When you have an instructor, for any type of program, but especially with scuba, they have a certain type of aura. You look up to them, and think “wow’ They are so amazing with all that they know, and those amazing dive skills. But underneath that superhero scuba pro persona there lurks a human who makes mistakes and does embarrassing things. Yes, it happens, even in the world of scuba teaching. I am now going to raise my hand and admit to them. I, both as an instructor and then as a course director have done some silly things and I will now admit to them (or some of them at least!)
The Worm attack from below
So, I am indirectly supervising a night dive on Roatan. Caribbean calm waters and all, we have an excited group as we head out to a close to shore, shallow dive spot. Now, I like night diving, but one of the main things i like about it is hanging out and one coral head and observing all of the little critters that there are. Not, swimming around like a mad man trying to find everything.
On this particular occasion, I did just that, and let everyone else swim off away from me with the divemaster. I realized quickly I was by myself, but I was within a few meters of the mooring line with the boat tied to it so I was okay. Proceeding to carry on looking at the little critters, feeding an anemone with my light when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. turning to the left I see a worm type creature, around 1 m long wiggling and squirming its way towards me.
Do worms move that way?
Now, there are ways that worms move, and this thing was not doing that. It was not gliding smoothly through the water or elegantly exploring the reef. This was doubling itself in loops squiggling towards me clearly attracted by the light. What do I do? Turn off the light. Wait for a moment in the pitch black, knowing this unearthly thing is near me. I count to 10…. the turn on the light.
There it is, pretty much on top of me. Freaking out and turning off the light again I do a complete u-turn swimming frantically towards the mooring line. I find the mooring line, head first. smack into it, at which point I remember that this particular line is a heavy chain so needless to say it is not painless. Decision made to then head up the couple of metres to the surface where I find our captain chilling on the boat. He asked why I was up. I decided not to mention the worm of the deep but just relayed that I had got a bit cold. Noone needs to know about that I thought ; )
To be lost or not to be lost….that is the question.
Navigation, the bane of many divers (and drivers) life. A natural sense of direction I do believe I have, but everyone has those days even in places you are super familiar with. Leading a group of students for their open water 3 dive, again, Caribbean blue waters so there really is no excuse. Some of the sites though do have a tendency to look samey and just on that particular day I just could not find the mooring line.
The dive time was at 45 mins and I had some surface skills to complete so I made the bold decision to head up. Shot the safety sausage, did the stop and then went up. I was around 30m from the boat……muppet. Quick thinking here, “hey guys, we are going to re-practice our compass surface swims”. Set a heading to the mooring line and snorkels in, away we go. Nice way of disguising my mistake I thought. On getting back of the boat one of the other instructors said out load. Who was the one who was lost then? Oh, me, I said, but I intentionally came up away from the line to practice surface swims. Yeah right!
Check your equipment and do your buddy check
Every scuba instructor or Divemaster I know has done one of these ones for sure. Either forgot a piece of equipment or jumped in without weights or checking their tank is on. I even know of scuba instructors that have gone to a dive site and realized there whole equipment is missing. Whoops.
Personally I have done my fair share but what particularly sticks with me is teaching a self reliant program and arriving at the dive site and realizing I don’t have fins. Super self reliant that one. I will not blame others, “I was distracted, You asked me this etc” Plain and simple I should’ve done my check before the boat left the dock. Completely on me. The spare fins were not in the save a dive for whatever reason, so I proceeded to share fins with one of the other divers. All good. We thought of it as adaptive training as well. Have to make light of it right!
So when you are watching your amazing instructors or Divemasters in the future, remember they are all human not super human. Being humble and admitting to ones mistakes is certainly a good quality of a professional I believe and you should respect them more for it.