Open Water Adventures

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Our Staff

The O.W.A. team is a unique group of dive professionals. Led by Joe Gaydeski with nearly 27 years of professional dive experience. Joe is an International Training Director and trains every Instructor at Open Water Adventures. 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.


Instructor Certifier/Rebreather/Photographer

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, Maldives, Indonesia, 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 and loves photographing her clients in a relaxed setting, mostly in the outdoors.

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, Bonaire and the Carolina Coast.

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!!

Bio coming soon


Dave served honorably with the esteemed 101st Airborne form 1996-1999. He got open water certified in 2012. Dave enrolled in the OWA Advanced Open Water Program in 2016. He enjoyed it so much he decided to pursue his Instructor certification.


Dave’s background is in Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. He also has a background in IT. As well as scuba instruction, Dave has also began working in our service department.


When not diving, Dave enjoys camping, motorcycling, hiking, and lifting weights.

OW Instructor

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.


Bio coming soon


Marcella is originally from the UK and lived in Colorado for almost two decades. She became very active in the outdoors while in Colorado, and worked in the specialty sporting goods industry. She moved to NC a few years ago and became interested in Scuba (another outdoor sport) and she was a natural to work in the retail store at Open Water Adventures. She is currently our retail store manager and our resident “energizer bunny”!

John Gaydeski aka “Papa John” learned to dive while serving in the Air Force as a fighter jock. After retiring from the Air Force John worked in public service as a City Manager for several municipalities. He moved to Charlotte NC to be closer to family and joined the OWA team as a service technician. He works side by side with Ken keeping all the life support gear working in top condition.

Advanced Open Water Instructor

Chris Pope is a big bundle of Scuba Enthusiasm! He loves to dive and it shows when he works with his students. Chris hopes that his students will be inspired by the Underwater World and enjoy diving as much as he does.  His real job is in the corporate world, but we are happy to call him one of OWA’s finest instructors.ChrisPopeStaff

Advanced OW InstructorChrisProfile1-68

Chris Srackangast has been diving since 1996. He started as a working diver, but eventually found real diving joy in the recreational community. Chris is a detail oriented instructor who’s goal is training proficient, comfortable divers.

Dillon Mathewson’s journey began as a senior project in high school in 2009. His project was a video presentation on How to assemble a complete scuba system and proper use. We realized he had a knack for teaching.


 After his project was finished Dillon was officially hooked, and enrolled in advanced coursesDillonPic-1 and kept moving through the Scuba Ranks to eventually become Open Water Adventures’ youngest Scuba Instructor at the age of 19! Dillon is our youngest instructor ever, and still the youngest on the team.


He loves people and especially sharing his passion for Scuba. He is an excellent instructor and his energy and positive attitude are his greatest strengths.


Dillon moved back home to Buffalo NY for a a couple of years, but he is back where he belongs in Charlotte NC at OWA!


Open Water Instructor


Will works in the real world in sales for a Fire and Sprinkler Company. On weekends and nights Will reallyWillProfile2-69 enjoys hanging out at Open WaterAdventures to share his passion for Scuba with everyone that walks in the door.


He became a certified diver in 2013 and immediately expressed his desire to become a Scuba Instructor. Will worked his way through all the SSI courses that are stepping stones to becoming an Instructor and spent many hours hanging around the store to learn how it all works. In 2016 he achieved his goal.


Will is a lot of fun and he loves people. Two great qualities in a Dive Leader.

Bio Coming Soon

Bio Coming Soon