Do you fancy the lifestyle of a dive instructor, but don’t want to teach ? Do you enjoy photography ? Or maybe you are already a Divemaster or Instructor and would like to try something different ? Then maybe the life of a photo pro on a dive boat could be for you…
When it comes to working in the dive industry, most people don’t look past the roles of being a Divemaster or an Instructor for an opening to the dive lifestyle. However, there are many other opportunities available, one of which is working as a photographer on the dive boats…
At Lanta Diver, we operate three dive boats – two larger boats and a speedboat for Hin Daeng/Hin Muang – and we have photographers on the larger boats to take photos of the guests enjoying their day snorkelling or diving with the Lanta marine life.
The photographers’ days begin by getting to the boat in the morning, and starting to prepare their equipment for the day – both their dive equipment, and their camera kit. Once the divers are settled on the boat, and have finished their breakfasts, the photographers will usually have a walk around the boat and introduce themselves to the divers/snorkelers, and let them know what their role is on the boat, and gauge their interest in purchasing photos at the end of the day. The next step is to chat with the Divemasters and Instructors about their plans for their groups – routes on the dive sites, and when would be a good time to take some photos of their group. After this, the photographers can start to plan their dives to maximise their chances of getting photographs of all the interested divers and snorkelers, and maybe also take a few photos of the groups setting up their equipment.
In between dives, the photographers will start editing their photos a little, and then chat with the dive staff again about their plans for the second dive, trying to make sure they have all the groups covered over the two or three dives that day. Once the day’s diving/snorkelling is finished, it’s time for a little more editing, and arranging the processed photos, with a few photos of the marine life encountered during the day, to start showing the groups. Once ready to show their day’s work, they will politely ask the groups if they would like to view the slideshow of the photos, and inform them of the prices and how they will get the photos to them.
The Lanta Diver photographers are very experienced in their field, and love their work. They are also happy to share their secrets with you, and have designed a special course for anyone interested in working as a photo pro on dive boats – including classroom, pool, and boat sessions. It is preferred that you are already a dive pro before taking this course, but not compulsory, but you must be an experienced and competent diver with excellent buoyancy skills – the Self-Reliant Diver certification is also recommended. You can also add this course onto your PADI Divemaster course at Lanta Diver, if you are interested..
If you would like to know more about the training, send Nick a quick email, and he will be happy to answer your questions…
Also have a look at Nick’s website to see some of his stunning images !
The no-mask swim skill from Confined Water Dive #4 of the PADI Open Water Course is a skill that often appears during the PADI IDC and the Instructor Exams (IE). There are a few different ways to teach this skill, and the main differences are regarding the organisation of the skill – how to set it up and conduct it underwater. The mechanics of the skill are relatively simple, yet students may be a little anxious before attempting this skill for the first time.
The performance requirements for this skill state a certain distance must be covered during the swim to successfully complete the skill. The first thing to think about when organising this skill then, is to ensure the full 15 metres will be covered. If you are teaching in a pool, then this is very easy to do once you know the dimensions of the pool. However, if you are teaching in confined open water, from a beach, then you may need to measure the distance using a reel or tape measure. A tape measure is obviously already marked out with the distances, but if you are using a reel, you may need to add some distance markers yourself.
I prefer to use a reel, as it is more convenient because it is already a part of my dive equipment, and is easier to stow when not in use. Along the length of my 40m line, I have used a permanent marker to add a mark every 5 metres – as below:
These markings are not just useful for the no-mask swim skill, but for many other skills and dives within the PADI system (e.g. Navigation Adventure Dive, wreck penetration).
Once we are happy that we have a means of ensuring the full 15 metres will be completed, we can think about the other aspects of the organisation of this skill. First, let’s see what PADI’s Guide To Teaching suggests:
The final sentence in the above excerpt from the Guide To Teaching is an important factor to consider when deciding how to organise this skill. I find it more beneficial for the students if they work in buddy teams and take turns guiding each other over the 15 metres, rather than the instructor guiding the students. This strengthens the understanding of the buddy team, makes the skill more realistic as training for the event of a lost mask during a dive, and is extra practice at swimming whilst neutrally buoyant.
During the briefing for this skill, I will let the students know that I will demonstrate the skill with the Divemaster first, and that the students will then perform the skill as buddy teams, switching roles after one buddy team member has completed the skill satisfactorily. The student with their mask in place can guide the student without the mask by swimming alongside, and holding the other student’s first stage with one hand, and their wrist out in front of them with the other hand. Having physical contact with the buddy’s wrist during the skill helps the students stay relaxed, especially if they will close their eyes during the practice. I will also inform them that I will be swimming alongside the buddy team, on the side of the diver without a mask. If I only have one student, then I would take the role of guide as the student performed the skill.
