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(Free)Diving Into New Waters

January 17, 2014

A video of my favorite freediver, William Trubridge, freediving The Arch in Dahab, Egypt (my soon to be home) 

I’ve used this blog to varying degrees and in varying ways over the past three years.  It’s been a wonderful journey and has played an integral part in developing my thinking on marine conservation.  Because of that experience (and of course so much more), I am now able to announce that I will be (free)diving into new professional adventures in the next year.

So what does this mean for Breaching the Blue?  Well, it means that there will be some changes.

First, this blog will become a fair bit more personal in content and tone.  I will finally have the ability to write as an individual because I will be leaving the NGO world for a bit. Most NGOs (in DC at least) are fairly conservative with respect to employee blogging. That wall is no more.

Because the wall is no more, I must apologize to my readers. You may well not be wanting to read about my personal life, see a more personal writing style, or consider more speculative meanderings, but that’s the direction I want to go. I’ll still put up the dry analytical pieces (bad habits are hard…?), but they will be mixed more with posts on perhaps more esoteric topics. If I get it right, the blog might be more like that of Duncan Green.

Inherent in this personal approach is the fact that I will be opening myself to making mistakes. Blogging was never meant to be about getting everything right. It was meant to be a way to conduct long-form dialogue, not short-form lecture. Talking means that sometimes I’ll need someone to correct me. (And perhaps use this as a metric of success?)  And talking means that sometimes I’ll make grammar errors. (And if those are bad enough, I’d like to be corrected there as well : )

Second, get ready for a fair bit of blogging on the science and practice of freediving this year!  Why?  Because I’m bound for a PhD program in the fall (details to come), and I can ration enough of my savings to take some proper time off.  So what better thing would there be to do than reconnect with the ocean?  

Here I am 5 minutes after my divemaster ‘snorkel test’ back in Utila in 2006. It wasn’t the alcohol-induced rite of passage or being tossed into the ocean that put that smile on my face, but rather, the daily dives into the sea.

I got my start in this field almost a decade ago while leading a scuba tour in Utila, Honduras and wishing I could do something more to protect this thing I loved. Never did I imagine it would take me so far from the oceans, and frankly, I feel like I forget sometimes why I got into this line of work.  Because of this, I’m going to be heading to Dahab, Egypt to reconnect to the aquatic world, explore a new type of marine system (a sea), and learn the zen of freediving. All this as I attempt to get my freediving instructor certificate and work on a writing project.

And here I am on board a Dutchman’s catamaran living the divemaster life some months later.

I’m going to guess by this point that you are now a bit afraid for me. Please, I don’t want to be seeing emails or comments of concern. I already get plenty of this.

If you’re worried about the freediving, know that the type of freediving I will engage in is called “constant weight” diving.  This is the purer, and far safer, type of freediving. The world records are far shallower than in the other division, “variable weight”, and there is far less risk of barotrauma or drowning when there is no weighted sled rocketing you down into the depths.  I’ll also be entering in as a fairly experienced divemaster, yogi, and meditator, with a 14 time Italian freediving record holder  Linda Paganelli (click for a great photo gallery) to make sure I don’t try anything too risky.

If you’re worried about the blogging, then know that I think a personal blog approach just works better anyway. Southern Fried Science and Deep Sea News are phenomenal websites. And my blogs tend to get the most traction through google searches for very specific information, rather than scrolling through the posts as a regular reader might.

Finally, on a lesser note, slowly but surely you will see cosmetic improvements to the site.  I’ve been pretty hapless when it comes to visual design, and now some friends have started to take pity on me…

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