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Going deep with Dan Feil

By on February 22, 2021 in Travel with 0 Comments
Dan Feil plays in an underwater world.

Warm crystal clear water, incredible fish, spectacular scenery, why not jump off a boat in the tropics?

By Dave Graybill

As the son of Bob Feil, founder of Bob Feil Boats and Motors in East Wenatchee, Dan Feil spent much of his life around boats. 

He helped thousands of people enjoy boating, as he did himself. Dan is also a pilot and has traveled throughout the U.S. attending meetings related to the business. 

He loves seeing things on the water and from the air, but his latest interest takes him under the water. Dan Feil has discovered scuba diving.

It didn’t just occur to him one day that it looked like fun. It started when he and his wife Sally were in Hawaii. 

While relaxing on one of the beaches he decided to rent a mask, snorkel and fins. He found exploring the near shore reefs and seeing the incredible variety of fish fascinating. He found that the reefs off Kona, Hawaii were even more spectacular than on most of the islands. 

It was at his Rotary Club that he saw presentations on excursions to destinations known for their reefs and wrecks that attracted people from all over the world. These attractions were explored by scuba diving. 

The fact that these destinations were in areas with warm climates and crystal clear water added to the appeal of the adventure. 

The best times to visit these locales is in the winter. While our temperatures hover around freezing the water he would be diving in averaged 80 degrees, even at depths of 80 feet.

Dan was soon a regular at the Orca Dive Center here in Wenatchee, learning about scuba diving. 

Owner Van Ford is a member of the Professional Association of Dive Instructors and could provide the training needed to learn to dive. 

In addition to having all the equipment Dan needed, Van also offered excursions to the best diving destination all over the world. Joining these excursions made travel to these destinations very easy. 

Having all the details taken care of really added to the pleasure of the travel experience. He learned that he could travel with a minimum of gear. A regulator equipped with his own gauge and a dive computer he straps on his wrist would do. 

Dan Feil displays two important pieces of gear he travels with.  One attaches to the regulator on the air tanks, the other he straps on his wrist.

He learned that he didn’t even need a wet suit, as the water would be so warm. Some light “rash” shirts (to avoid scrapes from coral) were part of the essentials. Having a properly fitted mask is important for a good diving experience.

The Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire, which is just north of Venezuela, is one of the most famous and attractive diving destinations. Its coral reefs and wrecks are inhabited with over 470 different species of fish. 

This looked like an ideal place to start Dan’s diving adventures and he joined a group that traveled there, staying at the Buddy Dive Resort.

Every morning groups of divers would board one of the boats that would deliver them to one of the dive sites. 

Dan said it was like jumping into a huge, saltwater fish tank. The variety and color of the fish, corals and other creatures is amazing. He bought a book of fish species of the Caribbean Sea and mentioned that many people would photograph each different fish they saw and then log it into a book to check them off. Much like those who are bird watchers. 

The resort also offered night dives. These were of particular interest as many species of fish only appear at night. He said it is quite and experience being under water and viewing only what your dive light illuminated. Seeing the colors of the fish and corals appear out of the dark is spectacular. 

The beauty of diving isn’t all below water — dive locations hold their own tropical wonder.

Underwater photography, which most people learn when they become divers, can require very elaborate equipment. Some travel with expensive cameras enclosed in waterproof and pressure proof housings with powerful lights and strobes. Dan found that he could take excellent photos with a Go Pro mounted on a simple light bar with a couple of filters to compensate for the overall blue tinge of the environment. He also used a very compact underwater model of a camera made by Fuji. 

Dan’s next diving adventure took him to the tiny island of Guanaja, Honduras. The island is 44 miles from the mainland and is just 12 miles long. There are no roads the only way to get around is by boat. 

Dan’s group was delivered to the Dunbar Rock Resort. This picturesque resort is actually built on top of a huge rock in the bay. 

Once again the group could dive each morning or schedule additional dives throughout the day or take night dives. 

As much as Dan enjoyed the diving, there are other things to see and do. He explored the island’s colorful residential and business districts and since he was up early each morning got to know the resort’s staff. He even became acquainted with the resort owner. Dan visited his home and lush property. 

He enjoyed photographing the vibrant flowers of the natural gardens of this property as much as the fish on the reefs. 

Just a little over 70 miles from Guanaja is the island of Roatan, another of the world’s most famous dive destinations, that Dan visited. This island is larger than Guanaja and has roads from one end of the island to the other, but like Guanaja you can only get here by boat. 

By now Dan knew some of the people who were in his dive group, and part of the fun was meeting the new people who he would dive with and meet for dinner every day. 

There were those who had been diving all over the world for many years, and others much like Dan were just starting their diving adventures. 

Dan said you can be as ambitious as you like to become a scuba diver. You can dive every day while on an excursion or take your time to see the area you are visiting. Seeing how people live and go about their business can be as interesting as what you see under water. 

There are so many destinations all over the world that offer scuba diving adventures, and Dan hasn’t decided where he will go next. 

He was sure to mention that he is lucky to be in good health so he can enjoy the experience of diving — and he has a wife who supports this new interest.

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