So as I tend to do quite frequently is browse the web for interesting things or people related to Bermuda. There are so many interesting things going on in our small little island you might be amazed at how much gets missed. I have always been fascinated with the ocean but yet, as I am sure I am not alone in this, there is so much I do not know about the ocean surrounding my own country. I happened to spot some very spectacular photos on social media of diving here in Bermuda. As I looked through them in awe I noticed that there was also a very interesting person behind these photos. My interest was peaked and I just had to meet her to see what I was missing as I knew this would be a valuable story to tell…
Meet Poppy Nowicka, a dive instructor from Bath, England working for Dive Bermuda for the summer 2014 season.
Can you talk a little about your background and how you ended up in Bermuda?
I started working towards my professional scuba diving qualifications a few years ago. After qualifying as an instructor last year I worked for the Four Seasons in the Maldives before realizing that remote island life was the way forward, so when I saw a job ad for Bermuda I jumped at it.
Can you tell us your thoughts on Bermuda and how it differs from other countries you’ve visited?
Bermuda is spectacular; it most definitely has me under its spell. Aside from the fantastic diving, beautiful beaches and stunning ocean here the island itself has such a good vibe. The people are lovely and there is a very relaxed, happy way of life.
Can you give us a brief walk through of your day to day?
I start work before 8am, getting the Dive Centre and all the equipment and beach rentals ready. Then I get into the water around 8:30am, we do a 2 tank dive in the morning for certified divers and then a 1 tank dive in the afternoon for first time divers and certified divers and I usually get out of the water again around 4pm. Then I help to clean all the equipment and start closing up the Dive Centre.
What can you tell us of what’s under our ocean that really stands out to you?
The shipwrecks and rock formations. There are so many underwater caves, tunnels and swim throughs that are just incredible to explore. It really is another world under the sea.
For someone who has never dived before how do you help them become a capable diver and how long does it take?
There are 2 options. They can either do a Discover Scuba Diving Programme which will allow them to try diving and have their first underwater experiences and only takes an afternoon but will not leave them a certified diver. Or they can do the first PADI course, Open Water, which will take about 4 days but will leave them certified to dive independently around the world.
How many Bermudians vs tourist come on your dives? And what would you say to the locals to convince them to start diving?
It is primarily tourists who come diving with us. We do have members who come out diving regularly but very few of them are Bermudian which is a shame. I would say “once you try it and realise what Bermuda has to offer underwater I can guarantee you won’t look back.”
What are some of your highs and lows of diving and working in Bermuda?
Highs are going to work every day in such a beautiful place, finding and recovering a 5L glass bottle from the 1800s on an undiscovered shipwreck, and working with such a great team at Dive Bermuda. Lows… well the only low will be finishing work here.
What are the some of the highs and lows of working and traveling around the world?
Highs are experiencing beautiful places, new cultures and meeting different people. One of the most important things I have learned whilst travelling is that material things are not what create happiness. By traveling I realised I no longer had to conform to societal routine and be the stereotypical material girl living in a material world, there are so many more important things to life. Now I happily live out of a suitcase because I know that I can easily live with less and it is a liberating feeling to sacrifice superficial possessions for life altering experiences. I relish the chance to learn of new languages, cultures and customs that open my mind and redefine my values and perspective on life, leaving no room for prejudice. The lows are the goodbyes I face when I leave the latest destination I have fallen in love with. I know that I can always return home, but it is the uncertainty of ever returning to the latest location I have begun to call home that is hard.
How many wrecks have you visited here and which is your favourite and which has the best story behind it?
I’ve visited over 12 wrecks here, they’re all awesome but my favourite is probably “The Two Tugs” because at this site there are two shipwrecks for the price of one. They’re both old tug boats which were used to dock the smaller cruise ships that came into Hamilton which were then purposefully sunk for diving in 1984 and 2008. The wreck with the best story behind it in my option is probably Constellation, a four-masted schooner built in 1918. She wrecked on the reef in 1942 carrying a 2,000 ton cargo en-route from New York to Venezuela. It was in fact this wreck which provided the inspiration for Peter Benchley’s story The Deep, as amongst her cargo the Constellation carried thousands of drug ampuls and many broken glass vials and bottles which can still be found by divers today in only 30ft of water.
In your opinion how healthy is our surrounding ocean? I hear our coral is in great shape in comparison to some other areas.
The waters surrounding Bermuda are probably the most biologically active I have dived in. The coral is spawning, there is no coral bleaching and it is very healthy and in great condition. Other parts of the world I have dived in I have seen a lot of coral bleaching and projects such as coral frame propagation, have been implemented to try to conserve the reef.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start diving or a diving career?
I believe that everyone should at least try diving once, if they then decide it’s not for them then fair enough, but in not trying it I believe that people are missing out on a life changing experience.
What type of training did you have to do to become a certified diver and is there a certain fitness level needed?
To gain my first PADI Open Water certification I had to do a 4 day course of theory and training in scuba gear in shallow water, followed by 4 open water dives. To become certified you must be able to float for 10 minutes in water too deep to stand in and swim 200 meters, other than that there is no stipulated fitness level but there is a medical questionnaire that must be answered.
What are your personal goals and ambitions?
Short term I aim to continue travelling whilst working as a scuba diving instructor. Long term I aspire to be a Dive or Travel Journalist.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to take up a career that allows them to travel the world like you?
I would encourage anyone to pursue a career that enables them to travel the world as I believe that it is a life changing experience. I would say though to make sure it is a career that they’re very happy in and to be prepared that it won’t always be glamorous and that they will need to make sacrifices along the way.
We are a huge believer in doing something you are passionate in that it never feels like work. How much easier is it for you to wake up in the morning to go to work vs other jobs you’ve had in the past?
I completely agree. Somebody once told me that “happiness is the measure of success” and I have only ever aspired to do what makes me happy. Working as a scuba diving instructor does just that; quite often it doesn’t feel like I’m going to work, I’m being paid to do what I would otherwise be paying to do. That’s kind of awesome.
What are some of your other hobbies?
I also love to free dive, surf, jet-ski, paddle board, sail; pretty much anything to do with the ocean really, I’m a bit of a mermaid. Outside of the water I also run my own blog, socialise, read, skateboard and run.
Would you like to come back to Bermuda? If so why?
YES. It’s my idea of paradise.
How can one learn more about your work and what is next for you?
Check out my blog: http://scubasiren.blogspot.co.uk. Next for me is chasing the sun to another paradise. Either doing a diving or surfing job.
What 3 words would you use to describe diving in Bermuda?
Unique, exciting and spectacular
All photos were taken by Poppy. Stay tuned for a follow up as we were invited to join Poppy on the boat and see it all first hand 🙂