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Sunday at Gulliver’s Lake May 31, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Training.
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Gulliver’s lake is a small body of water near African Lion Safari in the Hamilton area. Last Sunday, May 24th, 2009 which was also Queen Victoria’s 190th birthday, our group of 6 prospective PADI Open Water Instructors headed out for a very civilized 12PM start. It turned out to be a very nice day to be out diving. Gulliver Lake is good place to practice OWSI skills the Instructor Examination (IE) is held there.

After quickly setting up, we went through our briefings. I was given the free descent with reference from the Open Water course, and approach from the behind (I decided that this would be done underwater). Neither of these were a problem, and I used minimal notes to do them, which of course is what will happen when I’m actually teaching. In the IE, there is a very well-defined format for the briefing, and you get scored for hitting each and every point you’re supposed to make. I’ve been trying to reduce the preparation time and only put the key points on the slate so the delivery is more natural. I’m finding that it works pretty well.

We were in the water at about quarter to one, and I took my “students” through the rescue exercise first, as it was being done on the surface. I had my “assistant” watch the open water students, while the rescue divers did their drills. It wasn’t hard to pick up the mistakes – pressing the deflate instead of the inflate button, lack of communication with the “victim”. I lost points for not making contact with the assistant until it was over, so I must remember to look at them more.

Prior to taking the Open Water students down, I sent the assistant down to the platform with the rescue students to wait for us. It was a simple way to get them out of the way and to have them ready to go when we got there. On the descent, which was a good hour and half after we entered the water, at first Marty didn’t descend while Yoon was starting down. I thought that was the issue and brought Yoon up to the surface so I could talk to Marty. However, I hadn’t noticed up to that point that Yoon had after the 5 point descent drill sneakily switched over to his snorkel. He did the same thing on the second try and I caught it before his head was below water. So up we went again. The third try Marty went down head first and finally on the fourth attempt everything was fine and we joined the others on the platform.

From then on, my only duty was to play student, screwing up my skill demonstrations in various ways. I was a little mean with Marty. I was doing the fin pivot with oral inflation and just to make it harder for him I took the regulator out of my mouth, pressed the power inflate, and put the reg back in my mouth (blowing bubbles all the while, of course). I didn’t have the inflator anywhere near my mouth but he still had a hard time figuring it out, but he just gave me the do it again sign indicating that I should use oral inflation and that got him through it.

My other favourite was with Yoon. I was tying underwater knots. In the exercise, we were just supposed to make the knot without actually tying up to anything. I tied a nice bowline to buddy’s BC in record time and looked proudly back at my “instructor” for congratulations, which weren’t forthcoming.

It was a bit cold and despite the minimal depth (15-20 feet) I was down from my starting pressure of 2800 PSI to only 300 when I surfaced after 71 minutes of bottom time. On the surface we did our non-breathing diver drills, and finished up with a mask, snorkel and fins swim across the lake and back. To my surprise, I finished way ahead of everyone else and used it as an opportunity to promote my Scubapro Jet Fins.

Out of the water, we did our debriefings which are by now pretty easy (must remember when pointing out the solution to a problem to also point out the value – e.g. if you’re descending with your snorkel you won’t be able to breathe, remember the 5-point descent and you will have air below the water).

A long day at the lake, and home by 7:30. The next day I ran into a guy on my train to work who is also doing his Open Water Scuba Instructor Course and was at the same lake the day before.

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