Diver’s Dream Becomes Reality
Being born and raised on the streets of Harlem, New York, my summers during the 1960’s and 70’s were split between summer day camps of P.A.L. and the island of my father’s birth, St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. Its my chance to share that experience with my sons.
During the summer of 1972, most of our days were spent snorkeling and spearfishing off Sandy Point in St. Kitts, with my cousins and my Uncle James. My Uncle James a famous local spear fisherman, one day brought a scuba system down to the beach to hunt. After bringing in the day’s catch of Red Snapper, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked some simple questions about his scuba system. The system I only saw 007 James Bond use in the movies. After weeks of watching my uncle hunt for Snapper on the surface with my snorkel gear, with my father’s permission I was given an opportunity to experience scuba diving, in waist deep water on the beaches of St. Kitts.
Fast forward 39 years later, my love of scuba diving is still strong and has developed into a family lifestyle. As a teenager my parents made sure that I was trained by P.A.D.I. Professionals and have logged well over 1,000-dives and earned the certification level of Dive Master, which is an entry level P.A.D.I. Professional. That being said, a father of 8-year old twin boys, whose love of the ocean seems to be more intense than mine, now has begun asking me the same questions, that I once asked Uncle James about scuba diving.
At age 5, they began snorkeling in the pool, which a year later they enjoyed their first snorkeling experience in the ocean off Freeport B.A.
As parents we come to understand sometimes the hard way, if we are not professionally trained to teach, we can’t or shouldn’t teach our children to drive and scuba diving is no different. Since it became clear to me that scuba diving was an experience that they really wanted to experience, I needed to find the right vendor and the right location that worked for my sons.
Over the years I have dove with many vendors some good and some with room for improvement. The right vendor, that fit our needs along with a history of working with kids and their over protective parents. After reaching out to friends in the industry and reviewing my log book the choice was clear — Coki Beach Dive Resort in St. Thomas, USVI. Coki Beach Dive Center offers quality scuba diving, certification courses, guided dive tours for beginners called; Discover Scuba and Bubblesmakers a P.A.D.I. Program, which is designed to introduce 8 to 9 year olds to the thrill of breathing underwater. The Bubblesmakers Program is a non-skill fun dive with an emphasis on fun and safety. Coki Beach Bubblemakers dive gear is designed for kids, not short adults.
Darryl a Coki Beach P.A.D.I. Instructor with a very fun, but firm vibe, was there to meet the boys and get them geared up. Darryl’s mission was to teach the boys the basics of diving and carefully supervise their Coki Beach, dive experience to a maximum depth of six feet.
Once fully geared up and under the tight control of Darryl, the boys made their way down to the waters edge to begin their experience.
As a parent and professional diver, I planned to be in the water with my sons, although at distance so they can focus on Darryl’s guidance and not my presences. Elijah was the first one to wade into the crystal clear waters of Coki Beach. At first he seemed a little unsure and kept double-checking his gear. After coming to grips that Darryl was very close to him, he put on his mask and eased underwater.
Once underwater he seemed to have some minor issues clearing the pressure from his left ear. To his credit he didn’t panic, his training from Darryl kicked in and he gently blew thru is nose and his left ear cleared and he was on his way to explore Coki Beach Reef.
Isiah, the more cautious of the two, was another matter. To my surprise he was a pure natural. He placed his regulator in his mouth and the mask on face and slips into the water like he had been diving since the womb. Once underwater and under the supervision of Darryl the boys explore the reef, fed some of the fish and explore a part of our planet that escapes many with no desire to dream
As I followed at a safe distance, I flashed back to those endless summers in St. Kitts and said a prayer of thanks to my Uncle James and my Father, for allowing me to dream and blessing me with the tools, to make my dreams a reality for my sons.
PADI 5 Star Dive Facility
1-800-474-2654 or 1-340-775-4220
St. Thomas, USVI