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My first 100 in 1 year!

My first 100 in 1 year!

Written by Juli Cole,20 September 2023.

In two weeks, I will complete dive number 100 (not discussing the naked part here). Why this is special? My husband and I just passed our one-year anniversary for our Open Water certification; we will have completed 100 dives in one year’s time. I have had the unusual experience of diving at least one trip every month throughout the region this past year. Skipping the details, this has been my husband’s alternative to therapy – I am sure many of you can relate. I wanted to share some of my observations from my experiences this last year, hoping to help others.

Master your Buoyancy.

We hear it, we know it and we gotta love it! No way to deny it, the Buoyancy Workshops by Flow were worth the time and money. It greatly improved our skills. And when our buoyancy improved, so did our diving experience. We also did additional time in the pool after we bought our own gear.

Meeting new Friends

We did group diving trips, and trips just with my husband and me. And both are fun in different ways. With the big groups, I made new friends. I liked diving with them and pushing my personal limits. I enjoy hearing everyone’s story. People are diving for all kinds of reasons, but I think at the heart of it, many are just like me: curious and adventuresome. I love sharing that bond with others. The personal diving with just my husband, myself and the divemaster has also been enjoyable, more tailored to what we enjoy seeing and doing. We did a few specialized classes which has strengthened us individually and as a team.

Green Turtle Sipadan, Photo courtesy Antony Cole

Go on Dive Trips!

Going on trips like what Flow provides is a safe and easy way to get to places. Arranging trips on your own can be done and has its own benefits, but requires extra work and a willingness to cut your losses. We have ventured out on our own in the Philippines and Thailand, as well as in Perhentian Island. I looked for dive centers that were straightforward and transparent – with mixed results. If you can, get a recommendation from someone who has used the place. In Thailand, we ended up liking the dive center who actually owned the boat instead of the one we contracted with. One center in the Philippines had terrible gear – they were still recovering from the pandemic. The other place was recommended by a diver and was great. The place in Perhentian, we got lucky. Part of the adventure!

Owning your own Gears

After the bad experience of using rental gears in the Philippines, we said enough was enough and bought what at the time was good gear for our needs. That was after about 20 dives. Now 70 dives later and a little more experience, we wished we had bought different gear as now our diving styles have changed. This was the same with our dive comps. Our units are excellent but we are finding as we understand more about the bells and whistles, they may not be the right fit for our preferred diving styles. My opinion is your regulator and your mask are worth the initial cost and really worth finding the right fit. All other things can be worked around, whether it be renting for a while or purchasing 2nd hand. I ended up buying a second mask but the regulator will take longer to replace with what we want.

No BAD Dives.

I have learned every dive can be rewarding. One of my worst dives was when I forgot to wear my contacts on a boat dive – no running back to get them. I was just learning how to use the Go Pro and thought, well, I will take a video of everything I can’t see (most of the reef). To this day, I can’t watch the video without getting seasick – the camera is here and there, trying to record everything at once. 28 minutes of it. Needless to say, I came up and was sick, attempted the 2nd dive, and missed the last dive of the day. The reward? Learned not to do that ever again! But there are better rewards. Those times you are expecting to see the prize and the creature is not showing up?  There is still something to see.

When we went to Nusa Penida to find the Mola Mola, we had to get up very early to take a bus two hours to get to the pier, then take the boat another hour. The water was so cold, and even colder as we dove deeper. We swam after the divemaster this way and that way. I was thinking to myself “is this really what I want to be doing?” The dive master came up and was pointing, and I thought why was he pointing at another diver. Then my eyes focused on the Mola-Mola and I raced like crazy after it to get a video. That was a good day! That was dive number two. Dive number three was nothing. By this point, I was feeling tired after the early morning and same as before, swim here, swim there but this time no Mola-Mola. There was a stronger current heading back that was draining, and I was beginning to drop, when I noticed this lovely coral on the rocks below,  Xenia coral I was told. It indicated the direction of the surge – I had never dived in a surge before.

Xenia coral, photo by DeepDeposit (

When it pointed the way I wanted to go,kicked, then rested as it pointed the other way, then kicked with the wave. It became fun and hypnotic and peaceful. I felt like I could do that all day (given enough air). When we surfaced and waited for the other divers on the boat, there were dolphins swimming in the bay. It ended up being fun after all despite not seeing what we were originally looking for on that dive.

Lastly, I am grateful for my open water training. I honestly almost quit diving after I completed it. I hated the sound of my breath underwater, I hated wearing the mask, I hated the sound of my dive instructor’s voice. I did not want to go underwater again! And we had signed up to complete the Advanced Open Water training right after as well. I really did refuse to go on the next dive. And it helped me to clear my head and gather my wits. I “sucked” it up (pun intended) and did the dive after that. All those irritating drills we had to go through and all those little underwater performances are invaluable to me now. Check your gear, check your buddy – weight belt, buckles, tank on – have saved us many times. Clearing my mask underwater is a regular thing I have to do almost every dive trip, occasionally purging my reg or having to remove it underwater – all those little skills. We have used the Giant Stride entry numerous times from boats and jetties as well as tossing our gear in the water and suiting up on the surface. On occasion when doing other specialty courses, we have had to refer to our open water manual and I will find something in there that I had forgotten. It’s a good review.

I am not expecting this next year to keep the crazy pace like last year, so not sure what projection it will be for the next 100 dives but I do have a bucket list – tons of places and experiences to look forward to for sure! The kelp forests of California are near the top. But for now, cheers to all of you for making this first 100 so memorable and fun!



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