Paying it Forward
Our Christmas party is fast approaching, and I hope we will see many of you there to share the many, many diving stories that we have experienced over this year! We always find ourselves counting our blessings at this time of year, and in addition to door prizes at the party, we would like to introduce a raffle, with the proceeds going to benefit the children at the Southlake Regional Health Centre.
In particular, there is one lady there that makes a big difference to the children while they attend Southlake for treatment. Her love and generosity touches the lives of many. I will let Candice (daughter of Nick & Cathy Wasielewitsch) tell you about this special lady.
Marjorie's Toy Chest Fill
Let's work together and raise some money to fill Marjorie's toy chest and help put a smile on the faces of children fighting cancer! Not just for Christmas but all year round!
Our Daughter Tayah was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer at the age of 4 in October 2012. She was a beautiful, inspirational and fun loving little princess who touched the hearts of so many people. Tayah endured 14 months of intense treatment including chemo, radiation, major surgery, a bone marrow transplant and antibody therapy. Cancer is an extremely tough battle especially for a little child to face. Along Tayah's medical journey she met a wonderful, kind and selfless lady named Marjorie at the Southlake Pediatric Oncology Unit. (An amazing 86 year old women who lost 2 of her own children to cancer and volunteers everyday to make these children smile).
So while going in to Southlake Pediatric Oncology Unit for blood work, needles, blood transfusions, finger pokes and all the nasty stuff that comes with fighting cancer, Marjorie gives these kids something to look forward to at each visit by giving them lots of hugs, special chats with her soft spoken voice and sweet english accent and of course a special toy from her chest that she supplies with her own money. It puts a smile on their little faces and let's face it, if it wasnt for Marjorie we wouldnt have been able to convince our little Tayah to get in the car to go to the many hospital visits during her treatment journey.
Marjorie has a wonderful way of making each child with cancer feel special and loved. Although our Tayah lost her battle with cancer on Dec 17th of 2013, we know Marjorie played a special role in her life and held a special place in her heart. We know Tayah would want any child facing cancer who has to go to Southlake to experience the famous Marjorie and her toy chest at each and every visit!
Please help fill Marjorie's toy chest and continue making those smiles happen!
You can read more about Marjorie here:
So, I invite you all to come and perhaps buy a raffle ticket to support Marjorie in her year-round angel efforts, or maybe bring some toys or trinkets for her special toy chest, or maybe even donate a raffle prize. Whatever feels right for you.
Love and Happiness to all of you and your families! Please play safely!
Being a scuba diver and learning to consume less air on your dives, means regulating your breaths. I often practice slow breaths; breathe in to the count of 4, and a slow, controlled exhale to the count of 5. I definitely notice I consume less air, but I also notice that getting into that rhythm is very relaxing. Because I am underwater, AND breathing through a regulator, inhaling breaths are a little louder. And exhaling bubbles is just fun!
My husband is a scuba instructor, so he has logged countless dives in his scuba career. He is a very patient buddy as I take pictures of the many critters we encounter, and I often turn around after taking my shots, and he literally appears to be napping, hands clasped, suspended perfectly by my side. The first time I noticed that, I thought he was "narced", staring senselessly at the rock in front of him, but no. He was just resting his eyes while I took pictures. THAT is taking relaxation to a whole other level!
On our last dive in the Cayman Islands, we settled on the sandy bottom of the ocean, and patiently waited for the little yellow-headed jawfish to cautiously stick their heads out of their holes. They are curious, and it was our hope that they would come all the way out. I have a little photo-series of those relaxing moments (see below, and sorry, I didn't have macro capability, so I couldn't get any closer), but my point is, that is was such a calming practice (plus, these little guys are so darned amusing!). It is a place of ZEN. :)
Cute and curious Yellow-headed Jawfish - The "dance" we had the privilege of watching as we meditated on the bottom of the ocean:
2. Escape Technology
Don't get me wrong, technology is great, but enough already! I use technology a lot for my job, and for the business; social media is a big part of being involved in the scuba industry. That makes sense, because it is a very unique sort of business - a very social business. But it has some tremendous downsides. I began to feel like I couldn't do it all. I had mountains of work to do, but somehow the social media vortex would suck me in, and spit me out hours later. It was creating stress.
Disentangling ourselves from social media while we go on our diving excursions is such a relaxing pleasure! No phones underwater! We naturally find ourselves unwinding and enjoying the company of other divers, while the "pull" of technology lessens minute by minute. I LOVE our little dive trips! Whew!!!! What a relief to escape!
Silence is golden. It really is. Noise is a pollution, and we are so inured to it, that we often don't realize the strain and stress we are putting on ourselves emotionally and physically, until we finally free ourselves from it.
To descend below the surface of the water, is to truly shut out the rest of the world. No work, no bosses, no technology, no traffic (except for schools of fish), and, for a little while anyway, I can pretend there are no bills. It is an escape like no other. Bliss.
Wreck diving is a favourite for many divers. People love them for many different reasons. For some, it is the magical timelessness of a structure preserved in its time (although it is ever changing from year to year).
For others, it is the historical significance that demands their fascination. A wreck may lie on the bottom of an ocean as a memorial to battles, conflict, or tragedy, and historians have learned a great deal about our past from the archaeological artifacts recovered and preserved from its depths.
Every wreck has a story. We love to learn the history of each one before we explore her secrets. And wrecks are everywhere! We enjoy them on weekend outings from home here in Ontario often throughout the summer, and in the winter, we explore historical wrecks in more exotic and far away locations. Each is unique, and although people usually think of ships as wrecks, we also dive the wrecks of planes, military craft, and even railroad cars!
