It all started when Sara and I returned from Venezuela, I had all ways wanted to become an instructor but this trip made up my mind for sure.
I started researching different dive schools to see what they had to offer and finally decided the that the European diving centre in turkey would be the place to go, but how would I raise the money, £1000 for the courses and who knows how much for living expenses and flights, and with Christmas not far away money was short.
Christmas day came and my step farther John had something up his sleeve that would eventually change Sara’s life and mine forever. Everybody had finished opening his or her presents when John called me into the kitchen; he had something he wanted to talk to me about. He pulled out his check book and said, “How much is it going to cost to do this dream of yours”, I did not know what to say for a second and said “£3000”; the reply was instant “no problem happy Christmas son”. IT HAD BEGUN.
Once Christmas was out of the way and the holidays were over I sent an email to edc saying that I wanted to do my divemaster course and IDC with them ASAP they returned by saying that they had an internship program starting in April.
April 2002 destination (turkey)
I said my good buys to my mum and Sara at stansted, this was not only my first trip abroad on my own but this would be the longest that me and Sara would be apart in eight years together. I arrived at Dalaman airport in the evening and was collected by one of EDC’s drivers. One the way to ichmiler we stopped for some Turkish tea at the driver’s friend’s house, this was a bit unnerving at first but their hospitality soon put me at ease. We arrived in ichmiler just after nine PM, was met by Ernest who showed me my room for the next three months, he also introduced me to Tinas one of my fellow interns.
The next day Tinas showed me around town and introduced me to the staff at the dive centre, and to Ian and Julie the last of our Group. Ernest told me I would have the next day off to get used to my surroundings, and that we would start my rescue diver course the day after. I had heard a lot about the rescue course so I arrived at the boat a little nervous. I was introduced to my instructor Justin and we left for beginner’s bay. The first day of the course was not as bad as had imagined, but on the last day, they made me work for it by throwing in some man over bored scenarios.
I had no time to sit around and enjoy the scenery from this point on I had to study for my dive master course sit in on lectures and work hard in the water. It seemed that the skills practice sessions would go on forever, as Ernest was quite a taskmaster. The weeks passed by and the course was over with just a little stumble on my physics exam. I was now starting to enjoy my self and Sara would be there soon. On the day of Sara’s arrival you could not take the smile off my face, it had been five long weeks since we had seen each other and I had changed from someone very uptight to the more laid back person I am now, the question was would she like this person. I need not have worried two days later she proposed and I gladly accepted. That week flew by and it was the almost time for Sara to go home, but Sara broke her foot and we managed to persuade her to stay for another week. We all made the most of that week because we would be in Fetiye the following Friday. The night before we were due to go we had a bit of a night out and in good old south African fashion Ernest decided that we should try the local brew (RAKI), which I had been staying away from, but not tonight (this drink is not for the faint hearted). The next morning I awoke to mixed emotions, I was excited, nervous about going to Fetiye, and sad because Sara was going home. After saying goodbye to Sara, we left for Fetiye and the IDC (The four musketeers).
We arrived in Fetiye around 19:00 and were met by our course director Ryby Stonehouse. Ryby commandeered one of EDC’s mini buses and took us to our accommodation for the next two weeks or so. We dropped off our gear and went for some food and a beer with Ryby. The first week of the IDC was very hard for me, as I could not take in all of the information quickly enough. After chat and a beer with Ryby, everything started to fall into place. The day before the IE we did our medic first aid course, this was a lot of fun and took our minds off the IE for a short time. That evening we went to a hotel for our IE Orientation, and received our tasks for the next two days. I was up early the next day and so was everybody else so we met on the roof terrace for an early breakfast, nobody said much (today was the day) this is what we had been studying for. The first day was water work and my group were not needed by Erika (our examiner) until the afternoon, so that morning all we had to do was to perform a demonstration quality rescue sinario. After the rescue demo, we just watched the other groups and chilled out in the sun until it was our turn. Our turn came and I was first to go, I had been given open water dive two (regulator recovery and partial mask clear, I just hoped I would do as well as I did on the briefing. All went well and managed to spot the deliberate mistakes that my other candidates were given by Erika. I got though the confined water part of the exam with out a hitch, and that was the end of day one.
