The New York City Sea Gypsies
Introduction to Northeast Diving
Once again, the NYC Sea Gypsies will be running our always popular "Introduction to Northeast Diving" program!
Divers in the New York area are lucky to have an incredible marine environment right in our backyard. Not only are there hundreds of shipwrecks of historical significance, our local waters are a vibrant ecosystem with thriving populations of marine life - including sharks, ocean sunfish and even whales!
Our Intro program is geared towards people who love diving but who haven’t had experience diving locally. Why limit your diving to when you go to the tropics, when you can get in the water here every weekend during the season? No air travel, no baggage restrictions, no hotels, and no need to take days off from work. Yes, it requires special considerations for the conditions, but that’s what the Intro program is about - getting you ready for local diving.
Our volunteer mentors (instructors and other experienced northeast divers) happily give their time to help get new people into the local diving scene. We go over gear considerations, exposure suit selection, special techniques and protocols to make your first local ocean dive safe and fun.
The program starts at Dutch Springs, where we spend several days diving, camping and eating together. Some people just come for the day, others make it into a big social event and spend all weekend - we typically get around 40 people for this party. The diving and teaching is free to all paid club members (apart from the Dutch Springs admission fee).
While many of the club members who sign up for the program are relatively new to diving, we welcome divers of all levels who don't have experience in our area. Over the more than ten years that the Intro program has been running, we have even had warm water tech divers sign up to help them get started diving locally. The Dutch Springs event is especially inclusive, many divers who don't fit into either the "newby" or "mentor" category show up just to learn and enjoy the day!
We do hope that people doing their first local boat dive with us first attend the Dutch Springs event, where we have more time to work on basic principals and techniques. For dates and times, see our schedule.
Finally, this is obviously a different situation than previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to move forward was based on the wide availability of extremely effective COVID vaccines, and the mounting evidence that outdoor transmission of the virus is fairly rare. When it does occur, it seems to happen in large, dense crowds, especially with singing or shouting in close quarters. As you probably know, this week the CDC modified their guidelines to remove the recommendation for outdoor masking for vaccinated people in all but very crowded venues.
While all decisions to participate in group activities have to involve the balancing of personal and community risk factors, we feel that by staying outside, spreading out, breaking up the mentoring into small groups and screening for signs of illness on admission, we can bring these risks down to acceptable levels for many club members. Furthermore, while we are not limiting participation to vaccinated individuals, the board STRONGLY recommends COVID vaccination before participating in ANY group activities (indoors or outside) with people outside of your individual households.
Elliot Bertoni will be organizing a zoom session in the weeks ahead of the Dutch Springs event similar to what we did last year, to help get people new to northeast diving up to speed on gear, practices and other specifics of the local dive scene. This way, we will not take up a lot of dive time at Dutch Springs for didactics. However, we will plan on leaving time before, between and after dives to debrief and discuss things.
In order to set up the mentoring teams, and to order food, we need to have an accurate count of people who plan on attending. There is no charge for the event, although admission to Dutch Springs is necessary. PLEASE RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know if you have any questions for me or Elliot - we are happy to discuss this all with you.
See you in the water!
Co Safety Chair and Intro to NE Diving Coordinator
Here is a video of one of our club dive charters, to give you an idea of what the day is like.