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August 31, 2006

The Other Side of the Coin ... Part 2

Okay, it is WAAAAY past time for me to write another entry here, so here goes! The last time I wrote about classes, I discussed the details of the first two weeks of my class. I also mentioned the third and fourth weeks, but did not describe them.

I often refer to the third lecture as the "Light and Fluffy" lecture ... it is about our Diving Environments. We begin by watching a video that was filmed and edited during a trip to Cayman Brac back in 1996. Even though it's a bit old, the information is still very useful. I went on that trip with a group of nine divers from our local dive shop, but we were not alone at the resort or on the dive boat. Another group from Alabama joined us, as did a few individuals from parts unknown.

Cayman Brac is known for its crystal clear waters and abundance of fish and corals. Part of the reason we went down there was to explore the newly sunken wreck on the North side of the island, the "Keith Tibbetts." As for the people we'd be diving with all week, they all seemed to be experienced divers. However there was one guy who was a menace to the underwater world! One member of our group hit the nail directly on the head when he said, "There are two destroyers in these waters, and one of them is a ship!"

So this poor guy became known as "John the Destroyer." Everyone on the boat was amazed at his uncaring attitude and his total disinterest in protecting the environment. This guy literally walked on the bottom at times! He wore a shorty wetsuit, enough weight to sink a battleship, and never clipped off his instruments or octopus. He left them dangling to get caught on corals and sea fans. He was an accident waiting to happen.

Anyway, the reason I brought "John the Destroyer" up in the first place is because even though he was the perfect example of what NOT to do, I have shown that video to over 700 students and it has made quite an impact! I believe in protecting our natural resources, and that definitely applies beneath the surface!

I enjoy teaching the Environment Lecture. We discuss Sight, Sound, Hearing, Temperature, Boat Diving, Entries, Lines, Currents, Waves, and Critters. I have encluded lots of pictures from places I've been throughout the years, as well.

The next night we gather at the dive shop again to get in the pool. We work on gear assembly again, deep water entries, surface swimming, breathing underwater, and mask passing. We then move on to air sharing and rescues.

Everyon then removes their equipment, disassembles it all, cleans it and stores it away for next weeks use.

Week four consists of the Diving Physiology lecture and the pool test. We group the indirect effects of pressure, along with dive tables for this lecture. We discuss Shallow Water Blackout, Hypoxia, Oxygen Toxicity, Carbon Dioxide poisoning, Carbon Monoxide Toxicity, Nitrogen Narcosis, Decompression Sickness, and the dive tables.

In the fourth pool session we review all skills in preparation for evaluation dives. Each student must assemble their own equipment without any help from their buddy, then each buddy team check their buddies equipment. Once completed, everyone readies themself for a deep water entry. We all go to the shallow end to practice mask off skills one more time. We discuss evaluation dives and go over all of the skills we will be doing over the course of the two days needed for the five evaluation dives.

Speaking of evaluation dives, next time I will go into detail about how I conduct mine!

Posted by Carol at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2006

Congratulations, Conrad!

So, within a few hours from now my partner, Conrad, will be a card carrying PADI Scuba diver! I am so very proud of him! When I first discovered this fascination of his to become a scuba diver, he quizzed me about every aspect of scuba. Next came the question of me teaching him. That didn't seem like a valid option because of timing and our geographical locations. I urged him to explore the dive shops in his area, so he did.

Before I go on, here is a brief view of my diving history:

I earned my Beginning Scuba certification through NAUI in April, 1994. I was immediately hooked, as I knew I would be. Purchasing my very own gear was a big step, but I decided to make that step while I was still in training sessions in the pool. I wanted to get use to my own equipment and have a knowledgeable Instructor around in case I had questions or concerns. That turned out to be a very wise decision. By owning my own gear I was able to go diving more frequently in familiar gear, and I did! Within the first two years after certification I completed nearly 250 dives! Most in local waters, but many in wonderful destinations such as Grand Cayman, Bahamas, Bonaire, all over Florida, Truk Lagoon, Palau, and Yap.

