We apologize for not keeping our blogs updated all this time, we are here again and ready to keep you all in the loop with our shop and scuba school. These last months in Cozumel have been busy busy busy with Referrrals, Nitrox courses, and many advanced courses. We couldn’t be more proud of our instructors really working their fins off this last season after our dearest Andres has left Cozumel for the time being to travel the globe and explore other waters. With Juan Pablo having his newborn son and Mateo, not only working his restaurant by night, but preparing his daughter to study abroad in Europe this year, they’ve held strong and really took charge of the Scuba School bustle, all with the help of our stellar Norman. We congratulate all our Scuba School Graduates of Spring 2015 and welcome our upcoming students!
Check out our February newsletter here!
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We have a diver with us from Canada – Kale – who is undertaking a life-altering experience. He comes to us as an Open Water Diver, and over the next several months, plans to upgrade his skills, experience and training and really take things to the next level: his Instructor Development Course. He’ll be posting here from time to time, and here’s his first entry!
(Note this is an edited version of a post from Kale’s own blog; you can read the original full text of Kale’s post here.)
I am doing all my dive training with Matthew Atkins at the Blue Angel Scuba School in Cozumel, Mexico. My plan is to go all the way to become a PADI instructor. Prior to this trip, I was certified as an Open Water Diver (the most basic certification level) when I was in Belize almost three years ago. Since then, I have dove Caye Caulker, the Bay Islands, and some cenotes on the Mayan Riviera during my mother’s wedding last year. Before this past Friday however, I had not been diving for a year and half, and hadn’t been diving in the ocean since I was a lil travelin’ nineteen-year-old in Honduras… in 2010.
In order to become an Advanced Open Water Diver, you have to complete five specialty, or ‘adventure’ dives, two of which are mandatory. A specialty dive essentially offers a different experience or training option in regards to the underwater realm, and you have about 14 to choose from for this course. These include altitude diving, night diving, wreck diving, diving with a propulsion vehicle, underwater photography… and more. Deep diving and navigation are the mandatory dives, as they are fairly important, but whatever else piques your interest is up to you. The other options are intended to open a divers eyes to the possibilities. And if a diver intends on going all the way to instructor, it gives them an idea of what they can specialize in with further credentials.
Yesterday I got in the water, and let me tell you, I was head-over-heels in love with everything. I truly got to appreciate what we were doing, even during the ‘Navigation’ and ‘Search & Rescue’ specialty dives which were conducted from shore and consisted playing around with compasses and different search patterns.
It started raining as we finished yesterday, giving birth to this magnificent sunset that I had to capture and interrupt the informative nature of this blog post with.
I woke up early today to get onto an 8 a.m. boat at Blue Angel Resort. Matthew and I were off to do the mandatory ‘deep’ dive, and to follow it with a drift dive. I was particularly excited for these because, although the shore diving is good, I hadn’t been in at depth since Honduras.
Our first dive was at “Palancar Gardens,” and immediately after going through our dive briefing and buddy checks, we descended into the beautiful turquoise body that is the Caribbean Sea. We reached 95 feet below the surface, and had to maintain buoyancy for a minute or two while I gaped in awe at the immense coral structure that surrounded me from above and below. We then kicked off and found ourselves in a light current that took us in, out, and around the reef for the next hour. We stayed around 60 feet, witnessing the vibrant variety of Mexico’s sea-life, including numerous nurse sharks and turtles, one of which was close enough for me to peer into its eyes and directly into its turtle soul. Also, I could’ve touched it.
At one point of the dive I remember being so overwhelmed with the beauty of the sea and my privilege in it, and sweeping my arms out to the big blue void, thinking: “WHAT.”
“Tunich” is where the drift dive took place, and was equally spectacular. There’s something special about being caught in the ebb of the ocean and pushed along by an unseen wind. You’re able to observe the reef and everything around it by simply becoming one with the current. Very, very cool, and there’s so much more to come. The end of that dive marked the end of my advanced diver training…
Matthew is an excellent instructor. He’s a contact through an acquired family member of mine, and I can’t help but admire the passion he has for the education aspect. I know this is just the beginning but I can’t help feel I’m in good hands.
On to the Emergency First Response!
Written by Kale Beaudry. You can read more about Kale’s adventures at his (almost) daily blog.
Once again, we are pleased to be able to congratulate on of our own! Jose, a popular Blue Angel divemaster, has taken the next step in his own continuing education, and successfully completed his Assistant Instructor program.
