Junior Open Water Diver Course in Phuket – Day 1
Thursday the 22nd of October 2015 seemed like a very normal day. Our daytrip boat, the Excalibur II, is leaving the pier around 8 AM as usual to take our customers for some diving at Phi Phi Island. That morning, however, there was something else going on at Sea Bees Diving!
Instructors Chock, Anita, Dominic, Alex and Marcel are preparing SSI training materials, paper work and 10 boxes with some newly made tiny little weight belts. The clock rings 9 AM, the doors open, and 10 eager Junior Open Water students bust into the office, followed by a group of parents, all from the British International School here on Phuket. All aged between 10 and 13, the kids are obviously keen to get started and immediately flood the equipment room (along with Chock and Marcel)! The parents are left behind at the front office desk to sort out the formalities… a few small stacks of paper, a handful of signatures, and 10 extra small dive outfits later and they are ready to go 🙂
1..2..3, equipment onto the car, kids into the minibus, and they were off to the Palm Garden Resort. The A-team went straight to the classroom for some intense dive theory (we all know girls are better at paying attention!), while the men’s clan immediately tucked into their equipment boxes.
Chock and Dominic showed them how to set up their equipment, to make sure everything was nice and safely prepared and double checked, and took them into the pool for their first diving experience.
Though young and super excited, even these ten balls of energy got hungry eventually… diving and studying hard will do that to you! Come 12:30 and they are all at the table in the Palm Garden restaurant eating some delicious food.
Once lunch was finished the two teams traded places with the boys drying themselves off. The Chocco Team was ready to swap into the classroom… for as far as 10 year olds can go from a pool to getting ready for classrooms that is 🙂
Until late into the afternoon they studied what it is to become a diver, practiced skills on how to dive properly and safely, and listened to (not always as easy!) their instructors. They all did a great job and at the end of the day they had certainly earned their ice cream. We are quite sure they slept very well that night, and they were certainly ready for round two the next day ☺ More on that in our upcoming blog post! Team Sea Bees
Junior Open Water Diver Course – Day 2
Our new young divers’ second day started a little slower than the first. All the excitement, fun and a small amount of Nitrogen from the previous day’s pool exercises made them feel a little more tired than usual 🙂 The second day started again in our dive academy at our dive center in Chalong, Phuket.
The mood improved a lot once they spotted the pool and, good as gold, they separated into classroom and pool groups. Anita, Alex and Marcel prepared the dive gear and repeated the system to everyone. BCD on the tank, regulator mounted, Buddy Check system repeated so that all the equipment is as it should be! Great, our instructor has managed to place the knowledge in the long-term memory!☺
In the pool, Chok and Dominic repeated SSI Skills 1-3 again. Watching when you can easily put your head underwater is not easy☺
Meanwhile, the classroom students were hard at work and trying not to laugh too much as they were learning their theory under the watchful eye of the instructor. Theory all completed, they groaned a little at the homework they had been given for the next day (after all, they were on half-term).
After lunch, the groups swapped around so that Anita, Alex and Marcel could repeat the dive theory again. The recent skills learnt in the classroom were rehearsed in the pool and the classroom group then went back into the water for a group photo.
Junior Open Water Diver Course in Phuket – Day 3 – Diving in the ocean!
Day 3 of the course, the day our SSI Junior Open Water students had been waiting for! Today they would be going on the MV Excalibur, one of our day trip boats in Phuket. Excalibur II is not just the only beautiful yellow dive boat around, but also one of the few actually custom built dive boats, and certainly the safest and most comfortable.
With a limited amount of holiday time, unfortunately Katie had to postpone her open water dives, but the rest of the gang arrived at 9 o’clock as usual at the dive centre. Accompanied by some parents and siblings this time, they met up with the instructors and took off to the pier where the dive boat and it’s crew were waiting for them! All on board and straight for the freshly cooked breakfast buffet!
Once on the way to Racha Yai (bay number 3)and after breakfast, Anita, Marcel, Chock, Alex and Dominic took the students down to the dive deck where each of their red boxes had a place under the benches, on which they also found some fun sized tanks!
The instructors had them prepare their equipment for the first dive just as they had for the pool dives, but on a moving boat some extra caution must be taken! They listened very well and were ready for their first ever open water dives out at sea.
