Given the amount of natural beauty that Santa Cruz County offers on dry land alone, it can be easy to forget that the region sits on the doorstep of one of the world’s premier diving locations.
Now, experienced divers and learners alike will have a one-stop location to prepare them for whatever adventures the briny depths have to offer, with the opening of Pro Scuba Dive Center, at 4637 Scotts Valley Drive in Scotts Valley.
The store, owned and operated by retired San Jose Police Department officers Cheryl and David Babineau, along with their friend Dan Walters, a fire captain with the Santa Cruz Fire Department, is designed to be equal parts retail store, teaching center, dive equipment repair and rental shop.
“Scotts Valley has never had a scuba center in it before,” said David Babineau, who, along with his wife, has 32 years of diving experience.
The trio met, according to Cheryl Babineau, while working as instructors at Aqua Safari in Santa Cruz. She said that one of the inspirations for starting their own dive business was to carry on the legacy of Aqua Safari’s late owners David and DeDe Houghton, who passed away tragically in a plane crash in Watsonville in 2011.
“DeDe and Dave taught us a lot,” she said. “That’s one thing we want to carry on.”
As instructors, between the three partners, they can offer classes for dive certification all the way from the basic dive card to dive master certification.
The classroom portions of each class they offer will be taught at the center’s 400 square foot teaching area, while the underwater portions will be split between the pool at San Lorenzo Valley High School and the Monterey Bay.
Walters said that the biggest highlight of the dive classes would be safety – diver rescues as well as techniques for self rescue.
“It preps you to be a safe diver,” said Walters. “It’s your life; we want to make sure you have all the skills.”
In addition to diving and safety courses, all three are certified to lead classes in CPR, first aid, oxygen administration, and defibrillator usage.
The retail portion of the business will focus on finding divers the gear that’s ideally suited for them – without any hidden costs.
“The most important thing about diving equipment is comfort and fit,” said David Babineau, adding that the store would offer different sizes of tanks and buoyancy compensators to accommodate divers of varied sizes and genders.
Walters said that many scuba outlets only supply one size of tank and one style of buoyancy compensators to reduce costs.
“Most shops just stock the men’s stuff,” he said. “Pricewise, it’s a big difference.”
Cheryl Babineau said that, in addition to the classes, rentals and sales, that the partners are planning to lead dive excursions, with the first one being a trip to Cozumel, Mexico in August.
For more information, call 431-6824 or visit www.proscubadivecenter.com
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