The Intern, divemaster style
The last five days has been nothing short of epic, I’ve finally made my way through chapter nine and to the end of the PADI Divemaster manual, although I’m going to be rereading that last chapter another five hundred or so times in the hope it all sinks in. Way to cram far too much mind melting information into one chapter PADI! Nine chapters might not sound much to you but is a huge achievement and weight off my mind to me.
I’ve been signed off for dive and boat briefings, which basically means I’ve done all I need to at a high enough standard to have achieved that skill, woohoo! And I am pretty sure I’ve been signed off for PADI skin diver and Reactivate but don’t quote me on that. I also had the pleasure of assisting with another Discover Scuba, ticking that box while introducing someone to the magic of scuba.
Add to that some utterly fantastic dives; I saw my first marble ray, a gun metal behemoth who sat impassively while we ogled him in awe, this is the type of ray that accidentally killed Steve Irwin when he swam above one, so we gave it a wide berth while admiring his thick and muscly tail, wow! I’ve never seen anything like it, completely alien and powerful and coming after we’d been clinging to the coral in a five knot current, a very welcome distraction.
You may recall one of the reasons I chose to do my Divemaster on Lembongan was because of the currents, much better to learn how to deal with them now with the very best teachers than to meet them in the future unprepared. They’re as fierce as they can be fickle and the boat captains and divemasters are skilled in reading the signs, but no skill can match the ocean and sometimes strong currents come out of nowhere.
I was guiding the dive with Gede, one of the instructors as backup, and it started wonderfully with us dropping in on a two metre leopard shark which was patrolling a large coral bommie. She swam lazily around and as we had all just descended everyone on the boat was able to see her before she headed off. The boat can hold up to twelve divers and we dive in groups of no more than four guests to one divemaster so it is fairly uncommon for different groups to see the same things on a dive and later we found out none of the dive guides had ever seen a leopard shark here before, making it all the more special.
As the dive continued, individual groups gone their own way, we were at about 25 metres when the current picked up, nothing unusual there but then suddenly we were flying along just a little too fast and Gede was signalling for us to get higher and closer to the reef, easier said than done in a powerful down current. I’ve been taught that you hide behind coral in this situation and, air allowing, wait it out as the strongest currents usually dissipate in ten minutes or so. Getting into the first hiding place we saw took considerable effort and we were soon swept out again, the next appeared in a flash and with a choice of being swept wildly further along the reef or taking shelter I was soon clinging to the coral as gently but firmly as I could with one hand and holding the tank of one guest with the other, Gede and our other guest already sheltered from the brunt of the current. A few tense minutes of coral climbing and we were also out of the storm hidden behind a high coral outcropping. Having made sure we were all ok I began mentally talking myself into calming down and slowing my breathing, which had morphed from slow and steady into greedy unfulfilling gulps. Panic pushed gently and firmly aside, my breathing under control, we waited for the worst to pass before venturing out, the unflappable Gede in the lead. The current was still pretty intense so we once more found shelter within the coral, this time in a valley between bommies where Gede pointed out a particularly lovely nudibranch oblivious to the huge moray beneath him. Having pointed out the moray I swam past allowing the others room to see and boom! No more than a few metres away was a huge marble ray placidly sat on the bottom, easily three metres from tail to nose and a metre and a half across, wow! The current fully dissipated and the rest of the dive was uneventful until we surfaced abuzz with excitement about what we’d seen and experienced.
We teach and practice minimal impact on the aquatic environment, it’s only when the choice is between safety and grabbing the coral to climb into a sanctuary, that grabbing is the choice that should be made. The coral lacerations across my fingertips are healing nicely and I now have a much healthier respect for and better understanding of what to do when sudden currents occur.
The next days dives were thankfully calmer and included one of the oceans crazier looking inhabitants – a beautiful frogfish, a lovely swimming turtle and then out of the blue, a magnificent mola aka the oceanic sunfish, the largest bony fish in the sea, one of the highlights of diving here and also fairly crazy looking. This one was about two metres from fin to fin and hung around long enough for us to get a good look before disappearing back into the blue, my first mola of the year, sweet!
The great dives continued with this mornings sighting of a black tip reef shark, my first in these waters, it was just a juvenile but the thrill of seeing such an amazing creature and one that used to needlessly terrify me, is fantastic! We also saw an octopus, one of my favourite ever creatures to see, they’re so smart and graceful I adore them ????????
I’m feeling incredibly blessed and thankful, I wrote last time about how much I am enjoying the community and camaraderie and that has not lessened, being surrounded by such wonderful people to go through this experience with (and also to provide me with some much needed girl bonding) is proving to be priceless. Don’t get me wrong JHubz is beyond awesome but he can’t and shouldn’t be everything all the time and anyway he’s pretty relieved to be getting a break ????
With a friend in intensive care I kept thinking this week about how very lucky we are, I really don’t take one moment of this wonderful adventure for granted. Life is short and precious and I think we should spend as many moments as we possibly can doing things and being with people who set our souls on fire Xx
The photo is of the mola we saw in November 2015 as I’m learning I don’t carry a camera ☺️