Archive for Scuba Diving

Kick Ass Student

Ms. Hook

The last few days Iíve been lucky enough to have a ďnaturalĒ scuba diver to teach. Teaching him was very enjoyable and sooo easy. I hope to get many more kick ass students in the future.

Teaching Rescue Diver and Emergency First Responder

Ms. Hook

It feels so weird to me to teach another how to save a life. I know I have skills, but what a responsibility! The two part course teaches CPR, first aid and all the in-water diver emergency skills.

Itís intensive to teach and a lot for a student to take in. The day in the water where I pretend to be the problem diver is fun, but bruising work. My student is Italian, so Iím assuming that when I was being evil, he was cussing me out Ė in a nice way of course.

Two days after teaching Tullio all these skills I was told that he used them on another dive customer who had passed out. Way to go Tullio!

Advanced Open Water

Ms. Hook

Stepping up the training level, I finished teaching my first open water advanced course today. Itís nowhere near as demanding as an open water course. Two days, 5 dives and some knowledge review Ė easy for me and the student!

Now Iím a lil pooped from a 3 dive day and the fact that while Iím sitting here I still feel like Iím on the boat rocking in the swell.

Living the dream

Ms. Hook

Iíve been working as a dive instructor for 6 weeks now. For the first few weeks I was scheduled to teach Discover Scuba Diver. This is the introduction to scuba diving, done in half a day. Itís a bit of a rushed morning. We describe a bit of dive theory, cover scuba kit, sort out the gear and then get them in the water.

Many guests enjoy the experience so much they come back for more diving, but many donít get past the first few minutes in the water. In the beginning I would finish the day more upset that I couldnít coax a guest to stay in the water instead of focusing on the successes of the dive. Scuba diving isnít for everyone; itís got nothing to do with me.

Over the 6 weeks, I also got to do a bit of scuba and snorkel guiding. Guiding is much easier than teaching, allowing you to focus on finding interesting things in the water and enjoying the dive.

Snorkel guiding is good fun too, you see things from a different angle, donít have to worry about air consumption. I also get a chance to adjust the short tan lines on my legs that we all get from scuba diving in shorts and not a full wetsuit Ė tan lines are one of my biggest concerns these days!

The other week, I was given my first Open Water course to teach. In my opinion, it was a very messy first try! I had 5 students, 1 was there as an open water diver and 4 were signed up as Scuba Divers. Day 1 went easy, a few videos and theory and a dive. Day 2 got a little bit harder with ear problems and reluctance to do skills. By the end of the day 1 student passed as a scuba diver, the others all planned to continue on as open water divers. Day 3 and I only have 3 students; the 4th had called in sick. One of the 3 with me was not very well, but he was determined to get through the day and keep up with his mates. The 3 students decided to take two days off to recover from illness. The belated day 4 of the course actually went quite well, skills and dives all completed and 3 new certified Open Water divers. I never did see the other student; I hear he got signed off as a scuba diver.

I just finished another open water course yesterday; it went a lot better the second time around. I was only able to qualify 3 out of 4 of my students (one couldnít equalize his ears; therefore he couldnít complete the required dives). I was more relaxed this time, allowing me to enjoy teaching and have a bit of fun with the students.

Today Iím enjoying a day off from the sun and sea. The last time I had a day off was 12 days ago Ė when I was stuck in bed for three days with a twisted ankle and a cold. Iíve got to be more careful walking around the streets here! I guess I can say am the lucky one as only a few days after I did my ankle in, Clare a fellow instructor and creator of DiveBunnie did a similar thing on the street and is now at home for 6 weeks with a broken foot. I went bonkers after 3 days at home Ė I wish Clare speedy recovery and sanity to survive the boredom.

Technical diving Ė not today!

Ms. Hook

2 technical diving courses are included as part the internship package. The first time I was scheduled to participate in the course I pulled out as it was at the time I was freaking out over dive theory (see Mathematics and Moods blog entry).

The second attempt I nearly bailed out again, but thought Iíd be better off giving it a try. As this was after my instructor course, I had a lot more confidence in my dive theory and diving skills.

The course started with an afternoon session with Leigh Cunningham, he introduced us (me, Katie, another internship instructor and Phil our videographer) to technical diving equipment and a little bit of theory. I was getting a bit excited about the kit and having a chance to try it out until the edge of the steel back plate connected with the end of my stump. Ouch! (Is saying it politely). After kit came a bit of dive theory and how it relates to technical diving, different gas blends and new depths weíd get to by the end of the course.

