Sense of Accomplishment.

Last weekend was a blur of Scuba related ‘manageable’ chaos. My schedule went from an empty weekend, with the possibility of taking of the DM spot on Sunday for a friend who has been unable to dive these last couple of weeks, to full out non stop teaching with several “all in one day referrals” on saturday and three Advanced Open Water dives with two students on the boat Sunday. I was fairly nervous going into the weekend, I had 6 students on my plate for the referrals, which consist of accomplishing all the Confined Water skills and classroom quiz within one day. It’s a long day, and requires both planning, and having a group that can stay focused to be able to get through everything.

As it turned out I gained a seventh student last minute, and we got a slightly late start in the morning. The pool work started slowly, and we didn’t get quite as far as I would like in the morning pool session, which left me a little stressed. However, after burning through a quick lunch and quiz and a couple gear exchanges at the shop, we regrouped at the pool to blaze through the rest of the skill sets. My students were awesome. They hung in there to the very end, which ended up being 6:00pm…basically an hour after we are ‘supposed’ to be finished at the pool. They were patient while I worked with one student for a few minutes to help her overcome an inability to clear her mask, which with several tries and the switch of mask type she was able to accomplish with ease. Finally they all finished every skill, and were feeling comfortable in the pool when we crawled out exhausted, but excited to be done!

The day was over for the students, but far from it for me. I hurried back to the shop, to drop off some gear and tanks. I needed to quickly wrap up all the paperwork for my referrals, as most of them wanted to return their rental gear and pick up the paperwork on Sunday (no reason to make them have an extra trip!), then I needed to grab a fresh tank and additional gear for my Advanced dives. I ended up trying to put together a set of rental gear with no idea of sizes for a guy who was coming down from the North and needed gear, unable to get ahold of him I was basically putting together a range of gear from what we had available. Luckily, (just after I finished gathering it all up) he called and said he had decided to rent gear in Santa Barbara, so didn’t need it from us anymore, but asked if I could bring a tank for him and his son…not a problem. So, now a little prior to 9:00p, I had re-packed my equipment for the weekend, grabbed a short shower, and loaded my car with 3 tanks, and some spare equipment just in case. It was off for the 2 hour drive to Santa Barbara with a stop to pick up Jessica and Bryan and all their gear. You should know, I own a Honda Fit…and thus far my car his lived up to its name. We FIT, 5 tanks, 3 full sets of gear in our giant Scuba gear bags, a fourth half set of two bcd’s and a regulators, my sleeping bag, three backpacks, who even knows how many pounds of weight…including the extra weight I brought for my class and the “emergency someone forgot weight” situation. Add in the three of us, and my little baby was feeling the burden! However, she handled everything well and we cruised up to SB with minimal traffic. I missed dinner on Saturday due to all the running around, but was so exhausted that I didn’t care. We helped with some of the waiver organizatioin, sorted out a few bunk issues (the joys of a full boat!) and I promptly passed out in my bunk around midnight.

