Dive Master and the gear exchange

dive masterDive Master, just those words bring many thoughts to your mind. Dive Master, the one that leads you on a dive and shows you the little critters. Dive Master, the one that fixed that problem you had with your regulator. Yes, Dive Master brings so many different attributes to the daily life of scuba.

But the one attribute that people never consider that their favorite Dive Master has is critical thinking. Did I lose you for a second? When I was in Cozumel in July, there was an instructor doing some training with two of his students. He mentioned to me that he hated and thought PADI should get rid of the gear exchange in the professional program. He went on to say that the time would be better served teaching them how to dive. Sorry, if you have to teach them how to dive at that level, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the program. We even had two students this year that claim the exercise was unfair and that the old ditch and don was better.

The honest truth is that this exercise is perfect because it makes the students think. It makes the students think and solve problems under a bit of pressure. The gear exchange is supposed to be a secret, but if you are in the dive master program, you know it is coming. And the stress that it brings. What it does is make you think and solve a problem with another person. It makes you slow down and work through the steps to accomplish the task at hand. It simulates a major problem with a diver underwater and provides steps in critical thinking so the divemaster candidates can solve that problem.

Dive Master, critical thinker and problem solver. Not just the boat driver and dive leader and tour guide.

Why take the Divemaster class?

dive masterDivemaster?  But, Scuba Joe when would I ever be a divemaster in Colorado? Or maybe you don’t want to worry about getting the insurance or you just don’t want to turn your hobby into a “job”. Trust me I understand. But there are many different reasons for enrolling in the dive master program.

First, the divemaster program will fine tune your dive skills to the envy of all your dive buddies making you the most sought out dive buddy and the best dive buddy in your group. Much like the rescue diver class fine tuned yourself aid and rescue skills, the divemaster class will sharpen your skills to a professional level. Just imagine everyone on the dive boat will be envious of your skills.

Secondly, you will become a resource for all your diving friends.  You will be amazed at some of the questions and topics that they will bring to you.

Third, for the challenge and growth you will gain as a diver. Expanding your horizons and your knowledge and taking you out of your comfort zone will enhance your diving and bring you even more enjoyment. And you just thought Rescue Diver pushed the limit of your comfort zone.

And finally, taking the divemaster class also sharpens and enhances your leadership skills. From supervising new students to assisting your instructor with a class to risk management to problem solving, which are all major things that employers look for when they promoting someone at work or even hiring new employees.

dive masterThere are many good reasons to take the challenge and enroll in a divemaster class and most dive master classes can be worked around your schedule.  So what are you waiting for? Get signed up today for an amazing and rewarding dive master class.

See you in class


Master Scuba Diver or Dive Master?

master scuba diverTo be or not to be? Master Scuba Diver or Dive Master? The path is not always clear, but why not take a dive down the path towards both? But, Scuba Joe why would I want both? Yoda says why not both be.
First, what is the difference between the two ratings; Master scuba diver is the highest non-professional rating you can earn, where Dive Master is a rating that allows you to be paid to dive, a professional diver. Maybe at this point in your scuba life you love the sport, but don’t want to turn your hobby into a job. But you want more out of your diving, then Master Scuba Diver is the path for you. Or maybe you want to become a dive professional but the cost, time and opportunity for work are limited by your life situation (being in land lock Colorado). You can achieve both, here is a game plan to help you be both.
Master Scuba diver is the first and ultimate goal for most recreational divers. It includes taking your AOW class and Rescue class and 5 different specialties; it requires you to log at least 50 dives. Notice I didn’t spell out which specialties, because that my diver friend is all up to you and your interest. It can truly be designed to be all about you. But, if you are thinking that say in 5 years or so you might like to change your life situation and move to the islands and make you living diving then let us merge the two paths so you reach both, or as Yoda said why not both be.
master scuba diverThe Dive Master program has a couple of scenarios that we must train, deep and search and recovery. If you are walking the merged path towards both then those are two of the five classes you should consider along your journey. Yoda, would probably add in navigation since you would be leading other divers and you don’t want to get lost. That still leaves you 2 electives to fill in with what interest you the most, be it Digital Photo or Fish Id or Underwater Basket Weaving (yes this is real)



So my friends you can have both. Yoda does


Do you have a scuba mentor

go proAs a new PADI OWSI or dive master are you continuing your relationship with your scuba mentor or shop? Or are you going out solo?  That is always the question that a new PADI OWSI will struggle with as they await the paper work to be completed and arrive with their brand new shinny black card.

