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PADI Divemaster Lessons Learnt

Discussion in 'Advanced Scuba Discussions' started by Skulmoski, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Skulmoski

    Skulmoski Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Gold Coast, QLD
    PADI Divemaster: Lessons Learnt

    I completed my Divemaster training this December 2016 in Koh Tao at the age of 56 years young. I enjoyed this course and experience. I did some things right and some things not so well. I would like to pass along this experience so that others might leverage what I have done.

    • Read about the Divemaster course to make sure it is right for you. I will never be employed as a Divemaster but wanted the learning experience for itself. However, I do believe my diving skills improved as a result of this course.
    • Research about which dive center you would like to partner with for this training. I chose Simple Life Divers because they had a very good reputation, were medium sized and offered good rates.
    • Complete one or both of the theory requirements prior to attending the course:
        • eLearning: Divemaster

        • eLearning: Dive Theory
      • I completed the more difficult Dive Theory ahead of my course. Who wants to be stuck in a classroom or hotel room reading when you can be diving!

    • Swim, swim, swim to prepare for the 4 stamina tests:
      • 100 meter tow

      • 400 meter swim

      • 800 meter swim with mask, snorkel and fins

      • 15 minute tread water

    • Make sure your gear is in good working condition.

    • Identify any other learning objectives you have so that you can work them into your training. I also wanted to:
        • Improve my air consumption rate

        • Improve my finning
      • The instructors at Simple Life Divers were very helpful with these additional learning objectives.

    • Complete the required number of dives before attending the course. In my case, I had more than the required dives to complete the course.

    • I took a bit too much equipment that I either seldom used or did not use; I would not take:
      • Too much extra hardware (e.g. double snap bolts); take one spare snap bolt and if you need more, buy one.

      • Night diving gear: night dives is not in the curriculum and therefore, I did not need a second light, strobe and head lamp to use on the boat.

      • 3mm wetsuit: even though I enquired ahead of time, I brought a 3mm wetsuit that I only used in the unheated pool.

      • PADI manuals (e.g. Deep, Night and Search and Recovery). Simple Life has a nice library of PADI manuals that could be referred to; I did not need mine.

      • Cable ties: bring only two or three rather than 5-10.

      • Reel for the mapping project: While I used my heavy Manta reel on two dives to map a site, I could have used fin kicks to measure distance.

      • Gloves: I did not use them

      • Silicon grease (2 ml jar): apply it to any gear ahead of the trip and if required, borrow some or buy some.

      • Extra bungee cord: keep to a minimum and bring only one size.

      • Lobster Stick: I did not use; my buoyancy and backward finning negated needing the lobster stick.

    • This was my course, so I self-managed my training journey:
      • I read and fully understood the DM course. The Instructor Manual clearly and explicitly details the course requirements. I knew what I had to do so I was able to make a training plan that was aligned with my time available.

      • Make a plan to complete all requirements within your allotted time. It is easy to delay reading and other requirements and to enjoy fun diving and social activities. A number of other DMTs were into their 2nd and 3rd month of training and completed very little of the course requirements. Since I wanted to complete the course in 3 weeks, I tried to complete some of the requirements every day. I would ask the instructor at the end of the day, what we can complete the next day. This allowed him to plan completion activities for me and to also invite other DMTs to join us. To some extent, my schedule drove the training for other DMTs. My instructors were very accommodating to help me along my training journey.

    I finished the course in 16 days with 30 open water dives and 4 confined pool dives. This was a challenging course since I completed it during the monsoon and I did not take any days off. I put in a lot of effort and my personal satisfaction is commensurate with my effort. Yes, I am really happy I completed my Divemaster training.

    Good luck to those who are also on Divemaster journey.

    Gruber, Chris_D and kablooey like this.
  2. DMDavid

    DMDavid Divemaster

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Fernandina Beach, FL
    Dive master training was one of my favorite courses that really put me through the paces and I can only imagine how much harder it would have been if I hadn't been in my 30's at the time that I went through the course.
    Kudos to you for your perseverance and fortitude in not only meeting but accomplishing your goals.

