MyPADI – Alex Varnals
So when did you start your PADI journey?
My PADI journey started a long time ago. I learnt to dive in 1996 during a family holiday to Florida. I often think back to why I started diving and I think it was the adventure that appealed to me. I was walking along the dock in Duck Key, near Marathon, in the Florida Keys and a bunch of divers were getting off a boat. Being the shy type of character that I am I walked straight up to the guy with the most kit and the camera and asked them what they had been diving. This was a guy that turned out to be my PADI Open Water Diver course instructor later that week. A legend of a man to me, Ernie Hounshell, who even after so many years of diving had more enthusiasm and passion for the sport than many people I have ever met in the 20 years I have been diving.
So what made me sign up?
Well the fact that the divers had just seen two 400lb Jew Fish while diving a massive wreck (the RV Thunderbolt) in the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys was enough. Even though it would be a number of years before I got to actually dive that wreck, I knew I was in.
So an hour later I was walking back to the villa with a PADI Open Water Crewpack and had to have the first three chapters read and knowledge review completed by the next morning. My PADI adventure had begun.
Tell us about your course
I can’t remember much about the pool training, but I do remember walking to the pool with the gear and getting in the water for the first time. I remember beaming as I was the only diver getting in the pool and everyone around the pool watching us getting our gear ready. I still remember descending onto Samantha’s Reef (20 years ago and I still remember the dive site!) down the anchor line.
Its been a long time and a lot of dives since then, but I would not have been where I am today had I not taken that first step and signed up to my PADI course then. All I can say is that if you haven’t tried it, do it. If you have certified and haven’t dived in ages, get back in the water. If you dive all the time, then tell everyone you know why you love it. If you love the ocean, protect it. We have only explored about 5% of it so far, if we are not careful we may well destroy it before we actually get to explore the rest.