After getting our Open water (OW) and Advanced open water (AOW) certifications in Koh Tao I continued to dive throughout Thailand and Vietnam as the trip around Asia continued. My love for the sport was growing and I could see a future in this industry. While passing through Nha Trang, Vietnam I found a dive shop for sale right on the beach. My eyes lit up at the opportunity.
The idea of a life on the beach, diving every day, and owning my own business had me asking for the owners contact info immediately. I hit the road to continue our trip, but as soon as I got home, I started hitting the books.
Sadly, after months of research and negotiation I dropped to idea because of the hurdles of owning a business overseas (especially as a white man in an Asian market), but I wasn’t giving up on making a career out of diving. So I decided to get more certified!
After Advanced Open Water a diver must take the Rescue Diver course before moving on to become a Pro diver at the Divemaster level. Divemaster is the first level where you are employable for your diving skills. From Divemaster you can become an Open Water Instructor, and from there you are climbing the instructor ladder of certifications.
So I went off to get Rescue Diver Certified.
I heard about the Caymans from an Englishman I was diving with in Vietnam. He said it was a must; so I took his word for it and booked a ticket here after I ran the World’s Toughest Mudder later that year. The island is close to the USA so tickets are pretty cheap, I got 2 for $300 from New York with Jet Blue.
The island has amazing diving for one specific reason: THE WALL
See, from the shore line the island gradually drops into the sea like any other shore until you get about 200 meters out, and then BAM! The fucker drops 1,800 meters/6,000 feet into the abyss. It’s freaky and awesome at the same time. This provides some damn good shore diving!
Other good things about the Caymans is the warm water (30 C), great visibility, stingray city, and the Kittiwake wreck. For me though, I love that fact that you are free from the restraints of a boat, dive group, and dive guide. All you need is to grab a buddy, rent a tank, tell the dive shop your dive plan, and take off independently. Having the freedom to explore on your own is a great feeling underwater.
Anyway, we did our research and booked our course and accommodation with Dive Tech. This was a good choice because the shop operates at two dive locations, Lighthouse point and Cobalt coast, with free shuttle service between the two. If conditions are bad at one site, they should be good at the other. You can rent a tank of air for about $10 and nitrox for $14. No boats are needed, just grab your gear, tell the guy at the window you’re going out, and jump in off the dock.
The staff is very professional and is one of the most certified I have ever been around. Drew, Anton, and Kathy, our instructors, were super friendly, knowledgeable, and we remained friends with them throughout our vacation (I am still in contact with Drew and Anton to this day). I highly recommend this shop.
Dive Tech has a scuba dog. He is the best.
Rescue Diver Course
The Rescue Diver course lasts 2 days and is quite different from OW & AOW. First of all, you have to be certified in First Aid & CPR before you can start the course. You can do this through PADI or take a course at home like we did. Second, You aren’t logging dives to complete skill work like you did in OW and AOW. In fact, you don’t do any real dives at all. The course is about practicing scenarios, so you will be climbing on and off the boat a lot.
Day 1 = we spent the morning in the classroom going over the Rescue Diver DVD. This was quick and painless, but a waste of time. Everything is really taught during the practical application out in the water. So we broke for lunch and met up later on the boat.
We spent the afternoon out on the boat with our instructor Drew and Divemaster Shaggy learning skills and running scenarios. The drills were fun and thrown at us on the spot. The course teaches you to think on your feet, which is exactly what you have to do in an emergency situation anyway.
As our instructor, Drew supervised the drills and Shaggy was our victim. Sometimes we’d have to retrieve an unresponsive diver floating on the surface, and sometimes we’d jump in and have to navigate underwater for a lost diver. You’ll learn how to approach, restrain, and tow a panicked or unconscious diver. To sum it up, you’ll learn a lot of techniques and none of the drills are pass or fail until the last day, and by then you have run through them so many times your execution should be flawless.
Day 2 = That morning we took the final exam then moved on to the boat again for more scenarios. Same thing as yesterday, drill, talk, drill, talk, but we kept mixing them up. Sometimes Shaggy would play dead, and sometimes Shaggy would play dead and attack us. Drew wanted to make sure we knew how to control the situation no matter what happened.
We broke for lunch and came back for more practice and our final scenario.The final scenario is a recovery of an unresponsive diver on the surface. I won’t go into detail because you can learn that at the course. It’s all good fun though and I’m sure that if you don’t pass, you will keep doing it until you do. PADI wants to certify you, not fail you.
Overall it is a fulfilling course and builds confidence in your diving. It’s reassuring to know that if you freak out underwater, you have a dive buddy that can properly assist you. The scenarios are fun and short, and the amount of practice you do will help engrain them into your muscle memory. Party on Wayne.
After our Rescue diver course I stayed on island for an extra week to get in some shore dives and do a few more courses. I signed up for the Diver Propulsion Vehicle course (a James Bond propeller thing) and also knocked out our Nitrox certification. A little advice, you don’t need to get certified on a Diver Propulsion Vehicle to rent one, so save your money, my mistake.
Oh yeah, Full Penetration of the Kittiwake, Awesome. Look for my name in the GeoCache
One more thing, Yoshi Sushi is good grub. Out