Diving into deep waters

Published 8:59 am Friday, July 18, 2014

Several Washington Parish residents got certified in scuba diving and took what they learned from the classroom and swimming pool to Destin, Fla.

The class featured seven participants, including David Creel, Marcie Penny, John John “Bull” Hartzog, Sharon Hartzog, John William Hartzog, Will A-rata and Bill Arata.

John “Bull” Hartzog was already certified, but retook the class and the group was under the direction veteran instructor Chris Lloyd, a Bogalusa resident.

Lloyd has been scuba diving for 40 years and has been teaching for 35.

Lloyd said the class featured three nights of classroom work and three days in the pool work. The pool work occurred at the Avenue B YMCA and at the pool at Arata’s house.

Lloyd said in the classroom, the students learned about different affects water has on the body with depth and pressure.

In the pool, the group learned about emergency procedures.

One of those was how to take off your mask to drain water out of it and put it back on.

He said they also learned how to use a snorkel.

After that, they went to a much bigger body of water.

“We went out to the jetties at the Destin Pass,” Lloyd said. “We did two dives at 40 feet and went over everything we did in the pool. Then the next day, we went out on the Dive Boat Aquanaut. It was the boat they used in the moves Charles II. We made two dives out there. The first one was 60 and the second was 50. There were lots of fish. We had to push them out of the way they were so thick.”

The jetties are where the Destin Pass and Gulf of Mexico meet.

Lloyd said the group did well.

“I had no problems with them,” Lloyd said. “I had reservations about of few them at the beginning, but they all did well.”

For Sharon Hartzog, who was taking the class with her husband John “Bull” and son John William, it was her first time scuba diving and she said she loved it.

“Me, my husband (“Bull”) and son (John William) are planning on going into the Caribbean. I heard it’s so much more beautiful, but the gulf was beautiful,” Hartzog said.

One of the things the group got to dive near was a shipwreck, which was about 60-feet deep.

She said diving by that was the best part.

“It was the deepest,” Hartzog said. “We got to see the most fish there.”

Hartzog said some of the things she saw were barracudas, amberjacks and a lot of baitfish. She said someone else saw a grouper.

When asked if she was nervous about going out to the open water, she said she was actually never nervous.

“I lost my (diving) buddy at one point,” Hartzog said. “I lost John (“Bull”), but I didn’t panic. I just eased up to the surface and we were about 150 feet apart. We were told that if that happened, just ease up to the surface. I guess I wasn’t nervous because I knew what to do. Chris prepares us for stuff like that to happen. He would pull our mask off in the pool because you’ve got to know what to do if something bumps you and your mask gets knocked off.”

Like Hartzog, Bill Arata spoke very highly of the class and praised the way that Lloyd taught the class.

“I put off learning scuba diving for 25 years, yet the methods our dive instructor Chris Lloyd utilized were family friendly, which allowed my son Will Arata to learn alongside of me,” Bill Arata said.

Lloyd said he is planning get another class together next week. He said he needs at least four people in order to be able to run it. If you are interested in becoming certified in scuba diving, call Lloyd at 516-3568 for information.