Whats happening in the Dive Centre today? 3rd May

10154395_10152024652275423_3640858508271579512_nToday has been another hectic day, which is always good fun at a Dive Centre!  Our divers today are a varied bunch, with quite a few visitors being instructors from other parts of the world. Two are on their way back to Sweden from Bali, but came all the way here to dive Sail Rock, often referred to as the best site in the Gulf of Thailand. Another two are instructors who recently left Egypt and are on a 6 month holiday, travelling wherever the fancy takes them. Luckily, their fancy has taken them to us!  One instructor guiding another, especially if the visitor is more experienced,  is enough to scare the average instructor, but local knowledge normally makes up for any concerns they may have.

Most of our guests were on the boat today, so once we had checked everyone in and taken them to the Pier it was lovely and quiet back in the Centre.  However, the calm was soon shattered when Alex declared he was going for his once yearly dive (in the pool!!). The boys have been working hard behind the scenes to introduce our guests to the wonders of Sidemount Diving, a relatively new style of diving, whose origins come from cave diving. It involves wearing a harness and attaching the tanks at the sides instead of the traditional position on the back. Advocates claim the streamlining and weight distribution brings a new dimension to recreational diving.  At the moment, I have to say, the ‘streamlining’ bit appears to need work. Like toys at Christmas, the initial joy of getting delivery of the new kit was quickly overtaken by the task of trying to assemble and adjust it all, something which he seems to be doing as he swims continuously around the pool. Once it’s all done though, we’ll be ready to introduce any will participants to this new style of diving.

10154395_10152024652215423_8329158766066061583_nWhen the boat returns, there’s people back in the pool to finish off confined water work with an Open Water guest, although they do pause for a moment to pose for the camera.  Finishing off the day with the last of the theory, the dive centre goes quiet (apart from the compressor!) and another day comes to an end.

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What’s happening in the Dive Centre today? 30th April

poolIn April, on Koh Phangan, Instructors are normally hanging around making a nuisance of themselves, but not so this year! It’s busy here at Sail Rock Divers, with both students and certified divers and its creating a great atmosphere around the place.  So we thought it might be nice to share with you all, as you stare out of your window at home looking at the rain (probably) pining for your next diving holiday (definitely), what’s going on at the centre.

Today sees a repeat guest, who did his Open Water course with Nods last year, return to us to embark on his Advanced course. He’s excited to get back in the water and, after a little tune-up, he will be diving at Sail Rock today. Most students are undecided which dives to do, but he has been planning this course for some time! He obviously fancies himself as a bit of a James Bond because he’s chosen to do the Diver Propulsion Vehicle adventure dive. No Boat or Fish ID dives for this youngster, tomorrow he’s already opted to do Underwater Videography, a rarely chosen but fantastic dive.  If you’ve ever tried taking photos underwater, you know how hard it can be, never mind videoing. We’ll check out the results tomorrow.

We are also starting an Open Water course today, with a lovely guest from the Ukraine.  His wife came to see us a few weeks ago and booked the course as a surprise Birthday present for him, so when we picked him up this morning, it was, well, a surprise!  Paper work done, he’s making himself comfortable in the classroom.

A group of American ladies who completed a Discover Scuba Diving experience with us yesterday have decided they like it so much they want to carry on, so with only 3 days to complete the course, it’s going to be a busy few days. Watching the swim test is something akin to watching the Olympics, as it turns out two of the sisters are captains of their local swim team. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen someone complete the 200m swim using Butterfly stroke, that’s just showing off!

Our fun divers are on the boat and a phone call from the guide lets us know that Sail Rock is stunning today, with 20m visibility. Wonder if the white-spotted thing will make an appearance…….

rainJust another day at Sail Rock Divers (PS If it makes you feel better, it rained today!)

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Harry’s Divemaster Diary – Final Entry!

rescueWhat an emotional day it’s been. Myself and Aysenur, the other Divemaster Trainee here at Sail Rock Divers, have just completed out last day. I’m not sure if I’ve done enough to pass yet, as Dave is keeping his cards close to his chest.

I was actually a little sad this morning -whilst checking guests, counting tanks, organizing kit, I realise this is the last time I’ll be doing it (for a while at least!).  Once on the boat, it appears I don’t have any extra ‘surprise’ things to test me, just my Rescue Assessment and Final Exam. I’ve already learnt this during my Rescue Course, but obviously if I intend to work in the diving industry, then I must be proficient at this skill. Obviously I hope I never have to actually do a rescue in real life, but it’s a reality you have to accept if you want to dive for a living.

I feel a little like a confused octopus as my hands move around, de-kitting my ‘victim’ whilst on the move and ensuring I don’t accidentally dunk her under the water.  Luckily we don’t use paying guests in this role, it’s normally another instructor or Divemaster Trainee. Aysenur lucked out today and got roped in. She does a great job of pretending that I’m not really dripping water into her eyes occasionally, although if you were doing this for real, that would be the last of your worries for both you and the victim!

