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Published: August 28th 2010
I am now a poor divemaster but a divemaster none the less. I finished the course yesterday and have also done the nitrox course and brought a new computer so I’m definitely a professional dive now!!
I have had a real mixture or highs and lows since I last wrote though. I have been told that I will start guiding people properly now to get the experience to improve my diving. Of course it will start off gradually so I won’t be taking anyone around places with lots of strong currents just yet. I find out what I’m doing each day by looking at the schedule which gets printed and pinned up at 4 each day, ready for the next day. It tells everyone what they are going to be doing. I had been a bit annoyed to find that I wasn’t able to dive for two days in a row, only to find that the next two days were also going to be dry days. I am used to looking at the schedule, seeing my name isn’t on it and going to the guy in charge and having my daily conversation about the possibility of fitting me in somewhere. Normally they find somewhere to squeeze me in. I have been reasonably lucky with the amount of diving I’ve been doing and apparently that’s because the instructors and divemasters have been asking if I can join them. I couldn’t really ask for more of a compliment really so I’m very happy. The instructor who has been doing my divemaster course took me to one side and told me that the reason it’s tricky to find space for me is because I don’t have the nitrox qualification. It was something that I was going to do once I was earning but it makes sense to pay to do it now and then dive everyday as I have already paid so much - even if it might not seem right that I should have to. A long story short, I can brought a new computer which allows me to dive with nitrox but I can borrow a set of regulators from the dive centre so I haven’t had to buy everything new! I was extremely upset anyway to have just agreed to do the course and buy the computer so that I could dive everyday, to look at the schedule after being in the classroom studying for a few hours, to see that my name wasn’t there and the boss had done home. I just couldn’t believe the cheek of it. Anyway someone phoned him up and just pointed out how unfair he was being and soon enough a place appeared. I dived today only to find that every customer was using air and I was the only one using nitrox. So I don’t really understand why I had to do the course to dive today at least. But needless to say it was something I had to do at some point. It just means that I will have to dive in the UK to get good use out of it.
That is all the bads things out of the way though. Bali is starting to feel like a real home from home. All the other divemasters have either left or gone on to their instructors course so I am now the only person guiding or working at the sites who doesn’t speak Indonesian. I especially realised today when I was sat at the front of the boat with the other guides and the boat guys and for a good 30 minutes, not a word of English had been spoken. I have to say I don’t understand any Indonesian or Balinese but I normally know what people are talking about and I end up being able to laugh with them. Knowing the hand signals for certain fish and knowing the numbers up to 10 in Indonesian normally gets me by with discussing what people have just seen on a dive when they come up. The bay that everyone goes to try and see the Mola is always full of lots of boats, with everyone discussing how many they have seen and at what depth. Sometimes I prefer to seat with the local people even though I can’t join in the conversation because it’s nice to not have the same introductory conversation I have almost everyday. The amount of times I have talked about how long I’ve been in Bali, what I’m doing and the general 10 questions I am asked can get quite boring. I also think it’s very interesting to see how people judge me depending on the order in which I tell them about myself. When I mention that I’m here for so long and that I’m not working as a guide or instructor when I finish you can see that people put you into a certain category. If I mention that I in between studying and a job in particular as it sounds like I don’t have a job. However if I mention that I am joining the RAF and have just finished studying aeronautical engineering I get put in a very different category. Anyway, it’s interesting to see how people treat you differently. I think I will start making up stories though to see the reactions I get. See which jobs get different reactions and also see if I can blag a story if I end up having a similar background to the person I’m talking to.
I will mention 2 dives that stick in my mind from this week. One of my best dives to date was at Padang Bai and I was acting as the divemaster not only guiding but sorting out the boat and lunches and all the little things that are involved with diving. I was with a divemaster for the whole time though. Underwater he followed begin the group as I lead everyone and I couldn’t believe my luck as I saw so much. I think it was also a mixture of being the person in front so the fish hadn’t been scared off by other people passing by first. The second we were in the water I spotted two noody branch, (really colourful sea slugs), mating, a few minutes later a huge cuttlefish that stayed with us for quite a while, and then I saw 2 ghostpipe fish. They look exactly like dead leaves but the only difference being their tiny little eyes. As I was swimming along I thought I saw two dead leaves and thought to myself that I would just take the time to see if I can see any eyes on the leaves by an off chance. I thought I was pushing my luck to see two ghostpipe fish so didn’t actually expect them to be fish. After a second and third check because I didn’t want to call everyone over to see dead leaves, I realised I was right, they were ghostpipe fish. The people I was diving with were really excited to have seen them because they are quite rare and very hard to spot. And then to finish the dive off 4 white tip shark swam extremely close to us. I didn’t think that was a hard way to start my first proper day of guiding.
My good luck soon went to hard work. I was asked to ‘babysit’ a diver because he wasn’t a good diver and just generally looked very lost. The person who was with him the day before had warned me that they had a really bad headache after diving with him. Thinking he was just exaggerating, I didn’t think much of it. Someone had described him as a turtle because he didn’t use his fins at all, just his arms. Yet I would say he was leopard crawling along the coral. He was sinking and hitting the coral so I would put some air in his BCD to make him neutrally buoyant. Almost instantly he would get rid of it so he was hitting the coral again. In the end it was useless trying to keep him afloat so I had hold of his tank and pulled him off the coral for most of the dive. I’m not sure if he even noticed I was doing it but it didn’t feel too bad for the first dive, however, there was no current. The second dive was a different story. After the same thing happening again, I gave his guy my metal pointer so he could put it in the sand whilst we were waiting at a point so he didn’t touch the coral. This didn’t work at all. He started using it in a similar way to a walking stick, destroying the coral on his way. After chasing him for my pointer back, he started using his elbows instead so it was back to dragging him by his tank, against a strong current this time. I definitely had a headache on the dive as well as an hour afterwards. It was caused from being at a deeper depth and having to work hard as there’s an increased amount of carbon dioxide in your system, at a greater surrounding pressure. You have to remain at 5 metres for 3 minutes at the end of dive so I was holding the crawling guys hand to try and keep him up for the safety stop to find that someone else was shooting up to the surface. Most diving accidents occur when divers come to the surface without a marker and a boat goes over them and as this site is very busy with boats, I quickly grabbed her fin. You can imagine what a site it must have looked to see me holding on to a person above me by the fin and someone below me by the hand, with me trying to control my breathing to remain at the correct depth whilst also trying to look at the computer on my wrist to see how much longer was required until we could go up. I’m diving with his guy tomorrow so I think my next tactic will be to try and put air in this BCD without him noticing. I’ll see how it goes!
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