Monday, August 2, 2010

Advanced Open Water - Check!

Yesterday I finished my Advanced Open Water diving certificate, the last bit of paper I need to be able to dive in Alaska - woo hoo! I'm going to admit though, I do NOT recommend the outfit I did it with (Island Divers). They weren't the cheapest so I had in my head that maybe that would mean they were good, they were certainly nice, but yesterdays dives were somewhat of a farce. This really sums up my thoughts that you really learn to dive by diving, and don't worry Dad, i'm only diving with people who are waaaaay more experienced than me for a long while to come. 

To get your advanced open water you have to do a series of 5 dives that each have new skills to learn and practice. You do a written knowledge review that is marked and gone through with you too. The dives I did last week were just like that, the instructor was awesome and thorough, and she made me work for those two dives, which I really appreciated - I learnt stuff! Those two dives were bouyancy control and navigation, and i'm so glad I did those two with her. Yesterdays were deep, wreck and drift dives, and the "instructor" not only did not do ANY skills with us, but didn't really dive with us (3 of us) either, he was off in his own world taking photos and at one point knelt on an urchin and ended up with a good handful of spines in his knee that I helped him pull out. Not only that but he wasn't interested in the written part either and actually told one girl (who he'd had for her two other dives too) that she didn't need to do them. I had done mine, gave them to him, and hope they end up in my folder from last week. 

It was really bad. The dives themselves were awesome, and I learnt through coming back and talking to two very experienced diver friends here last night, but the "teaching" was non existent. I'm really considering writing to PADI and making a complaint, I at least have the common sense to know i'm not going to drop down to 100ft next week without an experienced person with me, but not everyone will be. It's just dangerous. Not only that too, but the club doesn't seem to have good policy on not touching the wildlife. The outfit I did my open water with (which I wasn't that impressed with either, but on hindsight were so much better than Island Divers!) at least had a strict look but don't touch policy, yesterday I saw both one of the other instructors juggling three sea stars, but also one of the other divers (on a paid dive) pulling the tail of an eel. I was willing that eel to come around and bite him, but unfortunately he moved his hand too quick. Again, it was really bad all around. Maybe I will write that letter. 

The one up, the dives, they were awesome, and one of the other divers (on a paid dive) sent me his photos (thanks Art!). We went to two wrecks and did a drift dive along a beautiful reef. Saw tons of giant turtles, lots of coral (including black corals) and even saw my first sharks - two white tip reef sharks. Pretty cool. And I learnt in a big way to look out for myself down there. Getting a dive computer has zoomed up in my level of importance, as now I know I really can't be trusting other people with computers to stick around and keep me safe, even if thats what i've paid them to do. 

4ft white tip reef shark. Not a great picture, but we saw 2 of these - one much smaller (~2ft).

White mouth moray eel, cute!

A bit like hiking, i've decided diving with a zillion people is not much for me. too much of a crowd on the wire up, I actually had my masked kicked off at on the first dive. From then on I went to the back of the line - thats me facing the camera.

A Honu. So cute! We saw so many of these, and some GIANT ones too!


Nicola (Which Name?) said...

Yay yay yay! Awesome that you and S get to dive AK!
I think I am heading to AK in September. MY friend Tracy just had baby #3 and I want to meet her!

RGW said...

Ah, Stian unfortunately doesn't get to do the diving fun, that's my back to back project in Juneau after Stian leaves for the south. I'm totally excited about it, both trips, can't wait! Where in AK are you headed to? Taking the kids?

BSA said...

Amazing, amazing photos! Congratulations on your achievements. Wish Stian coulad also dive--he'd be a great partner. Did you make coments to Island Divers about the quality of their instructors? I am sure they would want to know of your dissatisfaction and insights.