Published: April 6th 2012April 6th 2012
It seems that all I've been writing about is diving, but it's almost the only thing I've been doing, so I'll try not to be too monotonous about it. By Saturday the 31st, I had 95 dives, so still needed a few to start teaching. I went to Bare Island to do 3 shore dives with lots of different divers that left from the dive shop. I did the first two dives with Ryan and Jonny and the last one; I offered to lead 2 recently open water certified divers. Nothing too exciting about these dives in particular; the visibility was fairly good and got to see more or less the same type of marine life as usual, except for a needlefish, which I hadn't seen before (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Needlefish
The next day I had to go help with a wreck diving specialty course to Avoca Beach, near Terrigal, about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Sydney. I was going to be picked up to get there at 5:40am near the dive shop, so I couldn't stay at Grays Point (Carl and Rachel's house) that night. Instead, I stayed at the intern house that's located about 2 blocks from the
dive shop. This house is used by a maximum of 6 persons at a time that are doing courses at the Abyss dive center. I was going to move in permanently to this house in the next 3 days, so it was good to get to know the place beforehand, but I had met all of the people living there. At that moment there were Lydia, Annie, Jonny and Ben, all between 18 and 21 years, more or less. That evening I went with Lydia and Jonny to get food for the next couple of days to a supermarket (Coles) that's about 20 minutes walking. There's a cart in the house which we took to bring everything back. Along the way, we went past a house where there's a dog they always visit and that they even have a name for: Penny (not the real dog's name, no one knows how it's actually called). We also stopped at a Park near there and threw a ball around (American football) that Jonny had brought. On the way back from the supermarket, we stopped at the park again at the park and tossed the ball around a bit more. Back at the
house, I had a really good dinner - steak with shrimp and mashed potatoes and a beer; couldn't get any better. The thing is, when I go diving, I usually have a light breakfast, don't eat much during the day and at the end of the day, have one good meal. After that we all hanged out in the lounge room watching a film called "Into the Wild”, very recommendable for people who like travelling. By 11pm I was dead tired, so went straight to bed.
Sunday morning, Lydia and I were picked up at 5:40 sharp, by Samantha (Sam), one of the instructors at the shop who I was helping out with the wreck diving course. The course was done in the HMAS "Adelaide", a Royal Australian Navy ship that was deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef for diving, just outside Avoca Beach: http://www.hmasadelaide.com/
. It has so many entries/exits, that it’s impossible to get lost inside. When we got to Avoca Beach, we split in two groups, each instructor with four students divided in groups of two. When we were all set, we got everybody's gear on the boat and set off to the dive
site, which takes only about 5 minutes to get to. The wreck is sunk with the keel touching the bottom, so it's not tilted. The highest mast is about 12 meters from the surface and from there, the highest deck (right where the bridge is) is about 20 meters. The lowest part of the ship is at around 36 - 38 meters. We did all the exercises in the top deck. For the first dive, both buddy teams had to do some reel work with one diver tying it to a start point, unreeling it along the way and tying it every 3 to 5 meters, while the other diver followed along, touching the line. All of this was done without penetrating the wreck. Each diver had to use the reel, so at 20 meters, there was just enough time for everyone to participate. There was some current and because I had to dive between the two buddy teams, I got very worked up and consumed my air really fast. As soon as one of the teams finished, I sent them off to swim outside the wreck on their own and told them to start surfacing when they reached 100
bars in their tanks. The other team was taking longer to finish and the diver who was working with the reel, tangled the line, making it impossible to untangle it. I gave him a spare reel to finish the exercise and I went on to try and untangle the other reel. By that time I was almost reaching my air reserve. I couldn't untangle it, so I had to cut a few meters of the line with my knife, wrap the extra line around my hand and as soon as they finished the exercise, told them to surface, while I did the same. I was already using my reserve when I started surfacing, but had enough time to do the required safety stop at 5 meters for 3 minutes. After we all surfaced, we got on the boat, went back to the shore, and then went through the good and bad things the students had done performing the exercises during the last dive and started getting ready for the second and final dive of the course (the course consists of 4 dives, but I only joined the course the second day, for the last two dives). The exercise for the
second dive was very similar to the other one, but this time they had to penetrate the wreck by first tying the reel outside the entry point and then, inside the wreck, following me and tying the line to specific points I showed them. I had to do that with all 4 divers and now the depth inside the wreck was about 23-24 meters. When they were all done, we surfaced and got in the boat again. After getting back to the shore, we did a short debrief and then headed back to the dive shop to finish certifying the students. I've got to say that my very first instructor experience was a lot of fun. In the evening I went back with Carl and Rachel to their house and got all my things packed and ready to move into the intern house the next morning.
