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A year without shoes in Grand Cayman

Discussion in 'Cayman Islands' started by Drew Sailbum, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. Drew Sailbum

    Drew Sailbum Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Grand Cayman
    A year without shoes in Grand Cayman (or How I Chucked It All and Just Went Diving)

    It's been more than a year since I've worn "real" shoes. My Teva sandals have been more than enough as I settled into island life. As you may have gathered, I am one of the few that chucked it all and moved to the islands.

    I've found that the island is full of expat's who have done exactly the same thing. It's a community that doesn't always mix with the locals, but provides a breadth of experience that is surprising.

    I work as a dive instructor. I was a laboratory geneticist. I work with two retired policemen, a nurse, an aircraft mechanic, a computer system's specialist, a barkeeper, a finance officer, and others from a variety of fields. For various reasons, we have all decided that we'd rather go diving.

    Others often write to ask if it is possible to make the break and move. You can, if you will let yourself. It is a different way of living. Just don't bother to bring socks. You won't need them.

    Island life is not all one long vacation. There are the routines of daily life here the same as anywhere. Grocery shopping, banking, cleaning, laundry and all the little errands that intrude on life happen here to. We are not immune, but we do operate with a different set of priorities. Things will get done in time - in island time - maybe this week, maybe next month, maybe next year. What's the rush?

    I gave up logging dives early this year, but averaged nearly two dives a day for the 10 months I kept a log here. Some are memorable for all the right reasons and others for all the wrong reasons. The undersea world never fails to amaze. I step into the sea yards from my apartment door and the North Wall is a short swim out.

    And so, with great trepidation, I go wheels up in the morning for my vacation - my break from white sand beaches and the sounds of waves out my bedroom window. People often ask me where our dive staff go for vacation. In my case it is to Miami for an opening day baseball game and some down time. I look forward to some little things - trying to remember how to drive on the right side of the road, a breakfast at Cracker Barrel, buying new eyeglasses, and maybe even venture into a WalMart. Four days should be enough.

    The surface interval has begun. It'll take a few hundred dives to recover from my vacation.
  2. Washy

    Washy Nassau Grouper


    It really does sound like it’s been a fantastic time over the past year. I wish I had the guts to do the same thing (believe it’s crossed my mind on may occasions!!!)

    I think it’s now one of those “If I ever win the lottery” ideas… That said I’d love to take some extended leave from work, leave the grey streets of London behind and spend a few months diving…ahhh…

    I’ll be in Cayman in June and I can’t wait to see the island that has lured you guys away from the ‘ordinary life’…


  3. Cave Diver

    Cave Diver Divemaster

    Great post Drew!
  4. O-ring

    O-ring Solo Diver

    It is always inspiring to read something like that and to meet people that had the guts to make it happen. We talked about doing something similar in the South Pacific during our last 2 days on Bonaire, but you know how it goes...got back to reality, was really busy at work after being gone, yada yada here I am 3 months later doing the same ****e different day.

    Thanks for reminding me that living the Caribbean dream is still possible..
  5. detroit diver

    detroit diver Great White


    When you first posted that you were going to GC, I had many different thoughts. Why would he chuck it all to go diving? How do you make a living? Would it get boring and then you're in deep sh*t because you dont' have a job anymore?

    I've thought about your situation a number of times since you left. Wondered how things were going. Your post answered a lot of my curious questions.

    I think deep down inside many of us would like to be in your shoes. There's a lot of sacrifices to be made, but there's also a lot of advantages and relaxation to be had.

    Maybe some day.....

  6. AggieDiver

    AggieDiver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston, Texas
    Drew, I have a few questions for you regarding the "ability" to drop it all and go, and what are the things you like best and worst about your decision...

    1) You said you are an instructor...were you already an instructor before you went there, and if so, for how long had you been one?

    2) How hard was it to get a job there and what are the applicable immigration laws? Do you have to have a job already and how long was the wait for the work visa? Are there jobs for non-instructors such as DMs?

    3) What to you is the best part of your decision...i.e. what have you most enjoyed about the past year?

    4) What part of your decision have you regretted the most or what part of the new job do you like the least?

    5) If you had it to do over again, would you do it again? And how long do you plan to try to stick with it?

    Thanks in advance for your time and effort responding...I have thought many times about doing the exact same thing, and have always wanted to discuss it with somebody who actually has.

  7. Mikiko

    Mikiko Angel Fish

    Sounds great how does a person get into that kind of work?
  8. norcaldiver

    norcaldiver Manta Ray

    Have fun on va-ca!

    p.s. I hate you and your bare feet and I really don't think it's fair that you taunt us like that. :thumb:
  9. wreckchick

    wreckchick Scubavangelist

    I was just venturing on to the board to ask about what anyone thought about chucking it all and going diving and here I find Drew who has done it already and might have some advice for a fellow escape artist.

    My question was going to go something like this: I'm currently an OWD with my AOW coming up in May, I have less than 20 post certification dives but I'm done with being landlocked. I've roamed around on the net and found a whole lot of places that will be more than happy to take my money and make me an instructor in 6 weeks. <Don't start the flames yet> I was wondering at what point can I chuck it all and become a dive pro, and even if I know those courses won't properly prepare me for instructor level competence, it's awfully tempting. I don't have nearly the experience to tell anyone how they should dive, but I also don't want to wait until I have 500+ dives to start the process. My question, dear readers, is what should a chick like me do to further my goal of going shoeless?

    Let's assume for the sake of this discussion that I'm the kind of person that doesn't want a new certification for the sake of holding the card and that I really do want to be a good diver and give back to the dive community and that I take the responsibilty for my own education very seriously.

    Whew, thanks for hanging in there...

  10. detroit diver

    detroit diver Great White


    I'm not an instuctor, but I think that in order to fulfill your "good diver" goals that you will need to dive many dives. I don't know if that number is 100 or 500 dives, but quality comes with good instuction and practice. Your student will emulate what you do and say. Without the background and experience, how can you show them what is the right way to dive?

    There are dive instuctors that dive every weekend and during the week. There are others that never see anything but the pool. It's not hard to pick out which is which.

    Bottom line- there is no free lunch. You've got to put in your time to be good at what you want to do. And the net effect is that you will be a much better instructor when you are done.

    First, find a mentor instuctor trainer that really dives a lot. That will put you on the right track.

    Good luck to you!

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