If there was a bumper sticker on Jocelyn Stevenson’s life, it’s pretty clear what she’d rather be doing. From the first time HIT’s chief creative officer strapped on an air tank and flippers, she’s been hooked on the thrill of the deep-sea dive.
Diving was something Stevenson had always intended to try at some point, but it wasn’t until a friend proposed a birthday getaway to Zanzibar a couple years ago that opportunity knocked.
But first, she had to learn the basics in a London pool and log in a weekend’s worth of open-water dives in Sicily. Stevenson now appreciates the meditative nature of breathing through a regulator, but she remembers it took a lot of concentration at first. Walking around the city of Taormina in search of a place to have dinner after one early dive, she noticed her knee was hurting and figured she must have bashed it on something underwater. Not quite – it turned out she’d knelt on a sea urchin during a fin pivot. ‘When I finally looked at my knee, which at this point had swollen to the size of my head, I could see where all of the spines had gone into my flesh,’ she says. ‘I was concentrating so hard I didn’t even feel it!’ Before she went to see a doctor, Stevenson had to consult a dinner menu to find the Italian word for sea urchin, Ricci di mare; she says it’s one foreign-language lesson she’ll never forget.
Fear and nerves can be a bit overwhelming for any inexperienced diver, particularly when you’re doing counterintuitive things like taking off gear. But Stevenson says you eventually get to the point where breathing and moving underwater seems instinctive – and that’s when the experience begins. ‘There is this moment when you’re 15 meters down and you look around and say, ‘Oh my God this is amazing,” she says. ‘The best part is when you’re swimming along with the bottom not far below you, and then all of a sudden it drops off and you’re flying – and it is like flying – over this huge crevasse. I don’t care if I don’t see a fish the entire time, it’s just about being there, and I didn’t expect that.’
Since those early dives in Sicily, Stevenson has gone through several more training sessions and now has her Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Advanced Open Water Scuba Diving certification. The hobby has taken her to parts of the world she wouldn’t otherwise have visited, such as Belize, Little Cayman, Gozo (Malta) and, most recently, Bonaire. A diver’s paradise in the Dutch Carribean, Bonaire was where Stevenson had her most otherworldly diving experience – she and a friend descended directly into the middle of a huge school of fish being herded by a couple of large tarpons.
For her next diving getaway, Stevenson is considering Australia and New Zealand, but she might also visit some friends in Indonesia. Until then, she plans to keep busy working on HIT’s development slate and gearing up for the relaunch of Bob the Builder in the fall.