This picture was taken at the Na Pali coast on our recent trip to the beautiful island of Kauai in Hawaii. In the middle of our catamaran tour, we had the chance to go snorkelling. We asked our eldest boy if wanted to give it a try. He said yes!
Just to preface it a little bit, he doesn’t exactly know how to swim properly yet. He’d only passed pre-school level swimming 3 and didn’t pass his pre-school level 4 class just a week before the trip. I also haven’t gone snorkelling or swam in open ocean in about 10 years.
The catamaran anchored at an enclosed reef just a couple hundred feet from the shore of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village. The water was fairly calm and there no currents. The captain of the catamaran encouraged us to take our son snorkelling and to use one of the noodles. So we put on our snorkelling gear – goggles, flippers, snorkel and all. On the steps of the catamaran, I practiced with my son how to breathe using the snorkel. I told him to keep his mouth closed and breathe in slow deep breaths. I also gave him a few hand signals so he could tell me if he was ok or if he needed help.
We were ready. I jumped into the water and my son followed. We swam just a few meters away from the catamaran then this sinking feeling came over me. I looked down the water and realized that the water was 30-50 feet deep. Within a minute, treading water using the borrowed flippers was a lot harder than I thought. The flippers were fairly stiff as well. My boy tried to snorkel but water kept going into this mouth. I had to make a quick decision. Keep trying or regroup. Realizing that I was breathing heavily and that my legs were about to give out — I calmly asked my son to swim back to the steps of the boat.
Darn it. I wanted this to be a good experience for both him and me. I took a moment to catch my breath and my son went to his mom to take a break. Luckily, he wasn’t too rattled. I went to snorkel on my own for about 10 minutes. My wife signalled to me that our son wanted to try again.
How can I manage this better? Oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of using a noodle the first time around. My wife to threw me one of the spare noodles on deck.
We took our time the second time around and my son was getting fairly comfortable. He told me what he saw under water. After a few moments, I thought he could do this on his own. My boy is a bit of a cautious kid. I told him, you can do this on your own and daddy’s going to let go. He snorkelled on his own alongside his uncle. I was a very proud dad. He was a more empowered boy. A victory for the both of us.