to learn to dive.  A gift of scuba lessons after returning is what finally got me my C-card.

Then like many scuba noobies I got my certification and promptly didn’t dive again for over another year.  Why? Why no diving? Honestly my dive buddy and I didn’t know where to dive.

We had a great open water dive in a stone quarry in Ohio. This location is just far enough away that it takes up most of a weekend to visit. Not someplace we could dive on a whim.  Other options were tropical vacations. They are awesome when you can scrape up the money to take them but they are not something that was going to happen very often either.  The last option (at least as I thought) was a weekly dive the local dive shop had. The problem with that was the weekly dives were done in the late afternoon the same day every week. The times were in conflict to those of us gainfully employed.

So over 16 months of no diving for me. No gear purchases, gear rentals or air refills. No stories I could share with the yet to be initiated about the undersea world. No planning for my next dive…

Take two happened earlier this year. My dive buddy and I decided that if we didn’t find a way to get in the water locally we wouldn’t get back into diving. To brush up our skills we signed up for an advanced open water certification. It was a good way to renew our skills and hopefully find a way to dive more than once every two years. We trekked back to the Midwest quarry and finished our series of dives to get our updated certification.

Lake Clean Up

Lake Clean Up

What next? We hunted for dives. There was a local eco dive a week later on a Saturday. It was something we could fit in. It was a beach dive at a youth camp. It was great! We did two tanks worth of diving and still had the rest of the day to spend with our families. Now this was the way it should be.

Still there was a problem.  No other dives… The local dive shop wasn’t doing regular local dives this year. Sure we could charter something a state or so away.  That put us back to taking up most of a weekend to go diving. There had to be a better way…. and there was. Dive local with a dive club!

Finding the local dive club was a challenge. Searching for dive clubs on the internet brought up 3 year old web sites with no updates. It makes you wonder if the club is active. Other clubs only had old posts on a message board with little information other than a contact email address. We finally found one that was meeting very close by. So close that their meetings were only 5 minutes from each of our homes. After an email we arrange to go to the next club meeting. This was the best thing we have done for our diving.

MUD Club Patch

MUD Club Patch

The club became an incredible resource. There are at least a dozen members that have been actively diving over 30 years each. Many of these club members dive at least 3 days a week.  Even when the weather turns rough it is rare for a week to go by without a club member doing a dive. They are eager to share their knowledge and fresh members just gave them a good excuse to dive all the old spots as if they were new again.   This was great! Since joining the club there hasn’t been a month that we haven’t dove.  All it takes is an open block of 4 hours and a phone call and we have a club dive going. The club also plans different events and at least once a month there is an official organized club dive. The best thing the club did for us is open our eyes to all the local diving possibilities. Every body of water in the area is now open to us thanks to the sage advice of our experienced club members.

So here is my next question. Why don’t local dive shops actively promote these ambassadors to diving? Are they afraid that I won’t buy their dive vacations if I dive local? Do they think these experts are going to bad mouth their business? Or is it that they believe with an independent source of diving knowledge we will buy all our gear online?  To me these are ring as conspiracy theories. I am willing to naively believe that they just don’t see the point in promoting the dive clubs.

I am convinced there is a vast underutilized pool of certified divers in the area that could be providing revenue to local dive shops and bring more divers into the sport. What percentage of divers here received their certification or worse yet just their book work here and only dive once every four years on a tropical vacation? I believe there has to be 9 missing divers for every 1 active local diver. I would love to see some real numbers.

As I help the dive club to promote I will be searching for these missing divers and trying to bring new participants into diving local.

MUD Club Website – http://mudclub.wordpress.com/ 

MUD Club Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=160373818789&ref=share