Paulie Gets Padi Certified in Bonaire
June 8, 2000

Ever since we purchased the timeshare in Aruba, Irene and Paul, Anne's sister and her husband, and Paulie, their son, have been frequent visitors to the islands with us. It seems that one year we take them and the alternate years my sister and her husband, Carole and John, join us for the week's visit. We've watched Paulie grow from a infant into what is now a budding young man. He's always enjoyed the water and, thanks to Anne, had his first swimming lessons when he was less than a year old. He is now a good swimmer and, as most adolescents are, absolutely fearless.

As he grew older he got exposed to Anne and I scuba diving and expressed an interest. The picture at right, taken when he was about 10 or 11 years old, shows Paulie following his first exposure to diving equipment. Yes, I said diving equipment and not diving, as we only let him try the equipment on and some breathing underwater in Baby Beach 's shallow 3' depths.

Anne and I had always intended to have him attend classes and do his pool work here in the States, but it just never seemed to happen with my heavy travel schedule and Paulie's endless pursuits of soccer and other teenage activities.
While we did not get the chance to prepare him for this year's trip to Aruba/Bonaire we were determined that he would make his first legitimate dive this year. Arriving at Buddy Beach we asked about Paulie taking a resort course, but they were a bit understaffed to accommodate us. They made arrangements with the Green Submarine Dive Shop for him to take the resort course with the understanding that he would come back to Buddy Beach and be allowed to do subsequent dives with Anne and I.

We headed to Green Submarine at the appointed time on Monday morning and deposited him into the hands of Eric Groenhart, owner and operator of Green Submarine. Eric appointed Ronald Addicks to work with Paulie for the resort course.
We spoke with Ronald and inquired as to when Paulie would be going into the water for that first dive. I wanted to accompany them and take Paulie's picture. Having secured an approximate time Anne, Paul, Irene and I headed back over to the Buddy Dive Drive-thru to gets tanks and our equipment for the dive. We proceeded back to Green Submarine and awaited Paulie's first entry into the water.

Traffic sign at Playa Pabou that everyone got a kick out of.
The Green Submarine Dive Shop is located on Kaya Playa Lechi, the ocean front road that runs through Kralendjik, and is only about a half mile north of the Town Pier. Suiting up at the dive shop it's just a short walk to the ocean and Playa Pabou reef is just a short swim out.

Both Eric and Ronald were friendly and demonstrated the kind of patience needed when working with adolescents. Green Submarine prides itself on offering "personalized service," guided diving instruction and training, and equipment rentals. It's definitely a "full serve" operation.

Divers, including Paulie, with Ronald
in the water at Playa Pabou.
After an appropriate classroom session where the skills for scuba diving were discussed it became time for Ronald to take his young charge into the ocean to demonstrate those skills. When we saw them walking toward the ocean, Anne and I suited up to be ready to accompany them on Paulie's first dive.

Let me tell you, we were pleasantly surprised by the reef at Playa Pabou. Sheltered from the waves that damaged many of the dive sites along Bonaire's coast, Playa Pabou had plenty to experience and was especially good for Paulie's first dive. (See the Playa Pabou page with pictures of the marine life Anne and I took during our three dives there.)

I managed to squeeze off one picture of Paulie underwater during his first dive (left).

With his first dive under his belt and a resort certificate allowing him to dive at Buddy we bid Eric and Ronald a thank you and good-bye as we headed off with Paulie to the photo shop to drop the film off I had shot and in search of lunch to satisfy that dive-induced hunger. As we drove we questioned Paulie about his first true scuba diving experience and he was naturally excited and enthusiastic about wanting to pursue certification. Anne and I discussed, with Paulie and his parents, about getting him certified at Green Submarine during the remaining four days of our time on Bonaire. When Paulie answered the most important question: "Did you
like Ronald the instructor?" He replied that he did. With the film dropped off we immediately headed back to Green Submarine and signed Paulie up the the Open Water Certification course. Arrangements were made to drop him off after lunch and Paulie was on his way to becoming a certified diver.
We didn't realize it until later, but there were some consequences in the actions we took. Getting certified involves three essential elements: Reading, testing and practicing. Not only would it take a devotion to the effort by Paulie, but Anne and I would also get involved in helping him to learn and understand the principles of diving. Each night we would sit with him and go through the next day's topics to make sure he understood and was familiar with everything he needed to know.

Green Submarine's open-air classroom. Eric works with some students.
Paulie is standing in the background.

Ronald and Paulie practicing
some of the skills required for
scuba diving.

Paulie with his dad. Scuba diving just wasn't enough to capture a 15 year old's total interest. Motorcycles were needed.

Yes, we may have made some sacrifices to help Paulie get certified (like helping him study at night), but there were some advantages too! As any parent of a 15-year-old knows they can be a handful and, at times, annoying in a playful way. Paulie, while he is a really great kid, is no exception. So, the advantage to us was the time it took for him to get certified. We dropped him off at 9:00 a.m., picked him up for lunch at Noon, dropped him off again at 2:00 p.m. and picked him up again at 5:30 p.m. Just imagine all those Paulie free hours!

On his last day Anne and I had hoped to accompany him on his last dive to get some more pictures, but we were running a bit late. By the time we arrived they were already in the water and we had to suit up yet. We did so as quickly as possible, but never caught up with them in the water. There was a pretty good current running that day (unlike the other days) so we began our dive into the current. We were down about 60' feet when I noticed two divers about 30' feet above us. Thinking it was Paulie I swam up to them to take a picture only to find it was not them. I rejoined Anne and continued our dive. I had just about given up on spotting Paulie when I looked up and there he was. No mistaking him this time, and I have to admit what I saw made me quite proud. He was riding the current at about 40'. His arms and legs were crossed and he just gently glided by. As he did he flashed me the OK sign, and I knew we had another diver in our family.
Paulie with Ronald Addicks, his instructor, proudly holding up his Padi Scuba Diving Certification pages.

Anyone planning on visiting Boniare with hopes of getting certified I would recommend you contact Eric or Ronald at Green Submarine. They demonstrated the three most important qualities you need in a scuba instructor: Friendliness, dedication and knowledge. And, above all, the appropriate measure of patience required of any good instructor! You can contact them at:
Green Submarine Scuba Diving
Kaya Playa Lechi 24
Kralendjik, Bonaire
Dutch Caribbean

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