Underwater proposal

Tina Harbuck

DESTIN — Not only did he get his lobsters but he got the promise of a bride-to-be.

On a pyramid-like reef 60 feet underwater, Ken Sliger proposed to his girlfriend Dawn Bernius on a lobster diving trip Tuesday aboard the Under Pressure with Capt. Tom and Anna Schmitz, and she said yes — again.

Tuesday’s proposal was actually a redo after last week's underwater attempt became a fiasco of sorts.

“It was still wonderful,” Bernius said of the second time around. “And we got two big lobsters to top it off.”

Tuesday was the opening of lobster season.

The first attempt was a myriad of obstacles. The phone camera that they were going to use was missing a piece and then the backup Go-Pro didn’t work for some reason.

“Not a single frame, nothing,” she said.

Nevertheless that first attempt was eventful. When they finally got to this particular hunting spot on the dive trip, Sliger had told her just to go down to the bottom and wait.

“So we get down there and we’re kind of sitting on our knees,” she said, getting ready for the hunt.

“And he’s fumbling around in his pocket,” she said. At the same time, she’s looking around and sees a humongous fish.

“I thought it was an amberjack at first, which is what we were hunting,” she said.

“I’m saying ‘Look, there’s a huge fish’, but it was actually a shark. Anna (Schmitz) thought I said ‘Look it’s a shark’."

Schmitz, of Emerald Coast Scuba, was there to take photos and capture the moment.

“I kept looking at Ken and he’s fumbling around in his pocket and I’m pointing at a shark,” she said.

Sliger finally got the slate out of his pocket and hands it over to Bernius who is still looking at the circling shark.

On the slate were the words “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

When she turned the slate over it read, “Will you marry me?”

Bernius laid the slate down went over to hug him. They removed the regulators and kissed.

After that momentous moment, they grabbed their guns and went hunting.

“It was crazy we had two stories going on at one time,” Schmitz said. “Ken’s dropping the slate and she spots a shark.”

“Not everybody can say they got proposed to with circling sharks,” Schmitz said.

It wasn’t until they got back on the boat that they realized none of the photos took and the slate with the magical words was missing.

Jason Dodd, a dive instructor on the boat, went back down to find the slate, but came up empty.

At that point, the couple decided they were going to do it again.

So on Tuesday this week, the couple went back out aboard the Under Pressure. This time there was no pressure.

After gathering up spiny lobster on the first day of the season, on the last dive of the day, Sliger popped the question again.

“I had to use my acting skills and act surprised,” Bernius said.

However she said she liked where they did it this time better.

“The first time we were just on the floor of the ocean and it was kind of cloudy, so even if we had gotten pictures they probably wouldn’t have been as good as what we got at the pyramid.”

This time Sliger wrote the words on a square piece of plastic panel that was taped up so it wouldn’t leak.

The words – “I love you will you, will you marry me?”

“Even though I knew it was going to happen, it was still pretty cool.

“We’re officially engaged.”

Why the underwater proposal?

“I’m a widower and I wanted to do something different than the last time. Do something unique,” Sliger said.

“The first time it was one mistake after another and we wanted to get pictures,” he said.

“So Anna just made it happen,” Sliger said.

The couple has plans to get married next spring aboard the Aquanaut, also of Emerald Coast Scuba.