I arrived at the dive shop bright and early in the morning on seas that were slowly starting to calm down from the effects of typhoon Saola as it passed to the east of the Philippines where I met the owners Dave and Matt along with the rest of the staff. Shelagh, a staff DM, helped me find accommodation on the island and settle in after breakfast. My first order of business was to complete my Emergency First Response course which I did the following day, learning how to provide CPR and going through a number of emergency simulations. I also had the opportunity to go for my first dive. It was a gentle dive on the local “house reef” where I spotted a pair of sea mice walking along the sea bed in addition to a number of pebble crabs and sea horses. Nothing too taxing to start!
The next day the work started. As much as I am going to be working with all the instructors at Evolution (Dave, Matt and Jamie), Dave is my main point of contact and we had a long discussion on the aims of the DM course, what it entailed, what I was expected to do and I was handed my bag of books that I would be using as references through the course (along with any other relevant material I can get my hands on) along with a couple of dive shop t-shirts emblazoned with DMT (Dive Master Trainee) so any other diving professional would know exactly who I was and where I belonged in the pecking order (at the bottom). We also went through the role of a DM/DMT in assisting the instructor during their various courses and things to be alert for. As there were currently few students in the shop Dave suggested that I “hit the books” and get as much of the knowledge reviews done as possible while they were quiet and I got to observe a Deep Dive Adventure briefing for a customer who was going to experience what Malapscua is famous for – Thresher Shark dive – the next morning at 5am. (Note to self – when next selecting a location to do dive training at, find out what time the first dive of the day usually is, because a 5am start means getting up at 4am to ensure that all the gear etc is on the boat). The next day an open water student arrived and I spent my time observing the instructor as she took the student through the briefings, knowledge reviews, confined and open water exercises. It has been 10 years since I did my Open Water, so it was a good chance to refresh the rusty memories of all my skills. I am now practising my skills because as part of my assessment I am going to be marked on my ability to demonstrate 24 of the open water and free diving skills.
The rest of the week was pretty quiet as I had to go back to Cebu to get the extension on my visa, but I arrived back at the shop late yesterday evening to find a number of advanced students and my diving timetable for the next week is going to be very full as we also have an open water class starting in a few days.