Why don’t more oldies scuba dive? They say life begins at 40 so why can’t scuba diving begin then or later? Well, it can and for me the starting age was 70. People are supposed to be more adventurous when on holiday and that was certainly true in my case. Perhaps, at 70, “adventurous” is a word too long forgotten. The argument against is, of course, I’ve survived this long by being sensible!
There I was at Trawangan Dive Centre (TDC). If Jacques Cousteau can still do it, why can’t I?…forgetting, of course, his lifetime of expertise and experience. But, quite literally, I took the plunge at TDC and enrolled in a PADI Open Water course. I was at least 40 years older than my fellow novices but “ if they can, so can I” I thought. And I used to look like them! By holding my stomach in and keeping my shoulders back I still did for a short time until I realised that a buoyancy control device (BCD) covers a multitude of sins!
The familiarisation pool time was most illuminating, even if my and others’ first efforts provided some hilarious entertainment for those at the pool bar. Surprisingly, I found it much less physically demanding than I expected with the BCD doing much of the buoyancy work. My biggest challenge was overcoming the urge to take great breaths just before submerging and then holding my breath. Absolute No Nos! A problem was not being able to get a reliable face mask seal, overcome by becoming probably world-class at clearing water from my mask.
One great advantage of age can be the loss off night-life stamina. Whereas my fellow learners sometimes arrived a bit tired and maybe just a little hungover, I had had an earlier night after doing my homework. But that just may have been because the classroom was long ago and learning new information does get harder.
So, into and under the water… previously alien and dangerous. Wonderful! A new world, a kaleidoscope of fish, colour and sights in good visibility and warm water. The pleasure of finding yourself in formation with a turtle or a shoal of fish helped you forget that you had no idea where you were. But, thank goodness for instructors’ and divemasters’ knowledge, motivational skills and navigational abilities. With air tanks low, back to the surface, into the boat and off to the cold Bintang waiting at TDC.
I’m now 76 with another amazing experience and ability ticked off the Bucket List. Why don’t you?
Written by Dick Best