A Spanish Adventure – A Dive Monkey went travelling
I have been diving for 4 years and became a PADI Divemaster in December 2015. Although being in the UK I am always available to help assist on any courses or other tasks where needed, real life does have rather a bad habit of getting in the way so I was keen and eager to get as much hands on experience as I possibly could.
I spoke to my Instructor, Kerrie, at Ocean Turtle Diving and she told me about a place in Southern Spain called Simply Diving where she had done her Instructor training and suggested that I got in touch with them to see if they could help with my masochistic plan of being a full time DM for a brief stint of work experience.
Initially I’d hoped to spend a month getting stuck into full time work with them but I could only negotiate 3 weeks away from my “proper” job but it would have to do. After talking to Simon, the formidable boss and owner of Simply Diving, everything was arranged for me to go over on the 1st of June to start my adventure in their Torremolinos dive centre.
As I didn’t have a great deal of time available to spend with them I was keen from the start to get as stuck in as possible. I realised pretty quickly that they are so successful there (they’ve been on TV too don’t you know) because everything, and I mean absolutely everything, is done in a very specific way.
The kit room is a thing of beauty if you have any OCD tendencies, if you don’t you may just find it odd! All hangers for BCDs and Wet Suits are hung the same way, all regs are coiled and hung in identical fashion and the masks, fins and other accessories are held in an equally ordered fashion. Some may call this approach “anal”, I think I probably did myself on numerous occasions, but on busy days when packing kit for a lot of divers, it made everything so much easier and quicker to organise.
Away from kit logistics which could actually be a post in itself, I gained a lot of hands on experience in the water at the gorgeous Marina del Este with the Simply Diving instructors. The range of tasks went from helping with DSDs and courses to guiding experienced divers. The courses were very different to what I am used to, mainly because all the elements were performed in the sea. It was quite eye opening to see how many people were overcome with fear whilst attempting a DSD and I learnt a lot about patience whilst being firm and assertive to try and encourage them to complete the experience. This was not always successful but for me it was a brilliant source of development.
Guiding divers was also something new that I wasn’t at all experienced in and the first time I was let loose, I think it potentially showed. A group of 4 divers with 2 Divemasters should have been pretty straight forward to manage but it seems that fishing for divers and keeping them rounded up can sometimes be a lot more tricky than I’d imagined. Each time guiding though I learned from the last and was a lot more confident in my abilities at the end of my stay.
It did surprise me when communicating under water how many people seem to forget what you’ve told them on the surface. An example is that on a couple of occasions I’d ask how much air a diver had and they’d tell me they’re OK, about as useful as a chocolate tea pot! Again though, this did help me and improved my pre dive briefings so that I was confident that they understood exactly what I would be doing and expected from them so it turned out OK in the end!
My last day with Simply Diving I was allowed to go to Marbella for a day with them on their boat guiding a couple of beautiful dives, the Tower is especially great!! It may be a smaller dive centre than in Torremolinos but it’s organised in the same way so it all runs in the same efficient manner.
Throughout my all too brief time over there, I got to work with the fantastic team of instructors, interns and dive centre staff. To use one of Simon’s phrases, everyone in the team is a small cog used to power a larger machine, all as useful as each other and without each one, it wouldn’t work. It’s a total cliché but it really is true, although now that this little cog is no longer there, I hope that it won’t stall and fall over!
This job is hard, there is no denying it, the days are long and in the summer heat things get even tougher. But at the end of each day, everyone will relax and have a beer together, not the beers I would buy though. It seems that getting a large can and a large bottle mixed up in Spain is the difference between a sociable drink with colleagues and starting a major session likely to end in a mild hangover the following day.
I truly enjoyed my time with Simply Diving and learnt a lot from them that I shall attempt to share with the Ocean Turtle Diving team back in the UK. For the guys left in Spain, I hope that you are all now able to sleep again after my mischievous last day creating chaos in your otherwise perfect world!
Would I take time out to work as a Divemaster again? – definitely, is it hard work? – undoubtedly! But is it worth it? – I can honestly say it was fantastic!