Category Archives: Kari Taylor Atkins

Guest Post: Brian Wright

As I prepare for upcoming trips to Cozumel, I thought I’d post this report from one of the participants on the March, 2011 trip.

Brian

It had been a couple years since I certified and with only one “pool” refresher under my weight belt, I was trying to find a trip to ENJOY diving, not just doing skills for certification.  I stumbled on the Ocean Sports trip to Cozumel in March 2011 and thought the price, especially the small single supplement cost, was great.  It was a big leap for me to travel and dive alone in a place I’d never been.

I was concerned about a lot of aspects of the trip but was really wondering if I could “hold my own” with experienced divers and would my lack of experience be a safety risk.  (p.s. – I wasn’t the diver who assembled their rig backwards on day one).  I had swapped a few emails with Kari, Ocean Sports and the Blue Angel dive shop in advance to ask a few questions and get rental gear set up – whenever I mentioned to anyone I was diving with Kari and Matthew the response was the same – “you’ll have a great time, see a lot and be perfectly safe.”  Ocean Sports even matched me with a roomie for the trip.

When I arrived, Kari recognized me right off (she’s a Facebook stalker I think) and made me feel welcome.  The dive group ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-sixties; some were just certifying and some were very experienced dive veterans; some had been on the trip before and some were rookies like me – everyone was welcoming and easy going. It developed in to a fantastic trip and a great holiday.  The whole dive group was very supportive and fun – I left with many friendships and “future” dive buddies. 

I saw so much during the dives that always seemed to uncover some new wonder.  The Blue Angel was a small resort but a great place to stay – dive boats docked out front every morning, dive shop staff were helpful with everything and the food in the restaurant was great (at a good price and wonderful staff).  I also got to visit great local sites and eat at places that weren’t in the guide book, as Kari and Matthew took the group out to some of their favourite haunts.  The whole package made for a relaxed, enjoyable week.

Matthew and Kari were professional and knowledgeable (OK she’s a bit of a fish nerd) in my “book” learning (I completed my Advanced Open Water course on the trip) but also impressed me with their love of diving.  I always felt I could push my personal limits but whenever I looked around, they were there to suggest, encourage and scold (a couple times I deserved it).  Kari even hid her laughter (until after) when Young Bryan and I did our version of underwater navigation. The biggest testament to Kari and Matt is that I went down a struggling newbie and came back with my Advanced Open Water (so some days were 4-tank days) but also with the huge confidence in my abilities and a renewed passion for diving. 

I’m already looking at the calendar to see which trip next year I will return on but the difference next year is I will stay longer…

making underwater navigation look easy!

You can find Brian on twitter @MrBrianWright and you can read the trip report from Brian’s adventure here.

Congratulations on successful completion of the Advanced Open Water Diver course, and since this post, Brian has also completed his Enriched Air Diver program as well! As always, we’re so pleased to be a part of a positive dive experience! And we can’t wait to welcome Brian back on his next Cozumel adventure. You can be part of it! Check here for trip dates for winter 2011/2012!

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Congratulations: Rescue Divers!

Many divers will tell you that their Rescue Diver course was one of the most challenging and also rewarding diving experiences they’ve had. We welcome two new members to this group! Congratulations to Amy Walczak and Jon Hudson, who completed their training in Narrow Lake on a rainy Friday in July!

Amy and Jon bringing an unresponsive diver to shore

Way to go you two! And thanks to Ross Lockwood and Warren McKay for their able and much-appreciated assistance!

Ross Lockwood, Amy Walczak, Warren McKay, Jon Hudson

You can see more photos on our Facebook page.

Guest Post: Ross Lockwood

We met Ross Lockwood in early 2010 when he visited Cozumel with the U of A Scuba Club. Ross completed his Advanced Open Water during that trip, and he hasn’t looked back. I asked Ross to share some thoughts on his experiences; here’s what he had to say…

Ross

I’ve had the great fortune of sharing the last year with Kari and Matthew Atkins. After completing my Advanced Open Water course in February 2010, it was a no-brainer for me to continue my training with them. Throughout the summer I worked on improving my dive skills with them in the pool and in Alberta Lakes. Over the summer I completed my Rescue Diver, Enriched Air Diver and Emergency Oxygen Provider courses and began my Divemaster course. Now that my Cozumel trip for 2011 is over, I’m happy to share that I’ve completed my Divemaster program, along with seven specialties: AWARE – Fish Identification; Digital Underwater Photographer; Night Diver; Peak Performance Buoyancy; Underwater Naturalist; Deep Diver and Search and Recovery Diver. I’ve also received my Master Scuba Diver rating.

It’s no small feat to complete that much training in so little time, especially when both student and instructor have full-time jobs! It’s a testament to AtkinsScuba that so much could be completed so efficiently. Add on top of that my personal feelings that I received the highest quality training available, and it’s not hard to see why I chose to train with them, and why I will continue to dive with them in the future. It’s difficult to articulate how thankful I am for Kari and Matthew – they’ve definitely made one of my life goals a reality. THANK YOU!

Ross Lockwood: Divemaster (self-portrait!)