The trip back to the centre is the longest one ever, as I await news. Have I passed the assessment? Was my last minute cramming for the exam a good idea or did I confuse myself. The most important question is can I really consider swapping my traffic laden commute to work for a walk along the beach?

relaxWhile everyone else is chilling out with a beer in hand, Aysenur and me sit down and start the exam.  I start second guessing my every answer. Before I explode and turn into an un-set jelly, I take a minute to have a stern word with myself. I know all these answers, I’ve lived and breathed scuba diving for the last month. So going back to the old diving adage – Stop, Think, Act – I carry on and before I know it I’m all done. Handing my paper over reminds me of exams at school, but those ones don’t seem anywhere near as important to me as this one does. As I watch Dave mark the paper, I start to sweat (not just because of the humidity) and when he’s done he looks at me with his sternest face. Don’t tell me I fallen at the last hurdle?  I’m leaving the Island tomorrow, would there be time for a re-sit?

His face slowly breaks into a smile as he holds his hand out to congratulate me. I didn’t get a clean sweep, but at this moment I could not care that I got a few questions wrong, because I’VE PASSED!!!!!!I am now a certified PADI Divemaster. Where do I fancy? Asia, Caribbean, Australia….. the possibilities are endless.

So sadly now my diary has reached its end. I hope it has been fun to follow, and that maybe it has encouraged a few people to take the plunge and become a PADI diving professional. And who knows, I may be back, but this time recording what the PADI Instructor Course is all about!

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Harry’s Divemaster Diary – Part 8

poolToday myself and a fellow Divemaster trainee are being assessed for our Skills Circuit. This is a vital part of the course as it allows Divemasters to conduct Scuba Reviews for guests who need a refresher after not diving for a while.  My previous attempts have been interesting to say the least, but I’ve been practicing hard and it’s now time to hopefully get one more tick in the box!

My nerves are settled today and I descend into the depths -3 metres actually – with an air of (hopefully not false) confidence as Blue, my other Instructor, tells us to start. Working through all 24 skills (yes, there really are that many on an Open Water course) seems so much easier than my awkward first few attempts, and I’ve found a great way to slow down my movements is to talk myself through every skill. Mask clearing is something like this in my head….”Pull skirt from top of face, allow water in, place fingers on rim of mask, look to the sky, point at my nose as I start to breath out through it, look at student and show no water left in mask”. If I do the demonstration only as quickly as I can say it, then it looks slow, and more importantly easy! This method has the added bonus of ensuring I don’t miss any steps to a skill.

duckAnd so it continues, regulator recovery, CESA, no mask swim; you name it, we did it (and very well we think!). Just as we come to the end, the centre starts getting busy as the guests return from the boat. Only then do I remember that the only skill left is Skin Diving. This means duck diving, followed by an underwater swim which ends with a graceful resurfacing and snorkel clear. It’s not that I’m worried about the skill, I quite enjoy this one, it’s the realisation that once guests are back at the centre they tend to gaze in the direction of the pool whilst enjoying their post dive beverages. What are they going to see today? My backside, that’s what! Hopefully not repeatedly, I plan to nail this one first time. Luckily, 2 minutes later, with only one sighting of my rear, I’m done!

Looking forward to a cold Singer and dreaming of the roast dinner that I’m having at the Centre tonight, I almost choke when Blue announces we are going to gain some night-diving experience this evening and to show up at 6.30, ready to go.

But really, I can’t really complain, I’ve been promised a Sea Horse (I’ll hold Blue to that one). You don’t get that sat on your sofa watching Eastenders……..

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Harry’s Divemaster Diary – Part 7

mappOut on the boat today to guide, but I also need to finish my Mapping project that is an important part of my Divemaster course.  This is as basic as it sounds, a map of a dive site, but it is far from easy! Given everything looks bigger and closer underwater, getting the distances right on any given dive site is really hard! Distances are best measured by fin kicks or time, but either one can vary, as I am finding out, due to currents, or even tiredness (now that one I know about today!).  What measured 30 metres on the way out, now comes in at 37, according to my little legs. Hmm, what to do. Trying to think like an instructor, that is on my toes, I rope in the help of another Divemaster Trainee, Aysenur, and between us we devise a plan. I have my Surface Marker Buoy with me (essentially an inflatable balloon attached to a line which is used to mark your position when underwater to ward off boat traffic) so we can actually mark on the line distances and measure them out later! Genius. So off we go, measuring pinnacle to main reef, width of the chimney, and anything else we think we might need to create an accurate map.  Depth is easy to calculate using my dive computer (which I vow never to forget again Dave & all at Sail Rock Divers) and pretty soon we have a reasonable looking map, all recorded on my trusty slate.

slateBack at the centre, we start filling in the blanks on the slate, and using the pool as a reference (we know its 15m long) start to write in distances. However, instead of the organized duo we thought we were, we realize that we are simply two rather confused Divemaster Trainees staring at a piece of rope with a load of marks on it. Logic (that I didn’t think we possessed) prevails and we realise that from previous dives we can guess how far apart certain things are on the dive site, and we quickly eliminate enough to be able to create a half decent map. Go us!

I think today is the first day that I’ve felt truly confident in my abilities and believing Dave when he says I will deserve my Divemaster Certification. But he keeps muttering something about a funnel? What’s that?

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