Craig Willemsen wears a lot of hats at Silent World Diving Systems. The instructor certifier, tech instructor, and store owner has spent the last 40 years swimming with schools of fish all over the world. After his first trip in 1972, Craig developed a passion for diving, exploring international waters and teaching others advanced techniques that they use to follow in his flippersteps. With more than 6,000 dives under his belt, his dedication to diving and education has earned him one of the highest SSI instructor ratings and the SSI Platinum Pro 5,000 Diver and Instructor Award.
Craig leads Silent World's team of certified instructors who strive to teach students the art of underwater exploration and also broaden their knowledge on a variety of related subjects. At any given moment, they may be leading students in open-water dives, pointing out local diving sites that match their skill levels, or matching newcomers with the right gear and Zodiac-themed wetsuits.
The first time George Todd sailed, he took to the seas for two years. His initial voyage carried him from Hong Kong through the West Indies and, eventually, to America. He was hooked. Looking to continue his aquatic explorations, the former Navy pilot and officer set out to build his own vessel from many of the materials he obtained on his travels. The elegant result was the Schooner Mallory Todd, a 65-foot yacht furnished with the trappings of a bygone nautical age: antique stained glass, rubbed mahogany, and a main saloon outfitted with porcelain fireplaces.
Today, the Schooner Mallory Todd takes to the waters helmed by a dedicated crew. A US Coast Guard-certified captain mans voyages for up to 30 passengers at a time, guiding guests through the mountain-framed reaches of Lake Washington and Lake Union. Along the way, the ship might pass the iconic houseboats featured in Sleepless in Seattle, or drift by bald eagles building their nests and combing over their neck plumage.
Besides running charters, Todd helms his own nonprofit, the Sailing Heritage Society. Every year, the organization grants more than 100 free sailing trips to ill and underserved children. All fees for charters on the Schooner Mallory Todd support the society's charitable voyages.
Cindy Ross was an unlikely person to found a scuba-diving school. Told by a commercial diving instructor at 19 that she was too small to scuba, Ross didn?t begin to explore the sport until she was in her 30s. Earning certification was a trial, and she spent her first four dives lugging 80-pound gear in the snow up and down a massive hill?and, adding insult to injury, the men?s equipment didn?t even fit properly. But the fifth dive changed everything. Held in Puget Sound, Ross felt a calling to the location's green waters and white anemones, and since then, the aquanaut has frolicked with such neighbors as a 1,200-pound sea lion, hundreds of Canadian seals, and a giant Pacific octopus.
At Scuba Shoppe, Ross and her team of instructors immerse guests of all ages in the sport of scuba. Try Scuba classes held in the center's 84-degree pool familiarize students with their equipment before they plunge into the water to practice. Alternatively, an open-water certification program from Scuba Schools International expounds on these pool sessions with shore dives in the rolling waters of Puget Sound, which let students hone their skills in a more realistic environment or find a dolphin pod to adopt them. As part of this training, they also have the chance to explore the briny depths aboard underwater scooters. For the more advanced,, Scuba Shoppe provides training for specialty certifications, including rescue diving, night diving, and underwater digital photography. An onsite dive shop outfits customers with all the necessary dive gear and accessories.
If you’ve never stood on top of water, or if you’ve stood on it and want to further defy the laws of viscosity and velocity, then strap in to Northwest Riders’ line of Slingshot Sports boards and bindings, designed to give you a blend of comfort and performance that most only experience during sleeping-bag races. As you’re towed along by a 21-foot Malibu vRide boat, the experienced nautical navigators on board will tame the wake to fit your desired degree of difficulty.
Before diving into the school's practice pool, divers learn the basics of breathing through a regulator, clearing water from a mask, and adjusting the pressure buildup during descents. After that, swimmers will become underwater explorers. Learn to dive under the watchful supervision of an experienced, PADI-certified instructor. Craig Gillespie is a pro diver with webbed feet for toes and gills for eyes. He has logged more than 30 years of dives, during which time tens of thousands of would-be flounders were taught the ways of scuba diving.