On Monday 30 June I took another diving course. This was the PADI Boat Diver Speciality Course. It was great!
Recently my diving has been quite stressful. I had not been able to dive for quite a while due to bad weather, ill health or just plain being too busy and when I started diving again it was in preparation for taking the Rescue Diver Course. This meant quite a lot of stress. With the Rescue Diver qualification under my belt, I can relax a bit and that is what I have done.
I have been diving from a boat since I began diving. I thought I knew all there was to know about boats, and diving from them. Little did I know just how much I did not know!
The course consists of a course book to read, with knowledge reviews to complete, a dvd to watch and then two practical dive sessions from a boat. As courses go it was a nice and leisurely way to learn about things I had, frankly, taken for granted. I had not thought about such things as bilge pumps and marine radios, taking it for granted that in the event of the boat sinking divine intervention would kick in and the boat would stay afloat and someone, anyone, would happen by and rescue all aboard. Now I know that bilge pumps have little flaps on them which automatically start the pump when the amount of water in the bilge reaches a certain level. Now I understand why we will not sink! I also know now that help can be summoned on channel 16 on the marine radio. It might not miraculously appear.
I was given a life jacket and told to put it on. Luckily for me I have worn all kinds of such jackets in my time and this one, the rectangular shaped variety which goes over your head with straps around your waist to a clip in the front, was one I had encountered before.
I tried my hand at driving the boat. Have you ever tried this? For those readers who have, you will understand my saying how hard it is to keep to a straight line. For those who have not, let me assure you that when you see a boat captain effortlessly steering, it is not as easy as it looks! I was not too bad at slow speed but when I tried to go faster I got my lefts and rights mixed up, sorry, my ports and starboards mixed up, and ended up going in a circle rather swiftly! It gave all on board, including myself, a good laugh.
And there you have the crux of this course. It made me laugh. Even when I tried to tie some of the knots I should know and my instructor, endlessly patient bless him, showed me over and again until, eventually, I got it, it was still fun. No cross words in the heat of stress, just lots of interesting things to try out and some great diving as the weather was kind to us. I can honestly say I laughed more on this course than I ever have on any course, even the wonderful underwater photography qualification I took last year.
If there are any divers out there in readerland who may be looking at the Boat Diver Speciality Course and thinking that it is not worth the effort, think again. Even though I have done all my diving from a boat, I still learnt a lot of things that I would not have done without the course. Now I understand what the crew are thinking and why they do things the way they do. It will give me a greater insight into boat operation when I dive in the future and has already enhanced my enjoyment of diving itself.