I’m sitting here on my balcony in Bali, watching the sun creep over the trees and the birds get louder and louder. It’s about 7am and I’ve been awake since just after four, thoughts flying through my brain, unable to either slow them down or catch them up.
Today I will take the ferry across to Gili Air, a beautiful island I fell in love with eighteen months ago, to begin two months of training for my dive master qualification. It’s an expensive endeavour in both time and money, plus an undertaking that will separate me from my other half who I love rather a bit (don’t tell him that though) for a significant amount of time. My days will be long, and at night my nose will be firmly buried in many training manuals.
It’s the first rung on the professional diving qualification ladder so it’s not a course to fuck about with. When I pass my final exam I can take people with me to explore underwater and will therefore be responsible for their lives. There wasn’t that much pressure when I was revising for my degree in philosophy. If I forgot what Descartes said no one died, and whether anyone died is my go-to check for whether I really need to get upset about something.
(Try it next time something shitty happens – ‘no one died’)
So why am I doing this? especially considering I have no plans in the immediate future to work as a diving professional? Well…
It will make me a better and safer diver
Although I’m not a super duper pro diver by any means, when I take a trip out I am often the most experienced person in my group. Sometimes by 100 or so dives! This means the less confident people around me tend to be quite impressed my dive log is in triple figures, despite the fact that I’m in no way qualified to look after them.
It can be a bit scary, especially if I’m buddied with a total numpty. I have reacted well in scary or dangerous situations before but I’d like to be well qualified in a sport that is usually only deadly when you do something wrong.
Being better at something I plan to do for the rest of my life, and could potentially kill me if I do it badly? Seems fair, right?
Getting to live in a new environment
I could easily have done my DM training in Cairns, either with a company or with one of the seemingly hundreds of friends I have here who are instructors (not counting my future hubby or my mother…). But I always knew that I wanted to do my training on a tiny island, to see it as an opportunity to live somewhere completely different. My course is just as much about living on the 1km wide Gili Air as it is about furthering my diving education.
To live on an island with no cars – only horses – and where shoes are not required will be an experience I intend to treasure.
Spending time with friends
Almost three years ago in Byron Bay I worked two shifts with a fantastic Canadian bloke. At the leaving party for him and his lady friend the following week, he told me he had a feeling we’d be friends for a long time… A few months later we travelled up the East Coast together, lived in the same city and dove one of the worlds top 10 dive sites.
I cried when they had to go home, and we made one of those drunken plans you always make when you have to say goodbye to people you love. A plan for the three of us to do our dive master together.
Two years later and we’re about to make that drunken plan a reality! Be careful what you decide after tequila, guys.
Fulfilling a dream
The first time I took a breath underwater was in a swimming pool in the midlands. We were two metres beneath the surface and the only things to see were old manky plasters and some suspicious looking stains on the tiles.
I loved it.
So when I finally got to dip my head under the ocean in Egypt it was all I could do to keep my jaw from dropping open. The moment I begin to descend has always been my favourite part of diving. As much as I’ve tried to convey the wonder I feel every time I open my eyes for the first time it’s nigh on impossible. I’ve been hooked from the age of 18, and before I’d even finished my open water course I vowed that one day I’d complete my dive training to dive master level.
That was over nine years ago and I’m finally about to make that dream come true.
Do I even need a reason?
Seriously, do I?
Of course it’s not going to be a cakewalk. There will be shitty days, there will be amazing days, and there will be days where I’m sure I’ll be annoyed that I let my physical fitness slip.
I’ve found it so hard to find a decent and honest source of information on what exactly the DM training is like and so I intend to document my experiences as best I can. I’ll try to get a decent mix of emotion and information, so that hopefully at the end my posts can be used as a reference for others looking to take the next step in their diving career!
Is there anything about the dive master programme you’d like to know? Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to fill you in!