Former sailor opens a dive shop of his own

Howlett stands behind the counter at his dive shop in Brownsville. - Photo by Rachel Brant
Howlett stands behind the counter at his dive shop in Brownsville.
— image credit: Photo by Rachel Brant

After months of waiting, the area’s newest dive shop is now open for business.

Owner Michael Howlett quietly opened Peninsula Dive in Brownsville on his birthday, March 10.

“It was kind of a birthday present to myself,” he chuckled.

Howlett, a Washington native, spent 12 years in the Navy. He began diving 11 years ago while stationed in Greece.

“I became a diving instructor while I was in the military,” Howlett said. “It was kind of a side thing to help pay for the (diving) habit.”

Howlett loves being a dive instructor, but decided he and his family needed something more and opened the shop.

“You can’t support a family just teaching in this area, so I figured why not give it a shot,” he said.

Howlett’s goal was to open a shop in downtown Silverdale, but he had trouble finding a building to lease. He also looked for a building in East Bremerton, but with no luck. The dive shop is located near the intersection of Wagga Way on the Brownsville Highway.

Kitsap County paperwork tie-ups delayed the opening of the shop more than Howlett would have liked.

“It was very difficult sitting here waiting for four months because of county hold-ups,” he said.

Peninsula Dive is a full-service shop which specializes in sales, instruction, rentals, equipment repair, dive tours, travel and air fills.

A feature of the dive shop is the diver’s lounge and classroom. It has surround sound, a projector, dry erase board, cof fee, sodas and a map. Divers place pins on the map to show where they have dived throughout the world.

“It’s a good conversation piece and gives the community a place to hang out and talk about diving,” Howlett said.

Peninsula Dive has four dive instructors and three divemasters. Staff are planning to help rebuild the Port of Illahee docks this summer. Howlett hopes to do at least two community service projects a year.

“It is a drive of mine to make the community I live in better,” he said.

Peninsula Dive is affiliated with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Howlett also is a Divers Alert Network (DAN) instructor. DAN helps divers with medical emergency assistance and promotes diving safety.

“We offer a lot of DAN courses that no one else in the area does,” Howlett said.

Howlett views safety as a top priority at Peninsula Dive. He fills the air tanks in a contained area located at the back of the shop. Other dive shops fill the tanks on the main floor in front of customers.

“This is safer because if a tank blows, it will be contained within this area,” he explained. “What makes a better air fill is taking the time to do it right. I do that, I take my time.”

Howlett, an experienced diver, has dived all over the world. One of the best dives he experienced was off the coast of Saipan, an island in the western Pacific Ocean.

“The water was crystal clear, it was like bath water,” he said.

Howlett wants to add more product lines in the dive shop. He also hopes to become the base contractor for Naval Base Kitsap and teach local sailors about diving. He would like to build and operate his own port in the future.

Peninsula Dive is open every day but Wednesday. Upcoming dive trips include a dive to Salt Creek followed by a gear rinse at Crescent Lake April 15 and Keystone Jetty on April 21.

Peninsula Dive

9218 Brownsville Highway NE, Suite 103

Bremerton, WA 98311

(360) 337-1600

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