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Day Two of the Instructor Exams!
Again itís an early start and I didnít get a lot of sleep last night. I think the hardest part of the IE is the fact that it is run over two days. We all know we have passed day one and want to celebrate, but feel restricted by the fact that we still have day two to go. I imagine itís like on "Who wants to be a Millionaire" on the TV when contestants walk away at the end of the show with the sum standing at £64,000, only to return the next day and run the risk of losing it.
Again we head down to Ocean College to pick up Matt, Phil, Thalia and Dave, and Jilly and I are in hysterics at the sight of all of them practising knot tying around a lamppost whilst waiting for us. Three out of four of us have a knot skill as part of our Open Water skills, and also the great news is that Buddy Breathing is no longer a skill in the IE, so the skill I was dreading most has been changed to Alternate Air Source Stationary. Things seem to be going my way.
We all head down to Ocean Bay and sit outside waiting to go to Red sea College, which is where the Open Water skills are taking place. We check our kit boxes, and then sit round a table all practising our Open Water briefs and I concentrate on eating a load of Danish Pastries that Phil has been smuggling out of his hotel every morning to ensure that I eat a Breakfast. The Ocean College staff begin to arrive at the Bay to begin their days work, and I lose count of the amount of people that come over to us to wish us luck, I think we are all starting to feel a bit more at ease and a little bit more confident that we can do this, but donít like to get our hopes up either.
We take a walk to the Red Sea College area, put our kit on a tank and then sit for the briefing. We find we are with Terry again for our Open Water skills; he has four groups to assess, with our group being last. We watch while all those before us give their briefings, again practising our knots, then itís our turn. We each give our briefings and then head down to the sea to give our rescue demonstrations Ė Dave reminding Phil as we leave to make sure he holds the nose when giving rescue breaths. By the time I get there, Thalia has already given her demonstration and passed. I then act as a victim for Matt, he passes. Next itís my turn and all goes well. Itís just Phil to go and Iím his victim. He begins his demonstration, Iím face down to begin, then he turns me over, all is going well, he inflates my BCD, calls for help, drops my weights and removes my mask, he then looks. Listens and feels for breathing, all good, then starts rescue breathes.....oh no.....why is he holding my forehead and not my nose, again another breath and no nose holding, and again, by this stage I begin to worry for him, I can tell heís getting flustered with the skill, I begin to wiggle my nose, looking like Samantha from bewitched. I could conjure a huge spell with this nose wiggling, but nothing heís still not pinching. He finishes the skill and the Course Director accessing us asks him to show how we give rescue breaths, then Phil twigs, wanting to kick himself. He gets told he will need to re-demonstrate in front of an examiner. He gets this one last chance, and if he fails then no IE pass. I walk back to shore with him, I donít know what to say, I try to reassure him but I can see itís knocked the wind out of his sails. I tell him to get his weight belt on, as we were using blank ones for the rescue skills. We then make the journey together out to the CESA line; here we will wait in the sea on the surface until we get called down by the examiner, at the moment he is below us with another group. On the surface Matt, Thalia and I all try to rally round Phil and lift his spirits, but he keeps talking about it and trying to talk himself through the rescue skill. I tell him, and at the time I was fairly harsh, but he needed it, I had to snap him out of it so told him that he needs to focus on his Open Water skills, and then concentrate on the rescue remake afterwards. As the Open Water does not have the option for a remake, if he allows his disappointment to get the better of him, it could affect his Open Water performance. Iím pleased to say, he listened to me and began to focus on the task at hand. The group before us ascend and we get asked by the examiner to act as students for the last candidate in the group to do their final skill which is a surface skill. Bobbing on the surface the student states ĎRight guys, now we are going to do a Controlled Decent using a visual referenceí, at that moment my IDC one club moment flashes before my eyes, I know how wrong this can go, I just hope the guy knows how to do it ok. He gathers us close to him, but doesnít go near a line for control, he then starts taking a while to go through the 5 point decent......itís all flashing before me, heís even using Matt as his DM, the same as I was one my "one club" day. I have a complete Deja vu as we all drift away from him to descend. One of us drops like a weight, the other swims off, itís all exactly the same as what happened to me....I look at the candidate and feel for him, I think to myself that our group is so lucky to have Jilly, she has prepared us so well, we all chose very wisely to do our IDC at Ocean Club. Unfortunately I find out later that he failed his IE because of this.
After descending, we group round and begin our skills, they all go well, but the thing that throws you a bit is that fact that during the whole of the IDC you get taught as instructors to look for students making mistakes during their skills, it completely throws you when a student does the skill correctly. On the IE you get marked on spotting mistakes, so when it came to my skill of tying a Bowline, Phil got told to tie it correctly and he did, but it takes a few seconds before I congratulate him on doing it, as I was busy thinking to myself "what has he done wrong", I praise him on tying the knot correctly, but you do doubt yourself as to whether there was something you missed.
