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🖤 How to support your local dive centers in times of COVID-19

As COVID-19 protocols dictate to many small non-essential businesses around the globe to cease operations, or local law makers enforce rules that prevent gatherings, many dive operations will be taking a bit of a hit right now and sadly for some it could spell a long road to recovery and some might not even make it. I have many friends whom are store owners themselves and they rely on the local dive community for their existance and some have shared with me a few of the ways in which divers can still have a positive influence during these difficult times that don’t require you to break any self (or government) imposed quarantine.

What follows are five ways you can help support your local dive center during this current time of distancing and quarantine. I’ve kept them short because they mostly speak for themselves.

e-Learning - Why not use isolation time to make yourself a better, more knowledgable diver by looking towards doing another course? PADI have a range of courses that can be started via e-learning, everything from Open Water to Instructor level, specialty course training or, for those who have been inactive for a while you can even start your refresher training by completing the reActivate online in preparation. For many dive centers, PADI have offered discounted e-Learning products for a limited time which hopefully the centers extend to you, the diver, so you can save and help simultaneously. By getting a headstart on the knowledge development you can then roll out of isolation ready to immediately begin diving and putting your new knowledge/skills into practice and earn a new certification in the process. The beauty of this is that it helps your dive center but it also gives you a sense of hope and the prospect of something new to look forward to. Take advantage of the extra time at home by doing something that maybe you didn’t normally have the time to do.

Equipment service options - If you know you are going to be out of the water for the next few weeks it’s a great time to think about having your gear serviced. Regulators and BCD’s should be serviced annually as per the manufacturers recommendations, in a lot of instances it is reqired to maintain warranties too so it’s also an investment against unforseen damage which could otherwise cost you a lot more if you have to buy a new item. Dive computers can have batteries changed and be pressure tested, again some models require certified service technicians to perform this so what better time than right now while your’re not in urgent need of it. For drysuit divers it’s a good time to have your seals and valves checked and repair any rips/tears in the fabric so you can jump straight back in the water safe in the knowledge that it’s been checked.

The turn around on any service/repair jobs can be as little as a day or two up to a week or so for larger jobs but this is time when you don’t necessarily need your gear and, lots of centers will conduct this by post too so there is no need to attend the store and violate your social distancing.

Gift certificates - The gift of SCUBA is never met with rolling eyes, I’ve never met a diver who doesn’t love the opportunity to buy new gear. So, getting a gift certificate is a great way to keep a diver excited at the prospect of new gear on the horizon and the income to the dive center is an invaluable resource they can use immediately during this time of financial hardship.

Buy gear, in store or online - If you have any equipment or parts that require replacing or you have just been looking at something new for a while, consider now as the perfect time to make the purchase. These are instances where you would most likely do it anyway but maybe haven’t made the time to follow through, choosing now as the time can have a significant impact on a local dive center who’s business might be down due to postponed courses/trips/excursion dives. It is another instance where you don’t need to break a quarantine to do so, most dive centers will have online stores where you can browse and if you have enquiries then simply call or message them to get more info.

Dive travel/trips - A few of my dive center owner friends conduct dive trips multiple times throughout the year, both domestic and international. If you have a trip already booked and it looks like current travel restrictions might impact on it, or, if it’s still a few months away where nobody yet knows what the global situation will be, then consider postponing or reschedulling it before making the immediate snap decision to cancel. Clearly, vacation time and personal finances are to be considered too, but if the option exists to push it back then consider it. This way, you still get to have your amazing trip and your local dive center can continue offering these.

This is a big gesture on your part and one that any respectably owned dive center would not take for granted. TIP: Find out everything about our SAGA SONAR trip to Malta at the end of this year here.

Some of these ideas may seem small in nature, but in times of hardship acts of these magnitudes help create and reinforce bonds between divers and their dive centers which last for years if not, lifetimes. In all instances, the support to your local dive center is greatly appreciated. If it weren’t for them then many of us would have no place to go diving, no place to seek trusted advice, no place that offers the same levels of adventure in our lives. These small acts on our part can help keep people in work and enable our local dive centers to continue to operate as well as each instance also benefiting the diver who uses the ‘service’.

By supporting your local dive centre you just benefited from the years of expertise and training they have accrued, you supported access to continued air fills, you kept money in your local economy, you supported local jobs, you helped the environment, you invested in entrepreneurial enterprise, you made them a community destination, you supported the local dive community and you helped support their efforts to continue providing diver education. #wedivelocal

Thanks to my friends Rich Synowiec of Divers Incorporated in Ann Arbor, Michigan and to Rob Williams of Patriot Divers in Wilmington, North Carolina for your input.

Our contributor Stephen J. Aynsley is a 4-year PADI Platinum Awarded Course Director in Utila, Honduras. Follow him on Instagram @padicoursedirectorsja or on Facebook

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