Tables, dive computers and pre dive planning – what’s that all about? Groans and irritations from divers as they have reduced no decompression limits for their repetitive dives. Even worse than that, the terrifying conversation post dive ‘It said STOP and ASC-CEILING, but I didn’t know what that meant.’ Come on, who doesn’t understand what ‘STOP’ means?!
A new favorite course of mine to teach has been the multi-level speciality. It provides my students the opportunity to focus on their pre-dive plan much more extensively than they ever thought. It is a great way to revisit and look at all the different tools for planning that we have at our disposal. Plans, back up plans, gas management and multilevel profiles….these are things that get me excited about diving!!
Just what is a ‘decompression model’ I hear you ask. The algorithms or models used work in many different ways. Some are simply a test of pressure/time exposure with a gradient ascent from maximum depth to the surface. Others try to calculate the theoretical critical volume of bubbles or nuclei and try to prevent the generation or expansion of them. Further models combine various elements of both tables and mathematics models. Others are calculated by divers whilst they are under water using only depth and time information and a fixed ratio of exposure:ascent time, using special stringent gas rules.
So let us start by reviewing dive tables. Without going into too much history we can credit John Scott Haldane with producing the first set of decompression tables in 1907. From there they took various developments including the addition of compartments, and were utilized by various worldwide organisations. Individuals, governments and agencies where creating their own decompression tables. Some of the most commonly still in use are Bühlmann and U.S. Navy tables and of course, the DSAT Recreational Dive Planner.
From Haldane’s conception over 100 years ago research and development has gone a long way. We are still not so far removed from pigs and goats, but our approach to decompression theory is. Complex algorithms are utilized across a range of new aged technologies.
PADI provides various versions of the DSAT Recreation Dive Planner. Most notable is the DSAT PADI eRDP-ML (if not for the letters alone), an easy to use, touch button multilevel dive planner. This is also available to the PADI Professional as a digital version. Thrown together with a basic depth/timer device this is perfect for the Open Water Diver. In fact the depth/timer device will satisfy all levels of diver. I am not going to go into too much detail on the table itself, but all divers should be familiar with it. For a single dive it couldn’t be faster or easier to use. Repetitive dives require a more complex mathematical calculation – addition. Honestly, I really promise, the table is that simple to use and with a little practice incredibly quick for dive planning!
We all know about dive computers, we have all seen them and I would say a good majority of scuba divers today have at some point used them. Computers are based around using the same tables that have always been used, and newer mathematical models. They utilize extra parameters or extrapolate the algorithm to provide real time information.
So why are dive computers more ‘useful’ than tables. Well, truth be told, they aren’t. They are no more valid in reliability, planning, or risk of decompression sickness. Simply put, dive computers are just a more user friendly and interactive item. The problem is divers seem to use them ‘on the fly’. They take away an element of pre dive planning – and come on, they have a plan mode! By being able to account and manage so much data and calculate multilevel profiles seamlessly a certain level of awareness regarding what is and isn’t acceptable by divers has disappeared.
The good thing for an individual with a dive computer is how personal the data is. As a computer can track and sample both depth and time information instantly, the read out data can be the most relevant on the fly information available. Dives are logged and recorded and tissue saturation data is kept indefinitely (or at least until tissues de-saturate ). Again, this makes it much more user friendly for the owner, and having the ability to jump in to an open ocean and instantly have a device which calculates a dive plan as your go is very convenient. The issue with the ease of use for dive computers is they take away a desire to create a basic dive plan. Just how much air do you need to get back to the surface? A few specialty courses can expand your knowledge vastly and create a safer dive team!
Also available are a multitude of desktop dive planners. This combines the use of different decompression algorithms or tables to a user defined depth and time scenario. Using this information the software can apply the decompression model to the scenario and generate a profile. Again, this can be used to safely plan and execute a single dive or dive series, including the use of mixed gases, decompression stops and integrated gas management calculations. There are a variety of different software available on the market, some free and some costing in excess of one hundred dollars. Many technical divers utilize this software to generate extremely complex dive plans.