At the beginning of each dive, the relative skill sets necessary to be an SSI Junior Open Water Diver were repeated, followed by….of course…some time to just swim around, explore the reef, and look at all the colourful fish!
After nearly an hour under water, the eager little divers resurfaced, climbed back aboard and had to be stopped from immediately attacking the lunch buffet to first review how the dive had gone, the importance of the skills, and to change their tanks in preparation for the second dive.
After lunch and several front flips off of the back of the boat (some instructors may also have taken part…who do you think had more fun??), the boat crew called them all back aboard and they sat down for their second dive briefing.
This dive had somewhat fewer skills and more time for fun diving! Puffer fish, parrot fish, barracudas, triggerfish and even a few stingrays were spotted and pointed out by the kids…some of them even knew the names of these fish before they were told!
After finishing up a last bit of reviewing, taking apart and cleaning the equipment, they headed back for Chalong harbour. Once back at the dive shop they could not wait to tell their parents all about their first diving experiences and it can be said with a relatively high degree of certainty that they all slept very well that night!
Junior Open Water Diver Course in Phuket – Final day
The final day for our Junior Open Water divers to complete their course dawned, and the remaining cohort got out of bed for another day of diving out at sea. This time the instructors arrived at the Phuket main office to find some of the young divers already lounging about in the office, waiting to get started…it seemed that they were quite happy to wake up early to go diving around Phuket again! The final bits of paperwork were dusted off, the rest of the group trickled in, and all the smiling faces were off again to board the MV Excalibur. They headed south to Racha Yai once again.
No longer needing to be told where everything was on the boat, they had to be stopped from storming the breakfast buffet to first prepare their dive equipment…priorities! Chock and Alex took their men’s club to their part of the deck, and Anita and Marcel took the A-team to theirs. By now the kids had set up their scuba diving equipment quite a few times already (with little mini 8 liter tanks of course) so the dive instructors took a step back. Just a few quick checks were needed from the instructors before they were all set up on their own and ready for diving…now time for breakfast!
Shortly before arrival they pulled into Siam Bay on the northern half of the island…hmmm this isn’t where we dove yesterday?? The waves had picked up a little bit from the day before so the team had chosen a nicely protected bay on the other side of the island for today’s exercises…safety first!
Sitting attentively in the lounge area upstairs, the divers listened to their instructors. Chock and Anita took the floor and went over what they had done the day before, repeating why each skill is important and explaining how we would be following up on those skills in the next dive, dive number 3.
Wetsuits on, weight belts securely fastened, tanks open, some fins for good measure, and into water they plunged… after a thorough buddy check of course! During this dive they did a repeat of a few of the regulator and mask skills of the day before, as well as some air sharing exercises to emphasize how important diving with a buddy really is! Having gotten used to the routine of descending, seeking out a nice sandy patch, and taking turns doing the skills with the instructors, this part of the dive went very smoothly and allowed for a good amount of time to just explore the reef.
A couple of lion fish, puffer fish and some giant moray eels later (stingrays anyone??) and they were chattering away in the lounge area over some lunch about all the cool stuff they had seen. As per usual, some mandatory backflips and canon balls off the back of the dive deck were done and the surface break was over…time for the final dive of their open water courses! This dive was a little different too: just buoyancy practice and fun diving! The routine of donning the equipment had set in and they were quickly ready for their buddy checks. Ten little giant strides later and they were off for their final and certifying dive.
During this dive the A team and the men’s club dove side by side, enjoying each other’s company under water and pointing out countless fish to each other… these kids even appreciated the first Robust Ghostpipe fish of the season (nicely spotted Anita)! Once everything was done and dusted and the equipment boxes packed away one final time, Chock had a little surprise for all of the newly certified Jr. Open Water Divers: some Sea Bees T-shirts to welcome them into our diving family!!
Back at the Phuket office there were some proud parents awaiting them, and the instructors presented the kids with their Jr. Open Water Diver certification cards…needless to say there were more than a few smiling faces! The team hugged each other goodbye that beautiful afternoon, and now at Sea Bees we eagerly wait their return for some good old diving fun!