Saturday, 16 May 2009

Divemaster: First Week

Gerd was out diving when I got to the shop in Coron. I hung around, and he was pleased to see me when he returned; I think he knew I'd be back. When asked about the start day I fancied I just smiled "Tomorrow". No point hanging around. The sooner I qualified, the sooner I could dive for nothing and earn some cash into the bargain. My big plan is to get to South America and see if diving can extend my stay indefinitely. All depends on the taxman back home and how quickly I'm reduced to borrowing money from Uncle Visa in the meantime. Coron's very cheap though, I'm spending around 6-8 quid a day on board, food & beer. Bargain.

So. First up we had a nice couple named Stefan and Tony on the half day Discover Scuba course (you teach the very basics, and then take the for a 12m-deep swim around a reef). Stefan was Austrian, and plainly terrified of sticking his face in water...not cut out to be a diver. Tony was his extremely skinny Indonesian boyfriend, a very nice lad; we struggled to find a wetsuit that didn't look baggy on him. Gerd told me he couldn't swim but, as diving is primarily about being able to sink, this was OK. He picked up the skills very quickly and was very confident in the water, but he couldn't stay horizontal or kick his legs enough to move. Underwater he reminded me of a Daddylonglegs caught in the blast of a large fan; he was all over the place. I nicknamed him Puppet Boy almost immediately: Pinnochio with the strings cut. Needless to say, Stefan gave up withough getting his hair wet. Discover You Don't Like Scuba course, then? He looked very proud of his man, though. And Tony decided to take his Open Water course, joined by a tough little Austrian cookie named Sandra.

The Divemaster course stipulates that a candidate is involved with open water sessions of all previous courses prior: Open Water, Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver. So I'll basically assist, demonstrate PADI skills and supervise divers while the instructor's busy with any individually. It can be a good laugh, or painful if they don't quite get it. I'm pretty patient; Gerd less so. He gets a bit narky if he demonstrates something and the student doesn't get it right first time. While he swims away slowly, banging his fists on his head, I simply shrug at the wide-eyed novices and wave a hand at the exasperated Bavarian as if to say "Don't worry about him...he's a big pussycat, really..." Or just shrug nonchalantly and point at a fish to distract them. It seems to work.

I could see my course was going to be hard work, but ultimately rewarding; when a student struggles with their diving, and you assist them in perfecting a skill...witnessing the moment they actually get it, and their resulting elation at the end of a session, makes it all worthwhile. I can understand Gerd's wobblers when endless repetition doesn't work. I've suggested Temazepam or Moggadon before Open Water sessions in future. Or maybe Prozac?

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