My last week in Bunaken has been a real rollercoaster of activities, involving a Project Aware beach clean up, lots of fun dives, a hair cut (!) and my snorkel test to celebrate finishing my course.
It’s been a week since I arrived at Two Fish Divers in Bunaken, where I plan to complete my PADI Divemaster course. Here are first impressions: the course sure keeps me busy, but I still managed to read a business magazine (old habits die hard!) in the evening to fall asleep. I have opted for a condensed three-week programme which has been off to a full-on start.
One of my favourite things to do so far has been practising the 24 basic dive skills and learning more about teaching other divers. Personally, I have been diving for four years already, which turns out to be long enough to pick up a few bad habits. If my first week is anything to go by, this course will definitely help me get back on track.
What a way to start the third week of my divemaster course in Bunaken! After surfacing from a fantastic dive, our captain tells us there’s been a pod of dolphins swimming by. He drives the boat over to where a pod of around 20 dolphins are cruising. They start playfully swimming with the boat for about 10 minutes or so before deciding they’ve had enough and we part ways. Wow!
As a Divemaster you need to be prepared to deal with stressful situations, and this week during my divemaster course in Bunaken I was put through my stess test. During the stress test myself and my buddy, one of Two Fish’s Indonesian dive guides, had to swap all our equipment underwater while buddy-breathing (one regulator between two divers) and being ‘challenged’ by our instructors. I’m not really someone who ever feels stressed but this was quite difficult at times, especially when they’re constantly spraying bubbles in your face or stealing your mask!
Having never dived before I decided to go “zero to hero”, from non-diver to Divemaster, with Two Fish and complete my Divemaster course in Bunaken. Why? Mainly because my dad had always loved diving and from his stories I knew I would too (I also wanted to get away from the miserable British weather), so I swapped England for sunny Sulawesi.
My second week in Bunaken has also been very productive and rewarding! I took three specialty courses: Fish-Identification (with instructor Dion), Search and Recovery (with instructor Dom) and Underwater Naturalist (with instructor Tina).
Time has come for me to move to Bunaken (North Sulawesi), which is the next location of my Divemaster internship. I actually chose to do my Divemaster internship with TwoFish Divers because of the fact that it can be done in several fantastic locations in Indonesia. Another clear benefit of this multi location approach is that it also allows the trainee to interact with, and profit from the experience of, a larger pool of instructors, as well as to experience the day-to-day activities of dive centres with different characteristics. Therefore, after my first two weeks in Lombok, I will continue now my training in Bunaken. My third, and last, training location will be Lembeh!
The first two weeks of my Dive Master course went by in the blink of an eye, can’t believe I’m halfway through already! To give you an idea about this 2-week-blink I’ll tell you about my experiences so far.
The first half of my Divemaster was in Sanur, Bali mainland, where I started with 4 days of theory and skills practice in the pool with my instructor Reuben. During these days I learned that performing a skill and demonstrating one is a whole different story and how much control in diving I have yet to gain.
The first fortnight of my DM training as come to a close, along with my time on Nusa Lembongan. It’s with mixed feelings that I head to Two Fish on Bunaken to continue the course: excitement at experiencing new dive sites and working with different instructors yet a sadness in saying goodbye to the fantastic team here, just as I had begun to settle in and get to know everyone and how things work.
This week I continued my tech diving training with the TDI Deco Procedures course with Dom. I planned two 45m dives with decompression stops. I did those dives in Sidemount which I like much more than the backmounted twinsets. I also practiced a lot of tech skills. Now I know the basics of tech diving :). I really enjoyed the course. Dom is a really experienced instructor and I can only recommend doing this courses with him.
The last two weeks of my PADI divemaster training in Lembongan has been truly amazing. I have barely seen such a variety of dive sites that can be explored all from just one dive center!
One day the boat could be heading north to one of the sites with beautiful corals, an abundance of reef fish as well as the occasional turtle and on the next day the boat may head south to find the mantas, the seahorse at crystal bay and if lucky also a mola mola.
Last week I tried some technical diving in the pool and the “tech-fever” caught me. So I decided to take some technical courses with Dom. I started with the TDI Advanced Nitrox course. The theory is really interesting. I also planned my first dive to 40m with a stage cylinder. During this dive I saw some big tunas and a black tip shark. Dom also practized a lot of tech-drills with me. I am looking forward to the next course which will be TDI Deco Procedures.
This week Jackie, a new divemaster trainee, arrived in Bunaken. We were really busy but had also a lot of fun. Together with the instructors Ina and Dion and some diveguides Jackie and me helped with a Coral Rehabilitation program. We helped the Indonesian Marine to rebuild a reef and even ended up in the local newspaper 🙂
Time passes so fast here in Bunaken. I have been on this island for four weeks so far and I still love this place. I was quite busy with my Divemaster internship this week. I finished the DM manual and did the final exam. Theory is done 🙂 The last two weeks I practiced the 24 Dive Skills several times with Dom in the pool. I could also see how the other two instructors are conducting the skills during the Open Water courses. So this week was my turn and my Dive Skills were scored by Ina.
Two weeks have passed since I arrived in Bunaken. I spent those weeks doing the EFR course, the PADI Rescue Diver course in Bunaken and lots of dives. I also did the PADI Nitrox course with Dion (one of the PADI Instructors). I had (and am still having) a lot of fun with the diveguides which like my name and renamed me “Elo”:-)
Woah! Only two more days before Andreas, Thano and I finish our PADI Divemaster Training here in Lembeh with Two Fish Divers. Tomorrow we are organizing the final part of our training – the AWARE Project. The purpose is to organize an activity promoting environmental awareness, so we are heading out to clean the reef in front of one of the local villages.
Well I’m into the final week of my PADI Divemaster internship. The assessment activities are over, but there is always time to learn more about diving. For the last couple of days I have been following some of the dive guides around on dives. The eye that these guys have for tiny critters is amazing!
I can’t believe it has been 10 days since I arrived in Northern Sulawesi! Echo, one of the drivers from Two fish, welcomed me with a big smile on his face at the airport. He brought me to the harbor, where I jumped on a speedboat to Bunaken.
Done with the theory,the exams,and the ear infection is gone so I`m finally diving again. Happy days!
One sight is better than the next. We have had some strong currents on some of the dives and we almost got swept on top of the reef.