    Divemaster Dave
    Skulmoski likes this.
  3. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Dubai UAE
    Good post, interesting too.

    I've just started my e learning to complete DM here in DXB with the practicals in Jan. I may have an advantage as I've already completed the BSAC Dive Leader course, similar but different.

    I'm only a handful of years behind you ..

    Q. What dive skills did you want to see improved? What do you feel was the improvement?
    Q You wanted an air consumption improvement. What was it before and how was it at the end
    Q Did you do any swim preparation before hand, if so what where?

    Well done
    Skulmoski likes this.
  4. Skulmoski

    Skulmoski Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Gold Coast, QLD
    Hello, a response to your questions....
    Q. What dive skills did you want to see improved? What do you feel was the improvement?
    - Improved air consumption
    - I assume that with more diving, one gets more comfortable and therefore consumes a bit less air
    - Switching to frog kick rather than flutter should reduce my effort. I worked with the TEC instructor who helped a bit with my finning technique. He said my frog kick, trim and buoyancy were pretty good so he helped me improve my backward finning technique.

    Q You wanted an air consumption improvement. What was it before and how was it at the end
    - I consume more air than some of my buddies who have 5-10 times more diving experience than I (no surprise there). My air consumption was one of the better ones in the group of 10 Divemaster trainees by the end of the course.

    Q Did you do any swim preparation before hand, if so what where?
    - I did swim 4 times per week focusing on the 800m, 400m and tread water stamina requirements. I swam only in a 25m pool. However, I would recommend practicing in the open water instead.

    Good luck, and let us know your progress!

  5. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Congratulations. Now you get the magic PADI Decoder Ring! I was 57 when I completed mine and think I was probably the last one to go through the "old" course. man that was a lot of theory. I think the emphasis on more practical they have now is a good idea.
    Skulmoski likes this.
  6. iamrushman

    iamrushman Great White

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: ft. lauderdale, florida
    Congratulations and good luck in your diving endeavors....job well done....thanks for sharing your info.
    Skulmoski likes this.
  7. lermontov

    lermontov Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: christchurch
    nice job good to see your still getting stimulation in your latter years :D
    Skulmoski likes this.
  8. ReefHound

    ReefHound PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Houston, TX
    First off, congratulations on your achievement!

    I would caution you to be careful about projecting your specific situation and experience as general advice to others. Most people taking DM intend to act as a DM in some capacity, from working on a boat or in a shop to just leading a few friends on a dive. Even if not, your buddies that know you are a DM are going to expect you to have the capabilities of a DM.

    One of those is being prepared and self-sufficient. I would not recommend trying to minimalize based on the needs or lack thereof of one particular week. Taking extra snap bolts and zip ties and bungee imposes no significant extra burden. Situations vary. Maybe the boat provides it all, maybe there is a well-stocked shop at hand, or maybe you are remote and it's all on you. Gloves might be needed on a wreck or if the down line is nasty. Water temps can change. Measuring by fin kicks may not be practical. I would advise taking all the gear and spares you might reasonably need. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

    Another is being comfortable diving in all conditions. Night diving may not be in the curriculum but most divers would expect a DM to be capable of night diving. An early morning dive or a twilight dive that gets extended could have night like conditions.
    kablooey, Skulmoski and Diving Dubai like this.
  9. Skulmoski

    Skulmoski Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Gold Coast, QLD
    You are absolutely right; I had no intention for my lessons learnt to be applied to all other candidates in all other situations.

    I travelled from Abu Dhabi to Thailand, so weight was a constraint. I neglected to make this clear in the original post. Therefore, some of my lessons learnt were related to reducing weight; I did have to pay a dear penny for additional baggage.

    Thanks for letting me clarify.

  10. kablooey

    kablooey Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: San Diego
    Another thing a DM should always have is a med-kit. My kit is heavy on injury and trauma supplies for cuts and scrapes, bleeding wounds, etc. That's what I've had to deal with most often.

    Congrats Skulmoski.
    I assisted with Rescue and DM training up until I was 55 years old. It was great practice.
    Skulmoski likes this.

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