Sunday, April 21, 2013

It Is Always Nice To Go Away But Boy Is It Nice To Get Back.

Okay so I'm officially sitting back on UK ground and in the comfort of armchair in my front room connected to my internet eating a big beans, egg and bacon toasted sandwich. Ahhhh! I feel very relieved to be back in the comfort of everything that is familiar, I've done a good job of creating a comfortable cave for which to frequent so it is a joy to cocoon myself back in to all my creature comforts that said, I'm sad that I have left Malta behind, especially as the weather here is well typically British yet dry.

First off big thank you to Karen Hyde who was kind enough to actually offer to pick me up from Luton Airport when I arrived back yesterday afternoon. It was great to see you Karen and great to have a royal catch up. Always good to see true friends you haven't seen for a while and both talk non stop for hours on end about well everything. 

So..... my last week in Malta at Divewise. I was lucky enough to wear my equipment while doing quite a bit of guided diving on some of the amazing wrecks the Maltese coast line has to offer. I took some more guys from Swed Tech out and we dived the Um El Faroud (check this link out as it is 3D tour of the wreck from the 4th Element website.) What a wreck she is. Which to the non divers probably sounds like a bad thing but when a diver says that, he usually means it is a good dive. The wreck is massive with big long swim throughs and some good opportunities to practice some safe penetrations on a younger more intact wreck. What a fantastic end to my time in Malta.

I have to say Divewise have gone above and beyond the whole way. I wasn't the easiest person to teach and I'm sure at times the guys were pulling their hair out but thank you everyone for being so accommodating. Big thank you to Nev, Howard and Sarah (who I nearlly killed on land on the last night, again I'm so sorry Sarah : ) ) for being patient with me. And an extra specially big thank you to Viv and Alan who put me up for the last few days, it meant more than you can realise. Thank you.

I hope to go back out to Malta and would definitely return to Divewise some time in the future.

Things learned above;

Check a vehicle isn't in gear before you turn the ignition on to close the window while standing on the outside.

Take a walk around your hotel when you arrive and find out what is there. Something I did on the last day only to find an outside swimming pool.

When someone wants to have a moan about GUE to you (as a GUE diver) take it and don't wait 5mins until they stop to breath and then give them a perfectly constructed, conformed and concise response this will only lengthen the conversation you don't want to be having. (Not aimed at you Andrew just in case your wondering.)

Malta is a really good holiday destination. Perfect for diving, relaxing and walking/running. Good food, reasonably priced and they drive on the same side of the road.

Things learned below;

I can dive with a lot less weight. I had to give a student 3kilos off my weight belt underwater. Admittedly I was cold and wouldn't choose to do it but I can if for any reason I need to.

It still gets me a bit scared swimming in mid water leading a group with them behind me, with no visual reference other than my D timer. Which is weird because ascents in mid water don't scare me but swimming aiming for something does. Anyway I man up and get on with it but I still feel a certain arse clenching.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Photos as promised - Quick Update and Recap

 A bike I found underwater while diving with Andrew on his wreck diver speciality. It was a great dive on a landing craft. The only one used here and brought over to Malta from the UK. Andrew mapped the wreck while we had a good ferret about before getting up to some mischief on the return swim. Great dive. Especially seeing Andrew brimming with enthusiasm. I can see he has been bitten by the bug well and truly. It was also nice because I was allowed to dive using my kit which is familiar and perfectly fitted for me. Bit like getting in your own car and not having to move the seat. That added comfort which comes from using something lots.

 Above another photo from Andrew's wreck diver speciality. 
And below me putting my twins together again. Always always puts a smile on my face. This was pre a dive on Manoel Island on the X127 which, was a barge used to pump drinking water to troops on Malta during the second world war. I got a chance to dive with a load of the guys from Swed Tech which, is a DIR style diving organisation based in, you geussed it Sweeden. These guys are all really cool. Also great to see some younger faces doing tech diving, a sport predominantly dominated by crusty old men. This dive was hilarious as I was guiding two divers and accompanied by another diver. The wreck is only small and there were 9divers on it all wearing very very similar equipment. All good fun and didn't loose anyone even if I did have to do quite a few double checks to make sure those eyes were part of our team. All very competent divers and an absolute pleasure to feel at home diving with people who do everything under water the same as me. There is no way of knowing how relaxed and pleasurable it is to dive with a group of well trained DIR divers with out actually doing it (right). I know this is contraversial still in some circles but to be frank and to look at the facts anyone who dives a twinsett and doesn't do stuff this way is fast becoming the minority. Very odd when only a few years ago even the mention of DIR and people got their backs up. I once trolled a post on a forum about this asking the question if GUE has achieved what it set out to do. This was met with up raw but looking at the divers I see traveling around all diving as a team, practicing skills and refining techniques. The bar has officailly been raised and this has snow balled out to the whole dive industry which, is great to see.
 Me showing off my BCD (bouyancy control device), something I was not that familiar diving in before starting my DM but has become second nature, it is the same kit the students use and make things simpler for them. 

This is a photo of me giving the briefing to one of the groups of Scouts. Great fun ad great to see so many young faces really enjoying all things diving.

Last but definitely not least I have had an opportunity to do a try dive on the JJ rebreather (can't express how awesome this is) but I am going to save my thoughts on this until the next post where I should have some HQ (or at least better quality) photos of me diving on it. Wish me luck. My bubbleless adventure starts here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dive dive dive, dob dob dob - Do What You Love

I've been busy working like a camel in the dessert for the last week. Hence the lack of daily updates. I'm not sure you my loyal readers would appreciate a daily update so it is probably convenient for me and a relief for you to read this update a little later than the rest. Anyway as Mr T would say, "quit your gibber gabber fool."