The next day was on the boat. Dive one was a wobbly experience. I was now wearing a twin set (two tanks), a donut shaped bladder, different fins and regulator, a lantern with a power pack, a reel and smb as well as a harness thatís just like safety/climbing rigging. Itís all completely different to the usual recreational diving gear. I spent the whole dive just trying to find a balanced position. Not only was it new kit making me wobble, I also have to dive in a new position (think of some yoga move you do on your belly).

Ms. Hook Ms. Hook

The second dive was a lot less wobbly, but my buoyancy was pretty rubbish. The aim is to be able to stick to a certain depth and not rise above or below that depth. 50cm difference is acceptable, but not a few metres. The reason why this matters is all to do with the gas/air blends used and the depth you stop at to reduce the nitrogen in your system. You must do certain things at a certain depth or you could risk injury Ė fun huh?

After the two dives it was back to the dive centre for more theory, a review of the day and a giggle looking at the photos and videoís taken of us in the water Ė and homework assignments!

Day three was another day on the boat. A new element was added to all the kit we were already carrying Ė another tank, slung on our left side. So with three tanks and all the other gear on we jump into the water. Another adjustment to my balance, but it was easier this time; I was getting the hang of it. My (yoga) position was improving and I was doing ok on the buoyancy. Well that was until it was time to start messing around with turning the tanks on and off. If you see by the photos there are 3 on/off valves we have to play with, no problem for one hand if youíre flexible like me!

Ms. Hook Ms. Hook

So, I was doing ok, but I wasnít really enjoying myself. I felt that I was turning a simple relaxing activity into a complicated one. I was not putting a 100% into this course like I did for divemaster and instructor, I guess i didnít want it as much. I started thinking during the dive that Iíd pull out of the course; another smack to my stump from the 3rd tank was the clincher for me. I decided not to continue with the second dive of the day and pulled out of the course.

I think I might look back into tech another day, but then again, why make life difficult for myself?

If any one handers out there are interested in doing technical diving, donít let me put you off trying it for yourself. If you are into physical and mental challenges beyond those of recreational diving, youíll find this enjoyable Ė many others do. I think Iíll call you all geek divers!

Thanks to Leigh for his expertise and to Phil and Katie for their encouragement and the end of day laughs.

Challenge met!

Instructor development….the number 1 club

Ms. Hook

So day 4 of the IDC is over with. Yay!

The long hours of study, presentations, skills and homework is catching up with me. My concentration is starting to lapse and Iím giving Jilly blank looks a lot more often now.

Yesterday we spent 2 Ĺ hours in the pool doing 4 skills. The other student from Red Sea College and I both had two skills to brief above water and underwater, demonstrate the skill and rectify ďstudentĒ mistakes.

Thereís a lot of detail in one single skill. Iíve got a long way to go before it becomes a simple automatic spiel.

While the two of us did our thing (I had alternate air source and air depletion skills) we were being evaluated by 3 different instructors. Theyíve got a large set of criteria to mark us upon. Most of the time we spent in the pool was due to the 3 of them talking through our scores. I made mistakes with the pool skills and again when it was time to do different skills (free descent with reference and regulator recovery) in open water at the beach.

I have a favourite saying ďlike trying to herd catsĒ. Thatís what it was like today when I was supposed to be doing the free descent skill. It looks so easy when other instructors do it, but not when I do it. Instead of all students descending in a nice, neat controlled manner – 1 student dropped like a stone, another had ear problems, the 3rd was not looking at me and my pretend divemaster not really assisting. Shhhessh! What a disaster!

I got a 1 for that skill (weíre all aiming for 5). No one student met the skill objective especially as I didnít make them all repeat the skill. I also got a 1 yesterday because my ďstudentsĒ didnít meet the required objectives during the air depletion skill.

Iím hoping I learn from my mistakes and avoid anymore scores of 1.

Iíve spent tonight writing up a classroom session on streamlining, a briefing on how to do a no mask swim and a sales presentation using the 4 Eís.

This course is very comprehensive, itís not just about being in the water. Iím learning about all the other elements that make diving a successful business. This all might come in useful if I branch out on my own one day.

