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June 17, 2011


I finally had my 200th dive, and just like #100, it was at a memorable location. Much went through my head as I plunged into the ocean backwards off a panga at Roca Partida, as remote and wild a dive location as one can find. More remote even than the tiny island of French Key off the coast of Providenciales for my 100th.

200 dives in five years doesn't sound like much, just 40 dives a year. But considering that a local dive outing adds just a dive or two, and even a dedicated dive vacation usually no more than 10 to 20. The most I ever did was 28 on a nine day trip to Honduras, but a week in Northern Florida yielded just seven.

Where does the fascination with numbers come from? Most divers seem to have it, and "How many dives do you have" is asked among divers as often as by dive operators. Even PADI's official dive log has inserts that suggest becoming a rescue diver after 25 dives, and considering a professional career in diving when you hit 50. Scuba boards and forums classify posters by how many dives they have.

How many dives is a lot? That depends. Carol amassed over 2,500 dives in her 12 year career as an active scuba instructor. Dive masters in tourist destinations can easily reach thousands as well. But how about regular folks who just go on a dive vacation every other year or so and also want to do some sight seeing and not just diving? That way, it might take decades to reach a couple of hundred.

Me, have I truly become a diver with my 200 dives? By most standards, yes. I have been diving in a very wide variety of settings, from springs to rivers to caverns to lakes and the ocean. From cold water to warm, from shores and from boats, and in good conditions and bad. I have a couple dozen dives a hundred feet or deeper, explored wrecks, and taken thousands of photographs and many hours of video. I've swum with sharks and giant mantas, and played with dolphins and sea lions. I have some extra certification cards. I know my gear inside out.

But am I now a truly experienced diver? No, I am not. I learn something new on almost every dive. And while I've been fortunate enough to dive in many different settings, compared to tech and extreme divers, my diving has been almost routine. No decompression diving, no dives deeper than the recommended 130 foot recreational diving limit, no caves, no rebreathers, nothing extreme.

After 200 dives, sometimes I feel quite accomplished, certain that I know what I am doing. Other times, especially when I get pummeled around by current or surge, I feel like a total neophyte.

What I do know is that diving has opened a new world to me, a world of adventure and places few ever get to see, and my life is definitely the richer for it.

Posted by conradb212 at June 17, 2011 04:09 PM