Scuba magazine columnist Yo-Han Cha considers the advice on life-choices foisted on him by non-diving acquaintances.

Despite some of my friends’ comments to the contrary, I do have a full-time job and all of my diving is done in my spare time, this being weekends and holidays. This means that all of my scuba diving is voluntary. I never ‘have’ to dive. I always dive for fun. This is sometimes worth remembering if you’re ever in two minds about going diving. The vast majority of us aren’t professional divers, so we dive for fun. 

Bearing this in mind, there are occasions where I find myself wondering… ‘what on earth am I doing?’ It’s usually towards the end of the diving season, or in the depths of winter. Making a decision to go diving when it’s a beautiful summer’s day is easy. There’s nothing more inviting than a flat blue sea. But last year when there was driving rain, when the first thing we did was to get into our drysuits before doing any further kit preparation, I found myself questioning my priorities. Recently, during a cold snap, I found myself in Vobster Quarry, in freezing fog, once again wondering, what on earth am I doing? This can’t be normal. It’s so cold that the puddles in the car park had frozen over and the kitting-up bench was sparkling with ice crystals.

What really seems to astonish people is the amount of time and money I’m willing to spend in pursuit of diving happiness

So, when I said earlier that I don’t ‘have’ to go diving, I kind of do, due to my pathological addiction to the activity in question. I guess it then comes down to an individual’s cost-benefit analysis. I just love being underwater, so for me, driving rain, freezing fog, none of that stops me. The cost of my comfort is worth the fun and enjoyment I get from diving. Also, it doesn’t rain underwater and in Vobster at the end of January, the water temperature – 6°C – was higher than the air temperature of -2°C. 

It’s not just less-than-optimum weather conditions that have caused friends and colleagues to question my life decisions. What really seems to astonish people is the amount of time and money I’m willing to spend in pursuit of diving happiness. Apparently, the 850-mile round trip from Bristol to Loch Fyne for ‘just a weekend’ is unusual by some folks’ standards, as is choosing to holiday in the Isle of Man rather than, say, some Balearic beach. Then, when I do venture abroad, my ongoing quest to dive with manta rays – to the exclusion of all else – is seen by some as a bit obsessive, whereas I would describe it as ‘neatly focussed’. 

Some time ago when I visited Australia, a well-meaning friend raised the question of whether the money wouldn’t serve me better if used as a deposit on a house. I still don’t have a deposit for a house. That’ll come one day. I’ve had a lot of fun though, met lots of lovely people and made amazing memories. Even if some of them are looking at the fog over Vobster and wondering what on earth I’m doing?

Article ‘Memories over mortgages’ by Yo-Han Cha first published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 134 April 2023.

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