Well I am usually the more quiet one on the forum......but I've just got to comment on this course....I just can not get over how good this was!
The last three days (and two nights) have been the most useful training days I have had in my diving career.
When I moved to New Zealand a few months back I had been diving with the same buddy for the last five years. To me we were the ideal buddy pair, having done our Open Water, Advanced Open water, Nitrox and a few other recreational diving courses together, having shared holidays and work trips in remote diving locations, diving laughs and of course and unfortunately diving incidents...
On occasions where I could not dive with my buddy I did a few recreational dives with the British Army....some solid buddies there as you can imagine! Dive instructors in the army can get court marshal if something goes wrong under their guidance even if they are just pleasure diving, so needless to say these dives were managed like army operations.
I knew it would not be that easy to find a new buddy. Moving in a new country is absolutely great fun but is also comes with a catalogue of trials and errors....and it's not just buying the wrong brand of washing product, it's everything, and as I found out even finding a buddy.
When I joined my dive club people barely knew me and I ended up being buddied up with buddy that well did not have any interest in being buddied up. This is when I started to think about my training again and what was available around me in order to compensate for the lack of buddy until such time I'd find a good one again.
I had heard of the self reliant training course but when I mentioned it to my dive club I was advised that it may be quite difficult to get it organised and they suggested I did my rescue diver instead. I was not to keen on doing that course, but agreed that it did make sense. I took the course a few months ago now. The trainer was brilliant and it was a really good course. However it did not actually give me what I was looking for at the time, or yet.
I decided to go for my Master Scuba Diver then, choosing specialties for dive I usually enjoy (Advanced deep, Advanced Wreck, Advanced navigation, Advanced Naturalist) hoping I will pick up some extra skills and therefore perhaps be more self reliant at these dives. These advanced courses are brilliant. I am 60% of the way through and really enjoying them.
I was still waiting to hear when I could join the next Self Reliant Diver and late December we confirmed for early January. I was sooooo looking forward to it. And as Andy knew I had very high expectations.....Andy did not disappoint....late December we met up for one evening and went through the theory. Whilst going through the theory we shared past experiences, discussed how we dealt or did not deal with them and it was good to reflect with Andy as a mentor, he asked some mind provoking question that had me reflecting on these past experiences for a few days. The learning was already in action
We met up at the pool on Monday and spent hours practicing skills, time and time again, this was extremely worthwhile.
I came home on Monday late afternoon (so much for a couple of hours in the pool in the morning!) and had to catch up with work, but decided to check my answers to the knowledge review again (is it just me or does the calculator never find the same answer twice?)...Then more work....
The following morning we were meeting at the Lake, my first time in "The Lake", as per Tara's photo it was a very very nice day, and the lake felt like bath water. We did two dives and worked on set of skills time and time again, then combined the skills. Tried different gears, tried different set ups, and again had the great benefit of Andy's mentoring and experience all the way through.
We identified a few opportunities for improvement, discuss plans for the following day, then back to work...
Another very short night, having forgotten the knowledge review on my bed side for two nights in the row I hadn’t handed in yet and by 1.00am decided to do it for the third time. I just wanted to get a grip on all the calculations and formulaes so in the future I could perform the calculations pre-dive at seas and should I need it during the dive...
Back at the Lake for two more dives this morning, the first one we focused on skills, and as I have noted from the thread the comments on SMB deployment, I can tell you this was real fun. I did a fair bit of diving in Egypt (the only country in the world I believe where SMB are compulsory by law - too many people end up crushed under boats without them
). And yet it's a skill easily forgotten if you don't practice it often. Plus I had a lot to live up to...after the fantastic 10 in PK with my new awesome buddy, Rob (Nemesis)
((see reports at viewtopic.php?f=142&t=2898
over the Christmas period and his excellent SMB deployment (Full inflation, not going up and down, looking totally relaxed....he is a natural! - in fact the only people that had any concerns over the deployment were the Yukon crew when we forgot to mention that we always practice all sorts of skills on our dives and were going to practice the SMB deployment....we had them a little worried for a minute…or three…..Oups..).
As for the last dive of the training session.....you just got to do the course to find out how much fun it was...Plus we were encouraged to practice any skills in any way we liked, so at safety stop time, I decided to be out of air, with a broken mask, whilst deploying the SMB.....I just got to hope this never happen in a non simulated environment!
Last debrief and more opportunity for improvement identified. That's the beauty of the course. Finding out, what we know, what we don't know, what we are good at and less good at, and knowing the techniques to develop these skills further....
So what's next? Finishing my Advanced wreck at the week end (most of you heard that dive three was the "blind" aka "blindfolded" wreck navigation) I can't help to wonder what we will be doing next…
Then back at the Lake (whoo hoo!) for a week end of Advanced Navigation (let's see if Ned, Sally and Fred end up in the house or in the shed....man do you have any easier way to show people how to use compasses??)...long live natural navigation!
After that....time to stop training, and focus on practicing the skills whilst enjoying more diving, up North, in Wellington and abroad with my new found buddy...