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Odysseys

Slater Trout is a professional Stand Up Paddleboard Surfer and Photographer who spend much of his time riding the waves above water. We sent Slater and his friend Connor Davidge on a deep dive under the sea to learn to scuba dive so they can explore an underwater lodge.

It felt so good to finally land in Florida; I lived in a small beach town here called Pensacola Beach until I was 11. I always feel at home when I come back to this state, even if it’s not my hometown. Connor and I moved into our little, old Southern abode and got to bed early for our first day of diving.

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Our scuba diving instructor Dan would become a big part of our trip because he was one of the most interesting characters Connor and I have ever met. After about an hour working our way from the shallow end to the 12ft deep end we passed our pool certification. Dan said it was one of the quickest and easiest sessions he has ever done and he’s been teaching Scuba for over 20 years around the world. That felt really cool to hear.

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The next day, we had to prove our skills in Mother Nature. We were so stoked to get into the salt water and we had the entire dive boat to ourselves for the morning, motoring out to a famous dive spot call Molasses Reef. Connor and I didn’t wear wetsuits the entire trip because the water was so warm to us; it was way warmer than California ever gets. The locals looked at us like we were crazy, as every other diver including our instructors wore full wetsuits with hoods, gloves, and booties. We did two dives at 40 feet each for 30 minutes, and supposedly I use up air like a mad man- I guess my lungs are just really big! Connor and I had imagined breathing under water our whole lives and we were finally getting to fulfill our dream.

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We were supposed to follow Dan to see particular fish and tour the reef, but instead we were doing backflips, front flips, summersaults… everything you could imagine. Thanks for putting up with us, Dan!

The following day, I woke up completely congested. It couldn’t have been worse timing and I can’t even remember the last time I was sick. To make matters worse, scuba diving is literally the only sport in the world you can’t physically do when your sinuses are congested. The deeper you dive, the more you have to clear your ears to relieve the pressure built up in your sinus cavities. If you cannot clear your ears, it’s extremely painful and you can rupture your eardrums from the pressure of the water.

I pushed to get to the underwater hotel until I was out of air and it just wasn’t going to happen. Connor was already inside, waiting for me and watching me through the tiny circular window, cheering me on and praying that my ears would release. But they never did. When I came to the surface, I wanted to try once more but it was too dangerous. Connor FaceTimed me from under the sea. He was so bummed that I was too sick to make the dive. But he kept me positive and I told him to enjoy it. He gave me the virtual tour and said it was kinda scary all alone down there!

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I woke up feeling much better on the final day of my Odyssey, but still a little congested. I tried to dive at sunrise with Rob to see if I could make it down to the hotel but again, I couldn’t even get past 2ft and clear my ears. That was my last shot at it for this trip. Connor came up to the surface and it was so good to see him.

It was such an amazing trip with so many ups and downs. At the end of the day, everything happens for a reason and that’s my motto throughout this whole experience. The Odyssey is truly never over.

Written by Slater Trout. Follow Slater on Instagram at @slatertrout

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