Happy Open Water DiversIt’s been a while, but after about 10 months of not going deeper than 5 ft I was back in the water and teaching some open waters. For those of you that don’t know me I was out on maternity leave. Had a little girl and am very happy....but I digress. With the evolvement of the open water program over the past couple of years I was excited to put everything I had been teaching into a real application and get going with it. So my first two open water divers, since my land confinement were eager students from Washington DC. Down in Costa Rica on vacation they were excited to be getting in the water after studying their academics online and I myself was excited to sink my scuba fangs into an open water class. Pool dives no problem off into the ocean. Beautiful water and some great critters including some nice little white tip sharks who decided to show their faces. There is something enthralling about watching divers come face to face with sharks underwater for the first time. The eyes grow huge and the excitement is obvious. Even though these little guys were definitely not in the daunting category they certainly demand respect and awe. With the ever growing amount of bad rap for sharks out there, bad publicity and all, it is great moment to introduce new divers to their majestic beauty. I find that I get more and more frustrated with the absolute "crap" that is written about sharks in the media recently and some of the absolutely ludicrous ideas of people "protecting" themselves that it settles me somewhat to be helping to spread a different message. Don’t get me wrong though, I know that there is also a lot of good messages and media being spread about them also and fair play to those people who are fighting for them.
Anyway, back to my open water class. Since the program changed a couple of years ago there have been some notable changes to it which in my opinion if taught correctly, will increase the number efficient, happy and safe divers. One of these is the repeated requirement for the divers to be monitoring their own air. Whilst this was expected in the previous program and mentioned it wasn’t quite insisted upon so much as now. All good prudent instructors completed it anyway but now it is set in stone in the bold black of a performance requirement so everyone has to do it.
We receive many resort divers here and how many of those are uncomfortable checking their own air? Normally quite a few I find. Another one of the new points that I like is the more realistic nature of the buoyancy exercises. Again, whilst prudent, good instructors insisted on those extra buoyancy steps, not just the performance requirements, many did not. Now, with the descents onto "sensitive bottoms (hehehe)" and streamlining exercises we can be assured that our new budding divers will be more aware of their practical buoyancy skills.
Finally, the last dive, leave it to your students. They get to plan and run their final dive. Just like a real world situation in many places. Yes, I am there to point out the cool, amazing wildlife around but they get to dictate how deep, how long and monitor everything they may need to. And I feel, because of that, they have an even greater sense of achievement when finishing their program. Which in turn I feel as well, having helped two slightly apprehensive or nervous people come out the other end feeling confident and happy, looking forward to their many future adventures in the ocean.
Here’s to exploring, enjoying and preserving our Oceans and teaching others to do so!