Scuba Diving in Whittier Alaska Robert Forto

Scuba Certified

Some people live their lives trying completing to complete a bucket list. I too have that list that I think about and at 48 years old I sometimes wonder if I will leave my bucket half empty or half full. I guess it’s the way you look at it really.

For my entire life I have wanted to become a certified scuba diver. I have wanted to do this since I saw the movie Creature From the Black Lagoon on tv on Creature Feature when I was a little kid.

Then I saw Jaws and it was all over! I knew at some point in my life I would breathe under water.

When I finished up by degree last year at the University of Alaska Anchorage (yep another one of those items in the bucket), my wife Michele gave me a graduation gift that would take a lifetime to achieve. Dive with Great White Sharks in Mexico.

I quickly went online and found a trip and plopped down a thousand bucks for a deposit and scheduled my trip for November 2019. First I had to become scuba certified.

I headed down to one of the two dive shops in Anchorage and signed up. That was in March 2018. I breezed through the online course work and completed my confined water dives at the local high school pool in April. Then life got in the way–graduation, a summer expedition, dog mushing, rock concerts and roller coasters and even an earthquake!

I quickly realized that I had to have my dive course done in a year and if I didn’t jump on it fast I would have to start all over.

The dive shop that I did my confined dives with was either booked or had nothing scheduled so I went to the other guys, Dive Alaska. These guys were much more technical and require a lot out of their students.

I signed up for the next open water sessions, which are a weekend of dives in Whittier and a couple more pool dives.

Not only would I be getting my dives completed in the ocean, in February, but also in a dry suit and the certification that comes with that.

It had been almost a year since I have breathed underwater so it took a little bit to get my sea legs back. By the time we were in Whittier it was the middle of a massive snow storm where it dumped six inches of snow while we were underwater for our first dive!

I will admit it was a rough weekend. We couldn’t figure out the extra weight I needed to carry for me to sink. I know, if you have never done this you are thinking–you are crazy to want to sink to the bottom of the ocean!

By the time we figured out the weights, I thought I had 38 extra pounds on me. It ended up being 49 pounds.

I had so much weight that I couldn’t keep my head above water with my BC (sort of like a lifejacket that you inflate and deflate to keep yourself buoyant while diving) on. I felt like I was drowning every time we were on the surface of the water while we were waiting to do the next skill.

Underwater it was so awesome! There is no feeling like it in the world than to be literally floating in a world that many will never see.

The first day was rough but I felt good after I quit shivering. My dry suit did not remain dry and had quite a bit of water in it when I took it off. I finally got warm and headed back to Anchorage to the hotel.

Guess what was on that night? Creature from the Black Lagoon. I’m not making this stuff up. It just had to be!

Day two in the ocean was rough but I made it through the last two dives and the group headed to the local bar to debrief and learn we were certified divers!

YES! All of this for one reason–to dive with Great Whites in Mexico this fall. I can’t wait.

I was driving home in a blinding snow storm and this song came on SirusXM radio, Walk on the Ocean by Toad the Wet Sproket, a 90s classic. Again, I am not making this stuff up. Take a listen. Some call it irony. I call it premonition. What do you think?

Are you a certified diver? Let’s hear about your first dive and walking on the ocean.

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