I am the Scooter Queeeeeeeeen!
Okay, so I’m also the one who bestowed that title upon myself, but thankfully, many of my divers seem to agree! This morning I went scooter diving with a co-worker and it made me think about my experiences on a scooter and the store’s history with them.
I can still remember when I did my first scooter dive almost 12 years ago. I went with a dive buddy of mine to Makena Landing. We figured that was a good place to try these things out since we knew the dive site well, it’s shallow, and we knew we wouldn’t be too far from shore if anything happened. Well, let me tell you, after this dive, I wondered why on earth anyone would ever want to do a scooter dive. At the end of the dive, my neck hurt and the next day my armpits hurt (I later learned that both of these experiences were a result of my holding the scooter incorrectly). It seemed like the batteries ran out after only about 20 minutes (we’ve since learned to top them off the night before), so we had to schlep our scooters all the way back to shore. I’m a fan of my scooter propelling me, not the other way around!
At some point, we inherited a couple of scooters for the shop and gave them a try. After remembering the errors of my first dive, things went a little better this time. My husband and I and two friends played and played on the scooters and taught ourselves how to “superman” (this is what we call it when we cruise with the scooters between our legs instead of holding them out in front of us) and a variety of other “stunts”. After that, I don’t think I dived without a scooter for about another 20 dives – it was addictive!
Since then, we have explored areas we would never dare to swim to, we’ve found “new” reefs, practiced making our scooters float mid-water (just because we could), and even scootered all the way around Molokini! We have also sheared props right off (gotta be careful of even the slightest thing dangling from your BCD), had to tow dive buddies in, and experienced low battery situations. Thankfully, the longer we’ve been scooter diving, the better we’ve become at preventing the latter list of experiences!
Anyway, these scooter experiences quickly evolved into offering scooter dives during our Advanced Open Water classes as well as taking folks for guided dives on the scooters. Diving with a buddy on a scooter is a whole different animal than being responsible for a group of people (often people who have never ridden a scooter before). If you’re looking (and going) one direction at the same time your buddy is looking (and going!) another, you can become separated in seconds! Now, add more people to the mix and the recipe for total scooter insanity is in place. As a guide, I have experienced the stress of a “runaway diver”, as well as the embarrassment of not finding a far-off dive site (doh!). Beyond those things, I have also reveled in the sheer speed and grace you can experience on a scooter. I have coaxed divers through the frustration of not mastering the superman as quickly as they’d like and the reveled in the look of sheer joy on their faces when they do.
Now, after doing this for so many years, I have really fine-tuned the “process” and have also been aided by innovations in the equipment. With the addition of a saddle on the scooters we use, the learning curve for doing the superman is down to about one minute! The batteries we use now last for two hours. My love of scooter diving has led me to perfect my briefings so that divers get the most out of the experience while also being safe and protecting the underwater environment from those huge sand storms that can occur if you don’t pick up your scooter properly before turning it on!
What really turns me on about scooter diving personally is the feeling of freedom in the water and the ability to explore for longer distances under water. And okay, I really like to twirl too! What excites me as a guide is when we pop up at the end of a dive and the first thing I hear is, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done!”
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