Leading Diver Diary

WEEK 1-3

Well, I finally decided to go for the leading diver grade, sort of, maybe, not sure, definitely! Hmmm.

After rounding up a few suspects and attending the brief. Myself and Frank have committed to reaching the grade.

Frank has organised the lecture schedule for us and external members. Two done now and several more to go over the next two weeks.

Coincidently, we have a lot of snorkelling to do and trainee’s that need open water snorkelling as well.

While this is good for all involved, the serious downside is that we are currently doing the snorkelling in the quarry. kinda cold this time of year, 6° plus wind chill. I did the first snorkel last week and as we had to do duck dives to 10 and 6 metres, I wore my alleged semi-dry, now I remember why I bought a dry suit.

Did a couple of hundred metres and more than a few duck dives and was cold enough after about an hour and a half to get out. Enough for one week I think.

 

WEEK 4

Well here I am back in the quarry again on a Sunday. Really nice day, wind was about F4, but no clouds and a blue sky. I think that it is a good thing that I have a head cold as I get to wear my drysuit! Gave a quick brief to the trainee’s about safety and to be prepared for how cold the quarry can be. He he, I’m the only one that’s going to be dry.

In we get and “Expletive deleted” me my hands are cold! Trainee’s are shocked at the cold. One of our divers recorded 3° at one point.

Did a few rounds and the trainee’s attempted a few duck dives. 30 minutes and we took a break, back in, it didn’t get warmer by the way.

Trainee’s got out as they were getting cold so I went to do the length of the quarry (the long way), because I was using a drysuit, I had ankle weights, not good if going on a long fin!

Another hour and a half done, not cold this week:).

Gotta try and shake this head cold for next week.

Legs are a bit sore today.

 

WEEK 5/6

Another glorious day in the quarry last Sunday, blue skies and a warm breeze. Head cold gone so duck dives it is. Started shallow as there were a few trainee’s there and got down to seven metres. Not too bad, bit of practice needed I think, might have to get onto Peter about breathing techniques. Did a width and a length. Bit easier this week.

In my spare time, my head is stuck in my theory notes, physics, dive tables, physiology and general knowledge. Four exams in June, minimum of 60% for a pass. Always get mixed up in whose gas law it is!

Weather depending, we should be back in Kilkee next weekend, so do a bit of snorkelling and cox work there and the usual organisation that goes with a dive day, tides, times, buddy pairs. I’m sure there will be a drill or ten during the year!

More lectures this week, cylinders, regs, CPR and O2 administration to name a few. Many thanks to the instructors for giving up their time.

 

WEEK 7/10

After a busy couple of weeks, we have completed our classes and are working on our dive planning skills. One very busy day with 31 dives over four boats and a slightly less busy with 21 dives on three boats have shown me where I need to work on.

There was an incident on the weekend where divers became separated, one came to the surface and informed us of the situation, we located the second divers bubbles and put in a cover diver who reported that all was ok and that the second diver was ascending and giving the ok signal. I was extremely impressed with all the crew on board as everybody knew what to do and also gave some good options. Good drill to ease us into the emergency situation exercises. Well done to all.

We are going back to the quarry this week, I can’t wait! Loads of duck dives and plenty of finning, at least the sun is shining today, it might be warm for a change.

Exams in about six weeks, better do some study.

Two sessions in the quarry this week, two laps each time, managed to get the ten and six metre duck dives done, 20 second bottom time on each. About ten or so duck dives in total. Leg started cramping up, so had to stop.

Weather was brilliant on Tuesday, Thursday rained as usual, got a white out under water from the bloom that is common this time of year, looked like fog or clouds under the water.

 

WEEK 10/13

Well, we are getting into the business side of the leading diver schedule. Written and water work (snorkelling and duck dives) tests are in Kilkee next week, we have put in a lot of time and effort, usually two evenings for either questions, lectures or fitness training and a Saturday or Sunday planning and running dive events, don’t forget the questions during work (ssshhh don’t tell). It is a bit of a commitment, but I have found it surprising the amount of info that I have had to look up and research, it does make it a lot easier that there are a couple of us doing the course.