It has been an interesting month for me, watching a new PADI OWSI working with their first class solo, that is without me leading them in conducting the class as well as working with some students that were given a referral from an independent OWSI to go do their open water check out dives that didn’t feel ready to go to open water and wanted a little more practice. Yes, you can say it has definitely been more than interesting.

Altitude divingThe other night as I was with our 3 new dive master candidates we were discussing the role of the dive master and the role of the shop/instructor.  We talked about how our roles have grown from that of student and teacher to that of a new professional and their scuba mentor.  The new dive master and even the new OWSI are qualified to lead and teach from the moment they graduate; much like a newly minted MBA is ready to take on the business world. And they will probably do very well and be successful.

But, there is so much more to teaching any scuba class and while true that experience is the best way to gain the experience and confidence in any profession having a scuba mentor or 2 can help the new OWSI and dive master grow.  Having a scuba mentor to talk over things that happen in a class can be instrumental in your growth as an OWSI or dive master. In our programs we try and have you work with as many real students as we can, because while role playing scenarios with other candidates is fun and a learn tool, working with real students and real problems and yes real fears will ramp up the learning curve as you progress and learn and grow.

Talk with your instructor/ scuba mentor about the opportunities for you to co-teach or the possibility of you going the staff at the dive shop. Check out the PADI pro site for teaching opportunities in the island where you can gain experience and work closely with experienced instructors. The world awaits you as does your mentor.

scuba mentorIf you are ready to join the scuba professionals join us for our next PADI social night on April 30.  The theme of the night is “Living the Scuba Dream”.  See you there

My scuba journey by Tim Young

My fascination with the aquatic world started at a very young age, I spent many years living in states like Hawaii, Florida and California.  I learned to swim at the age of 4 and ever since have had a passion for the water.  That passion led to learning to Timsnorkel, navigate and operate large boats and learning to fish on the oceans even before my teenage years.  Most of my life I was fascinated with scuba diving and always told myself that I would learn to dive someday.

For years I put off learning to dive and found many excuses as to why it wasn’t the right time to get certified.  It was either too expensive, I didn’t have the time for the class or I lived somewhere that I couldn’t go diving even if I did know how.  Finally in 2006, while living in Colorado, I decided that it was time to get certified and stop making excuses, so three friends and I signed up for a YMCA Open Water Diver class.  It was all I had thought it ever would be and more, from the moment of my first dive in the pool, my life was changed.  I found myself planning vacations in more exotic locations for longer periods of time and letting go of my workaholic nature.  For many years I enjoyed diving as an Open Water Diver and had many exciting dives and saw fascinating things. Then one year I went to a resort that separated out the divers based on certification level, Open Water Divers were limited to 60’ or less and more advanced divers were allowed to dive to deeper depths.  When we returned from a dive I heard about all the things the other divers had seen and wished I had seen some of that stuff too.  As soon as I had the chance I enrolled in the Advanced Open Water class.  In Jan. of 2012, while taking that advanced class, I got to see the looks on the faces of the newly certified Open Water divers and hear the excitement in their voices, I thought to myself “wow, that is amazing, I want to share my passion for diving with people and help pass that same feeling on to other new divers”.  After getting back home I approached Donna and Joe at Joe’s Scuba Shack and told them that I wanted to be an instructor.  After many discussions and planning sessions we figured out a plan of action that would meet my goals and fit into the shop schedules.

