Join me in the cold, dark, life-sustaining NE Pacific Ocean to discover the great beauty, mystery and fragility hidden there.

Diving After the Storm – My 600th Dive

Today, despite a powerful storm, I completed my 600th dive (thank you dear buddy, Jacqui Engel).

Vermillion rockfish.

Six hundred dives is not such a big deal if you are a warm water diver. However, the vast majority of my dives were in the cold waters of Northern Vancouver Island and, it does feel like a big deal.

I only started diving when I was 36. Now, at age 47, I have been diving less than 11 years and have thereby averaged a dive per week over this time. It’s the equivalent of about 19 days underwater.

I am not usually boastful (I think) but it seems really significant to acknowledge this milestone and to try to share why diving is so important to me.

In an attempt not to be too earnest though, I try to express “Why Dive?” by way of some bad poetry.

Why Dive?

Opalescent nudibranch.

Constricted by my dry suit,
Thirty pounds bound to my waist,
Hunchbacked by my cylinder,
A mask suctioned to my face,

I leave the world we’ve cultivated,
To attempt to meet our every whim,
To where Nature’s voice can still be heard,
Far above civilization’s din.

No governments, no borders,
Nor economies present.
When down here, I’m reminded,
Of life’s depth and true intent.

I’m an awkward and brief visitor,
In this world of colour and perfection.
I fill with humility, wonder,
Passion and quiet introspection.

Red rock crab near a sand-rose anemone.

For Mother Ocean is home to life,
Older than mammals can comprehend.
I’m grateful that I may learn from her,
Leaving solid ground when I descend.

Diving brought me greater purpose,
Love, vision and camaraderie.
I think that what some find in a church,
I find  . . .  deep . . . within the sea.

On to the next 600 dives.

Postscript: There was additional “poetry” to today’s dive because it took place after a very powerful storm. Flooding caused the ocean to turn chocolate brown.

This “after the storm” dive further made me reflect on how diving is like a metaphor for life’s greatest challenges. At the risk of the repercussions of exposing you to bad poetry AND “Hallmark-esque” reflections,  I will only share the following:

  • Even in darkness, there is great beauty (as evident by these blog images from today’s dark dive).
  • When you don’t know where you’re going, trust in your compass.
  • And, when in the depths of it  . . . just breathe.

With great thanks to those who have made me the diver I am.

17 Responses to “Diving After the Storm – My 600th Dive”

  1. ev

    Oh Jackie I sit here transfixed by your depth and knowledge, both of yourself and the ocean. I really needed to hear the postscript poetry. It has helped me today a great deal. I am trying to *just breathe*
    thanks my friend.

  2. Ang

    600 dives is huge! That’s monumental to say the least. The things we learn underwater… To trust ourselves when we can’t see what direction we’re going, to appreciate things without having to touch or posses, and that good buddies can save our lives if we need them! Great poem, sometimes it is best to be poetic. If one hasn’t been there it’s hard to understand without the visualization… Thanks for sharing such a huge number of your discoveries with us!

  3. Paul

    Congratulations Jackie – 600 dives, lucky you! I had a comment handed to me from a non-diver the other day in relation to stress release through diving and she said it could be thought of as analogous to descending into the depths of your subconscious, as you relax and let go of the incessant chatter and absorb some deeper meaning and beauty of this wondrous realm. Pretty insightful I thought. I loved the visualization. Thanks for sharing always and enjoy for mud-dives for awhile (our normal dives down here). And you do have some really good dive buddies. Was that Vermillion from that dive? NICE SHOT.

    • jackiehildering

      Oh – I love that! Thank you for sharing Paul. Diving is the closest to meditation that I think I can get. It is undoubtedly an escape and allows me to live in the moment. The last three times we have dived at this unnamed site (don’t want to share the location in case some fishers might think it a good place to go) we have had +5 vermillions gather around us. I know how much you would enjoy this. Hope you are really well.

  4. Fran

    600 dives is something to be celebrated! Congratulations on this milestone. I certainly haven’t had the diving experience you have. I still have too much to think about to get the meditative effect…but I know it will come. I just feel at home under the water. I love the sensation of the water over my skin, the little of it that shows, and even the cold water. I love the freedom of movement, feeling just a little unbound by gravity. I am awed knowing that beneath the surface we can see, is a whole world we can’t. It is a transportation to someplace completely different, where we are the outsiders. It is a privilege to be able to explore this wonderous environment. But enough about me…….congratulations again to you!!

    • jackiehildering

      Not enough about you! I was so hoping that this might be a by-product of my sharing – that people would share what diving meant to them. Beautifully stated Fran.

  5. Terina

    I congratulate you as I near the 200 dive mark. Your Poem said it all for me, although I find wonders not just in the sea. Every tiny little critter I watch swim in fresh or salt, or the ecosystems I compare such as the Beagle channel of Tierra del Fuego and the West Coast, bring such joy, amazment. And as per your conversation with Paul I too find it very medatative, and greater purpose. I have met some of the most amazing and wonderful people diving, for which I am pleased to be among the dive buddies you have had and looking forward to many more!

    • jackiehildering

      Hello Terina – It means a great deal that my poetic attempts led to others trying to share what diving means to them. Oh wow do you ever have a world ahead of you! You have to have one of the most international collection of dives ever in those 200. I have so much respect for the adventures and purpose you and embracing and would so love to dive with you again.

  6. Natasha

    FABULOUS POEM really feel it encompasses why we dive…your a woman of many talents my friend and I thank you for sharing them with us!!!

    YAY Happy 600 Dives!!!

  7. Heather

    I love the idea of a blog for your rich dive life. And it is another life; another world that we are privledged to dip into from time to time. Congratulations on 600 Jackie! Why not boast? It’s an accomplishment in these cold and powerful waters. We’ll see you in May!


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