Old Dog NewTricks

So after putting it off for some time all the stars aligned and the opportunity to take advanced diving classes appeared. I have been diving for 30 years, often in the company of expertly trained divers yet never took anything past the Advanced Open Water course I took in 1993. I feel I am a safe diving and can lead a group of trained divers well; the last two years of diving with crew will back this up. The inevitable “what if” always haunts me,what if I lose a diver or what if there is a major injury? That and my compunction to collect certifications, boating, flying and now diving pointed me the PADI Dive Master Course.

The unpredictable window of time in KK along with the plan of my new crew to take the DM course here before she embarks on Furthur all led the way to signing up for the course. The dive shops here are good but one stands out, Dive Downbelow is a large well-run company with extremely nice facilities on Gaya Island about4 miles from the marina. I went to their main office in town to investigate and came away very impressed. They catered to my unusual needs and to the needs of both new crew members easily and enthusiastically.

There are some prerequisites to the DM course, first is a refresher of my CPR, now called First Responder. This was a one day course with test and hands on procedures. There are some changes to the procedures since I took it last and it was great to get back up to speed. Ol Ressa Anne is still working hard to help us help each other.

The next step was the Dive Rescue Course which deals with emergencies while diving combining them with skills learned on land. This course was taught at the “island”so I hopped the shuttle boat with scads of others all doing different things onthe island. They had a huge local group doing the Open Water Course and some recreational divers, snorkelers and kayakers. I was a big apprehensive at the number of people doing so many different things at the small dive camp. The DiveDownbelow staff handled it all with ease and there was no interference at all,actually it made is all more fun.

I really have to hand it to the local youngsters taking the first dive class. They all do it in English and all seemed to work together and did very well. The Islamic girls kept their traditions while diving always wearing the Burka, an interesting sight.

I and my four classmates were separated and our class began with a briefing and text work. We then hit the water to go over procedures. We spend allot of time on the surface so the second day I whore a hat to fend off the sun, should have done it sooner as I got a bit red on the head. Our instructor, nick named Elvis, was a real pro, carefully explaining each step with a bit of fun thrown in.

In the two days the followed we went over every kind of dive scenario I can think of;responsive panicked divers, nonresponsive divers, divers on the surface and on the bottom and finally finding a lost diver. It is safe to say that I have spent some time staring at a compass so the compass work was easy for me and the instructor saw that so worked more with the others. I got to be the “lostdiver” as the others looked for me.

The last day we took our test, and did two full course scenarios and we all passed. We also did the procedures for applying emergency Oxygen to a diver. I was especially interested in this part as I have now ordered an O2 kit for Furthur adding to the extensive first aid abilities God willing will never be used.

There is a rigorous swim test coming up plus tons of book work so this week I am in full training/study mode. I start the actual class in 5 days and it should take about twelve to complete.

I had a long talk with the manager, a very enthusiastic Brit named Richard. He keeps this ball rolling and clearly loves his job. He pitched continuing to Dive Instructor which is a logical step for most people. I told him my purpose was not the norm and I was certainly not looking for a job, just wanted the training. I might like to do some part time dive guiding somewhere along the line and will now be qualified. As to actually teaching diving; I have always seen that as the hard work it is no matter how glamorous it may appear. People, like my good friend Charli, who do this job well, have my total respect.

So this week will be a challenge for my old tired brain and bones, the swim test will be tough. I have eased through the exams well so far, but I missed two on the Rescue Diver test, not because I did not know the answer (could live with that)but because I simply read the multiple choice answers wrong. Twelve days of intensive learning is exactly twelve days more that I have done in ions. Twelve days of physical stress may kick my but too. Which gives out first the mind or the body; I may know this in a few weeks, hahaha… I am taking the class with at least two folks half my age,both very fit and, yup they can actually remember the last time they sat in a class room. But what the hell, I never take the easy path, why start now. So let the adventure begin!!