So, a dive computer or a table? Bühlmann, DSAT PADI eRDP-ML , ZHL-16C-GF, VPM+3 B/E, RGBM-DS or Ratio Deco? Which one should you choose? I really wouldn’t make such a personal recommendation but I am always happy to discuss the choices behind using each one. For me, anything that gets me out the water decompressed is a winner!
The most important thing to know is what to expect from a given model. There are a multitude of dive planners and dive computer simulators available right now. Even if you have the fanciest dive computer, you should know what to expect before getting in the water.
I agree with Tim’s sentiments in our last blog. Take an Enriched Air course and extend the multilevel profile, or take a Deep Diver course and learn about creating a gas plan. Go out with an instructor and learn something new. Put some more tools in that box, and have more fun with your diving. Get your buddies involved and become a team of divers.
An old mantra, but – ‘Plan the dive – dive the plan….’
What happens to our brains underwater? I have always thought that the smartest person you can find is at least half as smart as soon as their head is two inches underwater. I’m not sure what it is that makes a person lose their senses underwater, but I have seen it proven time and time again.
After so long in the diving industry it has now come to the point where I am actually surprised if someone seems to not loose half of their mental faculty on a dive. There have been many times where I have felt completely outclassed on the brains front in the classroom. Try teaching a doctor about how to handle a dive emergency, and see if you don’t feel a bit like a fraud. But take that same person into the pool and the level of their incompetence is truly astounding. Now to be clear I am not talking about physical skill level, rather the ability to keep a clear head and analyze and problem solve in some kind of rational way.
Problem solving is generally broken down into four categories.
First comes “Define the problem”, then “Generate alternatives”, “evaluate alternatives”, and finally “implement solution”
It’s pretty straightforward and most people are proficient to a greater or lesser degree daily. People with positions in medicine or business or even a kids football coach all use these steps. But when a brain is submerged underwater these steps are all thrown out the window. It seems that the perceived threat of imminent death by drowning, makes the crucial first step of identifying “what the hell is going on here?” nearly impossible for most people. Of course if you can’t sit back and figure out where the problem is you probably won’t come to a very useful solution.
For example the most common problem a scuba instructor faces has to do with clearing the mask of water. If your mask is full of water and you don’t like it, then what do you do? Luckily for the student diver they really don’t have to generate solutions or choose the best option. We have taken care of that for them, through our briefing of the skills and what to do when the mask is full of water. You would think that since the instructor informs the student not only what the problem is going to be in advance but also how to fix it and the best means to accomplish it, that there would be no problems. It couldn’t be further from what actually happens. Students will sometimes bypass all logic and go with what they “think” is the best solution. Sometimes that means instead of clearing the mask as taught they spit out the regulator. Where is the sense in that?
However many times a person surprises me by doing something totally unexpected I can always rest assured that someone else will top it later. It is a curious phenomenon that must have an explanation. Could it be some form of shallow water narcosis? Or perhaps it is something to do with the mammalian diving reflex? If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, let me sum it up for you -
When you put a mammals face into cold water a few interesting things happen. First the heart rate slows, then you have some vasoconstriction of the extremities (reduced blood flowing to your ten little piggies). Lastly (and here is where it gets technical) there is a bit of a blood shift which prevents your precious organs from being squeezed. Of course the last two things only happen on deeper dives, not the two inches that seem to induce the aberrant performances discussed here.
I’m not a scientist but I think it is time to look into this. There are countless dive professionals that are putting in the field work. Who knows maybe we can find a cure. Of course the first step in solving the problem is to “define the problem”.
So let’s coin a term for this one. How about “degenerative cognition submersion variable”, or perhaps “immersion induced brain necrosis”. I think one of those should do the trick. After all if you have a term for something it makes it a lot easier to talk about and deal with. Next time you encounter someone acting like a bit of a muppet underwater you can tell them that perhaps they were just under the effects of DCSV or IIBN. It sure beats trying to tell them they were just not thinking straight.