Iím off to bed now. Since I’ve joined the #1 club I go to sleep in the hope I do better tomorrow and there will be no more scores of 1 – especially during my 2 day Instructor Exam.

Instructor development…. so far

Ms. Hook

So the study paid off. After a day in the classroom discussing demonstration techniques, the right things to say and playing with CPR dolls – Iím now an Emergency First Response (EFR) Instructor. That means I can now (well when the paperwork has cleared) teach other people CPR, first aid and a few other things in-between. Teaching others how to save a life Ė what a great thing to do!

So the EFR training is just the beginning. After spending Saturday at home studying dive theory, yet again, the Instructor Development Course began on Sunday.

Itís just me on the IDC, which I was thinking is a good and bad thing. So far though, Iíve enjoyed the experience, Jilly is good company and I have no competition for top of the class.

I seem to be a lot calmer about the IDC than I was about the Divemaster. Iím not stressing out over the theory or pool skills or the upcoming 2 day instructor exams, well not yet anyway.

I guess I may be feeling calm as the first two days have been easy. Jilly has been doing most of the hard work giving me a ton of presentations. Iíve been learning about the business of diving, risk management, marketing and teaching specialities. Nice and stress free kind of stuff. Surprisingly, a lot of it is quite interesting and I have to rein in my tendency to get excited and start on the ďletís do thisĒ, ďwhy arenít they doing thatĒ?

Each day, weíve had a session in the pool. Jilly has been drilling me on demonstrating skills so that I am to PADI standards and make it all look easy. Itís been a fun environment, allowing me to improve my demoís and each time we do it I get more confidence – I know Iíll be able to become an instructor.

Tomorrow, ďDipsĒ will join in on the fun and games as well as another IDC student and his teacher. Weíll be in the pool practicing teaching as well as playing silly students.

Wish me 4ís and 5ís!

How itís done

Ms. Hook

Iíve been feeling like Iím in limbo these days. The last few weeks after the Divemaster course have been spent shadowing other instructors while they teach or guide. I am enjoying the experience, getting a chance to see how each instructor differs in their way of doing things and practicing what Iíve learnt. But really, I just want to be on the other side of the Instructor Development Course.

Iím impatient to know if I am (or not) able to become a scuba instructor. There are some things that must be done to PADI standards, no ifís or buts or modified ways. What they are and whether I meet these standards are a few days away. I wish it were sooner.

So far, my blog has not really been that specific about being an amputee – as I just get on with it and do my best to adapt. I thought Iíd make this entry about diving one handed (well one hand and a very useful stump), because, maybe, possibly, someone is actually reading this blog to find out about how easy it is to dive even if ďinconveniencedĒ (I call myself inconvenienced, not disabled).

The first thing you need to know is that Iím a stubborn lil bugger and want to do everything for myself. There are many times when people offer assistance, or Iíll see them in the corner of my eye about to come do something for me, I say no thank you and shoo them away. I think Iíve managed to get all the staff here both at the school and on the boats to leave me to it. This is just how I work, there is no reason why anyone else shouldnít ask for help if they want it Ė or just enjoy letting someone else do the hard work for you.

Setting up the scuba kit is not hard. I can pick a tank up one handed for short distances, or if itís a bit of a walk, Iíll support the air on/off handle in the crook of my left elbow and carry the base of the tank in my good hand.

The buoyancy control device or BCD is easy to slide onto the tank, although closing the tank band buckle is a good test of strength Ė knees holding the tank help. Next is the regulator and associated hoses and gauge. Again, I make use of the crook of my left elbow to hold things steady while I screw the 1st stage of the regulator onto the tank and connect the low pressure inflator hose to my BCD. Once Iím all connected, itís time to turn the air on. The on/off handle on some days is a lil hard to turn, itís one of the few times Iíll ask for assistance.

Once I know my kit is working ok, itís on to weights. Some days I get to use the BCD integrated weight pouches, which are more comfortable, but a fiddle to put into their pockets. When Iím on a course and students are around, I must wear a weight belt. Threading the weights on is time consuming and a bit of a faff. Once the weights are on the belt, you have to check they sit in the right position when on. So to put a heavy belt on one handed requires a bit of a technique. I grab the end without the buckle, hold it up high by the back of my right hip and kinda hope the other side drapes over my back the right way. Then I bend over and thread the belt through the buckle and hey presto, one very tight, uncomfortable, unfashionable weight device is in place Ė no hipster style allowed with these babies!

