It’s mid September and it’s humid & hot, almost unbearably hot between the hours of 1-4, especially if you’re on the West side of the island. -I live on the West side of the island and I generally love the heat, but right now it’s almost too much even for me. When its like this, the most logical thing to do during these hours is to go where it’s cool if you have the opportunity. That leaves limited options on this small caribbean island: 1.) Head to areas of the island where it’s shady (boring). 2.) Go inside in the air conditioning (boring). Or 3.) My personal favorite, go to the beach! I choose option 3, but not to lay on the beach, rather to use the beach as merely a place to hold my stuff while I get in, and more importantly, under the water.
I’m a water girl, right from my birthday. I was born a Pisces on the cusp of Aquarius and to say I love the water doesn’t quite describe how I feel about it, it’s more than love, its comfort. I am sometimes more at ease being in the water than on the land. I don’t like to hike or walk or run, I love to float and tread and swim. But more than that, I adore being under the water. Scuba is nice, it’s a great sport, I’ve been diving now for 15 years, but it’s noisy under water when you’re on scuba with all those bubbles whizzing by your head every time you exhale. I don’t care for that noise much. My preference is to throw on the 3 essentials: a pair of fins, mask & snorkel and head out.
I bought a new set of fins this week. My first set of new fins in 12 years! I was very, very attached to my old ones, we’ve been through a lot together. Me and my blue full foot Mares Avanti Tre fins have covered a lot of nautical
miles in the past dozen years. I know this may sound nuts to some, but I had a hard time breaking my emotional bond with them! I didn’t want to give them up. We scubaed throughout the Bahamas on over 295 dives together. They were with me when I killed my first lobster with a Hawaiian Sling (I hated that). They took me to 40 feet for the first time on a single breath to untie the bowline knot that attached our sailboat to a kinked up mooring. We’ve been on walls where we couldn’t see the bottom of the ocean, and done numerous rescues and shark feeds together. I have a very long history with these things and giving them up was not a decision that came easily to me…But they were speaking to me… actually screaming at my feet that they have seen enough and were ready to be replaced by a younger, fresher model of themselves. I couldn’t bear it anymore, the foot pockets had become so caved in that the agony of my feet being squeezed and blistered with each freedive was becoming just too painful to ignore. It was the end of the line for my faithful diving companions and I had to do it, I had to buy a new pair.
I considered going with a different brand of fins and did a lot of online research (as I do with every important purchase I make). What I discovered in the end was that it was the best choice to stay with the same brand and go for the Mares Avanti Super-Channel full foot fins.
I picked them up this week in St Maarten and was chomping at the bit to try them out today. At 3pm -which is the most unbearable part of the day for me heat wise- I put on my sunscreen & bathing suit and started gathering my stuff; trusty mask & snorkel, brand new Mares fins and beach towel. I jumped in the car & made the short 3 minute drive to the closest snorkeling spot down the road. I grabbed my stuff, and was touching the water 1 minute later. I waded into the calm, warm Caribbean Sea and when I got about chest deep in the water I slid the fins on my feet. Wow! To me, it felt like putting on a comfy pair of slippers (I think you have to be a real water person to your very core to understand how the perfect pair of fins can possibly feel like a pair of fuzzy slippers). Being in the water and putting these babies on my feet felt to me, I suppose, the way the rest of the world feels after coming home from a long day at the office and kicking off their shoes. It was that “wow I can relax” feeling of being home. I knew immediately that I made the best possible choice for me. I pulled my mask & snorkel on my face, looked around, and off I went into the blue. With a few swift kicks I was quickly gliding through the water along the rocky shore. I could not believe how fast these things were or how well they responded to my feet. I felt like a mermaid! Again, you really have to have spent some time in the water with different fins on your feet to understand this; Its like a chef fully appreciating the differences between quality of knives, or a painter understanding the difference between cheap and expensive paintbrushes. When you know, you know and you just have to learn by experience. I spent about an hour in the water diving and swimming and just getting acquainted with my new buddies. I think we’re going to get along just fine. To say I’m very happy with them would be an understatement. I look forward to building a similar kind of history with these new fins that I did with the last ones. I predict we will have many happy years together.