In the Begining   1 comment

My relationship started with the ocean long before I was technically in the picture. My parents, being the adventurous people they are, were living on a boat with my older brother, cruising the Hawaiian Islands when I came into the picture. Not many people can say they were conceived on a boat anchored off the west side of Maui. By the time I was 5 months old, I was a frequenter of the water in my little blow up swimming pool on the beach in Maui. By the time I was three I had graduated from the blow up pool, I was just starting to snorkel with my dad. He would take me out on my boogie board and pull me everywhere and I would hold on tight and put my mask in the water and was quickly drawn into the amazing world of colorful tropical fish and huge turtles.

My parents exposed me to many types of oceans. Growing up mostly in northern California, my family commonly dove for abalone. My parents would watch the tides and when there were the lowest tides of the season, we would go to Fort Brag and collect our limit of abs each day. The water was freezing and dark, nothing like the waters I was used to in Hawaii.

Not only did my family dive, but were obsessed with water sports. During the early spring and summer, we would load up the roof racks with windsurfing equipment and head down to Sherman Island on the delta flats near San Francisco. As the summer progressed, we followed the winds where they were best, all the way back to Maui. As I grew older and kitesurfing began to take hold, I converted to a kiter, which, four years later, still takes me back to Kanaha, Maui each summer for the best winds in the world.

I grew up in the ocean in several forms. It has played a huge part in my life and as much as I have become a part of it, it has become a part of me. It is a well-respected friend that I visit often. And even on a bad day, I can always go for a swim and feel cleansed of all my troubles.

But this isn’t the story of  how I love the ocean, it’s about the journey that I am about to embark on to the frozen land at the bottom of the world. Antarctica. During my expedition to Antarctica, under the supervision of Dr. Sam Bowser, our team will be melting holes in the ice and diving to the sea floor to collect sedimentary core samples.  Dr. Bowser will then analyze the samples, looking most specifically for foraminiferans, small plankton.

I got this job by chance and skill. They don’t just let anyone dive in Antarctica. As my parents were both SCUBA divers, so became me and my brother. I had my first SCUBA dive in molokini crater at the age of 11. Over the years I worked my way through the various levels of SCUBA. By the time I was 18, I was a full Dive Master. I then attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo and quickly got started in their diving program. I became an AAUS recognized scientific diver. Getting this certification took lots of hard work and study. It also allowed me to put my foot in the door in the professional diving world.

However my journey to Antarctica started a bit before I started college. This story wouldn’t be complete without naming a very important player, her name is Kida. When I first met Kida, she was a 6 week old ball of fur running across the road in the middle of a snow storm up in Truckee, California. By fate, and with the help of a very ill responsible roommate, Kida became a part of my family. However I was ready to embark on my journey through college and felt that taking an Alaskan malamute to Hawaii was a cruel joke. And then fate acted again when it brought Henry Kaiser to me in Weimar, looking for an Alaskan malamute to adopt. Henry told me of his journey to Antarctica and showed me picture of the diving he had done and I was blown away. I had no clue that anyone had ever even considered diving in water that cold.

Over my years at school, Henry came out to visit me in Hawaii. We did several dives together and after a few years, as I was getting into more scientific diving, Henry proposed that I may start working toward things that would help me get on one of the Antarctic teams. There were several qualifications that were necessary that I didn’t have, most important being drysuit diving. Even if I met all the qualifications, I wasn’t guaranteed to get the position. But after lots of hard work and emails with both Henry and Sam, I was accepted as a team diver.

Now here I am, preparing for the most epic journey of my young life. I don’t know what I will encounter or know what troubles may come, but I am prepared for anything (except the cold). I look forward to the trip and will be detailing my entire experience so my grandma will know that I am alive and well, and not frozen under thirty feet of ice.

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Posted September 13, 2011 by dwoodward707 in Pre Deployment

One response to “In the Begining

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  1. Such a great story. Im a bit jealous as I love the water as much as you do 🙂 glad youre staying safe!

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