Becoming An Instructor Part 2 – The Divemaster Internship
by Liby Glister
Becoming a Divemaster is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Especially in the form of an internship at a top rated dive centre. I learnt so much about the dive industry and community. Yes I said community! Who would have thought there’s such a large portion of the world that loves diving just as much as I do. Until I came to Costa Rica, I had no idea diving was loved by this many people.
After what seemed like an eternity of searching and reading and wondering if it would even ever become a reality, we finally settled on joining the rocket frog team. Within a week our bags were packed, our flights were booked and we were ready to become a Divemaster!
I should mention first that I spent a few months in the Dominican Republic with a developing dive centre, I took my advanced, search and rescue and training assistant. This really made me realize how much I enjoyed being under the water whether it be snorkeling or a few scuba skills off the shore. This is where my eyes were opened to the world of scuba! Here I was introduced to Scuba internships. Yes they are a thing! Who would have thought!
This was when I began to consider becoming a dive professional. A whole new world had just been opened up to me and I was for sure going take every opportunity!
Upon arrival in Costa Rica, we were greeted with countless Rocket Frog signs on our way from the airport. We set up base in a hotel for a while and began increasing our dive count, ready to begin divemaster training.
At first glance the list of requirements to certify was terribly daunting! It just seemed like so much! However I was incredibly lucky as I got to dive twice a day everyday and the instructors had many students coming through. This meant that the page of requirements slowly but surely began to lessen!
There is no better feeling than having an instructor sign off that first divemaster task.
I started off as safety diver, hanging at the back of the dive group, making sure everyone stayed relatively close. I learnt a lot about the different ways people like to dive, it also gave me time to really tune up the way I dived. As a safety diver I was always carrying extra weight, ready to hand it off to some one who became a little light in their safety stop or underestimated how much weight they needed. This didn’t disturb my diving however it only improved it. I was capable of diving perfectly streamlined even with way too much weight. Yes I was always a little heavy and i had to work that much harder but not once did I let my self drag along the bottom or over inflate my BCD and shot up. The most important thing I learnt as a safety diver was to pay attention to everyone and to anticipate the problems before they even arise.
However my duty as a divemaster begins way before we even enter the water. It starts the second I step onto the boat, scratch that, it starts the second I arrive at the dive shop in the morning. We begin by loading the gear bags for the boat, we make sure we have enough tanks and that everyone knows where they need to be and when. Its then off to the boat to set up our gear and the clients. We assemble their kit, double check they have a full tank and that the o ring is still sealed, then lay out their wetsuit/fins/mask on their station.
Once the clients arrive on the boat, we send them to their stations and double check the roster.
First things first, we brief them about the boat (safety procedures etc…). When I first arrived at Rocket Frog I would just watch and listen to the instructors, as my divemaster training continued and I became more familiar and more confident I would brief the clients on the boat. I remember my first boat briefing, I was super nervous, what if I forgot the emergency radio channel or where the oxygen is located?
This was one of the reasons I chose to do an internship. I got a full on first hand experience of what it is like to be a divemaster in a well functioning, active dive business. The divemaster manual talks about dive logistics and site management, I was taking part in this each diving day, which here is everyday! Those tasks eventually became second nature, assembling gear, weighting all the divers, assisting people to analyze their nitrox tank etc…
It wasn’t just about diving safety and setting up gear, divemaster has some rather fun scenarios, like the deep dive for example which required a tank to be tied off at 15ft for a safety stop and navigation with a compass for 20 kick cycles. There is also a search and recovery scenario where I used a search pattern to locate an object which I brought to the surface using a lift bag.
When can I get to lead dives and show people the wonderful creatures the underwater world has to offer, you ask? Well then comes the dreaded rescue 7 or the mapping project! Lets not forget all the open water courses and Discover scuba programs… but I wont get into all of the just yet, there was still so much I had to learn before I was able to lead dives and take full responsibility for a group of divers. Keep your eyes open for another blog where ill dive further into the divemaster program and its many challenges.