Scuba sisters

Having good dive buddies is an important part of your diving portfolio. Dive buddies stay close, do buddy checks, keep you safe, and explore. Good dive buddies enhance your dive. As a woman diving in her fifties I am on an incredible diving journey. I am fortunate to have many great dive buddies. Diving regularly I have formed many different buddy pairs. The friendships have extended beyond the water. We often travel as a buddy group, discovering new destinations and dive sites. Good dive buddies know your strengths and weakness’ as a diver and you know theirs. A buddy team bonds over amazing underwater vistas and adventures. I am very grateful to have my son as one of my dive buddies. I am equally grateful to have my younger sister as my dive buddy. What could be better than diving beneath our exquisite oceans with someone you love?

My dive buddies

I am not an athletic person. I am what you would call uncoordinated, not particularly strong, in my 50’s, I get my left and rights muddled up, have no sense of direction on land let alone under water and generally if there is an easy way and a hard way I gravitate towards the hard. Nevertheless, I have found scuba diving and we have bonded.

My sister, Natalie, 16 years my junior has been diving since her teens, as she matured and segued into corporate life diving fell by the wayside. Venturing up from Brisbane, she was keen to reconnect with diving and I was excited to dive with her. Adding my son Josh to our buddy team we were soon standing on the soft white sand of Great Keppel Island, ready to dive.


Back view of a woman on a samll boat looking at a rainbow
Rainbows and Diving

Scuba buddy

The sun on our backs, Natalie reminiscing about GKI, her old stomping ground we headed to the dive hut.  Laughing about some of her adventures, we set up our tanks and checked our gear.  Watching Nat carefully I managed to put my BCD on facing the correct way first time.  Wetsuits on we hoisted up our tanks and slogged our way through the sand and water to the dive boat.         

“That’s our gym workout” I grinned to Natalie as the crew relieved us of our load. The boat bounced through the swell, the salty wind invigorating, a sunshower creating a glorious rainbow.


A SCUBA WOMAN Woman scuba diver
Scuba sister

Diving in a buddy team of three with a guide, Natalie’s nerves were obvious, my inexperience apparent. Remembering my training I slowly worked through our PADI buddy check B.W.R.A.F – Big Whales Rule All Fish – BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, Fins/Final Check.  

Josh as always was composed and calm, though he has inherited my awkward gene. Finally, we had our gear on, air on, the crew completed a final check and we backward rolled into the choppy water.

Good dive buddies

Grouping together for a free descent our guide signaled “regs in – descend.”  I pressed my low pressure inflator hose and sank gently, enjoying the odd sensation of submersion and breathing underwater. Only my fifth dive and first time not using an anchor line I began my graceful descent feeling very much like a competent woman diver.


Scuba divers legs and fins EMPTY NEST DIVER
A graceful free descent…..or not

Impressed with my dive buddies

Natalie, looking very comfortable was the first to swim up to me, signaling, “okay?”  “I’m okay” I gestured back. She stayed by my side. Josh was next to swim up, also doing the PADI signal “okay?”  “Yes, I am ok” I signaled back.  He too stayed by my side. Our guide completed the party as he also signaled, “okay?”    Again, I signaled back “I’m okay” thinking they were over doing the buddy checks. Our guide gave the PADI signal for descend. “Okay” I acknowledged, thinking we must be going deeper.


Yep – I’m ok

Showing off my dive skills

“This really is overkill,” I thought with everyone watching me. It wasn’t until our guide took my hand and gently pulled me downwards that I thought to look at my depth gauge. I hadn’t been doing a graceful controlled descent. My head was bobbing just under the water’s surface. Not for the first time and I’m sure not for the last I embraced my lack of spatial awareness and giggled to myself. That would explain all the okays! So much for showing off my newly acquired dive skills.

Clown fish and anemones

Diving with my buddies

We reached 15 metres threading our way through coral paths, spotting soft and hard coral bommies, focusing on a variety of tiny nudibranchs, passing a sleeping turtle tucked into a rocky depression and interacting with the plethora of anemone fish. We watched a well camouflaged wobbegong shark, at first seeing only his tail before discovering his body and finally his whiskery beard.  Natalie excitedly pointed out a Spanish Dancer clapping her hands to indicate it was something special and Joshua found a baby lionfish and moray eel. 


Wobbegong shark
This Wobbegong was hard to spot

Still learning and not really knowing what to look for, to me everything was exotic. I enjoyed having things pointed out and discovering what they were back on the boat. It was a beautiful day’s diving, made even more special by reconnecting Natalie with her passion for diving and everyone having a laugh – even if it was at my expense.

A burger and a cold beer back on the island finished the day off nicely.

It’s never too late – TAKE THE DIVE WITH TANYA

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Published by emptynestdiver

Learning to dive in my fifties has been a great adventure, I am a senior scuba diver but young at heart.

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