Let’s face it, who as a diver hasn’t been diving off the shores of a tropical island somewhere and taken a look at the dive instructors/divemasters and thought ‘you lucky buggers’
For me it was in New Caledonia & I said to my buddy ‘why the hell am I not doing this everyday’ Cut forward to cold day at Kau Bay during the DM Training with strong winds, half and metre vis and a water temp of about 9 degrees I was starting to rethink my decisions.
Of course we look back on it now and laugh and I realise that I have come out a much better diver because of days like that.
Although I (just about) had enough logged dives to meet the Divemaster course requirements I knew it was going to be a challenge, I hadn’t done much cold water diving, I didn’t know the Wellington dive sites, and despite having dived most of Asia I had always been with a guide or someone more experienced.
Despite this, training began with skill circuits, the 24 skills you have to be able to demonstrate, then building on that you learn to recognise and anticipate problems then learning how to prevent them. While I wasn’t the worst I wasn’t the best either – it was a steep learning curve. I was constantly worried that I couldn’t do this or I was going to mess it up. In hindsight everyone messes up and that the point- make mistakes and learn from them as well as everyone else’s!
While you’re there doing it, it’s hard to see how far you have come until one day, something happens and you just instinctively fix the problem and you realise ‘I have totally got this!’
When you realise that your perception of diving has changed. It’s not just about you and what your doing or even your buddy, you become aware or everyone on the boat. You become the one able to help and give advice rather than needing it.
You get to train with some truly fascinating people with heaps of experience from totally different walks of life but you all have something in common a love of the ocean. It’s well known divers are a friendly bunch and the people you do your training will provide you with moral support when you need it most.
For example when you have got the group lost twice in one dive, when you have to slyly signal to a fellow DMT ‘home?’ and hope no one noticed. You all go through it together and usually come out laughing on the other side.
And 6 months on from that I’m now a fully qualified open water instructor with my first full time job. Everyone knows you don’t become a dive instructor for the money but even I was guilty of not realising quite how stressful and demanding it would be. Days can be long, and you spend a lot of time lugging heavy gear around and there is paperwork – lots of paperwork. While as a recreational diver you spend the dive looking at the beautiful underwater world around you as the instructor/divemaster you spend a lot of your time looking at other divers, making sure they aren’t doing something stupid and making sure everyone gets back to shore safely with at least some air in their tank.
Despite this there is no better feeling than introducing someone to this whole other world. That excited post dive chat like ‘did you all see that massive….’ and ‘that …got so close to us!’ When your teaching it’s that moment when a skill clicks for someone and you see their eyes light up through their mask and all you can do is high five them and try not to drop your reg because your smiling so much.
Yes it requires patience and you have to be approachable and have the kind of calm personality that’s puts people at ease as well as being able to explain things in different ways to accommodate different learning styles but it’s awesome and I love it! passing on my love of scuba diving is massively rewarding and means I get paid to show people this beautiful world right here on our doorstep.