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Let the Work Begin!!!

Come Discover Scuba Diving

And so with certificate in hand the work begins to filter in, first up were a couple of DSD’s. DSD is a discover scuba diver, folks who are trying out diving for the very first time. They require an introduction, orientation of the equipment, complete 3 basic skills and usually the instructor holds onto them during the dive in some manner to control their buoyancy. This is an excellent opportunity for the instructor to instill the love of diving, to encourage the guests to continue to take the open water course and beyond. It is also an excellent opportunity for an instructor to scare the living daylights out of someone if they are not careful. Luckily that seldom happens.

Trying to get used to handling DSD’s is one of the great secrets, for some instructors they have the DSD link arms, or hold onto elbows, or the instructor holds the tank of the DSD and let’s them just enjoy while the instructor acts as a taxi driver… I prefer a variety of these, depending on the DSD themselves.

My first 2 DSD’s were French, so with the aid of Thomas, a Divemaster candidate, we were able to do the briefing and everything in a combination of French and English. I almost had them interested in doing their Scuba Diver Certification (just below Open Water Cert), but they decided they just wanted to go out and enjoy. They had been diving in Malta once before and were excellent students, in fact it was difficult to get them out of the water, especially after the second dive.

Great DSD's and an Awesome DMT

Great DSD’s and an Awesome DMT

My next DSD turned out to be more of a challenge. A wonderful lady from New Zealand, living in Phuket. 4 of her family were already divers and were taking their Advanced course, while another 2 were taking their Open Water course. So this was her entry into the world of Scuba Diving. During the orientation and the knowledge review she seemed calm and confident. Then I got her in the water and she was nervous but ok. When we got to the line there was a bit of wave, but we managed to get down a bit below the surface and begin the skills. We had to pop up once or twice as she was getting very nervous. It didn’t help that another instructor waiting for the line had his brand new divers too close and we both got nudged in the head by fins… luckily he was able to move them before anything more serious.

We headed down and stayed really shallow as she had issues equalizing. We only made it for 15minutes before she decided to end as we surfaced out came the regulator and she fed the fish… she felt so bad for doing throwing up, but I just kept swimming and told her not to worry, the fish were happy. She had really enjoyed it but just felt a little sea sick, which can easily happen. Back on the boat she fed the fish a few more times but was determined to try again. This time the dive was 16minutes and she did much better with equalizing and swimming and is now tempted to do her Open Water. A very educational morning for me.

Later on that week I had a request from another Dive School to take out a DSD from Israel. Dana was a sweetheart but her english was not perfect so we took a little extra time to explain everything. This must be one of the most entertaining DSD’s I have taken thus far, we were diving at Sail Rock and usually going around the rock and enjoying what you see should take you 20-30 minutes at least. We zipped around the rock 3 times in 31 minutes. It was like having my own little propulsion vehicle, I just held on and had her drive me round, a nice change from having to be the driver. She so badly wanted to go deeper but due to equalisation problems she was having I decided to keep her around 6 meters, which meant I had to keep pushing on her tank to stop her from pulling us down. The second dive she did much better so we were able to get a little deeper. Dana loved every minute of it and had excellent air consumption, in fact I started to think her air gauge wasn’t working or she wasn’t breathing. By the end of the day she was super excited and wanted to do her Open Water Class as well. A great day diving!!!

DSD Dana!!

DSD Dana!!

I truly love taking DSD’s and seeing the expression on their face when they discover the underwater world for the first time!

Tune-uos and Fun Dives

Other than DSD’s another section of divers that do not involve a few days of course work are the Tune-ups and the Fun Divers. Tune-ups are the ones who are certified but just not been in the water for a period of time and need a refresher. Fun Divers are just that, out to have fun, already certified and loving diving!

My first Tune-up was combined with a fun dive. The mum was getting a reminder and her 12yr old daughter was fun diving. The 12yr old was an absolute natural and her mom picked up the skills perfectly, although had some issues with buoyancy so I kept a hand on her tank just in case. The second dive was tremendous, both of them were phenomenal and at the end of the dive the mum said something that made my day:

“That was brilliant!! I have never felt so comfortable diving before in my life!!! Thank you so much I think I want to do my Advanced Class soon!!! Thank you again!!”

