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A Romanian traveler on the world’s oceans

Constantin „Costa” Benedic has seven years of experience in scuba diving and a life long relationship with the sea. He traveled to faraway places, in the most exotic spots on the planet, which appear just as simple dots on the navigational maps, but continues to believe that the Black Sea has much to offer to scuba divers, from seahorses to wrecks and archeological sites. It is obvious he likes to communicate, he likes people and he expresses himself naturally, like a person who has been through a lot and can easily compare. He explains everything through the lens of the passion with which he accomplishes the things he sets out for himself, so he succeeds to be an IT Officer on a passenger and expeditions’ ship, as well as a scuba diving instructor, a commercial underwater worker and a radio-enthusiast. A multifaceted person, Costa generously shares with us his experiences.

The sea is not an “accident” in your life, it is a family legacy. When did you understand that you are tied to the sea, which was your first defining experience?

I think my father, presently retired as chief mechanic, had an influence in establishing my salt water mixed DNA [laughs]. Since I was small I was accompanying him on the ships where he was working and I was involuntary coming in contact with the sailors’ environment.

Not to mention that the day I was scheduled to see the light of day, my mother was at the beach (obviously with me!), from there leaving straight to the hospital, with me being stamped for life with the passion for the blue horizons.

How is life on the sea?

It is not always easy. Life on the sea has its sacrifices, which many people on land don’t entirely understand. It depends a lot on what type of ship you are on, what type of work you do, what crew you have, in addition to needing a mix of some luck and much-much work and seriousness. If you don’t do with pleasure what you are doing and in the environment in which and with which to fit, then the sea contract can become a nightmare.

I worked both as a sailor and a quartermaster, on oil tanks, passenger vessels from 4 to 6 stars, as well as on private mega-yachts from 65 to 114 meters in length, presently working on a passenger-expeditions craft. There were also tough moments, as well as very pleasant ones. It all comes down to finding your balance and being positive.

In any case, I can consider myself a lucky happy person because I can work where and with what I enjoy, and, moreover, I can discover the world with all its facets.

Why did you start diving? You could just continue working on the sea…

For me, my passion for the sea extended to the surface, as well as in its depths. It is like you would try to conquer the woman you are attracted to. But only superficially, it will never be enough. You have to know her and adore her from within as well [smiles], only then the symbiosis will be perfect!

My first contact with scuba diving, even if it was more informative in nature, happened in 1996 when I served in the military at the “Divers’ Center” (“Centrul de Scafandri”) in Constanta (Constanţa), but in the Radio-communications department. Then, in ’99, when I was working on a passengers’ ship – a beautiful brigantine of 110 meters in length, with 4 masts and 16 sails, I could see the people diving recreationally with the passengers, while I was just snorkeling [smiles].

Where did you have your first dive and how was it?

My first open water dive was in 2003 in Barcelona, while I was doing my Open Water Course… it was like a dream come true. I don’t remember a lot of details, probably the stress and the tension to remember everything and to do things by the book pulled me out a bit from the surrounding underwater environment, but the adventures and what I discovered after were worth all the effort.

How would you describe your diving career? Which was the most difficult moment for you?

I started diving, almost like everyone else, recreationally, following the usual steps, from PADI Open Water, then to Advanced Open Water in 2003. In 2004 I attended, again in Barcelona, a shallow depth commercial diver course with “Centre de Rescate y Investigaciones Subaquaticas”, and then the PADI Rescue Diver in 2005. In the summer of 2006 I did my Divemaster course at a center in Mallorca, while in February 2007 I obtained my licenses as a PADI and EFR Instructor in Aiguablava (Girona, Spain) and seven PADI specialties (all with “Nautitraccion Barcelona/Gymsub Aiguablava”, the center with which I am collaborating starting right after my OW course). In 2010 I became PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, plus I did two more PADI specialties, and I obtained my TDI Advanced Nitrox license for technical diving together with my TDI Trimix Normoxic certification (with “Rubicon Diving Center” in Lanzarote, Canary Islands).

My next steps for 2011 are: at the end of January in Key Largo (Florida) – two weeks of theory and practice for “Public Safety Diver” (ERDI license), PADI Wreck Instructor plus Search& Recovery and DAN Instructor, and then, a little later, the PADI IDC Staff Instructor and TDI Trimix Hipoxic diver certification.

About the difficult moments, I think almost everyone is confronted with them. You just have to keep your head on your shoulders and act in a matter of seconds.

How do you fit in your instructor job with your everyday job – I saw you certify students even on the boats you are working on? When do you offer courses at the Black Sea?

In Romania I offer recreational diver courses, technical courses or first aid courses, working as a freelancer – that means privately. This system allows me to follow and fulfill the client’s requests, at the same time observing the standards imposed by the certifying body. None the less, a good mood, professionalism and safety must go hand in hand.

The courses take place when I am on my holiday and are organized by request. The course’s details are settled by agreement over the email and/or phone or over an orange fresh juice [smiles]. All the necessary information is available on my websites.