Over the next 10 months I set my determination to work, Rescue Diver Class, Divemaster class, Assistant Instructor, Instructor Development Course, 4 specialty courses and the Instructor Examination.  Finally in November of 2012 my newly realized dream came true: I passed the Instructor Examination.  After many months of studying, practicing and torturing some very dedicated instructors, I came away with a new passion and understanding for diving.  The friendships and relationships I was blessed to make along that journey also brought about a change in my diving mindset.  One of my instructors had told me after my Rescue Diver class that I now would look at diving and other divers in a different way, and I did. That change happened again after my Divemaster course and now, after obtaining my Instructor rating, that change happened again and was even more pronounced.  I now find myself not just wanting to help other divers be safer divers, but to be more knowledgeable divers.  I have caught myself on a few dives gravitating towards some of the obviously more inexperienced divers, with the intent of helping them become more confident as well as the opportunity to pass on some of my knowledge.  By no means do I look at my journey as even remotely close to the end, I enthusiastically look at it as still being fairly close to the beginning.OWSI Tim


My Scuba Adventure by Jessica Martinez-Burkey

TurtleWhat got me interested in Scuba? I really don’t like to answer that question. I am a Colorado girl born and raised. I ski and snowboard and we live nowhere near an Ocean. I am a mountain girl. The truth is – it was my husband John’s idea to get scuba certified and I really did not have much interest in it at all. I began my scuba adventure trying to do something that I knew my husband loved and I, frankly, could not have cared less about. My confession: I really only got certified to spend more time with him doing something that I knew he enjoyed.

After I got certified I spent the first several dives afraid to take my eyes off of the Divemaster who was leading our dive. My eyes were glued to the Divemaster’s fins. Imagine my surprise when I finally relaxed and looked around – what I found was a whole other world! I was still on this planet, but I felt like I had been entirely transported. When I looked around I saw the most amazing and beautiful DonnaWalllandscapes with hills and caves and swaying plant life; so many vibrant colors and entire ecosystems of fish and marine life. This, I realized, is a part of the same planet, but it is a separate world and I am a mere visitor. I felt awe and wonder at this strange and beautiful underwater environment and I could not wait to explore, but I was also a little fearful and tentative.

Once I relaxed I began to enjoy scuba so much that I always wanted to be in the water exploring. I wanted to see everything! It did not take long for me to realize I needed to work on my skills. I was a guest in this beautiful underwater world and I needed to stop being so clumsy with my fins. I also needed to improve my buoyancy so that I could more easily explore without disturbing or damaging their beautiful home. Learning more about the basics like how to conserve air so that I could have more bottom time, (relax) and ways I could continue diving if my dive computer stopped working, (dive tables) was imperative. John and I decided to start furthering our education and working on our skills so we took classes with the goal of becoming Master Scuba Divers. It was a lot of work, but well worth it when we finally reached our goal and became Master Scuba Divers! My newfound knowledge and skills completely enhanced my dive experience. Diving became so enjoyable to me that I wanted to share it with others. I did not realize how much I wanted to be a part of the journey of others until my husband and I went to a PADI Pro Night at Joe’s Scuba Shack.

We initially went to the PADI “Go Pro” Night because it was a Scuba Party where we could talk about diving with our Scuba friends. Little did we realize a light would turn on in our heads that night and we would connect the dots – John and I could do what we love and help introduce others to have this same amazing and life changing experience through Scuba! That very night we had a plan. We would immediately get to work on our Divemaster certifications. John knew that night he wanted to continue on and become an Open Water Scuba Instructor. I, however, was not sure if I wanted to move past Divemaster. I knew a Divemaster certification would enable me to lead dives with certified divers and also assist a Scuba Instructor with students. My main goal at that time was to get the additional Divemaster certification so that I could introduce people to scuba by conducting Discover Scuba sessions. I began to really enjoy helping the instructors with their students. I became an important part of something new and exciting for the students. It was a surprisingly fulfilling experience for me when I saw fear become accomplishment as students gained confidence.Crab

We had so much fun completing our Divemaster certification with Donna and Joe and working with the Assistant Instructor candidates as well as helping students to have fun and learn new skills that I decided I wanted to move on to the next stage – Assistant Instructor. It was a challenge completing our Assistant Instructor certification and I gained a whole new level of respect for PADI and their complete emphasis on safety through exemplary student training – lead by example and by not deviating from the well-designed PADI system of learning. I thought Assistant Instructor would be my final certification. Who was I kidding? Well, apparently I was only kidding myself because I am very proud to say that I am now an Assistant Instructor. It did not take me long to realize there is no way I am stopping before I become an Open Water Scuba Instructor!