Great family of divers

Great family of divers

My most recent Fun Divers were a father and son. Another great day diving in fairly challenging conditions, there were some waves after the first dive but then a storm moved in, getting back onboard after the second dive was more akin to riding a bucking bronco in a rodeo, but we all survived and enjoyed the ride. The son had just passed his Open Water course and was doing his first fun dive, he was a little nervous but did fantastically, a few buoyancy issues on the second dive but he compensated very well. His Father on the other hand was a Divemaster who had logged hundreds of dives and had freediving fins that were almost the same height as me.

Now THOSE are FINS!!!

Now THOSE are FINS!!!

So all in a days work of being a Dive Instructor… can’t wait till the work week begins again!!!

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Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Scuba Diving, Thailand, Travel

 

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Week 2 of Instructor Training

Pool Sessions

View from one of the pools

View from one of the pools

The copious amounts of book work continued however this time it was intermingled with pool sessions. Over and over again I practiced teaching students a certain skill and perfecting my own technique. Again because of shortness it meant creating techniques that would work for me and also work for students.

"teaching" Lulu and Neil.

“teaching” Lulu and Neil.

These included weight belt removal:
Normal: unclip weight belt and pass behind your back to the right side, clutch to chest then pass it back and reclip.
Problem: with my gear on my arms are too short to reach behind my back!
Alternative 1: kneel on left knee and pull weight belt over right knee, then return and reclip.
Problem: I have floaty feet and my right knee did not want to stay down and stable….
Alternative 2: lean forward, unclip and pull belt to right side and lean back, then nudge belt over right hip and sort of roll it on, clipping it as you lean forward again.
Problem: solved

Weight belt removal

Weight belt removal

Hover:
Normal: become neutrally buoyant and hover in a stationary position using your breath to control your level, you can hold your fins and look zen like or simply hang midwater.
Problem: my floaty feet mean I am unstable with each ankle attempting to go in a different direction.
Alternative 1: hold knees
Problem: upside down
Alternative 2: hold fins and attempt zen like position
Problem: upside down
Alternative 3: leave legs straight
Problem: legs start going in different directions again
Alternative 4: F*&k it, hold fins and just hover upside down and continue teaching
Problem: we all start laughing….

and so it continued with Neil realising with every skill that adaptions were needed, the good thing that I will know how to help divers with similar issues.

Regulator Recovery Skill

We had numerous other folks from divers to divemasters to other instructors all helping with the training. Really a great crew from Haad Yao divers and super supportive.

I was pretty saturated every day from hours in the pool followed by classroom and homework, but it seemed to all be getting through to me… slowly but surely.

Pool Session Brain Fart

It happens to all of us, the nerves just take over. On one pool session I was briefing how to hover with oral BCD inflation (using your breath to fill the bcd rather than pressing the button to automatically inflate). I briefed it all correctly, positioned everyone and prepared to give the demo. Hovers made me so nervous (see above) that I demo’d the auto inflate vs the oral inflate and didn’t realise it until Neil (my student) came and promptly began the skill with oral inflate. I believe i cursed in multiple languages through my regulator but continued seemingly unphased. At the debrief this would have been a 1 and therefore a fail, Neil said the only thing that may have saved me was the fact that I didn’t freak out when I realised my idiotic mistake… oops, at least now I am super aware when it comes to which version of the hover I am doing.

Being Scored.

Being Scored.

Working Together

Being the only student was great for personal tutoring, although I think I drove Neil back to drink! But it was also hard because you had no one to compare your level with, no matter how often Neil said I was doing great, I never felt good enough and was very hard on myself. as it so happened, there were 2 other instructor candidates doing their course with Dave at Sail Rock Divers, so we joined forces for an ocean dive and then a final mock exam pool session. A great way to meet others and see where your level truly was.

Instructor Candidates Jet, Kathy and Drey

Instructor Candidates Jet, Kathy and Drey

Final Ocean Dive

Neil decided to squeeze in one more dive at Chaloklum bay, Lulu a Divemaster candidate had to practice a lift bag and I needed to review a few more skills. However that day was one of THOSE days, where everything seems to go wrong.
– Our plan to dive right from Haad Yao, therefore requiring no driving, was thwarted by the weather.
– We called close to 7 people hoping someone was near Chaloklum bay to check the conditions there, finally someone could tell us it looked ok.
– I was exhausted and just couldn’t seem to get it together with my preparations, not to mention I had navigation, another arch enemy along with the hover.
– The visibility was almost non existent and we lost the line in an attempt to do the compass work
– Neil got a sinus squeeze during an attempt to find the weight belt and lift it for Lulu

The only victory was our search for the weight belt which had almost got lost in about a foot of muck at the bottom, I just saw a piece of the belt sticking out and we were able to bring it to the surface…. What a day!

