The O.W.A. team is a unique group of dive professionals. Led by Joe Gaydeski with nearly 20 years of professional dive experience. Our instructors are dedicated, consistant, friendly, and caring to name just a few attributes. They are held to exceed the highest standards in training. Additionally they are all CPR, First Aid for Aquatics, AED, Oxygen Provider, and fully Lifeguard certified. This is a standard at O.W.A. that is not usual in our profession.
His inspiration came from watching Jacques Cousteau specials, and James Bond Movies. Joe was fascinated by “Innerspace”! Joe’s interest lead him to getting certified after college in 1990, then started working in the dive industry just two months after receiving certification in the Charlotte area. He opened his own full service dive shop Open Water Adventures in 1996. Joe is our in-house Instructor Certifier, making OWA Charlotte’s Platinum SSI Facility.
Some of his past dive destinations include Palm Beach, the Carribean, Hawaii, Belize, Cancun, Cayman Brac Bimini, Palau, Cozumel, Galapagos, Wrecks off the Carolina Coast, and South and Central Florida. Joe is very enthusiastic about teaching and sharing his love for the sport.
He is also an avid Nature Photographer, and loves sharing with others his passion for shooting pictures. Joe teaches an underwater photography class that he has designed himself. Respect for the environment and good buoyancy control are as important as technical skill and composition. Photography is like hunting. You are always looking for the next subject to shoot, but your subject gets to live another day! Conservation and preservation of the Ocean Realm and all its creatures is every divers responsibility.
Enjoy your Adventure!!
Heather began her dive career in February of 1999. She is an Open Water Instructor and Scuba Ranger Instructor, and Joe Gaydeski’s wife. Heather’s special interests include underwater photography and working with anxious or uncertain students. She especially loves the flow and movement of videography. Heather also owns a Family Photography Studio called Bell Photography, which is located only 100 yards from Open Water Adventures.
Heather and Joe have been fortunate to lead divers all over the World. Some of the beautiful places she has traveled to include: Palau, Thailand, Hawaii, Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Palm Beach, The Bahamas, and the Carolina Coast.
Instructor and Store Manager
Jeff joined Open Water Adventures as an Open Water Diver and arrived with a goal to become an Instructor and work at the store full time. Well, it did not take Jeff long to accomplish his goal. He is enthusiastic and driven with his personal diving goals, and shares that with every student he teaches and every customer he assists.
Jeff has done a lot of diving and spent long hours immersed in the Sport of SCUBA. He has pursued Technical Training to expand his abiltiy to explore the depths of the Ocean and stay longer. He has also discovered a love of Underwater Imagery, admittedly torn between video and still photography. He loves adventure and has in the past raced Motor Cross, been an avid Sky Diver, and a qualified Wilderness EMT. He worked in the Corporate World in the Financial Industry for a while; however, he has found a home in the World of SCUBA. He is dedicated to the sport and helping other divers. Jeff is looking forward to new friendships and many Adventures around the World!
Service Technician/Anything Technical
Ken has been with Open Water Adventures almost since the beginning. He is currently in charge of our service department, however he is a talented individual who has over the years functioned as a computer consultant, electrician, and general fix it man. You could say he is definitely a ‘Jack of all trades’ and an asset to our team.
Ken and his assistants keep all of your life support equipment working to factory standards. They also keep our entire training and rental fleet serviced and working reliably.
Ken also enjoys photography and has recently gone digital. So when he isn’t repairing and servicing your equipment, you will find him underwater or topside with his camera in hand.
Swim Director and Childrens Programs
Melissa has been involved in aquatics for more than a decade. It seems that it is in her blood. She has been in charge of the OWA swim school at Open Water Adventures for more than 5 years and has taken the program to a new level. The program has grown steadily since she became the aquatics director, and most of our new customers come from referal. She enjoys teaching children of all ages and also has a passion for teaching adults in a private setting.
In addition to the Swim School, Melissa has also been the coordinator for our “Way Cool Kids Club” called Scuba Rangers. She schedules class times and functions and keeps the Scuba Ranger Instructors organized. She really enjoys the water and her enthusiasm shows.
Melissa also Teaches Lifeguarding Courses, CPR , First Aid, and AED utilizing the Red Cross Program. These programs are usually held in the spring and are posted on the OWA calendar.
Safety, comfort, and skills for life!!
OW Instructor/Scuba Ranger Instructor
Tom began diving after a resort dive in the Maldives back in December 2000 and has been ‘hooked’ ever since. His ‘real’ job is teaching so becoming an instructor seemed like a natural step in his diving career. He still remembers taking that first breath underwater and loves watching others take the plunge.
Some of Tom’sFavorite places to dive include; the Philippines, Galapagos, Indonesia, Tahiti, Maldives, The Red Sea and every place else that there is to dive! The Ocean is a big place and Tom plans to see as much as possible.
Ty is originally from upstate New York. He moved to Charlotte in 2007 after graduating from Oswego State University where he learned to scuba dive for extra college credit. Shortly after relocating, he found Open Water Adventures and decided to become an Advanced Certified Diver. Ty worked in banking and part time at OWA until he permanently traded his business suit for a wetsuit and gained his Open Water Instructor Certification in 2011.