I awoke just as early on day two of the exam and was not looking forward to the theory exam (physics). We arrived at the hotel and was greeted by Erika, we were told that we would be split into two groups the first group would do there presentation first and then we would all sit our theory exam together and then my group would do our presentations after lunch. The theory exam lasted a very long two hours and I managed to go over everything twice but was still not satisfied with some of my answers when Erika called time, all I had to do was wait. Erika told the other group their results first as they also would be told weather or not they had become instructors or not. She eventually got to our group and to my relief I had passed my theory exam, all I had to do was do well on my presentation and the dream would come true. While the first group was celebrating their success we were called in to do our presentations. My presentation went well and I scored much better than I had expected I was now an open water scuba instructor. This was the best felling in the world and all I could do was walk around in a daze trying to take in just what I had achieved. Ten minutes and four pints later we were told that it was time to receive our certificates, which was not only a very proud moment for all of us but also a lot of fun because of Ruby’s sense of humour and a little alcohol. After the presentation we made our way to Popeye’s for our celebration party, I cannot remember much after that. I was glad that the oxygen provider course was the next day as oxygen is a good cure for a hang over. I had one more day in Fetiye and then had to leave for ichmiler, this was a very sad moment because Ian, Tinas and Julie and myself had come such a long way together and had become very close. Once back at ichmiler Ernest decided it was time for another celebration as the people there had mist out on the other one. Three days later, I was on a plane heading home after another sad farewell.
I arrived back home at a very stupid hour and was collected at Gatwick by my dad and Sara. I decided it have two weeks off before returning to work. It took just two days to decide that I had to get a diving job and get out of the rat race. So I started replying to job openings on the padi professional web site. Eventually I landed a job on an island named agtti in a group of islands called lackshadweep, which is off the southern tip of India and 280 kilometers north of the Maldives.
Goa & the lackshadweep
I arrived in Goa after a ten-hour trip via Dubai and Mumbai. My new boss collected me from the airport and taken to his house, which was also the dive school. He showed me to my accommodation (the pool house) very nice. After a coffee, it was time to crash out as the jet lag was kicking in. I was awoken by Willy (my boss) around 4:30 pm to discover the mosquitoes had all ready started on me, I had a quick shower had a beer beside the pool with Willy and then we went for some food at joets. That evening Willy told me all about agatti, the resort and of course the diving. I spent five weeks in Goa during which time I started to teach for the first time (this was very scary). Sara came out to join me after three weeks and two weeks after that we were on our way to the lackshadweep islands.
