As a child I can remember going snorkelling with my Dad when we were on holiday in Majorca. I was fascinated with the different coloured fish, despite being a little nervous.
Somewhere along the way, I developed some kind of wierd phobia. Even though I was a keen swimmer at school, I had never liked opening my eyes under water.
With fair skin and blue eyes, I have always experienced a lot of light sensitivity and I’d sure be lost without my sunglasses in the Australian summers.
So I don’t know what caused the fear. It might have been reading the Peter Benchley book ‘Jaws’. The opening chapter about a shark attack would be enough to make most people never want to go in the ocean again. Cheers Pete!!!
In 1996, when I began running my backpackers business in Perth, some of the dive companies offered to take me for free, but I didn’t want to know. I was comfortable with my irrational fear.
In April 2005, I went travelling up North with my Swedish girlfriend, the lovely Vicky and found myself agreeing to go snorkelling with a whale shark.
Despite seeing reef sharks in the water (timid creatures, but still sharks!), I conquered that fear and swam with one of God’s greatest creatures. Whale sharks are planton eaters and are no harm to us humans.
It was a life-changing experience!
I swam right alongside this gentle giant, looking it straight in the eye for 13 minutes and the feeling of tranquility was indescribable. This one was only 4½ metres long, but still pretty big. I have since swum with one that was 8½ metres long – awesome.
The following year, I was visiting my English girlfriend, the lovely and inspirational Sarah in Alice Springs. This will sound ridiculous to many people, but she encouraged me to open my eyes under water in a swimming pool.
In February 96, Sarah and I were on a break at Rottnest Island with my two kids, Craig and Kim. I took Kim out snorkelling and held her hand. She was afraid of fish but she still had a go.
Sarah was a keen diver, so when she announced she was going diving, Craig and I decided we would take a trial dive.
Kim came out on the boat butdecided that sunbathing and chatting up the crew was more her thing!
That day was another turning point in my life – I was hooked!
If you had told me a few years ago that I would one day be taking a mask off underwater, putting it back on and blowing the water out of it, I would have laughed at you.
The following month I did my Open Water Course. The month after, I did my Advanced Course, and the month after that I was on a dive trip with a Dive Club up at Exmouth’s amazing Ningaloo Reef.
Now qualified Rescue Divers, my wonderful partner Jo and I travel the world, with a key element usually including at least a few days of diving.
The funny thing was that for the first few dives with Jo, she was so nervous that she had to hold my hand!
Nowadays we find ourselves diving to 6o metres in World War 2 wrecks, taking photographs of everything from sharks to little, brightly coloured sea slugs.
The moral of the story: Don’t let your fears hold you a back from a bright new world of opportunities!
You have the power to change from within and live the life of your dreams.
There will be stories about scuba diving on this site as I get chance to add them.
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Until the next time, ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!’