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Getting my Advanced Open Water in North Carolina

Written by Ashleigh Rivera

I want to start this off by stating that everything I write in this blog post does not adequately portray my experience as I’m still trying to find the words to do so. I’m a firm believer that some things simply can’t be learned or felt unless experienced - and with that alone I hope I provide some insight for how other beginning divers can leverage this next step in their diving education.

I knew shortly after completing my Open Water that I wanted to pursue further courses. If you didn’t already know, an Advanced Open Water certification can be likened to a diverse array of specialty diving experiences. With a prior fascination for wreck diving, earning my AOW in North Carolina seemed like an obvious choice. On this 3-day trip I accomplished my Boat Dive, Deep Dive, UW Navigation Dive, Wreck Dive, and my Dive Against Debris for my AOW. Our first day on the Atlantic, we found ourselves in the awe-inspiring company of sand tiger sharks, barracuda, and explored the intriguing remnants of a WWII wreck resting at a depth of 100 feet. I spent each surface interval trying to wrap my head around what I was doing and what I was seeing, scarcely able to fathom it all. I was left in absolute wonderment.

Our luck took a different turn on the second day in the Carolinas. The trek out had gorgeous weather conditions, and I was still riding out a high from our previous day’s dive. As I did my first back roll entry from the boat, I eagerly took the lead alongside my instructor, Craig. However, approximately 15 feet into the descent, I was no longer leading the dive. The visibility deteriorated rapidly, and the current continuously pushed me into the wreck and my fellow colleagues. It was at this moment I couldn’t help but reflect, as if God had a playful sense of humor, granting me a day where the ocean displayed its marvels and a day filled with valuable lessons. Both were necessary - and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I’m still navigating how I want to utilize my diving experience professionally. However, one thing is for certain - I want to seize traveling opportunities as much as possible. With my newly acquired Advanced Open Water certification, I am set to embark on a series of journeys alongside Ohana Dive Co. Among these ventures, an eagerly anticipated 9-day liveaboard adventure to Socorro Island and a short drive to San Diego to explore the California Kelp Forest! I don’t have enough words to express how much I enjoy traveling with the Ohana crew. I’m sure these two trips will be just a couple out of many.

My time in Tennessee is dwindling to a couple weeks, however, my diving journey doesn’t stop here. My goal is to enhance my proficiency in Underwater Photography and take wreck diving & dry suit specialty courses. I also hope to continue sharing content with you all through this blog. The gratitude I hold for Ryan and the entire Ohana team is immeasurable, as their influence has undeniably shifted the trajectory of my life.

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