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  • Alex Slocock

A Layman’s Guide to Surviving your Divemaster Training

Divemaster Trainees Alex & Alexa

You’re sick of your job, sick of bum on seat for 10 hours a day, sick of 30 minutes of sun exposure per day, and sick of spending a fifth of your day sitting in traffic, inhaling with each breath an extremely slow, yet relatively painless and financially secure, death. You’re only 25 - hardly out of college - but the quarter-life crisis has arrested you with a ferocity that shocks you into action.

Time to do something fun and make some potentially reckless, and certainly questionable, life decisions.

So, you get in touch with the kind people at Divetech to see if they can offer you any assistance. Jubilations! They offer you a spot on their PADI Divemaster Training program. What’s more, as a young(ish) Caymanian, they offer you this opportunity at no cost, except of course for the fees that are paid directly to PADI.

Now, this is no small decision, so after approximately 30 seconds of mulling it over, you accept this offer.

Step 1: Quit Your Job

This is a tough one. Although the job definitely wasn’t for you in the long run, you graduated from university right at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, so any kind of employment was a blessing, let alone secure, stable and well-paid employment. Not only that, but to cut yourself from the bonds you’ve built with your team over the last two years is to cut yourself adrift in more than just a professional capacity. You hand in your notice and prepare to say your goodbyes – at least until you inevitably bump into them at the supermarket.

Step 2: Log 40 Dives

As the diligent student of Scuba Diving that you are, you have meticulously logged the hundreds of dives that you’ve made over the last 13 years. In the (completely) hypothetical scenario that you stopped logging after your 30th dive, it’s time to go on some dives, a wonderful opportunity to revisit some of your favourite shore-diving sites. Moray Eels and Schooling Fish at Cobalt Coast, a few trips to the Lighthouse Point Mini-wall, and a failed excursion to the coordinates for Black Forrest South that result in you getting completely and utterly lost, as well as some fun finding caves and swim-throughs at Teacher’s Caverns. After these dives are logged, you are good to go!

Buoyancy practice - a crucial skill

Step 3: Meet the Divetech Team

It is well known that the breed of humans known as “The Dive Instructor” (Binomial Name: Immergite Aqua Instructore) are a vicious and highly unpredictable subset of Homo Sapiens. Thus, one must tread carefully. On day one you arrive alert and on guard, only to find the Divetech team to quite possibly be the friendliest, most agreeable, and attentive group of professionals that you have ever met, which certainly takes some of the pressure off. Divetech Manager Rachael kindly gives you a tour of the facility before you spend some time getting to know your new teachers and colleagues, simultaneously learning about the different facets of the Divetech operation, and quickly discovering that it takes much more hard work and effort to run a dive company than you’d think.

Step 4: Let’s Go Diving!

Once you’ve gained some familiarity with the operation, it’s time to get down to business. You meet with the wonderful Kelly, one of Divetech’s resident instructors, and are also introduced to your Divemaster Trainee buddy, Alexa, who’ll also be completing her training with you. Before you know it, you’re in the pool and doing your first skills circuit. Remember that long list of skills that you had to demonstrate mastery of before completing your Open Water Diver Certification? Well, it’s time to do that again, except this time not only do you need to perform the skill but demonstrate it as well. After spending a few hours wondering how you got so rusty, you’ve survived your first official morning as a Divemaster Trainee!

Step 5: Dive as much as Humanly Possible

Over the next few weeks, you undergo a rigorous training program. Much of being a Divemaster is about supervising students and assisting instructors, so a lot of what you learn is about how you can responsibly and safely pass your knowledge of diving to others. You assist on myriad courses: Open Water with Brett, Discover Scuba Diving with Kam, Rescue Diver with Ted, and a Refresher with Elric, just to name a few. You have the privilege of working with a range of instructors, gaining exposure to a variety of teaching styles and specialities. As well as the mandatory training, you’re encouraged to dive as much as possible, which means you are basically in the water 24/7. Your towels can’t dry fast enough, and you lose track of your flipflops because you’re so used to not wearing them. They’ll turn up eventually.

Divemaster Alexa giving Divetech staff members a memorable dive briefing

Step 6: Practice, Practice, Practice

In the earlier stages of your training, you’re a little bit intimidated, unsure if you’re capable of completing the task ahead of you, but as you spend more time in the water, you become more comfortable, and things that began as a labour start to become second nature. Mapping, Search and Rescue, Deep Diving, Lift Bags; before you know it, you’re ready for your final assessments, and you realise that your time at Divetech is coming to a close.

Step 7: Time to Reflect

You draw out the paperwork process and convince yourself that you need Divetech Merch (you absolutely do) so that you can make a few more visits to the shop and share some moments with some familiar faces, but reality is inevitable, and suddenly you are no longer a Divemaster Trainee, but a fully fledged Divemaster. As you sob uncontrollably into your pillow, you think back on a month full of highlights: your first Hammerhead shark sighting, having the privilege of watching an anxious Discover Scuba Diver grow into a confident Open Water Diver, and spending countless warm, sunny days in and out of the Caribbean Sea, meeting new people every day, and getting to share the ocean with them. Not bad at all.

New certified Divemasters Alex & Alexa with their mentors Kelly & Brett

celebrating the successful completion of their course - and their exciting futures ahead!


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