Dive Master in Training – Day #6
Happy Halloween! Actually, no one here gives a crap that it’s Halloween. The big news of the day is the “Full Moon Party” that’s taking place on Koh Pan-Yang tonight. This is why we had most of Koh Tao to ourselves today. This place is deserted. It was cloudy and rainy for the first half of the day, and just cloudy for the last half. Apparently the “low season” has officially begun.
Jon has decided that he’s tired of writing up his dives so I’m afraid that you’ll be deprived of his diving experiences. If you think he should write them up, feel free to send him an email to express your feelings. J
400 Meter Swim
Today, I was assigned to assist in the Open Water Diver Course which is for new divers. This means that today would be “confined” training and an afternoon skills circuit for DMTs. Since I wouldn’t have an opportunity to do the 400 meter swim from the boat, I woke up early with Jon to swim TO the boat. At 7:45, I took off and swam the 400 meters and climbed on the boat to wait for the speed boat to arrive, full of divers. While I waited I hung out with Lin and Tom who are the boat captains and live on the boat. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well and I really enjoy their smiling faces each day. Since I made the swim, they offered me tea or coffee – neither of which I felt like drinking – so Lin gave me an orange instead. It was delicious after having all that salt water in my mouth.
When the speed boat arrived, I helped unload the gear and then climbed in and rode back to the shore with them. There, I went back to the room to shower and rest before meeting the Open Water Course at 9:30.
Open Water Course
The instructor for the open water course was Flavius (Flav) who taught us the Rescue Diver course last week. There were four beginner divers – 2 from Australia and 2 from Holland. Since Flav is also from Holland he spoke Dutch with them whenever they had a question. Bi-lingual knowledge is a definite bonus in the Dive Instructor industry. So Flav started the course on the shore by teaching them how to set up their gear. Toward the end of the introduction it began to pour rain. But this was when we headed out to the water anyway so the rain didn’t matter so much.
We went out to about 3 meters of water where there was a sandy patch within the coral. There, Flav demonstrated the skills they needed to do. Kirsten – from Holland – didn’t feel comfortable on the regulator underwater and was quite nervous about the whole thing. So it turned out that Flav took her to the surface and I stayed with the 3 guys underwater re-practicing their skills. After 5 minutes, Flav came back down and let Kirsten swim around and come down when she was comfortable.
After the guys did all their skills, Flav took them for swim around the coral and then we went back to the shore to disassemble the gear. They had an academics session scheduled for the afternoon but I wouldn’t be with them. The DMTs had our own skill reviews to do for the afternoon.
Dive Master in Training Skills Circuit
Kate, our Dive Master Instructor, gathered the 8 of us Dive Masters in Training on the beach for a briefing. The gist of this session was to take us out into the water and have us demonstrate each skill as if we were demonstrating for a student. So each skill had to be done slowly and with exaggerated movements so a student can pick up on the “critical attributes” of each skill. For example, when doing a regulator recovery we had to point out the fact that we were blowing bubbles instead of holding our breath. This is crucial for almost any skill, in fact. If we forgot to demonstrate a critical attribute or didn’t exaggerate it enough then we were docked a point or two. Maximum score for each skill was 5 points.
Here are the “18 Basic Skills” we had to demonstrate during the skills circuit:
- Equipment assembly, adjustment, preparation, donning and disassembly
- Predive safety check (BWRAF)
- Deep water entry
- Buoyancy check at surface
- Five point descent
- Remove and replace weight belt
- Fin pivot (neutral buoyancy)
- Five point ascent
- Regulator exchange
- Remove and replace scuba unit underwater
- Hovering (30 seconds in midwater)
- Buddy breathing stationary, donor and receiver
- Buddy breathing while swimming, donor
- Mask removal, replacement, and clearing
- Buddy breathing while swimming, receiver
- Alternate air source ascent
- Free flow regulator breathing
- Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA)
And our last task was something called “the stress test”. This is a crazy exercise in which Jon and I had to exchange all scuba gear while buddy breathing. So we had to switch fins, mask, weight belt, and scuba unit while taking turns breathing off one regulator. Not a realistic situation, because there’s absolutely no reason to ever do something like this underwater. But the purpose was so Kate could observe us under a stressful situation. And buddy breathing is stressful enough. The added task of removing gear makes it almost insane! But once Jon and I caught our “rhythm” of buddy breathing, then the equipment exchange wasn’t so bad. The worst part was the mask exchange because Jon wears contact lenses and can’t open his eyes underwater. So I – looking through the haze of sea water – had to shove the regulator in his mouth so he would remember to breathe!
Oh yeah. And he punched me while helping me put on his scuba unit and his hand slipped. But that was a minor fluke and I’ve decided not to hold it against him.
We finished the skills circuit at 4:00 and Kate had scheduled a Physics lecture for 4:20. So Jon and I raced up to the room for quick showers to get the salt water off our skin. Then we went down to the dive center to settle in for 2 hours of physics.
Kate gave the lecture to Jon, Lee, Ela, and me. It wasn’t very complicated, just a lot of discussion of pressures and atmospheres, changes in volumes and density, and the relationship between temperature and pressure. But it lasted about 1.5 hours and we took good notes. Jon and I will probably each take the exam sometime tomorrow. We were too exhausted to think about testing tonight.
Jon and I went to dinner at AC’s and then went back to the room to get caught up on our homework and dive logs. No Full Moon Party for us. The boat had already left before we were done, and it would have been an all-nighter party if we’d gone. We’re too old for this $@()$!(#@#.