Now that we have a definition and have identified the problem, what options do we have to address it? Of course we could just not take people under water, but we all know that is not an option. There must be a way around it, surely not everyone suffers from these debilitating symptoms?
Dive professionals have to solve problems underwater all the time. Sometimes I think that I do some of my best thinking under the surface. Why is it that some people are more suited to maintaining their mental faculty while submerged? Are the people with this ability drawn to diving or have we developed it? I firmly believe that we need to develop the skills needed to keep our heads clear in such an alien environment.
In order to overcome the difficulties we face underwater we need to understand them better. Maybe Einstein said it best when he said:
“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”.
As a long time scuba instructor I firmly believe that a little knowledge goes a long way. The more you know about something the better prepared you are to handle any difficulties you encounter with that thing. The more you practice at something the better your proficiency and comfort improve for that particular activity. Dive professionals aren’t wired differently than anyone else, we just have more knowledge and practice. For that reason I think the best way to solve the problem of” underwater ineptitude” is education.
All that is left is to “implement the solution”, it’s an easy solution as well. Take a scuba course, maybe even two.
It really doesn’t matter what course you take. If you love photography, then take the Digital Underwater Photography Specialty. Or if you think you are a bit of an acrobatic ninja take the Peak Performance Buoyancy course.
Anything that you learn will benefit your skills and knowledge.
The whole point of the PADI system of courses is to teach you how to solve problems. Think about your Open Water course. The entire skill set is about what to do if something happens to you. From how to clear a mask to how to handle and out of air situation to controlling your buoyancy, there is not a single skill that is just for fun. The Rescue course is basically a multi-day exercise in advanced problem solving. For intensive problem solving practice you can’t get any better than the Divemaster or Instructor Development Courses.
Each time you take one of these courses you become a better diver. Your skills improve and your knowledge grows. Soon you will find you no longer suffer from “liquid incompetence”, which at the end of the day, is not a label you want to be stuck with.
It’s one of those conversations we have all had.
Friend: “OH” (said with some trepidation) “ so you’re going to teach your girlfriend/wife <INSERT AS APPROPRIATE> to drive? You’re brave. Rather you than me”
You: “Yeah! It’ll be fun. Something we can share. Anyway, I reckon I am good at teaching plus I am amazingly patient so it’ll be FINE”
A few days later…
You: “So, errr, me and <INSERT GIRLFRIEND/EX-WIFE’S NAME> have decide to take a break… The whole teaching her to drive was a bit trickier than planned”
You could transpose this conversation to a few different situations but for the sake of the next 700 words, I will talk about teaching family to dive. I’ll start by reminding you that I taught my brother a few months back for both his Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses AND he was also my first ever student.
My brother and I get on well. We are reasonably similar, unconditionally supportive to each other (which is a rarity these days) and fairly laid back. Hearing stories from Zoe and Tim here about teaching family to dive, it sounded like I had lined myself up for a trial run of the apocalypse. We had agreed a fair way in advance that I would teach him to dive and he seemed excited about it all so I felt good.
I am not sure what to say next. I expect that you hope that it all went cataclysmic-ally wrong and that somehow one or both of us ended up hideously deformed so I am hugely sorry to disappoint because it went very well on the whole to the extent that he was actually KEEN to do his Advanced Open Water. Were that not the case, we would not have been able to get this brilliant picture (now one of my all time favorites:)
What I will say about the experience was it helped remind me and re-enforce the importance of patience. He is my brother. I love him dearly. BUT, there was one moment where we did not see directly eye-to-eye and naturally it was my fault as the instructor. This got me thinking.