The next struggle is the wetsuit. Anybody with one hand knows the extra work it takes to get dressed, it gets even harder with skin tight neoprene that has no loops, grips or handles to help pull it on. Itís a wriggle and a half – Iím looking forward to the water warming up so I can wear shorts and a rash vest. (I tried diving the other day in the pool with shorts and a bikini top, spent most of the dive concerned on whether Iíd pop out of my top or not Ė so itís definitely a rash vest for me)

Boots go on like tight socks. Fins are easy to slip on and snap closed. I like to put my fins on before putting the scuba gear on. Itís easier to do without all that extra weight and gear getting in the way.

Most of the time the scuba gear is in a rack or the tank is in a hole, allowing you to sit down and strap yourself in. Doing everything up, is quite easy to do for me, the annoying bit is standing up. Usually Iíve got about 20 kilos of extra weight on me. Iíve done some training, but some days itís still heavy. I have one less bit of leverage, but I always find something to help lever myself up, whether itís a box, the scuba gear next to me or the wetsuit hanger rail – if all else fails a lift from a fellow diver.

Diving from a boat – Walking in fins is easy, but not when a boat is rocking. Everyone needs to hang on, I just have to make sure my walk to the back of the boat has handholds on the right side. Something to hang on to is anything steady, people or objects. Once at the stern (back of the boat) itís time to jump in. Mask on, reg in and step off. Once Iím in the water itís all easy.

Diving from land Ė once Iím up and standing with all the gear on itís a walk down to the water. If Iím at the pool, then I just jump in, like off a boat. If itís a beach dive, the fins are off and itís a waddle down to the shore line, dodging tourists and sinking in the sand. Once chest deep in the water itís time to get the fins on. Some days I make it look easy and other days I look like a newbie diver while doing this.

So as soon as Iím in the water with all the gear on I find the actual diving easy. Easy, unless Amr is trying to get me to guide, or I have to demonstrate weight belt removal or fin pivots. At least my underwater antics give my fellow divers a laugh.

Getting out of the water is also another challenge to the ďinconvieniencedĒ. I have improved over the last two months, but still, some days getting up that boat ladder is a crappy way to end a good dive. Beach diving is easy, fins off, walk out, waddle and dodge the tourists. If Iím in the pool and I have the energy then I get out with the gear on. I can be kinda lazy and take the gear off and leave it floating. I say kinda lazy, because I still then have to pick it up out of the water and carry it back to the setup area.

I donít think what I do is all that much different from other divers. I just need to be organised, keep an order to the way I do things and look out for a hand hold or two to keep steady. Just to prove how easy it is, I hope to have a video uploaded shortly, showing me getting geared up and diving.

In preparation for the upcoming Instructor course, Iíve been working with my instructors to find the best way to demonstrate scuba skills, one handed, to make it look easy for the students. It has been so amusing, I have to clear the water out of my mask often from laughing so much. Watching my instructors try skills one handed is so entertaining, I enjoy watching them try Ė and succeed!

Now, itís time to get back to my studies. On Friday I start my Instructor training with the Emergency First Response course. Iím looking forward to some hard work and having a good laugh.

Iím a Divemaster!

Ms. Hook

Iím happy to say Iíve passed my Divemaster course! Yesterday, the final day, was spent fun diving and celebrating.

I had an easy day diving the local reefs. Instead of being the guide I was allowed to bubble along at the back of the group, camera in hand. Two lovely dives at sites we rarely go to, Ras Bob and Ras Nasrani – so pretty and colourful.

At the end of the day some of the Ocean College staff got together at T2 to celebrate Gemmaís birthday (another recent intern) and my Divemaster completion. It was a nice quiet gathering. I was hoping to go unnoticed in the corner, but there was no escaping the Snorkel test. The snorkel test is an unofficial rite of passage you do when completing Divemaster and Instructor Ė so Iíll be doing another one sooner or later.

Although I wanted to avoid it, I was quite happy with my result. I downed two bottles of vodka id in a matter of seconds and it all stayed down!

Today, Iím enjoying a day off. Iím off to watch some of our Instructors play a football match and then off to a bbq. What a hard life!

Here are a few photos taken over the last few weeks.

Ms. HookĒ height= Ms. Hook Ms. Hook
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Ms. Hook Ms. Hook Ms. Hook