If you’ve ever wanted to have the experience of diving underwater—and staying there for half an hour—but aren’t sure SCUBA certification is right for you, there’s an alternative. It’s called a helmet dive.
|Get close to tropical fish when underwater in a helmet dive.|
|Helmets lined up and ready for us to wear underwater.|
After a safety briefing and instructions for equalizing pressure once the helmet was in place (swallow a couple of times), each participant in turn started down a ladder into the ocean. Because the helmet is very heavy—heavy enough to hold you 10 feet down—it is winched up and then lowered over your head, resting on your shoulders, just before you become submerged.
|Larry is surrounded by colorful fish--10 feet under the surface.|
Once on the bottom we were free to wander within a roped-off area. Since each helmet is connected by an air hose to the boat, we obviously needed to stay within those boundaries. I felt the sensation of water slightly swirling gently around my shoulders, but that could have been my imagination. No water entered the helmet.
|Clear turquoise water allowed us to take excellent photos.|
Although we’re cautioned not to touch coral for safety and environmental reasons, we were encouraged to touch one soft section of tubular orange coral waving in the current. A photographer took pictures of couples by using hand signals to match them up. After an exciting 30 minutes, we held onto the rope encircling the dive area to maneuver our lighter-weight bodies back to the boat’s ladder.
|Fish and fingers explore coral at the bottom of the sea.|
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
Did it feel claustrophobic at all?
No. The helmet is put on just before you submerge. Then we were able to walk freely through the water (within a specified area because of air hoses attached to the boat). The water was clear and brightened by sunshine from above.
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