Wrecks draw underwater photographers, not only for its structural beauty, but for the life that is sheltered there. In the ocean, wrecks become artificial reefs over time - a kind of coral nursery - and with each passing year of thriving growth, more and more marine life takes residence there. It is beautiful to see and appreciate the contrast of a dilapidated wreck that is falling apart, with the colourful coral growing on it, attracting fishes, shrimps, eels, rays, and more. What's not to love?
5. Marine Life
Do we all carry an obsession with the water and the creatures living in it, or is it just me? I can't walk by a body of water, without at least visually searching its depths for a glimpse of life.
In fresh water - frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, and, of course bigger fish like bass, or maybe sturgeon? In salt water - jellyfish, sea-turtles, lobster, or maybe even a shark? I want to see them, I want to see them all!
My marine life point BEGS to be told through a few pictures (which will naturally lead to point number 6...
6. Underwater Photography
I know, it's not every scuba diver's passion to capture the beauty of the world below the waves with a digital camera, but it IS mine! It's really one of the motivating factors that got me into the sport in the first place! Many divers choose not to take a camera with them, because they just want to enjoy the experience first hand, not through the eye of the camera. They will tap their heads and proclaim, "It's all up here."
And they are right. But not for me. I am DRIVEN to improve my underwater photography skills. If I can't take my camera with me, I am devastated, because then I KNOW that is when I will see something cool, and miss the chance to photograph it through MY eyes, MY way with MY tool - the camera. And generally speaking, you just can't plan what you are going to see and photograph on a dive. It's like Forest Gump says, "Scuba diving is like a box of chocolate - you never know what you are going to get." (close enough). So with camera in hand, I must be ready. For anything.
Every dive and photo-shoot experience is a learning opportunity, and I leave every excursion with a list of things in my head that I could improve on next time. Things I would do differently, and things I would like to try. It may be an obsession.
My scuba trips are fraught with running to my room to check O-rings, download images (with back-up) and charge lights and camera so they are ready for the next dive.
And I just wouldn't have it any other way.
7. Divers are Fun and Cool
But it's just so simply true. Divers love life. They are fun loving. They love nature. They care about the ocean and the environment.
We take care of each other and help one another to improve their scuba skills, and dive safer.
We enjoy BBQ's and refreshments after many dives, and they are just a pretty cool bunch of people. You really have to join this community and see for yourself! What are you waiting for?
Learn to dive, or join the scuba club!
Scuba Diving in Grand Cayman
What a great week of diving we are enjoying!
The best part about the Sunset House, and diving with Sunset Divers here in Grand Cayman, is that while a two-tank boat dive is included every morning, there is unlimited shore diving just a few feet from our rooms, and the reef just offshore here is alive and beautiful! Steve jumped in from dive deck the other night, and came face to face with an octopus and two cuttlefish, and he hadn't even started his dive yet!
We are seeing plenty of awesome marine life, and the mermaid statue and the Nicholson (a carrier wreck), are close to shore from our resort, so we may visit them often. If we wish. And IF we can find them...Jim...
Be careful with the mermaid, Jody put his arm around her for a picture and got stung by some fire coral.
It may be ok now, as some young male divers were heading out to clean off her nipples. Maybe they will clean off more...
Last night, Jim found two lionfish mating (he has good eyes), and while they sort of separated by the time I glided in with my camera, you can see from the picture that they change colour when they are...um...mating. It was so interesting, we had never seen that before.
Can you spot them?
(Why did the diver need a macro lens? - To get these guys sharp!
But our favourite dive has been on the USS Kittiwake (ASR-13). It was a United States Navy Chanticleer-class submarine rescue vessel in commission from 1946 to 1994. In 1986, the Kittiwake recovered the black box from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
We get to do the Kittiwake tonight for a night dive, so we are off with our cameras...
Here we are in the head of the Kittiwake, where the mirrors still hang on the wall, albeit cracked and distorted. After that, just a little bit down the hallway, there is a recompression chamber where the rescue ship was able to treat divers on-site. There is a little pocket of stale air in the chamber, but keep your regulator in your mouth, and don't breathe it!
Intruder (nurse shark) in moray eel's home:
Aaargh, A Scurvy Pirate!
It was pirate week in Grand Cayman when we were there - such fun! The pirates sailed in on Saturday at 3:00 pm, and fought sword to sword with the British redcoats, only to overcome them and kidnap the Governor, whose daughter is in love with a pirate. The pirate parade ensued. The town was over-run with pirates, and Captain Sparrow himself joined in the raid! This Friday, "My Bar" at Sunset House Scuba Resort, will be raided by the pirates mooring just off-shore, and the bar staff and guests will have to fight to defend it! But they will lose, and the pirates will shove off, only after enjoying a good, stiff drink! A great time!
Thank-you to the Sunset Divers Staff!
We would like to thank the crew responsible for giving us a wonderful scuba experience while we were in Grand Cayman! Lee and Steve were excellent Captains, and we tried to be a good group for them too. The dive briefings were excellent, with Aaron's "towel art" featuring the beautiful geographical topography of our dive sites. Aaron was also an excellent scurvy pirate, and we enjoyed his soothing "radio-voice"! Andrew, and Solamay (spelling?) were so helpful and accommodating, making each experience a very special pleasure. Many thanks to a great team at Sunset Divers!