My “Job” Exploring The Ocean Every Day…A Divemaster Intern’s Reality

“You’re doing what after graduation??,” I was asked numerous times from many different people. “I am doing my scuba divemaster in Thailand,” I would say. After four years of studying business marketing and management, I decided it was time for a change, a new challenge if you will. Rewind about a year to these conversations, I began researching the possibility of moving abroad, for scuba diving, or really anything in the tourism industry. Long story short, I became enamored with the idea of living on a tropical island, and after extensive research, I landed on the decision to pursue a career in scuba diving, whether that would mean ocean research, or simply working for an excursion company. I narrowed my search to somewhere in Southeast Asia after deciding Thailand looked like a really great place to dive, and that way I’d be able to visit my college buddy, Linda, who is Thai. I debated whether Koh Tao or Koh Phi Phi could be my final destination, and I ultimately chose Koh Phi Phi. To be honest, I didn’t choose Koh Phi Phi based upon the island itself, rather, I decided on Koh Phi Phi because that is where Princess Divers is located, the dive shop of my dreams. There were several reasons why I automatically loved Princess Divers, namely the fact that they were conservation-oriented and partnered with Sea Shepherd and that they had a fairly updated website compared to the rest of the shops sites I’d seen that were still stuck in the 80s. I remember Facebook messaging one of the instructors of the shop about my interest in the program, who was the first person I met on the island and who I’d eventually befriend, named Fanny. The day that I received the email back from Chay, the dive shop owner, that I had not only been accepted into the internship, but given the chance to choose my start date as one of their most eager applicants! Wow, I was ecstatic; it was a feeling of excitement that I had never quite felt before.

Flash forward about two months when I stepped off of my ferry onto Ao Tonsai Pier, wide-eyed and in awe of the picturesque, kool-aid blue water with the emerald backdrop of palms and tropical rain trees. That initial view of the sea will never escape my mind and I will hold it with me forever. Onto my actual internship, I can’t believe how far I’ve come over one hundred dives later. I came to Princess as an Advanced Open Water diver with five specialties. My previous dive experience with diving was mostly based in California and the Caribbean, so diving in Thailand offered a whole new array of marine life that I hadn’t yet seen before. I began my internship with my Emergency First Response course  in which I learned quite in depth the emergency protocol for about every situation I can imagine. The Rescue course I did next only expounded upon the fundamental knowledge of my EFR course, but with more hands-on, real rescue scenarios. Both of these courses were quite interesting and much different than any dive courses I had done before.

After completing my Rescue course, I finally moved onto my Divemaster course, which begun with the lecture and theory. Having just graduated from university, it was quite easy for me to jump right into studying and new concepts. I really enjoyed learning the theory behind scuba diving, from using dive tables to plan dives to getting more extensive understanding of diving’s impact on the body. Other highlights of the course include practicing mastery of dive skills, swim tests, mapping projects and, of course, the infamous “stress test” in which I had to switch gear with a buddy underwater only using one regulator with “sharks” trying to stress me out by messing with my gear. I was initially quite nervous for all of this, but by the time it came around, I really was equipped with the dive experience enough to handle all of it. It is a really good feeling to accomplish my Divemaster certification, conquering fears and experiencing new sights and adventures along the way. I’d like to give a special thank you to my mentor and instructor, Katie Ly, whose patience, kindness, and overall fun personality gave me the confidence and encouragement to challenge myself and be a better diver.

 

-Bre

PADI or SSI

Which is the right choice for me ?

 

PADI or SSI, which one is right for me ?

Excited about Scuba Diving and planning to get your first Scuba Diving licence soon ? But confused about which is the right choice for you ? Here we will try to give some clear insight into one of the most popular questions in today’s Scuba Diving industry. In this blog we are only focusing on the Open Water licence, which is the beginning point for your adventure into the underwater world. Following this most Divers will generally stay with the agency they started with although you can cross between PADI and SSI qualifications at any level.

