I arrived in Bunaken after 24 hours of travelling. So very tired but at the same time very excited to be here…
When arriving it was just getting to know all the surroundings and how things work. On the first “real” day here it was just two fun dives and getting to know the procedures.
We are starting a new series of regular blogs from our DM Interns. The first is from Lewis, he is taking our 6-week Eco-Dm Internship in Bunaken & Lembeh.
Well, where to begin??
Arrived on Lembeh to be welcomed by the friendly dogs that roam the resort, keeping guard and always looking for food.
Followed by one of the many good meals that they have here…really enjoyed the dinners, especially KFC night haha!
Had my first few days of fun diving with Matt to show me around and get acquainted with the totally different type of diving that Lembeh is known for, muck diving. It took me a while to get used to the difference but it is really fun, swimming around looking for the weird and wonderful critters that roam the Lembeh strait! On my first 2 dives, I saw most of the things that people come here to see, Ambon scorpion fish, Lembeh sea dragon, pygmy sea horse, ornate ghost pipefish, robust ghost pipefish and many many others!
Then it was time for the course to begin! With some search and recovery, organising dive cleans and surveying the coral on the house reef.
The most enjoyable thing that I have done with my time in Lembeh is building the artificial reef on the house reef! It came with a few problems and challenges but nothing that me and a pumpkin couldn’t work out and move past. A little mapping of the area then planning where the structures were to go, or building new structures. Moved things about and had fun playing with the massive liftbags that we got brought over from Bunaken to get the job done!
One word of advice for anyone who needs a visa extension though, is to take on of the two fish staff with you to help with translation and to stop you getting very angry at the immigration staff!! Was not the most enjoyable trip to manado that I had but pizza hut worked wonders
Sidemount diving is the current craze!! With sidemount, the tanks are mounted on either side of the diver instead of on the back of the diver. It is a popular configuration with advanced cave and techincal divers, as smaller sections of cave and wrecks can be penetrated and tanks can be changed with greater ease.
Its not just for cave and wreck penetration though. As you kit up have you ever thought ‘this hurts my back/ legs’ or ‘geez these are heavy’ or even ‘there has to be a better way’? Sidemount diving is growing in popularity with recreational divers:
The downside? You have 2 SPGs to monitor but this is easy to learn. You also need 2 regs, but isn’t that better than an octopus?
Try-it in Bunaken!
We have just acquired 2 sets of side-mount harnesses and guests are welcome to try a dive with them. If you want to take it further, PADI have just introduced the PADI Sidemount Diver Course and we can offer this course if you want. You need to be an Advanced Open Water Diver with at least 30 logged dives, and on the course you learn sidemount skills in a confined water session and four open water dives. Great fun! Check out this video to find out what its all about.
If you ask any Rescue Diver they will tell you that its the most challenging course they have done. The training provided by rescue certification is not so much about actually rescuing people but more about increasing your own comfort level in the water, it therefore teaches divers how to be better divers.
To feel comfortable helping others is to really feel comfortable with yourself in the water. You could achieve this comfort level over time with hundreds of dives, but taking a good rescue diver course will get you there much sooner.
Took too long but now only 2 days
Despite these obvious advantages, why are most divers not Rescue Divers? We have been running dive operations in Indonesia (Bunaken & Lembeh Straits) for over 12 years. I have often questioned guests about why they are not yet a rescue diver and the most common reason is that it takes too long.
True, traditionally it would take 4-5 days to do the rescue course: there is a book to read, a video to watch and an exam. There are also water skills to teach and assessments to be done in the open water, and the theory and water skills are integrated so you can’t run the water skills until you have done certain theory topics.
However, now you can do all the theory with PADI Rescue Course Online via eLearning from the comfort of your own home before you leave for your holiday, and the water skills and assessments will take just 1-2 days. So now there is no reason to avoid this course!
We run this course in both Bunaken and Lembeh, and can add a few specialities for your Master Scuba Diver certification.
Structure of the Course
Students will complete 12 Open Water Training Exercises which emphasize a divers ability to be flexible and adapt to personal and environmental conditions. In the end, all 12 exercises will be practiced in real-life scenarios.
Course topics include:
By the end of the course you will have expanded your knowledge of diving, increased your level of diving skill and be more aware of what is happening in the diving environment. Most importantly, rescue training can help you to save lives and increase safety by preparing you to properly respond to diving emergencies.
As a prerequisite, you must be CPR / First Aid certified. You can do a fist aid course through PADI called Emergency First Responder (EFR) that covers the same material, but you can get any first aid course (eg Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance) as long as it covers artificial ventilation and chest compression.
In November 2010 PADI announced the new PADI Divemaster course, however the new materials were not available in Indonesia until July 2011. Since then, Two Fish Divers have taught the new course to about 10 students in Bunaken & Lembeh, and we think that the new DM course is a great improvement.
What Has Changed
In summary, PADI have toughened the prerequisites, increased in-water training by 50%, and completely overhauled the dive theory part of the Divemaster Theory.
Slightly Tougher Prerequisites
Candidates must now have 40 logged dives to start the DM course (used to be 20). They will therefore get more out of their course by being more experienced divers before the course begins.
Additionally, the Deep Diver and Search & Recovery Diver specialty courses are highly recommended. Candidates with these specialty ratings can drop these two Practical Application Skills (see below), however we prefer to cover these anyway to make sure that candidates have up-to-date training.
Increased In-water Training
One of the biggest changes come in the water where PADI has increased the amount of in-water training by 50% including:
These workshops and assessments give the candidates the training and experience they need in order to carry out their functions after certification.
Overhaul of Dive Theory
Overall, the Divemaster Theory emphasizes the supervisory and leadership aspects of being a Divemaster. It has not changed much under the new DM course except that there is now a greater focus on awareness of the environment.
However, the dive theory part of the Divemaster Theory (physics, physiology, etc) has undergone an overhaul.
Under the old DM course, the most intense part of the course was the dive theory as candidates did the same dive theory as an instructor. Under the new DM course, the dive theory is now an “intermediate step” between whats required for the Rescue Diver and that required for an instructor. The dive theory is now a review of the theory from the prerequisite courses (OW, AOW and Rescue), and this is what it should be!
What about the exams? Now there are 2 exams, and they are written in less-technical language to “better assess comprehension of all the knowledge development topics”.
Divemaster Course Online
This was introduced at the same time as the new DM course. It is a great alternative to using the PADI Divemaster manual and DVD. It means that you can do all your DM Theory before you get to us in Bunaken or Lembeh, and more time can be spent on the skill development and practical applications.
Note that the DM exam is not included in the online program as its designed to be administered by us when you are here.
Revised PADI Divemaster Materials
The biggest change has been with the PADI Divemaster Manual itself, which increased from 200 to 300 pages. PADI says it “includes new course information and functions as an additional study tool for the DM exam. Each chapter now includes a case study based on real scenarios that illustrate sound judgement and other leadership skills.”
The Divemaster DVD also gets an upgrade, with new footage, plus video of the 20 scuba skills to “demonstration quality”.
Other revised material include the Divemaster slates that were revised to match the course content.
We think that the new format of the PADI Divemaster Course is alot more fun since candidates spend alot more time on the dive boats. If you are interested, there are a number of options to choose from, have a look at the the PADI Divemaster options with Two Fish Divers for more information.
Hope to see you in Bunaken or Lembeh!