The diving season at the Black Sea is usually during the summer. What are you doing in the rest of the time – I know that even now you are on the sea, on a ship…

My background profession is that of electronics technician, but because I didn’t settle with what I learned in school (and thanks to my parents’ motivation and support), I continued my professional training and currently I work on a passenger-expeditions vessel as an IT Officer. In my present contract, started 6 months ago, I had the pleasure to visit Alaska, Kamchatka, Japan, Guam, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Fiji, Tahiti and the entire French Polynesia, the Easter Island, Samoa, Vanuatu, American Samoa, Wallis and Futuna, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Yes, this is the advantage of such a craft, focused on expeditions, sailing to absolutely unique and particular locations, some of which exist with details just on Google Earth, while on the maritime maps appearing just as simple dots.

As an instructor which are the often most met problems with your students?

Every new student is a new challenge. Probably the most difficult are the ones from the Open Water – you start from scratch with them, but, at the same time, it is a great pleasure to read the satisfaction on their faces when they finish the course and are capable to dive by themselves!

Are there any differences between Romanian and foreign students? Do they behave differently during courses?

No [laughs]. We all are human beings, subjected to stress, emotions, and mistakes, so we all fall into the same family of sea lovers. Of course, with some it goes easier, with others a bit more difficult. It just comes down to you, as an instructor, you must find the optimum means of conveying to the student what he/she must do in order for him/her to understand and assimilate correctly the first steps, and, as well, that he/she, the future diver, must be flexible and open in mind and soul and be conscious that there’s a long road ahead, sometimes a bit rocky, but  usually quite pleasant, on which one must continuously learn to be a complete diver.

Which is the most important advice for those who want to try diving?

To love and respect the sea, to know their physical and psychical limits, to abide by what they’ve learnt during their courses and to stay up-to-date with everything that happens in the field (courses, seminars, exhibitions, etc.).

You’ve been to many places all over the world – did you also dive in many places? Which is your favorite place for scuba diving? In how many seas/oceans have you dived?

Each dive is unique, even if it is done in the same place I don’t know how many times. You just have to feel and like the sea. The rest just follows by itself.

In terms of locations I’ve visited from Newfoundland (Canada), Caribbean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Pacific Ocean to the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand.

A favorite diving spot is hard to choose; each dive site has its charm. I dove with Galapagos sharks, with sea lions in Snares Islands (New Zealand) with which we had an absolutely incredible interaction, to wrecks rich of history (USS Saratoga – used in two nuclear experiments in the Bikini atoll in 1945) or in locations with an unbelievable bio-diversity (Rangiroa in French Polynesia).

You also dove in the Black Sea… What can a diver see here, what is special?

In spite of its name and the geographical setbacks, the Black Sea is a micro universe. You just have to like diving, to pay the right attention to details (and not only to sharks and rays from the Red Sea), to enjoy challenges, because often enough, diving here can be relatively tougher than in other tropical places. But I always say: if a diver does OK in the Black Sea, surely will manage well in other locations. We mustn’t forget that each diving area has its particularities, which must be taken into account for divers’ safety.

Unfortunately, in our country the environmental education is a bit sloppy, and you can see and feel this, divers actually realizing amongst the first the negative impact of this lack of civilization regarding the marine environment (which at surface can seem beautiful and perfect).

What can we see? Sea horses and wrecks and archeological sites sound interesting enough?! We shouldn’t forget that we posses innumerable lakes and caves around the country, remarkable places for recreational scuba diving.

Where would you like to dive in the future – where do you dream to dive?

Iceland. I hope I can manage to do that in 2011. Then, South Africa, the Maldives and Seychelles would be somewhere on the list. To be more accurate, anytime and anywhere it is possible [laughs].

Do you have a diving role model, a person who inspires you?

In scuba diving I don’t know if there exists a “perfect” model. You just have to adopt what suits you, according to your personality and needs. But I had the luck and pleasure of meeting instructors from which I had (and still have) many, many things to learn!

You have a commercial diving license. Which is the biggest difference between recreational and commercial diving, in your opinion?

Planning, training and the mindset of the dive. Even if the working environment is the same, and the liquids’ thermodynamics and gas laws get applied alike, the dive planning differs greatly. The technical support from the surface, some of the gear, as well as some of the diving procedures are specific only to the commercials, other diving rules having more things in common (especially with tec diving).

What kind of underwater works have you operated?

In principle, the commercial works done by me – all privately – were (or are) related to surveying and maintaining commercial crafts (passenger boats or yachts), either related to different works in marinas.

What other passions do you have besides scuba diving?

Philately is another passion of mine since I was small. I am a radio amator since 1990 and I developed this into a profession, presently working on commercial ships in communications; the same with scuba diving, where it all started as a hobby and I have now reached a professional level. Anything you do, do with passion!

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One Response to “A Romanian traveler on the world’s oceans”

  1. c Villa says:

    05 Dec 2011 at 21:41

    Costa es usted una caja de sorpresas. Le encuentro en los lugares mas insospechados.

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