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Women in Diving: The Salty Wanderer, Charlie Warland

CREDIT| Text Nicolene Olckers

We love to get to know our DAN members’ stories and talk about their phenomenal dive experiences. One of our friends is the Salty Wanderer, Charlie Warland. She is an Ocean enthusiast, scuba instructor and she tells us a little more about her dive life and exhilarating underwater experiences. Growing up in the landlocked, dusty North West Province of South Africa this wanderer soon found her way to the salty Indian Ocean.

My given name is Charné but most people know me as Charlie Warland. We often moved for work and business and I would see the country from the backseat of the car. I guess that is where the travel and adventure bug got hold of me when I was still young. It is not surprising that I opted for the adventurous career as a scuba dive instructor.

If I remember correctly, it all started as a little adventure I took when I hopped in a friend’s car and went first to Durban and then to the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. At the time my brother was doing his Rescue diver course with a dive operation in Umkomaas. I was fortunate to join them during a training session at a local quarry that was filled up with water. At the time I was snorkelling around while they were doing their training. My brother swam up to me and looked me in the eyes then said: ‘Do you trust me?’ I said: “YES". He then asked if I would want to try something cool and again I agreed. He gave me a brief explanation of what to do. Like exhaling and equalising on the descent. This was the first time I ever took a breath underwater, using a regulator. It wasn’t a full course but more a scuba experience. I was hooked. Within the next week, I decided that that was what I wanted to do. I would find innovative ways to make money to pay for my next dive course. I completed my scuba courses from open water to divemaster, living between Umkomaas and Shelly beach and diving mostly on the world-famous Aliwal Shoal reef.

Some of my most exhilarating dive experiences happened while diving from Umkomaas. I wouldn’t say it was hair raising scary but exhilarating. The dive boats launching out the river mouth, passing under and between the bridge pillars are notorious for being somewhat of a white-knuckle experience. “Put your feet in the foot straps!!! Hold on tight! And they GO! That kind of stick in my head as some of the most amazing experiences I had. I have to say one of the most memorable experiences underwater happened in August 2015.

Although I was a qualified Advanced diver and was continuing my dive training, I was fortunate to encounter a natural feasting event. We were returning from a dive and came upon a floating whale carcass. The dead humpback whale was being fed on by, what at first we thought was bull sharks and tiger sharks. To my surprise, I had the rare experience of diving face to face with a great white shark. Without the relative safety of a cage and taking into account that I was only an advanced diver, I never thought I would have another opportunity to experience a shark feeding session underwater. But I did get to have a similar dive experience with yet another dead whale while working in Mozambique. We did not get to see great white sharks this time around but plenty tiger sharks were feeding off the carcass.

DIVE INDUSTRY WORK EXPERIENCE

My time spent working with Blue Wilderness Shark Adventures and Research unit in KwaZulu-Natal was most definitely one of the more refreshing ones. Although we did not do a lot of scuba diving, we did do a lot of surface activities. I got to do something different and was responsible for the guidance of inexperienced divers and snorkelers in the ocean. We did a lot of research work and we had many interns from all over the world visiting South Africa and staying with us. The pinnacle for me, working at Blue Wilderness, was to work alongside marine biologist Jessica Escobar. She shared loads of her knowledge, experience and her passion with me and the rest of her interns. I enjoyed her passion for educating and instilling a love for the ocean.

I was privileged to have spent the most phenomenal two years of diving and living in Mozambique. Experiencing the livelier reefs, macro sea life and delving into the dive culture there. What stood out for me was the culture of the people that enjoy the salt, enjoy the water, from the surfers, the divers and the boat skippers. They all seemed to have this united passion for the ocean. I can highly recommend a holiday in Mozambique. It is most definitely the place to be!

ABOUT CHARLIE's SCUBA BUCKET LIST

My bucket list will have to include diving with narwhals the unicorn of the sea. Then I would love to go to Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. Just because, Bahamas and tiger sharks! Then I think I would love to dive with orcas.
 
DIVE SAFETY FIRTS

I am and have been a DAN member from early in my dive career. Apart from the online support and dive cover which gives me security when I dive. What I appreciated the most about DAN, was that one on one personal experiences and advice I received from the team. I would send one question and they would provide me with a hive of information to help me as a dive professional to problem solve with ease and be well informed.

NOTE: If you want to catch up with Charlie’s adventures you can connect on Instagram by following her @TheSaltyWarrior

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