And So The End is Near….

All too soon the teaching and studying came to an end as the Instructor Exam suddenly appeared and it was time to head off to Koh Tao for the 2 day long exam….. just breathe in and out in and out!!!!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Scuba Diving, Thailand, Travel

 

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Week 1 of Instructor Training

Prep Work

My second day on the island Neil got me sorted with a moped, possibly grew a few more grey hairs as we watched my little legs stick out as stabilizers every time I turned a corner, am much better at it now. Then he sat me down and gave me a test and some knowledge reviews… ahhhhhh the physics, the math, the physiology, the dreaded RDP table (used to figure out Nitrogen concentration and surface intervals between dives)…. The next 5 days involved around 2 practice tests every day, review and teaching on the balcony in the morning, one day we spent almost 5 hours just going through all the sections and this was just the prep work.
balcony study

The Interview:

(Dramatic Theme Music) Let the PADI Instructor Training Begin

July 1st 2015 Neil I drove down to the main shop of Haad Yao Divers, to officially begin my course. We started off with an exam to see my progress and I pretty much aced it!!! Yeah Baby!!!! There was hope for me yet. The next week consisted of early morning breakfast and coffee sessions followed by hours in the classroom, pool sessions and open water. Due to a storm system approaching we decided to do the ocean dives the first week.
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Very 1st Dive

One bright morning Neil decided it was time to do my first ocean dive in close to a year and a half, perhaps even practice some rescue skills. We drove to Haad Yao beach unloaded the kit, got sorted and started walking to the water line…just shy of the water I suddenly realised I had my watch on:

Me: oh shite I still have my watch on!
Neil: is it waterproof?
Me: it’s $20 from Walmart
Neil: that would be a no! Let’s leave it at reception

walk back up the beach, give my watch to reception and walk back down, at about waist deep I suddenly realise why I feel so comfortable:

Me: oh shite I am still wearing my pants!
Neil: oh good lord!!!

(he may have considered dropping his gear and running for the hills at that point… either way I will never live it down, but it was a way more comfortable dive than usual – the next morning I bought some swim shorts)

Also on this dive we realised that I have floaty ankles, a common occurrence with women… I also think we realised that this was not going to be a normal Instructor Course for Neil but rather along the lines of Adaptive teaching…. what had he got himself into???

Classroom Sessions

We spent hours in the classroom going over the standards and the theory and doing classroom presentations. Around 2.30pm we started a new tradition, Ice Cream Break!
icecream break
In fact we were spending so much time together we started to look alike.

Gimme a Break, Gimme a Break, Break me off a piece of that kitkat bar!!!

Gimme a Break, Gimme a Break, Break me off a piece of that kitkat bar!!!

Approximately 20 minutes of concentration later the giggles would start. This is where the classroom session turned into a minion video:

Although, in his defense, Neil never farted his revenge (at least not that I knew of), he did however have a series of goofy hats.

Neil's Revenge.

Neil’s Revenge.

Ocean Dives

Due to a storm system threatening the peace of the island the next week, Neil decided to do my ocean dives in the first week. We chose Chaloklum beach as there was no coral to walk across just a short surface swim…. of 1km / 0.62miles, there may have been a lot of swearing during the swim out. At least my ankle injury was getting strengthened.

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Chaloklum Dive Site.

Chaloklum Dive Site.

A few different people came out to help:

.Lulu and Thomas (Divemaster Trainees)

.Lulu and Thomas (Divemaster Trainees)

Dave (Course Director) Jet and Drey (Fellow IDC students).

Dave (Course Director) Jet and Drey (Fellow IDC students).

Emergency First Responder INSTRUCTOR Course

At the end of the first week, Alan from Dive Inn joined us for the EFR Instructor course. Shits and giggles can not explain how much fun and silliness we had…

Poor Neil has a BooBoo

Poor Neil has a BooBoo

The Whole Family

The Whole Family

Alan getting way into the course

Alan getting way into the course

Icecream Break

Icecream Break

And everyday we went to a great restaurant called Big Mountain for lunch

Lunch Time

Lunch Time

Week 1 ended and a pile of laundry awaited me for the day off, not to mention homework….

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Thailand, Travel

 

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