By Joy Niemack
“Expect excitement, fun and a whole new world” when you scuba dive, said Phanor Montoya-Maya, Rhodes Scuba diving’s training officer.
Montoya-Maya, who has been diving for 14 years said, “South Africa has plenty of beautiful fish and colourful reefs, so it would be silly to miss out on the great opportunities we have
here at Rhodes.”
So what are you missing out on? Scuba diving is not only an amazing experience but it tests the divers’ mental and physical capabilities. This extreme sport is recommended to people who enjoy exploring new worlds and who are very open minded to new experiences and sensations.
Jessica Escobar-Parros, the Dive Master and Development Officer for the club has visited the Island, which is an underwater pyramid made entirely of coral. Together, Montoya-
Maya and Escobar-Parros have travelled to places such as Panama, Canada, Jamaica, the Caribbean and Columbia in search of new diving terrains. They both agree that South
Africa has a lot to offer divers and has a beautiful marine world. Surprisingly, Montoya-Maya prefers to dive in winter or when it is raining as he said the water is calmer than in
summer. He also explains that no matter how often you dive at one place, each time is a new experience as the conditions are never the same.
“Scuba has it all,” said Montoya- Maya, “You get the opportunity to meet new, fun people and travel, as well as fly underwater and get to understand why our marine environment is so important.” The beginner’s training course only requires good health, the ability to swim, although equipment is expensive. The underwater club provides
the hard equipment such as the gear cylinder, regulators and the buoyancy compensator, or the BCD. Montoya-Maya assures beginners that the most dangerous thing is being irresponsible or having an irresponsible person on your team.
The next beginners’ course started on May 7. After the course a student should be efficient in skills such as holding their breath for more than 50 meters, treading water for 10 minutes and survival skills. The club also offers a refreshers course for those who have not been diving in more than six months.
The course is at least two weeks long and at the end of the course you will receive a certificate. However, Escobar-Parros said, “Scuba is a lifetime hobby and a lifestyle. Once you
get hooked, you are hooked.”
The scuba diving team are also looking forward to the Noordhoek festival. The festival will be held in Port Elizabeth on June 18–19. Here divers from all over the world will gather
and at least 15 boats per hour will be launched. There are great prizes to be won for various categories. They are also expecting to have a mariner scavenger hunt.
“It is more fun than partying, the sacrifice is worth it,” said Montoya-Maya.