We’ve obviously spent a lot of time together! And we continue to do so. Ross is now a regular contributor to AtkinsScuba, and is currently assisting with a Rescue Diver program as well as an Open Water course. Thanks, Ross! Congratulations!


Congratulations: Enriched Air Divers!

If you’re a diver, you probably have heard of “enriched air” and may even use it yourself, or have questions about what it is and perhaps what it isn’t. Four divers in the Edmonton area had all their questions answered at this event last week. Congratulations to four newly certified PADI Enriched Air Divers: Mylan Worthington, Bryan Hayward, and brother/sister buddy team Nicole Bremault and Marc Bremault; way to go people!

Marc Bremault and Nicole Bremault

Date for the next Enriched Air Diver course will be announced soon!

Guest Post: Amy Walczak

A guest post from Amy Walczak: Amy participated on the trip to Cozumel in January 2011. She completed her Open Water Diver training while she was with us, and went on to do her Advanced Open Water course as well. Here is what Amy had to say about her experience…

Amy

When I signed up for the Ocean Sports trip to Cozumel in January 2011 it was with reservation. I wasn’t even an open water diver yet and had never travelled alone before. I worried about getting there safely, not knowing anybody else, whether I’d remember the skills I’d practiced in the pool… you name it and I worried about it. Turns out all that worrying was a waste of my time! Most of the divers were repeaters and have known each other for years, but they couldn’t have been more welcoming to those of us new to the trip and to diving. I’ve never felt quite as included as I did at the Blue Angel with Kari & Matthew and the rest of the group. And not only did I get to hang out with a bunch of awesome people for a week, I also got to bring those new friendships back to Edmonton with me!
Kari & Matthew took excellent care of me, a newly certified and wide-eyed diver. Their professionalism and knowledge impressed me while their obvious love of teaching and diving inspired me. I did most of my training with Kari and dive master candidate Debbie and those girls really had my back – I always felt safe. And, just as importantly, they were great role models. Even when they weren’t actively teaching me skills just watching them dive – how they moved, how they interacted with each other and the environment – was a lesson in itself. Learning to dive has enriched my life in ways I was totally unprepared for. It’s given me an entirely new and fresh outlook on life and created so many exciting opportunities for travel, adventure, and personal growth. It didn’t hurt that in addition to fantastic diving and new friends, the food at Blue Angel was incredible. And the drinks… and the staff… and the view… you see a theme here right?? I can’t imagine a better place to have gone than Cozumel, or a better group of people to have gone with. There’s good reason they all keep going back and I can’t wait to be among the ‘repeaters’ next year!

Amy at the beginning of the week...

Amy at the end of the week!

Thank you to Amy for recounting her experience, and Congratulations on completing Open Water and Advanced Open Water training! We were so happy to be involved in supporting her first efforts as a diver, and look forward to a continuing relationship!

March 2011 Trip Report

lionfish at columbia shallows

We just completed the final visit of this winter to Cozumel, Mexico, with yet another wonderful group of our Ocean Sports family. This group was unique in that they came from all over: two from Ontario, two from Fort McMurray, one from Cold Lake, and “international flavour” added by two ladies from Minnesota! We also had Leduc and Fort Saskatchewan represented, along with several actual Edmontonians. Great group of people!

Wonderful weather and five great days of diving to some amazing spots: we visited Tormentos, Paradise, Palancar Gardens, Cedral Wall and also Cedral Pass, Columbia Deep and Columbia Shallows, Chankanaab Bolones (where we encountered the Atlantis Submarine!), Punta Tunich and Chankanaab Shallows. Will we ever run out of dive sites here? Unlikely! We also did several shore dives at Villa Blanca including introducing five relatively new divers to the joys of night diving.

As a group we visited several of my favourite restaurants also, including Sorrisi, Casa Denis, Blue Angel Resort, Wet Wendy’s Margarita Bar and this year at El Pique not one but TWO of our hearty participants ate the sopa especial, which is made with cabeza de res, which is, of course, the head of the cow.

hawksbill turtle at columbia shallows

That’s it for trips for this winter; we posted a few more photos at the AtkinsScuba.com page on Facebook. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated in the trips this year; you all rock! We had a wonderful time with each and every one of you!

We have three planned for the 2011-2012 winter season, and lots of training in the Edmonton area this summer!

What’s New?

I've got my eye on you, too.

Keeping an eye on our goings-on? Wondering what is new?

We have been busy making plans for spring and summer in Alberta, and for next winter back in Cozumel.

We are teaching two Open Water (pool and classroom sessions) through Ocean Sports in May (weekend program May 13-15) and June (six-week program on Wednesday nights beginning June 15). You can read more about those here.

We are teaching an Enriched Air Nitrox course on May 1 and an Emergency Oxygen Provider course on June 2.

We will be running a Rescue Diver program in May and June; one day for pool sessions and knowledge development and one day for rescue scenarios in open water. Read more about the program here.

We just released dates for three trips to Cozumel, Mexico in winter 2011-2012.

And, we added a photo of two handsome, newly minted instructors receiving their PADI OWSI paperwork to this post.

Whew!