One thing that we are always being made conscious of is the awareness that you must have towards the planning, people, dive, weather, basically everything that is needed for a safe dive outing! Far more than is obvious to the casual observer or in my case a club diver! I was aware of a lot of components to running a dive, but this have opened my eyes to much more.

The instructors from several clubs that have been given up their free time to support us must be given their dues, they have as much invested as we do if not more and are very much appreciated.

For now, I am going to quietly study the syllabus and do (attempt) the past papers. Water fitness has really improved, many thanks to Peter in the quarry for supporting the leading and rescue training events over the last number of weeks or is it months? A very valuable resource.

We have five separate written exams and four or five water events, at the start I had difficulty duck diving and staying at 6M, now I can get to 10.5M and stay for 20 seconds, 8 sec down, 20 on the bottom and 8 sec up, easy with a bit of practice (really) and the right weights of course! I find it best for me with the water just below my mask when at rest.

The 1km fin should be good as well as the 500M surface fin in full gear!

The test is really a full day in Kilkee, we might sneak a late dive, if not too tired that is.

I’ll be back here after the tests, see you soon.

 

WEEK 14

Well that was a long day! Left my house at 08.00 and got home about 20.00. I did enjoy the day bar the usual pre test jitters. Five written papers taking three hours, broken into four half hour tests comprising of physics, dive tables, general knowledge and physiology and one hour long one of a complete dive plan. These are the times allowed and I was probably writing for about two hours total, we even managed to get a bowl of soup in between the first four tests and the dive plan.

I have to say that the examiners and jury president were very relaxed and put us all at ease with their demeanour.

With all the written stuff out of the way, we had an hour for lunch and told to be ready on the slip for 14.30. The usual hurry up and wait then as with most dive activities. Instructors arrived and we headed out to Newfee at 15.00. For some reason I was number 101 on the day, which meant that I had to go first in everything, nice! Ten and six metre duck dives went ok, one at a time with a diver at 10 and 6m.

1000m snorkel then back to shore, wind and tide against us, I’m sure someone asked was the tide coming or going, the reply was that it was coming (i.e. Filling), I knew it was going, but hey, who am I to argue. That was a long fin back, started to feel a cramp coming in my foot so I took it handy on the way back.

Full scuba kit surface swim for about 500m, I was not looking forward to this but it proved to be fairly easy.

Then a 50-60m (distance not depth) dive in pairs with one on compass and the other with no mask, I never knew my eyeballs could be cold, swap over and return then.

Down to the shorts and a 100m free swim to rescue a diver at 2m, fill his jacket, surface and return.

All that training really did pay off in the end. I found it very good to train in a group, new ideas, suggestions and help were freely exchanged between us. It is also safer, doing duck dives to ten metres with no surface support is not really ideal, thanks guys.

Quote of the day “I have never been in a college fraternity, but that is hazing if I ever saw it”

That was just part one!!!!!!

Just have to practise dive planning between now and September. We have 10 dives each to plan and we also have to have emergency situations on each one of these dives! Prepare to have a lot of Brian falling down, he has asked me to do this for several leading candidates in the past, pain in my arm, twisted ankle, you get the idea.

Till next time.

TWO WEEKS BEFORE TEST

Well that’s it then.

Unfortunately I am unable to complete the leading diver course this year. Due to the recent addition of a new dive buddy, I am preoccupied with feeding and nappies.

I am both delighted and disappointed, disappointed as I put in a lot of time, effort, sweat and tears for the leading diver, but delighted as my family has grown.

I will definitely be doing (finishing) the leading diver next year, I am currently trying to recruit a few buddies to do it as well. The experience and knowledge that I have gained through the course this year will really stand to me.

It is great to see clubs come together during these courses, the LD candidates are in contact with each other through shared drives, trial weekends like the last weekend in Smerick, group discussions and so on.

Best of luck to the LD candidates for this year.

I am also grateful for the time given up by the instructors and the ease with which I/we can contact them. It is difficult to single out an instructor to thank, but I feel that the RDO, Caroline, must be mentioned has she has been there with encouragement and support not only for the leading diver but also with the untimely passing of our friend and dive buddy. RIP John McNally.