Sunday’s weather was perfect and warm (which was great because in the mad dash to get out of the house I managed to forget a towel!). The ocean was calm, but unfortunately the viz was less than ideal. To make things even better, I managed to miss a step on the way up from the bunks on an early morning bathroom run and scraped up my shin quite painfully. I had two Advanced Open Water Students and on the docket for the day was the Navigation Dive, Peak Performance Buoyancy and Search and Recovery. Having never taught any of these I was feeling a little overwhelmed, hoping that I’d be able to pull it off. Navigation was easy. The less than stellar visibility meant that my divers really had to use their navigation skills because each time they swam away from me for the out and back and the square, I would disappear. However they came back every time, with the final “just for fun” larger square I had them do since we had some extra time they almost missed me…but a quick glance to the right as I watched them swim by they realized they were off by just a bit and recorrected. I had a great dive, sitting on the sand watching them disappear, then getting bombarded by several sea lions that kept swimming by, stopping briefly to check me out then moving on. Peak Performance Buoyance went well, we found a small plate in the sand and I distracted them from fully focusing on thier hoover by passing it around fin to fin to fin…it was quite fun, and we all stayed neutral while doing it which was great. Finally it was time for search and recovery…I had been most nervous for this, feeling a little unprepared (I hadn’t tied those knots in a few months…could I remember how?!) Having practiced in my bunk before going to bed, I realized that I still remembered how, and the rest was easy. I sent them off in a U pattern to find the plate from the previous dive, while I hid a heavy weight belt in the opposite direction. They succeeded in finding the plate on turn 4, and then we did an expanding square to find the weight belt. I really enjoyed being the “observer” watching thier square expand around and around. I could tell they were feeling like they might not find the weight belt, their heads started turning more frequently, but I knew they were coming upon it with the next turn of the square. After seeing it they swam over and took turns tying off the lift bag. Once secured they worked perfectly as a team to make it neutral and surface safely.

It was a busy day and I was sure glad to see my bed by the time I got home, but I felt so good of all that had been accomplished, especially the 7 Referrals.

Time to go go go.

Its here… finally. My PADI Instructor Exam weekend. While I’ve been feeling like this weekend has been a long time coming, suddenly today it seems as though it snuck right up on me. In a couple of hours Shane and I will pile as much Scuba related gear, books, accessories and anything else we feel may just come in handy into Shane’s car and hit the road for Monterey.

I feel ready and I am ready, or at least I keep telling myself that. Everyone that has been helping us and supporting us through the IDC classes says we’re going to be fine, we just need to take our time and relax. I know I’ve got the theory in my head, my biggest fear on the written exams is making mistakes like filling in the wrong bubble. With the knowledge presentation I worry only about getting a topic I’m not too familiar with, or have little experience in, such as securing a lift bag for the Search and Recovery dive in the Adventures in Diving program. Its a possibility, and I know the basics, but I’ve never actually worked with a lift bag in my Scuba career yet… I don’t even own a lift bag. Luckily though, Shane and I are associated with an awesome shop and I’m able to borrow one for the test, just in case. I feel confident in my confined water skills and just have to remember to use the assistant, and really think through my organization so that the students stay in order and I don’t lose points for not keeping everyone together. Finally there is the open water portion. This is a big one for me, as I’ve been promised some new gear if I pass with flying colors (aka: a 5… a perfect score). I feel confident in my ocean skills, I just really need to focus on the briefing and debriefing to make sure I don’t miss any important steps. Lastly, we’re going to be in the ocean in Monterey. where the average water temperature is 53 degrees! Give or take 5 degrees for fluctuation and however you look at it, thats still cold! I have an extra vest and will be hoping that the waves are small, the water is on the warm side of that 53 degrees and we have some resemblance of decent visibility!

So it all comes down to this weekend, 2 days of testing, 5 sections to pass to become certified as a professional scuba diving instructor from PADI. Cross your fingers, hold your breath (I sure won’t be, at least not underwater) and say a prayer as I hit the road to destiny. (ha that was lame…it is only a test after all!) 🙂

Pool Session

I’m working to finish off my Dive Master certification by the end of June. After getting back from Hawaii, I jumped into the pool on Saturday to assist with Jessica’s second weekend Open Water class. The class went really smoothly and I mainly was in charge of crowd control, keeping the students in line and together (they tend to drift across the pool if you don’t keep tabs on them). I helped Jessica demonstrate mask removal and swimming with no mask, one of the skills the students had to perform. Lou was there with a new toy, the BladeFish which is a new fancy DPV that is compact (really it looks just like my house fan, only without the base!). It was fun to watch him scooting around in the water, but with the noises echoing off the pool walls that thing was LOUD!

Lawrence was also there helping Lou make a video of the new toy, and he put together a little video of the various instructors working with students. Take a look and get an idea of what the SCUBA pool sessions are all about!