Canadian Invasion 2014

Canadian Invasion 2014

by Forest Rothchild

We all have our reason(s) for finding our way to the water, for some it is a bucket list experience, for others it is a hobby to enjoy from time to time, and finally there are those it is a life changing part of who they are and it embeds into their DNA. I will admit I fall into this last category.

This isn’t a review of one training program versus another, but how once a fear of finding people to dive with has become an absolutely shattered concern. In the beginning, like many of us, I dove with those from my LDS (local dive shop). In 2008 I was introduced to Scuba Shack CT and a GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) training center. Fast forward several classes and several years with GUE and some friends from my original LDS said they weren’t going to be able to dive with me, as I was starting down a path to more technical diving. This was a sad point for me because I didn’t know what was ahead or who I would be diving with.

This was the introduction to my path down GUE training. GUE isn’t about being a technical diver, but more about a team philosophy. This I had not really experienced before. For some, GUE may not be the path of choice, but GUE does offer something for anyone that is interested in testing and pushing themselves.

Having had the pleasure to take both technical and cave dive training, I can atest to one fact: having followed the path to more technical diving it has expanded my world of diving opportunity and the people I have dove with.

In 2011, when asked to fill a spot for a friend that had to cancel from an event called the “Canadian Invasion”, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. This was the beginning of a whole new world. Introduce Chantelle and Steve Blanchard, the conductors and organizers for this dive fest. I have now attended for the past 4 consecutive years and can say that it continues to evolve and only get better with time.

Finally coming down from the high of the latest Invasion, I now share my thoughts and hope others find as much joy in their dive community as these annual get togethers have brought me.

To experience the Invasion is to experience Chantelle. I am proud to now be considered a friend to this Nova. I say this for she truly is a shining force of brightness and energy. Tirelessly she will send details, communications, update Facebook status, organize lectures, and more. Then, perhaps a little bit quieter force, but just as important, is Steve (when he has his fins. Joke from the 2014 invasion).

As a standard recap, Chantelle will coordinate lodging, 3 meals a day, boat charters, goodie bags, lectures / presentation, giveaways, and a whole lot more. You will see her everywhere, camera in hand, and always armed with a smile and a hug. When I mentioned being DNA altered, Chantelle is the DGG (diving goodness goddess). The part that truly makes her different from almost any other person I have met in the dive industry is that she does this for the love of the sport and the people. This isn’t about GUE, this is about diving, companionship, and sharing a mutual passion.

In 2014, the 7th year running, from shore and boat dives, SUEX scooters (thanks Casey McKinley), amazing presentations; Casey, Blake, John, Karim, and Heather, the evenings often went late into the night with informative and awe inspiring tales that anyone can pursue if they wish to get involved.

I want to touch base on some little details that made this year ever more personal for me. As noted before, GUE can be about technical diving, but it is about a shared diving experience. This was the third year my wife to joined me. While Stacey has progressed to PADI Dive Master, she was born into GUE’s recreational dive program. The beauty of experiences like these, while she is a recreational diver, is that there was never the feeling that she is any less of a diver. The fact she IS a scuba diver and enjoys the water is all she needed to be accepted and welcomed to the motley crew of divers from all around the world. I share this because I believe this is perhaps the greatest strength to the environment Chantelle and Steve have created and that it isn’t about being GUE but simply the shared bond of the water.

I also had a new experience unlike any I have ever had before. During one of the days out on the river, we came across a distressed boat that needed a tow back to shore. The captain with several of the divers on the boat tied / rigged the other boat and we were able to tow them to a filling station. It turns out the captain from the other boat had tipped our captain, but instead of keeping all the money, our captain bought shirts and gifts for the divers that helped in appreciation. This says a lot about the captain but also about Thousand Island Pleasure Diving. I do feel this is also a reflection of the general experience and mentality, divers looking out for other divers regardless of the situation.

So while I can talk about each of the dives, I really want to acknowledge, because of this shared altered DNA, the fact that I have now been able to meet divers from around the world. An example, last November I met Johannes Lock from Holland, in Florida. In December I met up with him in Mexico, then in August we met up in Canada, and now I might get to meet up with him in France this October. This is not a rare occurrence and that is the beauty of GUE. I was once afraid I wouldn’t be able to find people to dive with, but in direct opposition, I now have found an ocean of friends and divers all over the world.

So to those that have heard about the Canadian Invasion, let your passion for the water be your admission. If you want to be able to learn and share from divers that just want to be in the water, consider joining. Spaces are limited, but remember, it isn’t about the ego but it is about the love of H2O.

Here is a quick video of some of the aerial shots from the area. The St. Lawrence Seaway / Thousand Island area is simply a stunningly beautiful area.