I have never stopped learning about scuba. As soon as I got my certification card I enrolled in more classes. Advanced, then Nitrox, then Drysuit, followed by Equipment Specialist, then on to Cavern, and Intro To Cave Diving. I also completed NAUI's Advanced Rescue Diver, then Full Cave, and enrolled in a NAUI Dive Master program. And, yes, that was all within the first two years after my initial certification!

I changed careers in mid-stride. I followed my heart from being an Investment Banker to being a Dive Shop employee, and then I quickly made the decision to become a NAUI Instructor. Once settled in my new career and after establishing myself as an Instructor, I went on to acquire more training in different diving environments. I chose Diver Propulsion Vehicle in an Overhead Environment training, Extended Range diving, and eventually Trimix.

My career choices took a turn in a different direction nearly a year ago, but I am still an active NAUI Instructor, teaching 6 to 8 regularly scheduled classes per year along with private classes.

I have never regretted any of my decisions. I love diving and I love teaching. And I love seeing people become turned on to a sport I have such a deep passion for. I am pleased and proud that Conrad will now be able to share and explore our wonderful underwater world!

Okay. Enough about me... let's get back to the subject at hand!

Keeping in line with Conrad's curiosity about the sport, I quizzed him on what types of diving he intends to do, and then steered him in the direction of the best style of gear for the task. I have had the opportunity to view and use a lot of dive gear. Some good, some okay, and some bad.

Conrad asked me questions, listened to my opinions, asked more questions, and then made his decisions. He is one to take the time and effort to fully research any subject and thoroughly understand all the data before he makes his own decisions or forms an opinion. I feel honored that he values my opinions and experience.

So, right this minute he should be underwater completing his third of four certification dives. Last night he asked me what to expect of his experience today. I told him how I run my students' evaluation dives, what we do, and how long it all takes. He then told me Chuck had given him similar information.

I'm glad Conrad asks questions. I'm glad he doesn't take training lightly. I'm glad he understands this is a recreational activity, but is also serious business. I am enjoying re-learning what it's like to be a student in a beginning scuba class. I am enjoying getting to see it all through someone else's eyes whom loves writing and sharing his feelings and experiences. I hope that between the two of us, all of you, the readers of this site, will gain valuable knowledge and also will feel free to share your views and opinions as well!

Please help me by congratulating Conrad on a job well done! May he experience many, many years of safe and wonderful diving!

Posted by Carol at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2006

The other side of the coin

Since Conrad is writing about his Beginning Scuba class, perhaps I should write about mine. Not MY class, but the ones I am currently instructing. After years of Instructing, it's always nice to find out the views of a student. Thanks, Conrad!

About my helpers...

I have several Dive Master candidates in various stages of training. Dewey, Charley, and Chris have been working diligently to get their training completed. Chad started with them, but had to take a break when he bought a new business that ended up taking ALL of his available time! Doug and Dan have been in training off and on for quite a while, but both have had to postpone training because of either career changes and relocating. I wish them all the best, but I miss them! Ted is a loyal and constant companion during checkout dives, but it's like pulling teeth to get him to come to classes and pool sessions. I suppose that what happens when you stay active as a card carrying Dive Master for 10+ years! If I really needed him to help out in the pool I have no doubt he'd be there! Rhonda, Donna, Alicia, and Jeff are all promising Dive Master candidates who have all just begun their training.

About my classes in general...

The schedule for my NAUI Beginning Scuba Diver course consists of four classroom sessions and four pool sessions, followed by a scheduled night for the written exam, then two days for the five required evaluation dives. I generally teach on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with classes beginning at 7:00PM and ending roughly at 10:00PM. Pool sessions often run over, as I feel pool time is extremely important.

About this class...

My current class consists of eight students: Mary, Jerry, Charlie, John, Mark, Quinten, Arlene, and Harry. The first five of them were present for the first lecture. Harry is joining this class after completing several of the classes with another group. Due to scheduling conflicts, he was unable to complete training earlier in the year. Quinten and Arlene joined class a little later. No worries, I will get them caught up before the scheduled evaluation dives later this month.