As with anything in life there is an inherent risk when SCUBA diving. I like to compare it to crossing the street. As long as you are careful and do not do anything stupid then you will be fine. On the flip side, I am happy to let myself take this risk but placing my brother in this position is a whole different bag of badgers especially when I am the one in the position of responsibility. How is this different from teaching a non-family student? How is this that far removed from when he takes much greater risks on his own accord? I think my Dad puts it best. When we are away from each other he cannot worry too much about what we are doing but when I am back home staying with him then he likes me to check in during the evening if I am not going to be home at a decent hour. This is reasonable. I was nervous because he was HERE. When he was off diving in Oz afterwards, how could I worry? I had taught him after all!! He was fine.
So. Brother is certified. Dad is on his way out. We have decided against the Open Water because he will probably never use it again so… This opens up a new question to the floor. Discover Scuba Diving anyone? I am keen. He is apprehensive. Thoughts?
Hooray! Laptop is alive and kickin’ again! Time for another blog!
At the moment I’m the only ‘official’ Divemaster Trainee at Liquid. Jasper left for a while to travel around, only to come back later for his Instructor Development Course. Julia is successfully freelancing around as a PADI Divemaster. In a few days however we’ve got a new Divemaster Trainee! Mike (England) has been here for a little more than a week now, getting his advanced, EFR and rescue diver done before starting his Divemaster Traineeship here.
Since I’ve gone through almost the same courses about two months ago I still remember how I did, how I felt about everything etc. It’s interesting to see it from a different perspective now. I’m seeing some similarities and of course some differences as well. And of course it’s great fun to assist in the rescue diver course! Losing masks, fins and even each other underwater to keep the stress levels going is great for practice. I’m learning from it as well, now that I’m the diver that is faking problems I see how it is if someone tries to help you, what works for me and what doesn’t.
Meanwhile there have been more and more people coming over to Liquid to do their PADI Open Water Course which makes for a bit of a change in the experience levels of most of our current divers. All the diving from the last couple of months paid off in terms of what to expect and some problem-solving skills, although there is much much more to learn of course.
Aside from diving, there has been a significant increase in the use of…beer Jenga! For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, beer Jenga is similar to the normal Jenga, but with certain rules on the bricks that you pull out. Most of it has to do with..well…drinking. Recipe for a lot of fun nights and experiences!
As I’ve said before my intended stay was about 6 months or more here. You may have noticed I used ‘was’. I’m enjoying myself tremendously here, but everything has to come to an end. At least, for now that is. In a few weeks I’ll be travelling again for a short while before going home. Although I’m going to miss it here, it feels comforting to have a certain date in mind and getting a bit of a shorter timeframe to do everything in. Laidback as I might be, I still love a little hurrying up in a while, keeps me sharp and focused on the future. What that future may be…we’ll sea! Pun definitely intended!
I’m not gone yet, so more diving, relaxing, doing skills and of course some more blogs to come!
And here we are again! Since blogging on a phone isn’t all that great, and my laptop screen crashed a while ago I quickly snagged the Liquid laptop at a quiet moment to get back on track with the blog.
So what did I do since the last blog? Surprisingly enough, I’ve been diving!
A few trips to Apo Island with a great drift dive yesterday at dive site Cogon. It was kind of rough on the surface but fellow Divemaster Trainee Jasper and me wanted to do a different dive to end that day. Since one of the guests hadn’t dived that particular site yet and was enthusiastic about some drift diving we went there. A few nudibranchs, corals, sand, water and an abundant variety of fish later we ‘stumbled’ into a huge school of jacks out in the blue. Drifting along, we were able to enjoy a wall of fish for quite a while. Curious about the school was that the jacks were paired up in two’s, one light and one dark. This could of course be very common, but I was going “aaawh that’s cute” (although it must have sounded a bit different under water). They were probably holding fins as well Yeah, just paint that picture in your head, cute eh?
