What a year it’s been! A year ago last week I had quit my job with the federal government, sold my house, sold my car, sold or gave away my household goods, donated all my suits and dress clothes and bought a one way ticket to St Croix.
Most of my friends thought I had lost what was left of my mind, asking how I could leave the DC metro area and a cushy government job to take a job as a SCUBA instructor in the Caribbean. “You’ll starve” they said, “You’ll be back in six months” they said. “You’re too old for the physical demands” they said. My answer was simply “I don’t want to ever look back and say I should have, life is too short not to chase a dream”
Leaving the late fall weather in DC, I arrived at the doorstep of SCUBA ready to hit the water. How hard could it be I thought, I’d been diving with SCUBA off and on since 2008; I’d seen the Divemasters at work. Jump in the water, swim around, get back on the boat and do it again, easy right? Apparently I was wrong! I quickly learned Cylinders are heavier than the cups of coffee I used to lift in the morning and finding the boat after a dive while keeping track of my divers was much harder when you have to do it on your own. I mean I lost the boat so many times the Captains painted “Congratulations you found the boat” on the bottom of Reliance during its haul out in Dec.
After my first week, I thought my friends might have been right, maybe all those years sitting behind a desk wasn’t the best way to get in shape for this. Seriously I was sore in places I didn’t know I had. Fortunately after a couple of weeks and several bottles of Advil later I got the hang of it. After a couple of months SCUBA tanks became lighter and finding the boat was easier.
A year later, I still get up at 5:30 in the morning, but instead of putting on a tie and dress pants to head off and sit in Beltway traffic for 40 min. I sit on my porch drinking coffee watching the sun rise over the Christiansted Harbor looking out over the Caribbean Sea. Job satisfaction? Check. I’ve met some wonderful people working here. Instead of sending off a report to who knows where in the bureaucracy which is the federal government, I get to see the excitement in the eyes and faces of new divers that I have taught and still love coming to work in my “uniform” board shorts and a t-shirt.
I’ve done a lot in the past 20 or so years, a Submarine Sonar Technician, an Intelligence analyst for the department of the Navy and now a SCUBA Instructor in St. Croix. I can honestly say my third career is the best. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!
Want to hear more of the story? Stop in and ask for John, or 546, and I’ll tell you how I got that nickname.