We had planned to install a dive compressor on LOW FLITE, but decided that we’d be spending too much time with other matters that first winter and left it until the following spring’s work and upgrade plan. Following our lightning strike, we had a fair bit of time on our hands while waiting for boat repairs, so we started to look around at dive shops as we still planned to outfit our boat for scuba diving.
Obviously this is an unnecessary luxury, but there are lots of reasons why this may be right for for you, and with the cost of personal compressors coming down, more and more people are doing so. In our case, we both love scuba diving so we wanted to be able to so whenever we wanted, right from our “house.” Looking back on our winter in the Bahamas, I now wish we had committed to it earlier, as the Out Islands can tend to get boring when you’re stuck in the same place for an extended period of time.
I got pretty good (for a beginner) at free-diving, getting down to 20 feet or so while looking for lobster and other critters, but I was constantly frustrated about not being able to stay down longer when we were just hanging out on a reef. The many reefs and coral heads that create an obstacle course while sailing through the shallow Bahamian waters, also allow you to drop anchor and have a world-class dive experience in many of the same places.
To “help justify” such an expense, there are also some practical benefits for being able to dive from your boat. Hull cleaning becomes immeasurably easier if you don’t have to come up for air every minute, not to mention our first-hand experience of having to untangle our starboard prop after fouling it with a fender line. You’ll likely be a local hero to anyone that you help in these tasks, retrieving an item that fell overboard or recovering a lost anchor.
Obviously you don’t need to go all the way to Divemaster for any of the aforementioned, but I thought that since we had the time, getting qualified through a deliberate course would be a good way to keep me focused on getting it done. It will also allow me to help Christa develop her diving skills, as she is currently Open Water qualified and wants to get to Advanced Open Water, and possibly beyond.
Also, Divemasters can re-certify people that have expired, so it will be a good thing to have as we bounce around in a place where there are likely lots of people who have been qualified at some point in the past or just want to improve their skills and experience. Yet another great way to help those around you.