I came to Utila to get away from the cold in Canada, but mainly to do professional PADI scuba training. Here’s what it’s like for me training to be a divemaster in Utila, Honduras.
PADI Divemaster Training at UDC
Since Monday, February 26th I have been enrolled in the Divemaster training program at Utila Dive Center. It has been time consuming, educational, entertaining and tiring! I love it!
My Divemaster Training Group
I am in the course with 3 other trainees, and we have gone through a lot together over the past 3 weeks. One is a marine biology student from England, and the others are a married couple from the U.S.A.
Divemaster Training is Intense
Classroom sessions with theory reading, 2 written exams, in-water training sessions, and skills tests were my life for the first two weeks. It’s exhausting!
Skills tests include an 800 meter swim in very rough water, a 400 meter tired diver tow with fins, mask and snorkel and more.
We also have to learn all the skills of a normal scuba diver, but be able to do them at demonstration quality. For example, not only being able to take off your mask and swim 50 meters without, then replace it and clear the water from it, but do so as if you are showing someone who has never done it before how to do it correctly. Slowly and with exaggeration! Sort of like Vanna White or a mime for scuba. There are 24 skills like that which we have had to perfect in the last few weeks. Here is a video of what I need to do!
Accomplishments to Date
I have passed 16 skills and still have 4 to get perfect before I pass the class. And at this point, I think that’s easy compared to what else I’ve done!
I have learned so much in the last few weeks and worked so hard that my daily schedule is usually: wake up (5-6am without an alarm!), make coffee and some breakfast, go to the dive center, home around 6p or 7p, cook dinner or eat out, and go to sleep. The other night I fell asleep at 8:30PM. Some days when I am not at the dive shop all day I am at home studying or thinking about studying. I have had more than a few dreams and woken up in the middle of the night thinking about my dive skills or losing some piece of dive equipment. It’s monopolizing my life – and I love it!
Assisting on Dive Courses
My latest part of training to be a divemaster is assisting on courses. The first course I assisted on was a Rescue Course, with 4 students training to become Rescue Divers. Currently, I am in the middle of an Open Water course, helping 8 students learning how to dive for the very first time! It’s really fun watching people get into the water with scuba gear and breathe underwater for the very first time. They are nervous, and excited at the same time. I can relate because I felt the same way years ago when I was in their shoes.
My role as DMT is to assist the instructors however they need! A lot of it is getting all the students’ gear: tanks, BCDs, wet suits, fins, snorkels, and weights. LOTS of weights. We also help out in the water when they are learning and practicing their skills. In the rescue course, that meant pretending to be a victim, which was fun. We pretended to panic, drown, and be unconscious so the students could practice every possible scenario of rescuing someone while diving or in a dive environment.
The great thing about assisting is learning from the instructors, and from the questions and problems the students have. For me, this is invaluable experience as, after I finish the divemaster program, I am moving on to instructor! I am in for several more weeks of hard work and fun.