The title for this blog is actually from a rather long poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge called "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". You may wonder why I am bring this particular statement in a blog about snorkeling but is is appropriate. Having lived in areas that were nowhere near an ocean, my experiences with salt water consisted of having to gargle with it as a kid whenever I had a sore throat. Those of my generation will understand that though it did help, it was not the most pleasant experience, especially when you are sick. The important rule was to spit it back out and not to swallow because, according to mom, drinking salt water is bad for you. I did learn that mom was right that drinking salt water was unhealthy because of its affects on your kidneys’ ability to function properly.
My first experience with a salt water ocean was actually on a vacation which involved snorkeling. I had no snorkel gear at the time so I asked my sister to borrow hers. I was surprised when she said no, because it would not fit me. We had different facial and foot sizes. I bought my own equipment from a snorkeling specialty store. The snorkel that I had purchased was a simple “J” tube style that at the time had a new-fangled feature called a purge valve on it. Since I am aging myself I should also mention that dry snorkels were still a thing of the future when I purchased my equipment.
When I arrived in Grand Cayman, I walked to the beach to look at the ocean. I was in awe over the sheer size of it and excited to see what wonders it had to offer. My friend and I put on our equipment and entered the water in a calm cove from the beach. I was amazed at the beauty and the diversity of the marine life as we snorkeled. I was also surprised on how salty the water actually tasted.
I kept my sister’s advice of keeping the snorkel in my mouth at all times as my friend and I lazily explored the cove. The one thing that she didn’t tell me was that it is very easy to become so engrossed in what you are seeing and because of this you may forget a couple of important things. While I did good on most of what my sister told me, there was one thing that I either missed, forgot or she purposely omitted during our discussion. This was to make sure that the top of your snorkel does not go below the surface of the water. This was a lesson that I learned on my own. Whether I was wanting to take a closer look at something under the water or I simply turned my head too far, the result was gargling and choking on the rush of salt water that entered the breathing tube. I will say that it was even more unpleasant than when I had to gargle with it as a kid. Needless to say I was a lot more aware to the position of my head and the top of the snorkel after that. This is not to say that it didn’t happen again but each time it did it made me more careful.
Years passed and many snorkeling trips later the snorkeling industry came out with something called a dry snorkel. I think I was one of the first in line when they hit the market. I don’t think I ever regretted buying one. I never liked gargling with salt water as a kid and the dry snorkel meant that I didn’t have to do it as an adult. Today there is water, water everywhere but I don’t have to drink it.RELATED READING