Were I a cloud in the ocean... like marshmallows they sugar coat an azure sky above Beau Vallon Beach
. My eyes fixate upon their weightless, shape-shifting forms. I envy their effortless hover and kick for dear life just to keep my head above the surf. I take a deep breath and raise my hands above the surface for the final two minutes of the Divemaster fifteen minute tread skill test. Were I a cloud in the ocean... the thought floats through my head like a mantra. Were I a cloud in the ocean... two minutes never felt so laboriously long. Were I a cloud in the ocean... Adam, Simon, and Susanne have the energy to play a game of "I Spy". Were I a cloud in the ocean... ferry terns animate the sky with their grace. Were I a cloud in the ocean... Ara's voice shatters the trance. Time's up, hands drop. My face hints of a smile through each laborious gasp as I think to myself, clouds could never feel this alive.
Two weeks into my internship at Blue Sea Divers
and I couldn't be more satisfied with the time spent at the shop. I've gotten to know the staff better and I'm familiarizing myself with the odds and ends of day to day routine. In the water, practical skills for my rescue diver and divemaster certifications have been integrated into daily dives, some of which I've had a chance to lead as divemaster under the supervision of an instructor. The last two weeks have been so saturated with learning the ropes of being a divemaster and simply settling into life that, without realizing it, I've not had a day off of work (I've been forced to take today off). But I love it; and the time I spend working, whether in the water or in the shop, has been a incredible.
This past week was... interesting. First of all, we had no water on Saturday. Granted, this wasn't exactly unexpected. Seychelles has been experiencing a drought, so water has been shut off in our neighborhood from roughly 3 AM - 5 PM every day. However, on Saturday, after returning home from work the tap didn't even offer a trickle of water. Since it was a holiday, Seychelles National Day
, it was reasoned that someone took the celebrations a little too far and forgot to switch on our water. But, we returned home from work on Sunday to another dry tap and then discovered that the neighbors had running water. Interesting indeed.
|Blue Sea Divers, Beau Vallon|
Disgruntled, dirty, and dumfounded divemaster interns and neighbors began to hunt for an answer to our water outage mystery. We traced pipes around the exterior of the house, under the overgrown pumpkin patch, around our ancient rusted chicken coop, up and over walls and fences to yet another neighbor's driveway. There, we found our water had been turned off which meant a simple fix: with one twist our water was running- and so were we, back to the house for showers!
I led two challenging dives recently. Last Sunday, I took a group of three novice divers on a tour of Baie Ternay's central reef with Susanne and Ara. Unfortunately, the homecoming wasn't quite what I had envisioned- in fact I couldn't see much of anything through the silt and plankton that reduced visibility to a mere three meters at best. It took all my effort just to keep track of the divers as I navigated a course around the reef's contour. At first I attempted to point out interesting shells and fish, but nixed the effort considering the diving conditions and focused on the whereabouts and well-being of the divers instead. Relying on an underwater compass and natural navigation, I was able to surface remarkably close to the boat without losing anyone. So far, that was one of the most stressful dives I've had, but a great learning experience as well.
My second lead dive of the week topped the first. I took three clients (a rescue and two novice divers) on a tour of Twin Barges and its shallow reef with Simon and Ara. After conducting a quick buoyancy check at the surface, I realized one of the novice divers was over-weighted and removed a kg from his BCD
. I signaled
for descent and got an 'okay' from everyone. Heads underwater, I made a quick sweep of the group, signalling 'okay' and receiving a unanimous 'okay' in reply. I took my eyes away from the clients to grasp the anchor line to role-model the method of descent I'd covered in the predive briefing. I looked back to the clients and saw that one had resurfaced, treading water with incredible effort. Rounding up the underwater clients, everyone returned to the surface. The stressed diver confessed a sore throat which deterred his initial decent. He was consoled and after a few moments of fresh air, signaled that he was ready to descend again... for the first time.
|Fishing boat, Beau Vallon|
The fun decided to follow us for a dive as well. The visibility was poor again, so navigating and keeping an eye on my divers was my main goal. One individual seemed to be afraid to get too close to the wreck, hovering a good meter or so above the barges. To complicate things further, the stressed diver blazed through his air within the first thirty minutes. Thankfully, Ara was able to ascend with the diver, allowing the other two clients, along with Simon and myself, to continue the dive along the reef. I literally breathed a sigh of relief when I was back on board the boat, all clients accounted for and smiling after the dive.
In addition to leading dives, a divemaster must pass practical skills and theory tests in order to become certified. The experience garnered from leading dives is invaluable, but the skills tests are designed to further in-water confidence while deducing one's physical and mental fitness. Our divemaster skill test for the week was a fifteen minute tread (hands above the water for the last two minutes). The difficulty of this skill varies, dependent upon the physique of the individual. Unfortunately for me, even with the extra lift from salt water, I sink like a stone. So from the onset, I was working 100%. I've never considered the merits of eating a steady diet of cake and ice cream with more earnest than I did during that test. It took all the willpower in the world not to let my hands drop. After those fifteen intense minutes and all that's occurred over the last week, all I can say is, "It's been real."