He loves to travel independently ranging from backpacking across Europe to volunteering in Nicaragua and all of the diving in between, including: Palm Beach, Florida Springs, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Mexico, Hawaii, Galapagos Islands and much more!
Ty absolutely loves sharks, videography and is very enthusiastic about ocean conservation. He hopes to continue raising awareness by teaching people the fun and excitement of underwater exploration.
Jeff is a Vetinarian by trade from Burnsville, NC. He is a dedicated Instructor who is passionate about diving and teaching. Why else would he drive 2.5 hours just about every weekend to teach classes at Open Water Adventures?!
We are proud to have him on our teaching staff. His love for diving is contagious and it rubs off on everyone who takes one of his classes or has the pleasure of traveling with him.
Jeff has traveled to some great places in the last few years: Thailand, Galapagos, Hawaii, Palau, Yap, Palm Beach, The Bahamas, and ‘The Flower Gardens’ off the coast of Texas.
Randall Hannah first visited Open Water Adventures with a desire to learn Scuba, however he first needed to work on sharpening his swimming skills. He spent a year training with Melissa in our pool to prepare himself. Randall then enrolled in our Open Water Diver program, and from there the rest is history. Randall is currently one of our Open Water Instructors. His background is in banking. He spent 34 years working for Wachovia right on into the Wells Fargo transition. Randall is currently retired and we are doing our best to keep him busy around the Dive Center. Not so busy however that he can’t enjoy his retirement and spend time with his family. You will find that he is a very relaxed and patient instructor.
OW Instructor/Training Systems
Dick has always loved the water, being an avid whitewater kayaker and sailor for years, but when he finally got certified as an open water diver in 2000, he was hooked. Like many of his dive buddies, he was inspired at an early age by watching Sea Hunt and Jacques Cousteau. His only regret is that he waited so long to get started.
Dick likes to dive just about anywhere. He has never made a dive he didn’t like. He has been diving in Hawaii, Tobago, Bahamas, Martinique, BVI, West Palm, Indonesia, and the Keys.
He is just as happy in a Florida spring, a lake, quarry or especially wreck diving the Carolinas coast.
The best thing about diving for Dick, is watching new divers pick up the fascination for the underwater world. And for him, Open Water Adventures is the best place for that.
Scuba Ranger Instructor/Dentist
Clay is the definition of ‘The Nice Guy’, A Concord native, he has been a diver for over twenty years and rediscovered his love for the sport in 2003. Since then he has been on many trips with Open Water Adventures and personally with his wife Jeanne. In fact the two met while on a dive trip.
Clay likes places that are off the beaten path. The kind of places you would call paradise. He has been to exotic places near and far. His first trip to the South Pacific was Palau, and he has been to Galapagos, Indonesia, Bonaire and Dominica. Family is very important to Clay, so he really enjoys working with young people in the Scuba Ranger program.
Technical Diving Instructor
Garrett grew up in Wisconsin near the Great Lakes, and as a result has a passion for history and wrecks. He is currently our Technical Instructor, although he still enjoys teaching open water students.
He holds numerous technical ratings including: Rebreather, advanced nitrox, decompression procedures, trimix, and cave and cavern. He also is qualified to work with Physically Disabled divers.
Garrett is very passionate about diving as a whole, but he is especially fond of Wreck Diving. He would love to take you on an adventure to the Great Lakes, Carolina Coast, or Truk Lagoon.
Dive Leader/Assistant Manger
Dillon Mathewson came to Open Water Adventures because he chose to do his High School Senior Project on Scuba. Dillon had participated in sports but had never tried Scuba. He did not realize at the time that he was about to embark on a great adventure and a new career. Dillon loves people and he loves Scuba, which makes him a perfect fit for the OWA Dive Team. He is full of enthusiasm and has a strong desire to make every customers experience a good one. Dillon will admit he does not have all the answers and that he has a lot to learn, however he is very knowledgable and trustworthy. We are proud to have him on our team and we know you will like him too.
Dillon is on track to become the youngest Open Water Instructor in OWA history. That is a big accomplishment and says a lot about his character. We trust him so much, that he is now our Assistant Manager, which means he often leads the team when Joe and Jeff are not around.
Rocky Drye has been a diver at OWA almost since the beginning. Rocky is a Project Manger with a homebuilder and happens to be very good with sheetrock and mud. This was a talent that proved to be invaluable when Open Water Adventures built our new facility almost ten years ago.
Our store has a lot of sheetrock, which required alot of mud work, and Rocky has the touch of an artist. Joe assisted by filling screw holes and holding the mud bucket.
Rocky loves NC Wreck Diving, and he is also more than willing to share his knowledge with new divers and help in any way possible to make the experience fun.
Dive Coordinator/IT Guy
Chuck started diving in 2004. He had a long time fascination with the Under Water World, and simply wanted to know “What is down There”? He finally decided it was time to get certified so he could find out.
The first time Chuck dropped below the surface he realized there was a whole other world that existed below the surface, and realized it was a great place to explore. He has since traveled to many dive destinations, and one of his personal favorites is diving in the Bahamas on a Sailing Vessel called the Juliet. The diving is great and effortless. The crew does everything for you, and your biggest decision is dive now or dive later.
Chuck enjoys helping others learn how to dive both safely and efficiently At his real Job at Duke Energy he does the same thing with his staff, but with computer networks. Diving is definitely more fun.