Monday morning, Carl drove me to the intern house, I left my things there and then went out, because I had to do some things that day regarding my driver license which had been stolen about 3 weeks before. I had received a document from Chile stating that I've had a
driver license since the year 2000 and I needed that document officially translated. I contacted a [National Accreditation Association for translators and Interpreters (NAATI)] translator that lived nearby, sent him the document and told him I would pick it up on Monday. I got to his house at around 9am and to my surprise, the translator was Chilean. This guy arrived in Australia in the 80's and has done all sorts of jobs in these 25 years he's been here. Apparently he's done quite well, with 5 kids and a fairly big house. He offered me a coffee and we stayed talking for about an hour, but then I had to leave to go to the RTA (Roads & Maritime Services) to see if there was any possibility of me taking a driver exam to get a license. I got there with a document they had given me, the police file number of the robbery of my wallet and the translated document from Chile. They told me there was nothing they could do and that I had to be at least 6 months in Australia to be able to apply for a license. They also told me the document sent
from Chile was incomplete and that they only worked with 2 specific translating offices, so the translation was invalid. I must say by then I was pretty pissed off, considering I had spent money and time on those documents and that it was a person from that office that had told me to do those things. If I had been told all that the first time I wouldn't have wasted my time and money. I left the RTA wanting to hit somebody. There was nothing else to do really. In the afternoon I took a ferry to Manly to meet Ella Miranda, a friend who's living in Sydney with her husband. She had been in Chile a few days before and had some things my father had sent me. We met there for about 45 minutes, catching up on the things we had done since we last met, it was really pleasant. After that, she had to back to study for an exam and I had to go back to the house, so took a ferry back to the city and then back to the house in Ramsgate.
I had Tuesday off as well, there were no
dives that day, so I decided to go to a town that's about 80 km south of Sydney called Wollongong. I took a train at around 9am and it takes about 1hr20 to get there. From the station I went to an information office and then to walk along the coast. It's a nice town in general, but I think I was expecting a bit more. There's some cool activities to do though, such as tandem skydiving and paragliding as well. I would've probably done one of them if I had the money. There are some other interesting sights near the town, such as a brewery and a large Buddhist temple, but I would've needed a car. The drive from Sydney to Wollongong is also supposed to be really nice. I had lunch in Wollongong and then went back to Sydney. On the way back, I continued reading a book on the train I bought from Amazon.com before flying from Chile. It's called "Decoding air travel - a guide to saving on airfare and flying in luxury" (http://decodingairtravel.com/
). The title is self-explanatory and it should definitely help when I start flying again. It’s totally recommendable for any frequent flyers. In
the evening I went for an 8km run (I hadn't been running in a while) by the beach line in Ramsgate, which was really good and I hadn't realized how much I missed it. I had bought an mp3 player in Wollongong that day, a must-have whenever I go jogging (the one I had was also stolen).
On Wednesday and Tuesday, I had to watch how an Open Water course is conducted. I was assisting a Turkish instructor (Cem) in a course of 5 students. There was another part time instructor there as well, Jackie Barnes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Barnes
), son of Jimmy Barnes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Barnes
), a rock music icon in Australia.
The first day consisted of exercises at a swimming pool and all of that took about 3 hours. It all went pretty well and then it was time for the first open water dive, which we did at a place called Bass & Flinders. The visibility for the dive was about 3 meters, which makes it a bit of a challenge when you go in with first time divers, but that also went quite well. We were 3 instructors in the water with 5 students, so it was
a really good ratio.
When I got back to the dive shop, I got a message that they had called me at the dive shop from a police station in Maroubra (a suburb in eastern Sydney), saying they were in posession of my stolen bag. I called back and they told me that they had it and that they needed me to pick it up that same day. I left at about 6pm and had to take a couple of buses to get there (in all it was about an hour). Surely enough, my bag was there with my wallet and documents (finally got my driver license back!). All the Dive manuals that were inside were ruined and of course the money, credit cards and electronics were missing, but I got the most important things back; the chances of having recovered them were minimal, so I was really glad (an indirect thank you to the person who returned the bag and to the Maroubra police who were also very courteous). On the way back home, I stopped by a 7/11 and bought something for dinner. It was a good day.
Tuesday, for the second day of
the course, we had to do 3 shore dives with the students, which we did at Bare Island. The visibility had improved since the previous day and we managed to do all skills with them without many delays. After getting back to the shop, I went to the supermarket to get some food and then stayed at the house, watching TV with the other housemates. On Tuesday, another Chilean, Juan Celedón, arrived at the house, to do the same course as the one I'm doing. He's a lawyer who quit his job and wants to travel and work as a scuba diving instructor for a while.
Today, Friday, I have the day off, being a holiday and tomorrow I'm helping teach and Advanced Open Water course.
There are more photos below