Although Apo Island really is awesome, I’ve seen a slight change in my attitude towards the local dive sites along the coast of Dauin. I’ve enjoyed it since the beginning but was also really looking forward to Apo every time. This balanced out a bit in the last few weeks. I’m now looking forward to of course every dive, but especially the local muck diving sites. There’s just so much to see in the sand! We just came back from two morning dives at Pyramids and Cars. We’ve seen a flying gurnard, some cool nudibranchs, two very nice cuttlefish at the surface and a wee tiny octopus! Of course there’s more, like some morays and other fish and ehh..it seems like it’s ornate pipe-fish season! We’ve seen roughly (to even consider counting them roughly would’ve been rude but today I can get away with it) about 10 ornate ghost pipe-fishes on 2 dives. How about that? I’m getting spoiled here at this rate!
Specialties, I mentioned it in my first blog and after signing up for a few I’ve completed most of them now.
Within my divemaster package Liquid offered the Shark Conservation and Coral conservation specialty. Done and done. I can explain what it’s about but hey, it’s in the name already. In short: knowledge about sharks and corals and how to keep them all from going extinct, which is a good thing. There will be mainly divers reading this bit, and divers seem to be able to grasp the idea of sharks NOT eating people. For everyone else: sharks are pretty important in the ecosystem, food chain.. they’re below us by the way, meaning we eat them, not the other way around. And in the name of whatever is holy, stop eating shark fin soup! Even better, stop eating sharks! We’ve decimated millions if not billions of sharks already to the point of extinction. Sharks are just really nice guys who happen to have some sharp teeth. Best of all they’re not even using them on us, while we diving voyeurs float around them all the time. Me, I’d get annoyed after a while, but not them. They’re curious, shy and don’t bite. Sharks are nice ok? Now repeat that in your head a couple of times and recite it to everyone who says that sharks are bad. We might save some sharks and create some awareness among the non-believers and shark eaters.
Enough blabbering about sharks now! Really? No! Go here to read more about em and sign that petition. Click it, click it! http://www.projectaware.org/project/sharks-peril
That’s enough for now. I’ve got loads of other stuff to tell but I’m saving that for next time so you guys can go diving or sign some shark petitions.
It’s interesting to think that this time 18 months ago I was still wearing a suit to work. Ok, so I was wearing a (sometimes pressed) shirt to work and suit trousers with my jungle boots. Since then I have plowed through the jungles of the Kelabit highlands. I arrived at Liquid Dumaguete on the Dauin coast in the Philippines a year ago on October 5th 2011, since then life has continued on a sporadic but always UPWARD spiral. Interestingly, having never really snorkeled before, almost a year to the day that I put on my first set of SCUBA gear, I passed my PADI IDC- Instructor Development Course – and IE – Instructor Exam – a moment I am not ashamed to say bought a tear to my eye. Shhhhh… I don’t think anyone noticed.
The IDC is a two week intensive course designed to help your transition from a DiveMaster to an Open Water Scuba Instructor – OWSI – using the knowledge and experience of the Staff Instructors: Tim (Liquid Dumaguete), Windy, Ulrika and Rae (Atmosphere Resorts) under the careful guidance of our Course Director Gabi. I cannot begin to explain how brilliantly helpful and fun these guys were during the course and nor could I even come close to explaining how well Gabi was able to nurture the best from all the candidates. I learned A LOT and not just about the diving side of things.
I am entrenched at Liquid Dumaguete whether they like it or not so I was fortunate that we run our IDCs in conjunction with Atmosphere Resorts so I had a pleasant transition period while studying. Any of you who know me well enough will know that head-down ‘book learning’ is not a strong point of mine so in the lead up to the IDC I was lucky enough to be surrounded by able and eager people to quiz whenever I was unsure of ANYTHING. In a beautifully paradoxical twist, dive theory has become one of my favorite parts of diving and was something I found extremely useful to have prepared in advance as well as the ever present PADI skill circuit.
Day 1 bought back that first day of school feeling in my stomach and, in order to quell my nerves, I thought I would have a double espresso for breakfast just before we sat the practice exams. Turns out being jittery and starting to jibber jabber was not the perfect exam prep. Good espresso though!! I aced my exams and my nerves settled. I was going to be going through the process with two other candidates. There was Paul from Hawaii who worked for the secret service and modeled an extremely tidy ‘high and tight’, a great guy with a wicked arid sense of humor Then there was Brenda, a super sweet Filippina DiveMaster who never stopped smiling. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be a part of.
