By Junior Johnson
SCUBA Diving was a passion of mine for many years until my health made it difficult to continue. I logged over 30 dives, but this story is about my most memorable one.
Scuba Bill was an offshore co-worker of mine and convinced me to become one of his students.
There are three phases of training to become a certified diver. The first involves an instructional manual and videos of skills and safety rules. A written exam must be completed before the next phase begins.
Confined water training was in Scuba Bill’s Olympic sized swimming pool. The student learns to use the equipment properly. There is a BCD (buoyancy control device), oxygen tank and regulator, and fins. The BCD has a bladder which establishes neutral buoyancy under water and positive buoyancy on the surface when needed. The oxygen in the tank accomplishes this as well as giving air for the diver to breathe when underwater.
Years before I was watching an interview with a popular country singer who was a recovering cocaine addict. He said that he became an addict trying to get that same feeling he did when he first used cocaine. This made no sense to me at the time.
When it came time for me to put on my BCD and oxygen tank in the confines of Scuba Bill’s pool I was excited as I slowly made my way to the deepest part of the pool. Scuba Bill gave me the sign to deflate my BCD and go under water. As I slowly went down and began breathing through my mouth piece the feeling was something that I can not define. The first thing that entered my mind was the words of that country music singer. I would never feel a rush such as this ever again.
The final phase of certification was at a beautiful body of water that Scuba Bill used near Huntsville, Texas called the Blue Lagoon. Here we repeated the skills learned in the pool and explored the amazing artifacts in the lagoon.
A few years earlier I became affiliated with the Universal Life Church, a non-denominational Christian organization that provided me the ability to conduct wedding ceremonies, baptisms, funerals, and other services. I was licensed by the local Clerk of Courts office and had conducted a number of weddings.
Scuba Bill and his wife were approaching their 15th wedding anniversary. They were married in Cozumel, Mexico and the idea of a return trip to have a renewal of wedding vows was discussed, to be conducted UNDERWATER.
Since my sweet Ginny and I had been married a short time, we thought this was a wonderful opportunity for a second honeymoon. Plans were made for a trip to Cozumel.
I began working on a plan to conduct the renewal of vows ceremony underwater. I had a script laminated and bound like flip cards. I found a suitable shirt and clerical collar that would be recognizable at the top of my BCD. Scuba Bill and his wife found appropriate apparel for their part of the ceremony as well.
Our party traveling to Cozumel included Scuba Bill and his wife, their daughter and another couple who were close friends, my wife Ginny and I, and my sister and her husband. We found a beautiful resort on the Caribbean off the Yucatán Peninsula that had some of the most beautiful coral filled coves in the area.
We located the nearest dive shop and rented equipment, then set out to find a suitable spot. The owner of the dive shop suggested a couple of places.
We finally settled on a magnificent cove that had a water depth of about 70 feet. The water was crystal clear with thousands of tiny fish the color of a rainbow swimming around us. We decided to hover around 35 feet in front of a coral embankment as background.
The day of the ceremony we were accompanied by a local reporter who would make the dive with us. We had attracted quite a crowd who cheered as we entered the water.
When we arrived at the wall of coral, Scuba Bill and his wife set their BCD’s and hovered while their daughter and the reporter swam around us taking pictures. Their dear friends hovered next to them while I set myself in front.
Scuba Bill’s wife was lovely in a lacy tutu and he in a mock tux. I had my clerical collar in view along with my flip cards. We were set.
As I held the cards before Scuba Bill he would read and give me an OK sign. I would repeat the process with his wife and she did the same as we continued through the script while the reporter moved around taking pictures.
When I got to the part where Scuba Bill was asked what token he had to honor his promise of renewed love, he held up a ring which he placed on his wife’s finger. She did the same to Scuba Bill.
We then made our way to the surface where we were met by hundreds of cheering people who had gathered when they heard about what was going on.
Our entire group was treated by the Resort that night with a delicious Caribbean dinner and we were told that we had made history. No one could remember an event such as this ever taking place on their Island Paradise.
The next day my sweet Ginny and I rented a jeep and toured the beautiful Island of Cozumel and vowed we would return one day for a renewal of our own vows…..ABOVE WATER.