The journey consided of to parts. First we had to get a train down to Kochi in the state of karalla, which we had a day to soak up some of the local culture and we would then catch a ship to agatti, this would take us 24 hrs. We arrived at the islands just after sunrise and what a sunrise!! We made to stops at different islands before we got to agatti. We were met by sikanda the resident dive master and we boarded the resort boat and made our way to the resort itself, my first impressions my WOW, the water was clear and I counted over 20 turtles in the first 30 minutes. The dive centre here was small and our roll was to run the day-to-day operations teach and guide dives. Our first few weeks there were spent learning and discovering new dive sites, the diving here was out of this world, we had turtles on every dive, sharks, hump head wrasse you name it we saw it. After the first two months I was apparent that sikanda was not happy with us being there (he did not like the fact he was a padi dive master and there was a limit on what he was aloud to do, he work on another island as a CMAS 3 * diver where the rules were slightly different). During our time there, I taught Sara to dive and trained her up to become a dive master, which she did with flying colures. Four moths at this place were long enough though as there was not a lot of custom for the dive centre and this was not good for my own diving education, as I wanted to teach more courses. We left agtti by air this time in March of 2003 and spent two days as tourists in Kochi, and then returned to the UK. Our time on mainland India and agtti were unforgettable. The people and culture are fascinating, the diving in the lackshadweep island s is truly incredible, and we would not have missed it for the world…
We had spent five weeks back home when we were offered a job working for subway scuba, running there dive centre on COMINO Island. After the usual checks on the company, we accepted the offer and booked our flights to Malta. We were collected from Malta airport by cab and taken to subway’s head office in bugiba where lina the op’s manager met us. My first impressions were that this was a very well run dive operation and as long as they ran it as good as it looked things would be ok. Lina told us that we would have the next day off to chill out and get used to our surroundings but we decided to go diving and see what Malta had to offer. Our first dive was on the shipwreck of the tugboat rozi. The second dive was on one of the most famous wrecks in the world HMS MOURI, this was not the best dive I have done but the historical nature of the wreck made it a good dive for me. We had made our first dives on Malta and it looked ok to me (much better than turkey). We were picked up by martin our new boss early the next day to catch the hotel ferry to COMINO, on our first day there martin just showed us around the hotel, dive centre etc and introduced us to the staff. The next day was spent learning the anchor points at the dive sites and generally getting to know our way around. We spent the next few weeks learning the dive sites.
The first couple of months ticked over nicely and then the season really kicked in and we were busy everyday, guiding, teaching and introducing people to the underwater world. We met some nice people this season and made some good friends.
We decided to return to Malta/Comino the following year, and what a year!! It started with Sara doing her IDC. WE arrived early on Malta so Sara could do her course and her IE (Instructor Exam). The two-week course flew by and it was soon time for Sara to do her two-day exam. I was more nervous than she was so it was lucky that I was working to take my mind off it, in fact I was far mind I was again like a cat on a hot tin roof, I was told to stay away from the place where they would be conducting the in-water part of the exam so I could not make Sara even more nervous. But I could not stay away so after breakfast at one of the restaurants I made my way slowly down to where they were and my timing could not have been better, I arrived just as the examiner was telling her she had passed. We were both overjoyed as you can imagine. So that was it we were now both instructor’s. The following season was even more manic than the previous, with lots more divers and student than before, and before we new it was October and time to leave.
The following year was again very busy and yet again it flew by. But before we left I had sustained an injury. On the Monday of the last week I managed to fracture my left foot. Which was not too bad until I week later when I was admitted to ST Luke’s hospital with a bad infection in my foot. After a week I was discharged and allowed to fly back to the UK
We are now involved in a brand new venture called H2o divers together with a friend and colluege Steve also from subway scuba…
We are now both IDC STAFF Instructors. We are closely involved in setting up and running of two dive centers. Sara is now the resort manager of the centre at the Riviera resort and spar and I am now the chief instructor of both Riviera and the golden sands resort and spar. During our first summer we have found some new dive sites and have managed to put some new twists on some of the old ones. I have also gained my level two boat licence and now im the proud skipper of a custom build dive boat H2o diver,(and I must say it is a really cool boat too). Our plan of doing things a little different is right on track.We have met and continue to meet allot of good friends, and have had allot of good times, and have made many new friends and take with us allot of memories.
The diving around COMINO, MALTA, GOZO, has everything from caves and caverns to big drop-offs and gentle sloping reefs. The season seemed to go by so quickly and before we knew, it was time to leave, although, we shall have some lasting memories, not just from COMINO but also from our travels so far.
Looking back, I would say that both Sara and I have come a very long way. I would say to anyone wanting to do what we have done “be prepared to work very hard on your IDC, you have to give 100% and be prepared to work hard in the job as you only see what half of what goes on in a dive centre when you are a guest. It can be long hours and not a lot of time off but the rewards are well worth the effort”.
My story from just a diver to a diving pro