This last week has been a roller coaster of progression. Where I have skipped from feeling as if I have made giant leaps to perhaps this whole thing isn't for me. It is tougher than I could have imagined when I booked the trip out here. I that I had no preconceptions before coming out here however, I must have as I feel kind of hard done by thinking that I should be on some jolly holiday on the beach by 4, enjoying a BBQ with the customers. Having said that I need to be kept busy and that I certainly have been. Idle time may be the Devil's play thing, and as most of you know I love to get in to scrapes of one sort of another so the long hours and 6working days a week satisfies my lust to be occupied.

I have been doing a lot of donkey work this week but it is fun to try and keep the whole thing organised especially when teaching 20 Cub Scouts and leaders. I have been fortunate as well that I have had a lot of opportunities to give briefings explaining the basics of SCUBA and the ins and outs of the DSD (discover SCUBA diving) program. The DSD is the introduction to SCUBA diving and is a very intensive 1-2hour mini course where a new diver is put through the paces with some skills and then taken on a little dive to see some of the cool stuff that exists underwater here. As mentioned I've done a good few briefings and I have also done the in water skills with some newbie divers. It is great to watch new divers get the hang of it and extremely frustrating to watch complete idiots struggle with the most basic things. It is! There is just no way around the fact that unfortunately due to the nature of teaching so much more time is spent working with the people who aren't naturally geared to doing this stuff. That said it is very rewarding to watch people succeed when it hasn't been easy for them. It has amazed me to see some of the things that people do when under the water. As Nev says DSDs are the building block for an instructor as this is where all the bizarre things are likely to happen and this has definitely been the case. It is good fun if a little worrying and tiring attempting to herd new divers as they take there first few unconfident fin kicks. I am still astounded and need to stress this point how some people take to it like a fish and others just struggle on regardless. Fair play to those dedicated few who are going to do it against the odds they are my kind of diver and all though sometimes frustrating, I will happily spend all day helping them perfect whatever it is they are struggling with, as I'm not sure I had the most stable start (more on that later) and the determination to do it no matter what is endearing.

I've been diving in a few places in Malta and the weather has been a comfortable 24'c on land. We have had quite a lot of wind here though and because of this have had to shuffle locations around to suit conditions. Alas even in paradise there is one thing we can't do anything about and that is the weather. I've been fortunate enough that I have been surrounded in my free time with some experienced tech divers who have taught me lots and probably allowed me to talk incessantly at them as I vent my days withheld and thus built up tech jargon. I have been on a journey away from what I know in the realisation that it is not possible to expect a student to be perfectly flat, frog kicking or complete a perfect in trim ascent. Nor is it probably safe and this realisation does not come easily. In fact it is slowly being bashed out of me. The recreational PADI training here is great and I don't want any of this last sentence to deter anyone's opinion of what Divewise does because, they are an awesome outfit and care passionately about teaching people well. Anyway blah blah there I go again being boring and looking way to deeply in to a simple activity that should be enjoyed more frequently on face value. Still if I didn't have an opinion to offer you wouldn't be reading this so.....

I haven't really done any diving for the fun of it (outside of courses and teaching) and haven't seen anyone except Anne Japan do any. Anne has now left for a few weeks and won't be back until the day before I go which, is a real shame. I really rate Anne as a diver and an instructor her passion for diving is so clear and I can see that in a few years time she is going to be a super tech instructor and diver. I've also had the opportunity to do the Divemaster skills with Sarah this week. I was awful at the swim tests all though I believe I passed, it was a struggle. Sarah helped me work through the skills from the previous circuit that I had done badly. I was blown away by her detailed teaching style. I love working on the finesse of the skills to make them as perfect as possible and Sarah seemed only too happy to help me. I really enjoyed the in water stuff with Sarah. We worked on CESAs (controlled emergency swimming ascent - what you would do if you (which you never would be) were out of gas and had to swim directly to the surface), Kit exchange (where two people swap kit underwater while sharing one regulator (buddy breathing) designed as a stress test) I really enjoyed it and found it easy and fun barring the few glugs of swimming pool inadvertently consumed and finally weight belt removal and replace. The pool was a toasty 26'c even still I was cold by the time we got out all of a couple of hours later. All done and as far as I know all passed.

I went out last Saturday to reggae night on the island, in a club that is outdoors but under a huge canopy with trees growing on the dance floor. the club was very cool and made me wonder what the whole experience was designed for people who enjoy dancing around fields, hugging trees covered in nothing but body paint with huge pictures of Buddha dotted around the place. ;) I saw the event on facebook and left a message to see if anyone would share a taxi. I got a reply and went to meet a guy who turned out to be from Scotland. The night was awesome and Fraser the guy who replied to the facebook message turned out to be really cool. The night was great, especially hearing quite a few tracks from bands I have seen live over the last few years at festivals always feels strange hearing music I would choose to listen to when miles away from home. Also not forgetting of course the sexy hippy chicks which I can't help falling for and were in abundance. Alas I was so tired from working all week I snuck of early at 2am to go home and sleep through Sunday. It was nice to go out in Malta though. I have been sensible and stayed in every night so far in a vein ditched attempt to save money but more so to help me with training. That is it for this week. I hope where ever you are reading this you are doing what you love.



P.S. I promised photos and I will come through in the next couple of days.