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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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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!


New EANx date!

We’ll be doing another Enriched Air Diver course on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Check here for information and details!

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!

February 2011 – Reading Week Trip Report

swim-through at Santa Rosa Wall

Reading week is a big deal when you’re in university, and for the past two years we’ve been honoured to have members of the University of Alberta Scuba Appreciation Club spend their break with us. What a fantastic group we had this year; 16 shining happy faces! We visited several of my favourite sites on the island (of course, I’ve been accused of having them ALL be my favourite): Cedral Shallows and Paso del Cedral, Chankanaab Shallows, Palancar Gardens and Palancar Caves, La Francesa (where some of us did a beautiful dive on the wall there), San Clemente, Paradise (we saw SIX seahorses there), and on our final day, Santa Rosa Wall, which is one of my favourite spots on the planet, and then finished up with a ripping drift dive at Punta Tunich. In between, there were lots (and lots) of shore dives as well as four night dives.

We once again had a wonderful Friday night barbeque next to the pool at Blue Angel and it’s safe to say a great time was had by all! By all reports, next year’s Reading Week trip will be at least half-filled with people who attended this year, and may also include a couple of young Texans who were befriended by the Club!

U of A Scuba Club, February 2011

We posted a few more photos at AtkinsScuba.com’s facebook page.

Next up: Ocean Sports visits Cozumel one more time, in March!

Sailfin Blenny at Paradise Reef

Congratulations to two new OWSIs!

Matthew, Warren and Bernie during Assistant Instructor course, May 2010

Teaching scuba is an awesome way to spend your time. You get to participate in “a-ha” moments, watch people do things that make them nervous and help them grow as people. We take pride in the fact that many of our students are “repeaters” who have worked with us at various points in their progression as divers. Warren McKay and Bernie Cyr are two such students. Warren started with us early in 2009 when he joined us on a trip to Cozumel and completed his Advanced Open Water and several specialty courses. He then went on a trip to Utila with Matthew and completed his Rescue Diver course. Bernie had been on several trips with us to Cozumel starting with our first trip in 2007, and in summer of 2008 he and his wife Debbie completed their Rescue Diver training with Matthew. Warren and Bernie went on to complete their Divemaster training with Matthew, and then in May of 2010, their Assistant Instructor course.

All of this culminated in a trip back to Utila Dive Centre in December 2010/January 2011, where Warren and Bernie successfully completed their Instructor Development Course and the PADI Instructor Examination, becoming full-fledged Open Water Scuba Instructors. They also completed the preparation work to become Master Scuba Diver Trainers.

Congratulations to you both, and welcome to the club!

Bernie Cyr and Warren McKay

January 2011 Trip Report

Columbia Shallows

We just finished the first trip of 2011, with a fantastic group of people from Ocean Sports in Edmonton, Alberta visiting Cozumel, Mexico. 2011 marks our 5th year of bringing groups here; when you like something as much as we like Cozumel, you just have to share!

We had 15 participants on this trip, 13 divers (8 repeaters) and 2 not-yet divers. The weather cooperated, dive conditions were great, and we visited some of my favourite dive sites once more… Dalila, Chankanaab Shallows, Palancar Gardens, Yucab, Columbia Deep and Columbia Shallows, Santa Rosa, Paradise, Cedral, and Villa Blanca Wall. Oh, and lots and lots of shore diving right in front of Blue Angel Resort.

As usual, we shared some of our favourite local restaurants with our friends from Edmonton, enjoying dinners at Casa Denis, Sorrisi, El Pique and Parilla Mission. We also had a lot of fun at a Friday night poolside barbeque at the Blue Angel Resort. It was nice to relax and chat, after all that underwater time.

We posted a few photos at AtkinsScuba.com’s facebook page.

Next up: the University of Alberta Scuba Appreciation Club hits Cozumel in February!

-kari