Meet the Crew-Kate
Owner of Bucket List Diver Kate has always been an ocean child. You may have seen her on our boat MoonshineII or spent a few days training with her during your course. Read all about how she got into diving…
I was born to be in the water and my parents knew it, as they enrolled me in swimming lessons at four months of age. Coming from a large family of 6 kids, we all learnt early. My mother tells me stories of how I would fall asleep while floating on my back in the pool during my baby swim lessons. I grew up in the Victorian suburbs and the nearest beach was an hour away by car. During the summer school holiday, we would all go to the beach for weekends. It was my favourite time of the year, playing in the waves and sunshine.
In 2004 I was traveling the east coast with a friend and thought I would give diving a try so I booked onto a liveaboard out of Airlie Beach. I booked my Open Water Course and enjoyed it so much, though I do remember feeling quite nervous before boat dives. I remember asking my Instructor ‘are we going to see sharks’? He laughed at me and said YES. I was quite scared and anxious. Thinking back now, it’s quite funny to think how scared I was, because now I just love to see sharks. I remember seeing a reef shark for the first time and Kapow – my fears were gone in a split second. I may have even chased after it.
In 2010, I did my advanced and rescue course in Borneo and this is where I totally fell in love with diving. I wanted to stay and do my Divemaster course but I didn’t have the time or money so I had to wait a while. The next year, I had the opportunity to go to the Galapagos Islands off the east coast of Ecuador, South America. I loved watching documentaries as a kid and Galapagos was on the top of my Bucket List places to visit. It was remote, wild and full of adventure and amazing wildlife both above and below the surface.
I booked a week-long trip there and loved every second. Diving with hammerhead sharks was a huge thrill. One dive I remember, we were swimming out into the blue looking for sharks. In the distance, I could see shadows and as we got closer, we were watching a chain of what looked like hundreds of hammerheads. It was thrilling, magical and just as I had seen on the documentaries, I watched as a child. Galapagos was a highlight of my trip to South America and a place I would love to go back to one day.
I continued my travels throughout South America and ended up in Utila, Honduras, where I fell in love! I was on a schedule at the time for only 6 weeks to complete my divemasters internship and then I was to continue my travels to Canada. 6 weeks was not enough time! I met a French dive instructor (now my dive buddy/business partner/fiancé) and together we fell in love with all things diving. Living in the Carribean was magical. Living by the sea, diving every day, meeting amazing people, diving wrecks and reef and filling in logbooks at a bar with cheap rum…what’s not to love!
After living together on a beautiful island in the Caribbean for 9 months (6 weeks turned to 9months quickly) we said our goodbyes and headed off for more travel. Finally, after travelling around the globe, diving in amazing places, landing awesome jobs as Dive Instructors/ Dive Shop Managers in the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji and the Ningaloo reef, we chose to settle in Perth, Western Australia.
In 2016 together with my French fiancé, Antoni Belmas, we started our own dive school, Bucket List Diver. We started out small with just a few sets of gear to hireand offered PADI scuba courses for 6 months, I found that women, in particular, were not returning for fun dives or returning to progress in scuba. I realised that one of the reasons women would not return to diving is because the majority of the dive clubs and shops were male-dominated, which was intimidating to for some, especially the newbies.
On PADI International women’s dive day July 2017, I had a few girls show up to my event, shore diving at the local and popular shore dive site, the Ammo Jetty at Woodmans Point, south of Perth. We all had a great morning and the girls loved it, asking me to do it more often. The more involved in the local diving scene I became, the more I was finding out that women weren’t diving as much as I thought they could be. I realised some women felt intimidated diving in groups or going onto dive boats alone without having a dive buddy they knew. I wanted to create a safe, happy environment where women could meet fellow female divers, enjoy diving and find new dive buddies.
Since July 2017, I have been hosting a women’s only dive morning to encourage women to continue diving after their course, by creating a friendly and supportive environment. From hosting these monthly events, I have seen a massive increase in women divers coming to enjoy the vibe at Bucket List Diver (you can find us on Facebook). A lot of the women I dive with, now own their own gear, regularly join shore dives, boat dives and travel with us, which is fantastic to see.
My only regret in diving is that I didn’t start sooner, although you can never be too old to start.
For me, being a dive instructor isn’t just a job, it’s a life choice, something I love to do and an exciting experience I encourage everyone to do. It‘s so good for mental health. Diving is also a great way to meet new interesting people, explore new places and share the fun with others who need and want to get in the water every day. Recently I had one of my best aquatic experiences ever – snorkelling in Reunion Island last year with humpback whales. It was so beautiful I had tears of joy and found myself speechless. My advice for women divers is to get out there. Find a group you enjoy diving with and a buddy who is as keen as you, and see where diving will take you on this fabulous ocean planet of ours.