Friday, December 15, 2006

New Scuba Instructor! Yay!

Started Wednesday off in a conference room at the King Kam with the Instructor Examiner, Lori Bachelor-Smith of PADI Americas in California, and seven other IE Candidates (3 of us with Bob from Breeze, 5 who went through the program at Jack's: One of them was from Seattle and another was from Palm Springs, and I think the other 3 were all from Kona). She did an introduction which included all the legal paperwork, then we got started on our tests:
Theory tests were first. We had 90 minutes to complete 5 Dive Theory tests of 20 questions each (I think...). We needed to score 75% or better, with only one makeup available (fail 1/5 can make up, fail 2/5 no pass for you!) Subjects were: Skills and Environment, Physics, Physiology, Equipment, and the Recreational Dive Planner and Deco theory. If you recall, these are the subjects we are supposed to know from Divemaster (which I took quite some time ago) and the part of the IE I was most worried about. With Bob's help in the IDC I was able to bring my scores up to an acceptable level, and on Wednesday morning I scored: 100%, 100%, 100%, 100% and 100%. Not too shabby. I'll take it! And quite an impressive start.
PADI General Practices and Standards Exam was next. We were supposed to score 75% on a 50 question test with no make-ups allowed. This was an "Open book" test using the huge door-stopper of the Instructor manual, and needed to be complete in 90 minutes. This test is more about being sure we can find the information we need. I scored a 98% (Got one question wrong: It was a damn "All of the Above" question. I can convince myself of anything!)
We then piled into the car and went over to the pool at the Kona Aquatic Center for our skills circuit and Confined Water Presentation. I was assigned "Cramp Removal" which I could teach either on the surface or underwater, each having it's pros and cons. I choose surface, volunteered to go first, presented my briefing and my demo, caught my studen't problems and corrected them, used my assistant effectively and did a fine debrief. We needed a 3.5 to pass, with a makeup available. I scored a 4.4 I think.
Skill circuit we needed to score a 17 out of 20 on 5 skills, with all skills not below a 3. We had makeups available. I had to make up the damn remove and replace the scuba unit at the surface, because while I performed it beautifully, I twisted my low-pressure inflator hose under my shoulder strap and didn't notice. I re-did that one skill and scored a 5. Other skills: Mask remove/replace, 5. CESA 4. Hover 4. Regulator remove/replace 5. Fine: Will take it! I was thinking that if the damn twisted strap was the only thing that went wrong, it was fine with me. I also performed all the skills circuit first.
Back to the King Kam conference room for Classroom presentations: Again we had to score a 3.5/5 to pass, and could do one makeup if needed. I was thrown for a loop when asked to teach something NOT in the Instructor manual. The difference in buoyancy between salt water and fresh water: I used slides and books and equipment and a little model of 2 cups: one filled with water and one filled with yoghurt (the m&m floated on the yoghurt and sank in the fresh water). This time I didn't get to go first, but I did manage to go third (I'm more comfortable if I get it over with). Earned a 4.8. Got dinged for being nervous. That's cool: I'll take it!
So that was the end of the first day: 100%, 98%, 4.4, 4.6, 4.8. All Good!
Thursday I awoke and got to Breeze by 6am. We drove down to Honaunau and got down there by 645am for a 730am start. I realized immediately that I had left my weight belt in my car, over 45 minutes away. DOH! So stupid! I was so nervous: I had prepped my presentation and gone over my rescue and made sure I had taken a sea-sickness pill, brought food and water and even had a little bit of breakfast...but the damn weightbelt was still in the trunk of my car parked in Kona. We called another candidates wife, and she packed up a weight belt with extra weights, jumped in her car and arrived at 730am while I was in the middle of my breifing (I went first). We did all the Open Water Breifings all at once on land, then the first group of 4 went into the water and set the float and line in the Aloha sandy patch at about 25-30 feet of water. I went first: I had two surface skills (what is with the surface skills?): Snorkel to Regulator Exchange from the Open Water class, and Surface Approach, Evaluation, and Contact of a panicked diver from the Rescue class. I needed to average a 3.5 on both skills, with absolutely no make-up. I caught the problems, but I felt I was perhaps a little slow. We went on through the teaching presentations of the other 3 students, and I acted the part of a student for all of them. Later Lori said the highlight of the day was watching another student and I mis-performing the Efficient Fin-Kick Skill from the Advanced Open Water Class: He dolphined while I bicycled. After they were done, we surfaced and performed our rescue assessments. I went first and did well. I then acted the part of the victim for all 3 of the other candidates, plus one makeup. Although I had taken a seasick pill earlier, all that bobbing about on the surface with my eyes closed made me a bit dizzy and naseous. But I make a great victim: I float easily, am smaller than some of the guys, and have quick releases on my gear. In contrast, one choice was a sinker (I chose him as my victim: had rescued him before), one choice was large, and the third choice was the unknown: none of us had worked with her or her equipment before. So...I was the victim. And I got a little dizzy. Then, when we were all done and I was floating there without my equipment, wearing the first-aid pocketmask, and the examiner asked if I would play her victim...and she proceeded to demonstrate different holds with the pocketmask. I have no idea what she was saying, because my ears were underwater and the whole time I'm thinking (Do NOT throw up on the EXAMINER! That would be BAD!) But luckily we finished, put all my equipment back on, descended, and returned slowly to shore. After the other group of four was done, we finished our debreifs and got our scores: I got a 4.75 on the snorkel-reg exchange and a 4.25 on the panicked diver approach, and passed the rescue assesment...
So I am officially now a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor! Woo-hoo! And on behalf of PADI Americas, I'm supposed to thank my friends and family for tolerating me during this process! So THANK YOU!!!!

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