Dive on in: A scuba shop opens in Cumberland

Dive on in: A scuba shop opens in Cumberland

Matthew and Jerika Verrier opened DiveOnIt Scuba Supply at 1403 Mendon Road in Cumberland last week, offering gear and classes to the diving community and those eager to become a part of it. (Valley Breeze Photo by Meghan Kavanaugh)

CUMBERLAND - It was just four years ago that Jerika Verrier, now a certified diver, avoided swimming pools and ocean waves as she had done for her entire life.

"I grew up afraid of water," she said. "I couldn't put my head under."

She recalled this fear while standing in the middle of DiveOnIt Scuba Supply, a new shop she and husband Matthew Verrier officially opened last weekend at 1403 Mendon Road, just south of the intersection with Angell Road.

Matthew, on the other hand, grew up a "fish" on Greenwich Bay.

Four years ago, the couple enrolled in a diving class. While she could have been terrified, Jerika embraced the chance to conquer her fear.

"It was completely amazing and I fell in love," she said.

Now, she and Matthew, who also spearfishes, can be found spending their weekends diving off the coast of Rhode Island, in Jamestown, Fort Adams and King's Beach.

"It's beautiful. There's a lot of scenery," Matthew said, including shipwrecks, and until late November, tropical fish brought in through a jet stream.

With this new shop, the Verriers are hoping to help others have the same experience.

In addition to dive outings and charters, DiveOnIt offers four-week classes through the widely-recognized Professional Association of Diving Instructors, or PADI, program. Instructor Chris Parker, who has been diving for 18 years, teaches the course, for ages 10 and up, that takes place, in part, in the Cumberland High School pool up the street.

If after four weeks, students are still not comfortable in the water, the Verriers allow them to retake the course again, free of charge.

DiveOnIt will offer a special in February for $49.99 for two to participate in a trial run of diving. If participants end up enjoying it, that money is credited toward the cost of the certification course.

The shop is stocked with gear like masks, snorkels and wet suits that can be used in all water sports. Tanks can be filled and gear can be rented, with the option to participate in the shop's rent-to-own program.

"It's a one-stop shop," Matthew said.

He said it fills a void in the diving community left with the closing of The Scuba Center in Attleboro, Mass., that was known by passersby for its bright turquoise-painted building.

Diving is a hobby that appeals to most water-loving folks, Matthew said, especially in the Ocean State.

"People like the water. It's just one more thing to do," he said, with the added bonus of weightlessness, peace and quiet.

He referred to a quote by explorer Jacques Cousteau that will hang on the wall of the shop:

"From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free."

DiveOnIt is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit www.diveonit.com or call 401-333-0002