So I’m a DM! Yay! Not exactly a life-long dream, but certainly something I’ve had on my mind since my first dive just over 2 years ago. To date, I’ve logged about 220 dives, most of them this year, and the opportunities keep coming fast and furious.
My internship is everything I thought it would be: I’m working in the industry, riding on boats, tying knots in lines for fenders, helping people with their gear, leading dives and watching bubbles – it’s awesome.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to do both my DM internship and this professional internship at the same company – Sail Caribbean Divers. Their standards are high and they expect the best from us at all times. Melisande checks the boats nightly to make sure they are in ‘showroom condition’ and won’t hesitate to call us back out to fix even the smallest thing. Pretty much from Day 1 of my internship, I’ve been treated as staff – just being a member of the team. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, knowing that the fate of 2 to 20+ divers in a day rests in your hands as the diving co-ordinator on any given boat, but at the same time it’s exhilarating.
Every morning we have a quick meeting to talk over the day, and then we get to work hauling gear, tanks and making sure the boat we’re on is stocked with retail, cake, water, ice, cups, spare gear, a spear gun, and whatever else we might need that day. Often we leave at 8 am and don’t return to ‘Base’ until after 4 pm, sometimes we start earlier and end later.
My first day as an intern (Mel asked me to start half a day early), I taught a DSD – in FRENCH. They loved it, and I got a chance to practice a language I haven’t spoken in about a year. The following day I lead 4 dives for certified divers, managed to not get lost, found the boat, made sure everyone had a good time and even made some tips! There have been a few other memorable moments, like when our biggest boat (the 50’) lost an engine in 30 knot winds and it took me 20 minutes, multiple drops (and retrievals) of the mooring hooks, one very bent mooring hook and a very crushed ego to hook a mooring ball at Vanishing Rock. It was certainly one way to spend a surface interval! The dive went off well and the cruise-shippers seemed happy when we dropped them off. Yesterday, I very nearly fell overboard while I was tying fenders: I slipped and suddenly found myself clinging on the railing for dear life. Luckily, we happened to have a boat full of strong German men (again, cruise-shippers) who hoisted me back on board – Dankeschön!!!
The other day Laura and I picked up some guests from Virgin Gorda and headed to a navigationally challenging site that I’d only dived once before. The boat was a bit broken, so Laura fixed it while I managed to not get lost, find the cool underwater feature we were looking for, lead the guests through it, navigate back to the boat and get everyone back on board with a healthy reserve of air. She did exactly the same on the next dive, and we were quite pleased with ourselves for a job well done. I spent the afternoon at Base filling tanks – 8 at a time – from the massive compressor that makes very scary noises, while managing not to blow myself, or anyone/anything else up.
It’s really hard work, but I love it. Every day I get to head out on a boat with a new’ish friend, to meet new people and go and do one of my most favourite things: dive. Every night I fall into bed exhausted, but ready to get up again and do it the next day. I only have a few more weeks down here, and already I don’t want it to end. I need to start looking for the next adventure, and it will definitely be an underwater one.