My scuba journey is only just beginning and there is nothing I find more exciting and fulfilling than helping others discover their own scuba adventures.


Risk Management, A Case Study

Gilligans IslandSo much of what we do as dive professionals includes the unseen practice of risk management. Let’s start with defining risk management, taken from the PADI Dive Master manual on page 80, Risk Management is the practice of taking precautions, following established guidelines and making good choices to reduce risk. Now that leaves a lot to the individual’s definition and the situation at hand. There are many sides to risk management, some are legal of course and some, or most are for safety both the divers and the dive professionals.

I was recently told a story that I wish to share with you.

A group of divers are going out for a morning of boat diving. The sky is clear and the seas are about 1 foot. Nothing too harsh and the trip out to the first dive site is uneventful. As the first dive is underway, the winds start to pick up and the seas get a little angry, becoming approximately 5 feet. Rough enough that the boat crew is planning on cancelling the second dive since getting divers back on board is going to be tricky at best. With the divers back on board they are pulling in the anchor when the anchor line breaks. The captain makes the decision to try and retrieve the anchor. So, he gears up and attaches a new line to the anchor. He struggles to get back on board, and while he is doing so, the boat is being pushed around in a circle and unknown to anyone the anchor line is wrapping itself around the prop. When this is discovered the captain decides to get back in the water and cut the line from the prop. Now remember this is in 5 foot seas in a smaller dive boat. The boat is being bounced pretty good while this is going on. So our fearless captain is again under the boat attempting to free the prop and the boat is literally beating him up and it goes up and down and lands on him.

Not too long into this exercise the captain runs out of air and aborts the mission of attempting to totally free the prop, but he has freed it enough to where they can limp back to port. Everyone gets home safe and sound, but as I listened to this story all I can think of is how lucky this captain was and is to be home safe.

What types of risk management could the captain and crew discussed? What would you have done? After all, in the captain’s judgment it wasn’t too risky to retrieve the anchor nor was it difficult to get back on board.skipper

“Go Pro” Night, become a PADI Dive Master

PADI ProfessionalNo not the camera, but do you have a deep and abiding passion for scuba diving? Or, do you merely love it with all of your heart?  If so, you should consider doing what you love for a living: become a PADI Dive master or Instructor. The first step might just be attending our PADI “Go Pro” night on Feb 21 here in the dive shop.

What are some of the characteristics and roles of a PADI Dive professional?  It would be easy to copy and paste the first chapter of the PADI dive master manual, but the first things that come to mind are leader, mentor, someone that has wonderful dive skills and one that is a good role model of all things scuba.

What will you learn in a PADI dive master course? During the PADI Dive master program, you learn dive leadership skills through both classroom and independent study. You complete water skills and stamina exercises, as well as training exercises that stretch your ability to organize and solve problems as well as help others improve their scuba skills. You put this knowledge into action through a structured internship or series of practical training exercises. As you progress through your Dive master course, you’ll expand your diving knowledge, hone your skills and increase your confidence. Then, as a PADI Dive master, you’ll use these attributes to lead, mentor and motivate other divers and experience the joy of seeing them transformed by the majesty of the aquatic realm. Many of the leadership and problem solving skills that you will learn and work on are highly sought by many businesses around the world.

It’s about transformation—both in yourself and those around you.  As a PADI Professional, you have the ability to affect change — to help student divers turn anticipation into passion, fear into courage, faint-heartedness into accomplishment and timid into confidence. You’ll open their eyes to the world underwater, introduce them to vibrant coral reefs and watch them breathe underwater for the first time.

So Join us on Feb 21 for the PADI “Go Pro” Night and begin your journey.

Joe AdamsAs always comments are welcomed