As the days went by, we PADIfied our classroom presentations, refined our skills demonstrations, improved our management of open water situations and actually tried to teach each other varying parts of the many PADI courses. As time passed we grew closer as a team, we grew more confident in our abilities and HOPEFULLY started to fit the mold of a PADI OWSI. The wonderful thing for me/us was how much attention, how many different points of view and how many resources were made available to us. Not only did we have EVERYONE at Atmosphere I had the team at Liquid Dumaguete, admittedly, this was very useful to ME in particular.
After skills circuits, exams, tears, giggles and a general roller coaster of emotions our IDC finished, we were molded into Emergency First Responder instructors and then the ‘dreaded’ Instructor Exams. This is a two day extravaganza of tests and appraisals. Our examiner – George – is a bit of a local PADI celebrity having overseen thousands of exams, certified many instructors whilst still being a remarkably nice, kind and most importantly for me, APPROACHABLE man. He was firm but fair where it counted and a bastion of knowledge whenever we needed clarifications. The best was… we ALL PASSED. I am not going lie to you, there was a horrible moment when it looked like one of us MIGHT have been in trouble but it was all ok in the end. I don’t think I realized how much I cared about the outcome until those wonderful words were said. “Congratulations Adam…” (the rest is a blur. I would love to take the manly stance on this but I definitely shed a (single) tear of happiness/relief/pride/excitement.
It is at this point that I have to direct a few nods of recognition to those who deserve it. Naturally Ma and Pa and brosef are at the top of the list – you guys have helped me become someone whom I am proud of for the first prolonged period of my life. To my new found friends and ‘family’ here on the Dauin coast - a period in my life which has been titled the time of the Jims – Jungle and ‘Our Old Friend’. Thanks boys, I feel very lucky to be able to call you both CLOSE friends. My mentors (a word I hate and use rarely) and bosses – Tim and Zoe – without whom I would probably still be sat in a jungle somewhere drinking through my cleanest pair of socks. To all of you. Thanks a bajillion.
I have said enough. We’ll speak soon ok? In the mean time, find something you love and do it more.
It seems like a fairly easy question. But that’s assuming that you bother to pick it up at all. For the vast majority of the population (of course it varies regionally), people don’t bother to pick it up. I remember having a friend that thought it was actually his duty to create rubbish. He would nonchalantly open the car door along some highway or another and causally lob fast food containers and plastic bottles out the side. In his mind he was doing a public service. His rational was that if there was no garbage to pick up then how on earth were people going to get employment as trash collectors?
Of course it seems like an absurd use of logic and deduction for the average environmentally responsible human being. But that is part of the problem, there just are not that many people that are approaching the issue of debris and refuse seriously enough. There will always be someone with a skewed sense of logic that makes them think it is justifiable or even obligatory to create waste.
Of course the packaging and habits of the manufacturer are always an issue, more responsibility needs to come from the consumer. We need to be more aware. And that is the problem a lot of the time. What kind of packaging do things come in? How is it disposed of? Where exactly does it go? It can’t just disappear. Look at the Pacific Trash Vortex. It is a huge area of the Pacific Ocean that is covered in our garbage. A vast majority of that debris comes in the form of plastics. Living here in the Philippines it is very clear how plastic accumulates. The Philippines is a country that thrives off of single serving portions of everything. Sachets of shampoo, soap, coffee, butter, oil and even single serving toothpaste. It is similar to living your life with airplane sized individual packets for everything, every day. With a consumer mindset like that there is bound to be an immense amount of extra packaging and waste created. Sadly the Philippines is not alone in its production of plastic waste.