A few months ago, Arthur completed his Divemaster program here at Blue Angel Scuba School. He recently returned to go to the next level, and we are very pleased to offer our congratulations to him on completion of his Assistant Instructor program! Way to go, Arthur; you’ve worked hard and accomplished a lot!
We want to share this with you; a guest post from the University of Alberta Scuba Club. Here is what they had to say about their trip to Blue Angel!
Over the University of Alberta’s reading week, the U of A Scuba Appreciation Society had the experience of a lifetime with Blue Angel Scuba School. We also had the privilege of being one of the first groups to organize our training schedule entirely through the newly formed Blue Angel Scuba School.
The initial planning for the trip, all the way through to the final execution of diver training, was facilitated by veteran dive instructors and dive operators; it was the experience of a lifetime, let us tell you why…
The U of A Scuba Club has been building a reputation for having a lot of diver training on our trips, and this trip was no exception. For the week that we were there we needed to complete 7 PADI Open Water Diver Referrals (the “open water” portion of the Open Water certification), two Peak Performance Buoyancy specialties, three Deep Diver specialties, two Night Diver specialties, one Rescue Diver certification and one Emergency First Response Instructor course!
**phew** That’s a lot of training!
Scheduling all that training into the the short week that we had was definitely a challenge, but we carefully planned every dive in advance and made contingencies for delays along the way (and good thing we did). Our seven Open Water divers took to their new underwater environment like… well, like fish in water! By our third day of diving, everyone was diving confidently in their buddy pairs.
Everyone who signed up for diver training made leaps and bounds worth of progress with their diving skills, especially the divers who participated in the Deep Diver and Peak Performance Buoyancy courses (which are highly recommended by the divers that completed them). Even our novice divers made vast improvements in their skills throughout the week, simply by having a great set of dive instructors and divemasters as role models for the rest of us.
Boat dives were the main focus of our trip, and with most of our diver training out of the way, our group prepared for the spectacular views of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Out of the 10 boat dives that we did throughout the week, we got a comprehensive view of all the different ecosystems that interplay to form all of the beauty that Cozumel is famous for – from the towering coral heads of Palancar Bricks, to the sandy shores of La Francesca and more.
As a group, we racked up an impressive list of fish, shark, octopus, coral and plant species throughout the week. We had playful meetings with humongous parrotfish, majestic views of hawksbill turtles, lucky sightings of camouflaged seahorses, and nocturnal encounters with caribbean reef octopuses. Several of our participants even claim to have seen rarer green turtles and fleeting glimpses of eagle rays!
Although shore diving seems to pale in comparison to boat diving on the reef, the Villa Blanca dive site in front of the Blue Angel Resort grew to be a favourite among many of our trip’s participants. The convenience of diving in proximity to our hotel rooms and restaurant was what initially drove our divers to explore what Villa Blanca had to offer, but after a number of day and night dives from shore, we quickly realized that the diversity of life on the shore dive rivaled some of the best diving from the boats! Juveniles were especially prevalent on the shore dive, but they were a lot trickier to find than their mature counterparts!
Fun on the Island
Our trips often coincide with Cozumel’s famous Carnival, and this year we were lucky to join in with the locals to celebrate the culture of the island. Cozumel islanders dress up in some of the most ornate costumes and parade down the main street with their music blaring and good times rolling.
After all the fun we had at the Carnival and underwater, we had to give back to the people and the environment of Cozumel. We did so by organizing an afternoon cleanup of a 2 km stretch of beach on the east side of the island. The soft white sand beaches of Cozumel are immeasurably beautiful, but they are marred by human garbage that drifts in the sea and washes up on shore. After a few hours of hard labour and 34 bags of garbage, we returned the beach to its natural and beautiful state.
Our experience with Blue Angel Scuba School was, in one word, AWESOME! It can’t be overstated how great our experiences were; from Open Water referrals and specialty training with Kari, dive mastering by nurse shark finder Aldo and eagle ray detector Norman, videography by Tony, and the one-on-one Rescue Diver and EFR training with Matthew, every part of the diving experience was professional and enjoyable.
Thank you Blue Angel Scuba School, you’ve created memories for a lifetime.
Matthew Atkins has been a dedicated instructor since 2006. He is the Head of Training here at Blue Angel Scuba School, and we’re celebrating a recent accomplishment! Matthew just received a certificate from PADI congratulating him on his achievement of issuing 100 certifications during the 2011 calendar year. Wow! That’s a lot of students in a 12-month period! We are confident that each and every one of those students received great instruction, delivered with patience, grace, and the touch of humour that Matthew is known for. Thank you for being part of this wonderful achievement!