PADI and SSI are the world’s largest Scuba Diving agencies and depending on which country you come from you may have heard more about one than the other. The most important thing is that both are sanctioned by The World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) which is dedicated to the worldwide safety of the recreational diving public. As such, one of the WRSTC’s primary goals is the development of worldwide minimum training standards.

PADI is widely recognised as the worlds largest Scuba Diver training agency, where as SSI has become known as the fastest growing but both provide Scuba Diving licences that will be recognised in every Dive Center worldwide.

Many Dive Centers or Instructors around the world are registered with only one Diver training agency, so it goes without saying that they will “help you” to choose that agency and give you several compelling reasons why it is best for you !! That does not mean it is the best option but simply the only one for them to advise you. Here at Princess Divers we are certified to teach you either PADI or SSI so we really are able to let you choose for yourself.

With both PADI and SSI the open water course is broken into 3 sections and will take between 3 and 4 days depending on the Dive Centers location and logistics.

  • 1. Knowledge development or theory
  • 2. Shallow water training dives
  • 3. Open water or Ocean Dives

1. Diving Theory

Free Online Theory with SSI

The biggest difference between PADI or SSI to you the customer comes at the very beginning of the course, “The Theory section”. Both provide online training that you can complete at home before starting your holiday, this gives you more time to enjoy your holiday rather than been stuck in a classroom. The PADI Elearning will cost you $120 to study online, however the SSI Online Study is provided for free. This saving is very attractive to many of our students and can quite often be the deciding factor in choosing.

If you are planning to do your Diving theory at your chosen Dive Center the costs are very similair, but again SSI can help you save money by allowing the Dive Center to keep a library of books which they can loan to you for the duration of the course, students wishing to purchase their own new SSI manual may do so at anytime. PADI rules say that each student must have their own new Open Water book prior to starting their course this usually results in a $20 to $30 difference in the cost of the course.

2. Shallow Water Training

Scuba Diving Instructor teaching students Open Water Skills

The shallow or confined water training is probably your first time breathing underwater, this can bring about a mixture of feelings from nervous to excited. At this point our opinion is it more about You and the Instructor than PADI or SSI, both training agencies provide a list of similar skills that need to be completed in order to progress to the Open Water Dives. Having trust and feeling comfortable with your Instructor is the key point here. Your Instructor will demonstrate each skill to you, once you start to feel comfortable breathing underwater you will soon build confidence and progress through the skills one by one, depending on time limits this can be broken into to parts or completed in one go, everybody is different and it is better to go slowly and build confidence than to rush the skills.

3. Open Water Dives

A Scuba Diver with a Sea Turtle

So this it !! This is why you battled through the theory and worked hard to complete the basic skills, the open water dives are the most exciting part of the course and now you are feeling comfortable and relaxed. Like the shallow water training there is very little difference between PADI and SSI, with both you will complete 4 dives over 2 days with a maximum depth of 18 mtrs (60 feet) this may sound like a lot but with your new found confidence you will hardly notice, especially with all the new feelings you will be having from being underwater and seeing all the amazing marine life like Sharks and Turtles to name but a few. It is also at this point where SSI give your Instructor a little bit more freedom with the depths of each dive, no 2 days diving are the same and we are often controlled by mother nature and the ocean, this allows SSI Instructors to make changes to the days diving plan to suit the student group and the conditions.

Upon completion of your final Dive you are now ready to be certified as an Open Water Diver, whether you have chosen PADI or SSI will not matter at this point. As both licences are lifelong and will allow you to Scuba Dive anywhere in the world to 18 mtrs. You are now free to travel to the worlds Scuba Diving hotspots and new marine life and experiences will await you each and every time you dive.

About Me : I have been Scuba Diving since 1992, I became a professional Diver in 1999 and have worked in the dive industry to this current day, I have worked as a Divemaster, Underwater Videographer, Instructor and Dive Center Owner / Manager.

For more information on Princess Divers and how to book an Open Water Course with us

– See more at: http://www.princessdivers.com/blog/padi-or-ssi/#sthash.Ls12A8D3.dpuf