This weekend I helped out with Mike Allen’s Open Water checkout and it was wonderful. Yes, that very British word. Not only did I get to check off more of my divemaster to-do list—not far off now—but I actually realized how much I enjoy being a part of the staff. When you’re working with people who love diving as much as you do and who are positive, active and helpful themselves, there really isn’t anything better. Plus, if you’re training to become a pro, you’re all obsessed with the sport, which means that conversations about things as seemingly inane as dry glove ring systems, are riveting. And, there was a good deal of that to be had!

Honestly though, the most important part of DM is getting a mentor you respect and can work well with. Personally, I think I lucked out. Mike is the whole package of patient, fun and no-nonsense. He makes scuba diving straightforward and accessible for both staff and students, which is a style I think I’ve begun to appreciate in a way I never did before. No nonsense and no drama. Finally I see why real professionalism is so important in this sport.

Beyond hauling weights, setting floats and getting to follow students around as they checked off dives, I even had an opportunity to do both a dive briefing and give a continuing education student a tour of the North Jetty in Florence. Best of all? We had 15ft of visibility. That may not sound extraordinary to most divers but in the Pacific Northwest river mouths it’s pretty sweet. And 15ft is more than enough to see all the life you need to. Which leads me to my next point. Time and time again I am blown away by the amount of life I see in the ocean, even in areas without complex reef structures. I love the hermit crabs that pile up on the rocks and tumble off. I love the sculpin; the nudibranchs; the crabs that hide tucked half in the sand, that throw up their pincers to ward you off. I love the giant green anemones; the bossy lingcod, and all the other things I do not have a name for.

In the strangest, quietest way, of the few open water checkouts I’ve done, this was probably my favorite. It was yet another strong reminder of how much I love the ocean and how much I want to help preserve it. Let’s see where we go from here…

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Written by Candice Landau
I'm an active Divemaster, a lover of marine life and all efforts related to marine conservation, a newly certified tech diver and a member of various scuba organizations in the Pacific Northwest. I write articles related to diving and spend my non-diving time writing and providing digital marketing services to nonprofits and businesses.