I have been thinking about diving here in Rhode Island since I moved here in January. Hell, I remember calling one dive shop in February or March to ask when they start advanced classes. I didn’t follow up though. I was somewhat intimidated. I don’t really know how to explain it.
"Vacation diving" is so much easier because you just make a reservation before you get there and everything is ready, planned, and simple. But diving here in Rhode Island, things just aren’t like that. You go rent your own equipment wherever and there aren’t any organized events (none of the dive shops are offering them). You can try to find people to go with on websites like this, but still, there aren’t a lot of divers in Rhode Island to choose from. After lots of research, I found Dive Club of Rhode Island and eagerly joined. They offer far more events than anything else I’ve come across so far, but still, working around a difficult work schedule leaves few options even within all those Dive Club of Rhode Island has to offer.
Diving itself is a lot different here too. The water is freakin’ freezing compared to everywhere else I’ve been. I’m also worried about current, which can be unpredictable here. And the lack of very organized events (specifically the lack of divemasters and instructors) available makes it even more difficult to get started.
There aren’t many dive sites here either. After checking out several of the dive shops, I found a book called Rhode Island Adventure Diving which seems to be very informative, but it has so many dive sites in a not-so-organized order that I will have to read it cover-to-cover to make use of it.
Another problem here is that I have never done a shore dive. Every dive I’ve done before, a boat takes you out and decides where you’re going, drops you off there. If there’s a current, the boat follows you and picks you up at the end of your drift dive. But diving from shore can present significant problems you don’t encounter with boat dives. My biggest fear is that current or waves would take me and/or my dive buddy out away from the dive site and/or exit point.
I finally took the step today to check out the dive site I’ve heard is the best for beginners, and it’s one of the most popular dive sites in the region. Dive Club of Rhode Island had a dive scheduled today at Fort Witherill, and even though I didn’t have time to dive, I went to check it out and meet some club members. It had gorgeous views and seems like a very easy entry, plus it’s very protected, so current and waves will be minimal, if even existent. It suddenly doesn’t seem so intimidating. Maybe I can finally make this happen.
Dive Club of Rhode Island has another dive scheduled for Sunday at Fort Adams, and I plan on diving with them. It’ll be my first cold water dive, my first New England / Northeast dive, my first shore dive... But I think it’ll be exciting.
With how expensive it is to rent gear, I want to make the most of the rental. I think after overcoming these obstacles, I’d be fine with just diving with my partner, even if the dive club isn’t there. After seeing Fort Wetherill today, we decided we’ll give it a try Monday morning, while we still have the gear. Start out with the smaller cove, then do another dive in the larger cove. This will be my first dive "alone." I think we’ll be fine though. I’ve been on enough dives where I feel comfortable in resolving that may arise.