But how do we address things like this? There is no way to tackle everything at once. How can such a huge problem be tackled? The answer could be as simple as “one dive at a time”. As dive professionals we have a huge impact on the mindset of the people that we lead. So sometimes it might really just come down to the simple things.
How do you pick up trash?
When you are diving along a reef and you spot some rubbish in the distance, what do you do? I know some people will cleverly steer their divers away from the refuse. Their hope is that they can divert attention away from the embarrassing mess that is ruining the reef. Others will try to covertly pick it up and secretively cart it away. We are all ashamed to have our premier dive spots cluttered up with garbage and don’t want people to see that there is trash on those sites. But what about taking a different approach? Personally I take trash underwater as a learning experience. If there are wrappers or refuse on my dive I make sure to take my divers right toward it. Then when I get to the offending piece of garbage I slowly and deliberately pick it up. Almost like I am demonstrating a skill, I pluck it up and brush off any sand and slowly and methodically fold it up or secure it into my pocket. Like a magician performing a trick, I want all eyes on me. Except I want people to see exactly how the trick is done. I am not ashamed. Rather I am proud. Yes there was crap on my reef. But I got rid of it.
I want people to know that it is something to be addressed not just swept under the rug and ignored. I usually have to talk about it after the dive as well. People remember that their divemaster or instructor spent half the dive carting around a load of garbage. That’s not a bad thing in my opinion. It’s something that needs to be talked about. I’m not embarrassed to clean up the reef and I don’t want anyone else to be either. As dive professionals we need to turn these moments to our advantage. People will remember that piece of plastic and what you did about it for many dives to come. If you ignore it, then you are teaching people that it is okay to do that. All that does is leave our reefs with heaps of trash to look at instead of coral and fish.
We at Liquid are proud to be 100% Project AWARE as such we do regular dive site clean ups. Contact us to find out more information on out upcoming clean up events and you can join us and be a part of protecting the reefs.
Think about it. How do you pick up trash?
A week seems like a day here. I just realized it’s been a week ago since the last blog so here we go with blog #3!
It has been a pretty busy week for me in terms of diving. In short: can’t complain! Liquid is pretty full at the moment, customers come and go. Most of them are returning customers, the ‘new’ ones promised to return and a handful stay for a few days. They have one thing in common though; they all leave with a big smile, which in turn leaves a smile on my face as well.
On average, I’ve done about two dives a day the last week. Could be worse, says the sober Dutch guy in me. Calculating a bit, that will be.. a lot in the next few months, nice! My diving experience grows with every dive. My buoyancy is becoming more and more streamlined; the air I’m consuming per dive is less and less. This in turn leads to more comfort while diving and last but surely not least, confidence in your own skills. Being confident in the water gives you more time to assist other divers, if necessary. In short: less task loading, more enjoyment for everyone.
Several nationalities have crossed my path the month that I’m here now and I’m sure a lot more will follow. I’m probably forgetting a few but here we go, in random order we’ve had guests from England, The Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, China, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Russia, Scotland, Australia, France. Apart from where everyone hails from, everyone is different. Skill levels, expectations and needs, every guest need a different approach.
Something I’m learning during my divemaster internship is how to make a quick estimation of someone as a diver. This helps with the seemingly small things. For example, you’re not going to ask a veteran diver how much air he has every few minutes. A newly certified diver with a dive log of 5 dives on the other hand probably wants or needs a bit more attention. Of course I’m always talking to the person in question about their diving and of course everything that comes up in a conversation. Guesswork alone just doesn’t cut it and its fun talking to everyone here.
I meet people, get to know the long term guests a little better, make friends while I’m here and as always have a nice cold beer in The Lodge in the evening.
Just realizing I’m using ‘we’ when I’m talking about Liquid. It seems it really feels like a big family here eh!
Another week has passed by in the blink of an eye here at Liquid. Time is flying when you’re having fun!
