Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
A bathing bird at the Zoo in Sydney

Paul Faraguna

My name is Paul Faraguna and I’m a scuba diver. I grew up watching Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges, and was fascinated by Jacques Cousteau’s National Geographic T.V. specials. I always dreamed of what it would be like to dive into the amazing adventures portrayed on these programs. However, I always assumed that the training would simply be too difficult and too expensive to realistically pursue. So these dreams would have to remain dreams. Until the summer of 1999 when I took my mother back to Italy visit her mother (my grandmother) on the occasion of grandma’s 90th birthday. Little did I know that that trip would change my life forever.

I have a younger cousin in Italy, named Roberto. He is a PADI Divemaster. I spent most of my time on that trip hanging out with him and his friends. One day he asked me if I’d like to accompany them on a dive trip. I told him that I wasn’t certified, so I’d have to pass. He told me not to worry. They would be doing a shore dive, and I could hang out and wait for them on the beach for the hour that they’d be diving. Then we would all make a day of it on the beach. Sounded good to me, so I went. I was fascinated watching them set up their gear. And pretty soon a little voice started speaking to me. They did their dive, came back, and when they got out of their gear, Roberto said he still had some air left in his tank and wondered if I might like to give it a try. I reiterated that I wasn’t certified to dive, but he told me not to worry about it. He had me put on something called a BCD which also harnessed the scuba tank, and he gave his mask and snorkel. I didn’t even put on any fins. And then, in 5 feet of water he held me horizontally in the water by the yoke of the tank and moved me around in a circle. The next thing I knew… Holy @#$%*& !!! I was breathing underwater !!! Well….that was it. I was hooked. That little voice in my head was now now screaming at me. Four days later, when I was back home in the U.S. the first thing I did was seek out local dive shops. I located the Hoboken Dive Center, which was on my way home from work. I called and signed up for the next available Open Water class. Once again….little did I know that my life would be forever changed.

At the start of my Open Water class I would meet my first instructor, Tom Lee. Tom was to become my early mentor and a dear close friend to this day. I cruised through the course and was soon signing up for a trip to the Bahamas with Tom. On that trip, I completed my Advanced Open Water and my EAN Diver certifications. The EAN Diver certification in particular sparked an undying interest into the science behind diving. Now I was on two parallel routes…..recreational diving and technical diving. I continued to pursue recreational certs with Tom, up to Divemaster. To satisfy my technical interests Tom introduced me to their Technical Diving instructor, Rob Powley. Soon I was pursuing certifications in Gas Blending, Advanced Nitrox, and Decompression Procedures. All of them through TDI. I read all the literature on the heroes of Technical Diving, Tom Mount and Sheck Exley to name a few. I read about our own local heroes here on the Northeast coast’s Wreck Valley, like Gary Gentile, John Chatterton, Richie Kohler, and John Yurga. Epic expeditions to the Andrea Doria and other deep ocean wrecks.

Armed with my new TDI technical certifications I began showing up on the local diveboats and visiting many of our local wrecks. The U.S.S. San Diego, the Stolt Dagali, the Algol, etc. But it wasn’t enough. I needed to go deeper and visit ever more challenging wrecks. I needed to get certified for Trimix diving. That voodoo mixture of Oxygen, Nitrogen and Helium. My search for a Trimix instructor would lead me to Bob Wilson. A local unsung dive hero who would become my new mentor as well as a good friend. Armed with my new Trimix certification I soon began going after the deep wrecks. The Coimbra, the Ayuroca (Oil Wreck), the U-869, the Carolina to name a few. The Andrea Doria is still my sentimental goal. Bob would also serve as my instructor as I moved into the ranks of the Instructor myself. I finally decided to enter that realm, and have managed to strike a proper balance between teaching which I very much enjoy, and my own personal diving, which I enjoy even more.

Diving has taken me all over the world. From Bloody Bay Wall on Little Cayman, to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. From the Cenotes of the Yucatan, to the cold clear waters of Lake Ontario, and the Saint Lawrence River. Along the way I have met many fellow divers and made many new friends. Among them, Hans and Allie Kaspersetz. I met them on a trip to Cozumel in 2002 when I was serving as a Divemaster to Tom Lee’s Open Water class, of which Hans and Allie were students. We struck up a fast friendship that endures to this day. I got Hans interested in technical and wreck diving. Little did I know that he would be returning the favor by hooking me on cave diving, which has now become an absolute passion of mine. I visited them several times when they were living in Playa del Carmen, and Hans took to some of the most beautiful caves I’ve ever seen.

I continue to learn things about this passion of mine, and so it never gets old. I plan to keep doing it long after I, in fact get old……but the diving never does.

Certifications:

  • PADI Open Water Diver (Tom Lee)
  • PADI Advanced Open Water (Tom Lee)
  • PADI Rescue Diver (Tom Lee)
  • PADI Divemaster (Tom Lee)
  • PADI EAN Diver (Tom Lee)
  • DAN O2 Provider (Tom Lee)
  • EFR (Robert Sievens)
  • TDI Gas Blender (Rob Powley)
  • TDI Advanced Nitrox (Rob Powley)
  • TDI Decompression Procedures (Rob Powley)
  • PADI DSAT Trimix Diver (Bob Wilson)
  • IANTD Cave Diver ( Andreas Matthes, Fernando del Valle Prieto)

Instructor Certifications:

  • PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI Wreck Specialty Instructor (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI Advanced Wreck Distinctive Specialty Instructor (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI EAN Diver Instructor (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI DSAT Gas Blender Instructor (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI Dry Suit Specialty Instructor (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI Boat Diver Specialty Instructor (Bob Wilson)
  • PADI Deep Diver Specialty Instructor (Bob Wilson)
  • EFR Instructor (Bob Wilson)