By then end of our Open Water skills we are freezing cold, we were waiting for what seemed like an hour on the surface waiting to descend into our skills and then a good 20mins underwater. We all start to walk out and Jilly and Dave are stood waiting for us, and have managed to smoke about 20 fags between them, they are obviously just as stressed as us, and I suppose at least we are occupied with doing the skills, whereas they probably feel helpless and can only look on at us.
As we leave the sea, Phil has to stay behind with Matt to do his rescue make up, so hands me his rope and weights, which in turn makes me fall over as I exit the sea, I begin laughing, I know we are close to the end and think everyone did really well during the Open Water bit, so just the debrief to go, I have a feeling in my bones that today is going to be a good day. Thalia and I go back to the Red sea college area, we donít want to watch Philís remake, we huddle together after ordering Starbucks coffee for everyone to warm up with and wait anxiously for Phil. Weíve been a unit, a team throughout this, no one is individual, one of us failing was not an option, all or nothing.... We wait for what seems to be an age, then Phil arrives, heís smiling, we run towards him and hug him, all four of us together, one last step to go, just debrief and then we will know.
As the groups before us debrief, we dry off and try to get warm. The suspense is killing us now, just waiting. Jilly asks us if we are ready, we look up and say yes. Thalia is first to debrief, Jilly looks at me and begins to well up, I do too in return so she stops, we both know we are close to exploding, Jillys been with me through it all and now we know we are close to the final goal. Thalia passes, we all hug, now its Mattís turn, again heís passed..... Now itís my turn, I donít remember a thing I said to the examiner, but what he said to me will stick forever "congratulations, Iím pleased to tell you that you have passed", I turn to Jilly and wrap my arms around her and both begin to cry.... we are both so so happy. Can we make it four out of four? Phil is up next, he nails it...... we all hold each other in celebration, we are all stunned, Jilly and Dave join in on the hugs like proud parents, all six of us are over the moon, no words I can write can explain how we feel.
After a short while all the examiners and course directors gather and hand out our certificates and debrief the Instructor Exams. We pose for pictures, and then I sit alone a while to gather my thoughts.
Once all our kit is packed away, as IE tradition, Jilly takes us all to Pirates Bar to have Mojitos and begin celebrating; after all, there is still one test to go, the dreaded "Funnel". We all are back home by 4pm to sleep, then itís up and out to the Tavern Bar for 8pm. Everyone is out, IE candidates, Instructors, Course Directors and Examiners. We all celebrate and dance the night away, and of course complete our "Funnel" tests. This is where you lie down and have a funnel of whatever alcohol the course directors decide, funnelled down a tube connected to your mouth!! Iím hoping itís the last one of these I will be doing for a while. By the end of the evening, itís just Jilly, Dave and I standing, or should I say dancing on top of the bar, then itís off to KFC for popcorn Chicken and a long stroll back to the taxi...... what a party..... the best ever.
I am pleased I have achieved the goal that I set out to do, before leaving the UK. I was so very unhappy, I was in a situation that could have lead to my downfall and things were happening in my life over which I felt I had no control. Then one day I decided to make the change, I cut away everything holding me back and set myself a goal. There have been many many tears and hard times along the way, but the happy times outweigh these tenfold, I will never look back now, only forwards, to my future. I will keep the precious memories of my internship forever. I have realised that you can achieve anything you set out to do, as long as you have the guts and determination.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all the guests who were my guinea pigs, and to all at Ocean College and all my friends here, you are my new family and you all have a special place in my heart. Jilly, wow.... you rock, you are without a shadow of a doubt the best mentor anyone could have, you pushed me when I needed pushing and supported me when I felt I was falling. I am in awe of you, and you inspire me to carry on and never give up. I hope I have not been a disappointment for you and made you proud, weíve had our laughs along the way and I hope you have precious memories too.
To Matt, Phil and Thalia.... the four musketeers. We met as strangers and became instant friends with a common goal. We helped and supported each other over those 11 days which felt like a lifetime. I will never forget you guys, and will be friends of mine forever. We did it, and we did it together.
To anyone reading, thank you for taking time to read this diary, I hope you have enjoyed sharing my experiences with me and hope it inspires any of you who feel nervous about taking the plunge into becoming a dive professional, to do so without worry or doubt. It may sometimes feel like a long path, but you get there. Anyone can achieve anything they set out to do, with a little guts and determination. Like I said, my internship days will last with me for a lifetime, if I could do them again I would without a second thought, however, I may have come to the end of the road as far as the internship is concerned, but I have a feeling that this is just the beginning.........
Back to the Beginning
A Note From Jilly
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