Some of my diving experiences

by Marijke Wilhelmus & Michael Forster

Findhorn, Scotland

I started diving the second time we visited Hawai'i. The first time we visited the Hawaiian islands I was utterly content with snorkeling as we went further and further out and there was so much to see. It was then that we had the first magical encounter with a turtle. Ever since then turtles have captured a special place in my heart.

Michael had done diving in the past and I was totally new to it.

I have to admit that it was not easy for me. On the first dive my dive instructor, Joris, who also happened to be Dutch, had to talk me into going down! Michael was patiently sitting on the bottom of the ocean occasionally looking up and wondering what was going on. Joris finally convinced me that I could not give up before I had tried. So I did . The first dives I really suffered the first five minutes. But the first five minutes of suffering did not weigh up against the last 25 to 50 minutes of splendor and awesome beauty.

Many dives were significant, many moments unforgettable.

I so vividly remember a dive together with Michael in the Ahihi Nature Reserve where the underwater world is protected from fishing and spear fishing. We saw beautiful coral, not a lot of fish, but there was a feeling of peace beyond description.

The other highlight was a the deep dive near the crater of Molokini. We left the little harbour in Kihei at 6 o'clock in the morning. At that time I was still not convinced that I was going down to 130 ft. But our dive instructor this time was a big , sturdy guy called Brad; very trustworthy. First we gathered at 30 feet, one of the girls was doing handstands, which cheered me up, ready for more. Brad took Michael and myself to 130 feet. I could not believe it when I was down there, I loved it !!!
The blue, so blue water was of a blue I had not seen before and then as far as the eye could reach there were fish: yellow, black, green, blue, many multi coloured. In the midst two white tipped reef sharks.

We decided to continue the courses and completed the PADI Rescue course in the Moray Firth in Scotland. Meanwhile we joined the Marine Conservation Society, who are doing really good work around the UK. It is much needed as the waters around the UK are badly polluted. I had first hand experience of it, as I got sick after one of our dives in the Findhorn Bay. Around here we discovered the fascinating world of crabs..... thousands of them.

After completing the Rescue diver, we were lucky enough to return to Maui and do lots of dives.

This time we went to Lana'i to the cathedrals. They are called the cathedrals as they are fabulous rock formations under water. Sun rays shine through the underwater holes and arches, which gives the effect of stained glass windows. The light looks transparent and it gives an extra magical dimension to the already magical underwater landscape. On the first dive I nearly lost my weight belt, which kind of spoiled it. The other Lana'i dive was not so deep but really spectacular as we trailed through caves, holes, caverns with rays of light. Highlights were a swimming scorpion fish, two frog fishes and a group of spinner dolphins swimming overhead, their smooth, silvery blue silhouettes reflecting against the sunlight. What I liked about the dive leader this time was, that he was very knowledgeable about the marine ecology. He was able to differentiate between all the species and point out subtle differences.

On our last dive we went to Makena 5 caves to look for a white tip reef shark who lives there in a cave. When we crossed over a ledge, we caught the sight of a young manta ray (with a wingspan of about 6 feet). We descended to the sandy bottom where we sat for the next 25 minutes as quietly as possible, watching this spectacular show of the manta ray sailing through the water fishing for plankton. We have really like to move through the water slowly and to be still regularly. Diving becomes a different reality when you do that. At one point this Manta Ray came within inches over our heads. Also some bright yellow butterfly fishes and a turtle were within my vision. Awesome!!

Now it is back to the cold Scottish waters, where I can just manage about 25 minutes in the water with my 5mm wet suit on. On our last 25 minutes dive in Findochty, a little coastal village, we found amongst the orange kelp around 10 golf balls.

Meanwhile dreaming about our next trip to Hawaii to do dive master and our long term plan to do a diving trip of the Pacific and write a book.

by Marijke Wilhelmus - 07/10/96
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