Attitude is Everything
By Darren Shields
I have often heard people say they’re too old to take up snorkelling. Subject to major health problems the only thing I see getting in the way is self doubt or, as Graeme Sinclair (famous for the Gone Fishin television series in New Zealand) has said to me on many occasions: Attitude is Everything! Graeme is the perfect advertisement for living by what he says. Carrying a disability that would have seen many crumple and give up, he has achieved more than most able bodied men.
My Dad, Dave, is another example of not letting age or debilitating health problems stop him diving. At 49 he had a massive heart attack, doctors told him to take it easy and put his feet up and basically wait to die. Dad, never one to take what the professionals had to say as gospel, got to his feet in no time after a triple bypass. I heard him tell visitors who came to see him on what they thought were his last legs ‘I’ll be out there pointing to the sea in no time at all’. You could tell what they were thinking, but they do not really understand what makes guys like my Dad and Graeme tick and that is attitude plus the lure of the ocean and what it has to offer the soul.
Until you have experienced warm blue water, suspended weightlessness, no pressure on any part of your body and the beauty of what the sea has to show, you are poorer for not experiencing it.
Learning to snorkel is something easily done, no one in New Zealand lives more than an hour from the coast, access is so easy and it is free to do once you have a little knowledge and equipment. Snorkelling with your kids or even grandchildren as in my Dads case is something very few even contemplate. I know for me some of my most enjoyable diving has been with my kids and to see them diving with Dad is very special.
Recently I took my boys on a filming trip up north, Griff my youngest at nine years old spent more than one hour swimming with the dolphins that came to visit us in a bay. They seemed very content with Griff and his two mates (who were 11 years) doing circles, leaping out of the water, playing and generally showing off. To watch those kids have an encounter like that was truly amazing and there wasn’t a Play Station in sight, they had real fun.
With summer coming there are so many places on our coastline that you can access by car. As long as the sea is flat and there are no currents it’s safe diving that, in some places, will have you swimming with dolphins, fish, crayfish and, if you are lucky enough, provide a chance at a little hunter gathering.
Of course there is spearfishing, a sport many seem to be taking up. It’s good and healthy, leaves the smallest carbon foot print of any water sport and is the most selective form of fishing there is. All fish around our coast our edible, some not as good as others but all safe to eat.
With summer coming get in the water and give some form of diving a go, I know Dad will be out there doing it … what’s your excuse?