Posted on August 24, 2010
The Buddy System in Beautiful Aruba
The dive supervisor from Red Sail Sports was also my SCUBA buddy on Monday. With her lead, a group of 7 of us explored a dive site called Skalahein. It’s not far from the coast but still in mighty choppy water. At 60′ it’s a beginners paradise – if the diver can tolerate the waves at the top. I skipped my traditional full-blown breakfast just in-case.
Aboard the 48′ Pasa Bon (Have a Good Time) vessel, I met up with Tom and Mike, both experienced protégés I stayed close to for tips. It’s been a couple years since my last dive and despite reading over my 2003 SCUBA notes, I was still a little rusty. Little did they know that I was keeping a close watch on their BWRAF (BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, Final Okay) – the acronym used for the predive safety check list.
Tom is a retired NYC cop from Patterson, NY, who has been diving here every year for the last 20. He says it’s the weather. “I dive here because the people are nice and it’s right outside the hurricane belt.” Tom loves night dives because there’s a better chance at seeing octopus, lobsters, moray eels and turtles.
Mike, a former Navy grunt rapt with tattoos, is originally from Georgia but now lives in Connecticut. He too is a true dive master having done the depths of the Galapagos, Australia, Belize, Micronesia, Indonesia and Hawaii. He’s swam with countless sea serpents large and small, but still regrets never making it to the Egyptian Red Sea. After 9/11, he feels it’s too risky to stay in Saudi Arabia or Egypt. I suppose his high military rank still affords him access to secrets us regular travelers aren’t privy to.
We spent nearly 50 minutes at our first dive site and then another 30 at the second. It was a two-tank dive replete with sponge reef, shark caves, clusters of purple and orange sea sponges, big brain coral and brilliantly colored tropical fish. Due to time, the shipwrecks, sunken airplanes and famous Antilla freighter were saved for another day. There are so many reefs and relics to explore it’s no wonder that pros like Mike and Tom keep returning here year after year after year. I hope to do the same.