Okay, enough about them individually; I'll get on with thoughts about their training!

Week 1:
During the first lecture I did an orientation, then Charley described equipment and explained the use and functions of each piece of gear necessary for scuba diving, as well as useful accessories.

The following evening was their first pool session. The students completed the required distance swim, underwater swim, treading water, plus all the required skills necessary for snorkeling. Several of them had never used a mask and snorkel before, but everyone did a great job, seemed very comfortable in the water, and they were fired up about being on scuba the following week.

Week 2:
This week was the Diving Physics lecture. I use to dread this lecture, but I worked so hard to come up with easy ways to make it all make sense, so now it's my favorite lecture and it takes the least amount of time to teach! Charley taught this lecture and did a fabulous job! We were done almost an hour ahead of schedule!

Thursday night was their first night on scuba. Preparation for this class always takes longer than the other pool sessions because we assign rental equipment and go over assembly in great detail. Chris was responsible for the majority of this pool session and he did a fine job. Gear assembly went smoothly. No equipment malfunctions. Everything fit everyone first try, so we didn't waste any time. They were instructed on proper assembly methods, and well as given a few hints and tips to make these tasks simpler.

Once gear was assembled and all students were in the pool and instructed on proper donning techniques, they were ready for their first breaths of compressed air underwater! Call me silly, but I learned several years ago that students are more comfortable learning the functionality of gear one piece at a time. We asked them to put their regulators in their mouths and breathe in and out five times, then repeat the process with their faces in the water. They all got the hang of it immediately! We then added masks, and once they were comfortable with everything we told them to let all the air out of their BCs and go lay on the bottom of the pool. This is when I check to make sure everyone is wearing enough lead to sink. We start everyone out with four pounds, and then adjust as needed. We left them on the bottom of the shallow end to get comfortable for probably 1tenminutes, and they all did great!

Next came basic skills: Mask flood and clear, mask removal and replacement, regulator removal and replacement, then regulator recoveries. As expected, everyone got the hang of it immediately. The only thing I noticed was that they all seemed to be having trouble keeping their regulator mouthpieces in their mouths. They just couldn't stop smiling! Okay, a slight exaggeration, but they all seemed to be enjoying it! And that's a good thing. :-)

We discussed the importance of monitoring their instruments. While on the surface we allowed them to feel what it would be like to run out of air. While above water, they stood in a line facing the same direction and each turned off the air supply of the person standing in front of them, while breathing through their own regulator. None of them seemed to like that feeling, and I can only hope that by experiencing that on the surface, they will always be aware of how much air they actually have!

We discussed the possibility of equipment malfunctions. One step that seems to be left out of a lot of beginning courses is how to deal with a power inflator that is stuck and continuously inflating the diver's BC. It’s an easy fix, but most people think the only option is to keep dumping air. All this accomplishes is draining your scuba cylinder a lot faster! The best option is to disconnect the inflator hose, stopping the flow of air. If more air is then needed in the BC, you have two options. Orally inflate the BC or temporarily reconnect the low-pressure hose. This skill needs to be practiced while pressure is on the system, as it is much more difficult to operate when under pressure.

Once these skills were completed, they all seemed ready for buoyancy practice, so we got them started after reminding them how to properly equalize their ears and other air spaces. Once they all were neutral, we took them on several practice laps around the pool, each time getting progressively deeper. Once everyone was comfortable in deep water, we took them one at a time and repeated the skills learned in shallow water. Once we told them skills were all completed for the evening they all; wanted to practice a bit more, so we let them. Everyone got out and we instructed them on how to disassemble and care for their equipment.

Next Tuesday night is what I call the "Light and Fluffy" lecture... Diving Environment! Wednesday's pool session will be methods of sharing air and practicing rescue techniques, as well as a lot more buoyancy practice. Stay tuned for more! - Carol

Posted by Carol at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)