Diving diving diving! 16 dives including 3 trips to Apo Island in little more than a week. The rest of the time I’ve been diving at the local dive sites along Dauin Coast which, to be honest, are actually pretty..no, VERY good. Consider dive site Mainit for example. This great drift dive is right in front of Liquid Dumaguete you’re almost instantly in the blue and so many things to see!
As far as ‘Divemaster stuff’ goes I’ve been doing briefings for the guests, setting up gear and leading a few dives. It’s different leading a dive of course. Instead of being at the back or somewhere in the middle I’m in the front with everyone following me. So on the one hand it’s more freedom because I’m choosing the route. On the other hand, I’ll be looking back frequently to check if everyone is still there, having no problems, having enough air etc. Everyone as a qualified diver is free to pick their own route at the dive site, keeping currents, depths, air supply etc. in mind of course! In practice, most of the time the Dive Master will also be the Dive Guide and so will be leading the divers, meanwhile pointing out the cool stuff.
For all you fishie lovers out there, a little summary of what I’ve seen in the blue last week!
At Mainit, the house reef, are a bunch of different Frog Fish including an orange one! Google them, they’re freakishly awesome and in my opinion in a strange state of evolution since they have paw-like fins..weeeeird! Also at Mainit there are schools of barracuda that seem to follow us around, pretty nice! Usually there is some current going on there and the last few dives the blue-spotted ribbon tail rays seem to increase with every dive. Last dive we saw about 7 of them flying around or chilling in the sand.
A little treat yesterday at Apo Island, dive site Cogon! I hear some loud mumbling at the beginning of the dive, paired with pointing at the ocean floor. After some careful examination we discovered a stone fish, rejoice! Everyone taking pictures, making movies and enjoying it. They’re supposed to be pretty common, the only problem is they’re masters at disguising themselves. Hiding in the sand, just the skeleton-like head visible, lurking for a little treat.
If you don’t like fish (really?), there are turtles as well! Sweeeeet!
On some dives, when I am not officially guiding, I will be bringing my Go Pro camera as well, making some videos or taking pictures. You can check out some of the video’s here:
Meanwhile I’m mingling with the guests, the staff and having a few beers at The Lodge, but always after diving of course
“HELP! Jim is drowning!”
That kind of kick started my stay here at Liquid! Let’s go back a bit before I get into the rollercoaster of my first few weeks here.
I arrived 12 days ago at Liquid and learned that a lot can happen in 12 days. The first day was all about introductions, getting acquainted with everyone and of course having a few beers at The Lodge in the evening. A great way to start my new adventure I might add! This is my first time in the Philippines and so far I love it! Everyone I have met within this short time has been just great, from the people at the airport and in the airplane, to the staff and guests at Liquid. The mentality here could be summarized in short as “Relax and let’s just be nice to each other and respect each other.”
Anyways, time to talk diving! I arrived at Liquid as an advanced diver and after a few fun dives to get back into the swing of it; I started my PADI Rescue Diver and Emergency First Response (EFR) courses. It took 5 days to complete both courses and involved learning a lot of theory and practicing skills such as, how to give CPR and basic first aid for the EFR course. The Rescue Diver course is all about safety. It is pretty full on but a lot of fun, you learn stuff like how to get an un-responsive diver from the ocean floor onto the boat while maintaining an open airway or seeking a lost diver using search patterns.
Liquid also threw in some extra’s, referring back to the first line of this blog. Their reasoning ‘you never can tell when s*#t will hit the fan so always be prepared!’ Not to give away too much, but some of the staff almost drowned, got lost at sea and someone even got hit by a Jeep. Eventually, lessons learned and everyone survived!
Now EFR and Rescue Diver are finished – and yes I passed and celebrated in style that night! The next big one will be PADI Dive Master course, which I am doing over a span of 3-6 months. As a Dive Master Trainee (DMT) the next few months will be all about learning theory, practicing skills, demonstrating skills, assisting instructors and last but by no means least….. Diving! In the meantime, I also signed up for some extra specialties, more on that later!
Now it’s time for a happy hour beer, see you next week!