I will also tell the students during the briefing that when they are happy with their neutral buoyancy, they can then flood and remove their mask to perform the skill, and that they should then pass the mask to me. I then hold onto each student’s mask whilst they swim the distance. It is not a requirement to take the masks from the students, but I find it helps with the realism and conduct of the skill. In real life, if they lost a mask, it would not be in their hands. Also, if the instructor has the mask, the student cannot replace the mask too early, before the full 15 metres has been covered. This method also removes the issues of students dropping their masks during the exercise. During an IDC or an IE, this method of teaching has then eliminated two of the problems that a Course Director or PADI Examiner can assign during this skill – your anticipation and actions have prevented problems.
Once I am happy that the student has mastered the skill, and completed the full 15 metres comfortably, then I can signal this to them with a tap on the shoulder, and I can place the mask back in the student’s hand – ready to be replaced and cleared to complete the skill. The same two students would then switch roles, and complete the skill again…
If you have any questions regarding this skill, or any others, please feel free to email and ask us for our advice. Also, if you are looking to complete a PADI Divemaster or IDC programme, please email and ask for further information about our courses in beautiful Koh Lanta, Thailand – email@example.com
Always dreamed of living on a tropical island ? Sunshine everyday ? The commute to work a stroll down the beach ? Then maybe life as a PADI dive professional is for you…
At Lanta Diver we offer PADI Divemaster training in a stunning location, with great diving, at a PADI CDC training facility. All the professional-level PADI training is run by an experienced Platinum Course Director with a wealth of experience and knowledge to pass on.
Koh Lanta is a small, idyllic tropical island on the west coast of Thailand. It offers divers the best land-based diving in Thailand, with regular sightings of both whale sharks and manta rays. The smaller marine life is plentiful too – seahorses, harlequin shrimp, ghost pipefish and nudibranchs are commonly seen on all dive sites too.
The PADI Divemaster course is the gateway to a life as a professional scuba diver, and gives you a passport to great diving destinations all over our blue planet. During the course you will learn how to guide dives and how to function as an assistant to PADI Instructors. After qualification, you will be able to start working in the dive industry, guiding divers around dive sites, and showing them the rich marine life that Koh Lanta has to offer.
Remember the RDP ? You know, that blue and white thing you last used during your Open Water course ? How about the eRDPml ? Well you should be up-to-speed with both of these and comfortable with all aspects of their use before arriving at your PADI IDC…
The PADI Divemaster course should have left you comfortable with both the RDP and the eRDPml, but all too often I see IDC candidates spending their evenings trying to remember how to work out minimum surface intervals when they should be learning new information and preparing their teaching presentations for the next day. If you are a little rusty with the use of either version of the RDP, then here’s some tips to help you arrive at your IDC confident with both versions of the PADI RDP:
1. Read through the ‘Instructions For Use’ booklets for both versions
The instruction booklets that come with both the RDP and the eRDPml are very good at explaining the two products. The booklets walk you through how to use the products from the beginning with example questions to work through as you go. They are an excellent way to refresh your memory, especially for minimum surface intervals…
2. Go through the PADI Open Water Diver Course Quizzes and Exams
Inside this booklet you will find the ‘RDP Table and eRDPml Quiz’, the ‘RDP Table and eRDPml Final Exam’, and the ‘eRDPml Multilevel Quiz’. All three of these have two versions – A & B. You should try all of these questions, and be comfortable finding the correct answers without any issues. Every PADI dive centre and instructor should have a copy of this exam booklet for you to look over. There is a copy included in the IDC Crew Pak too.
3. Visit the Study Tools page of our website
The Go Pro In Paradise website has a ‘PADI IDC Study Tools‘ page designed to help people prepare for their PADI IDC. There are study notes and practise exams for each of the five topics of the dive theory exams – Physics, Physiology, Equipment, Dive Skills & The Environment, and Decompression Theory – plus some extra downloadable questions to help you practise with both the RDP and eRDPml. There are also links to videos to help you remember your knots…
4. Check out our YouTube channel
The Go Pro In Paradise YouTube channel has videos covering different aspects of dive theory – including physics, physiology, and dive planning. The dive planning videos are designed to help you work through some of the different types of questions that can be asked on the PADI IDC and IE dive theory exams with both the RDP and the eRDPml.
Following these four steps before your IDC will help you arrive much more relaxed. You will also have much more time during the IDC to focus on the new information being presented rather than studying what you should already know…
If you would like any further information about the PADI IDC process, or how to prepare for it, please feel free to send me an email and ask – firstname.lastname@example.org
As a new instructor, the Navigation Adventure Dive can seem a little daunting – there’s lots to do, but we also want to save some time to swim around and explore the dive site too. It’s a dive we conduct often – it is a compulsory core dive on the Advanced Open Water Course. We obviously need to make sure all our students meet performance requirements, but we also want to work efficiently to allow that time for exploring the dive site and practising actual diving !
The first thing to consider when planning a Navigation Adventure Dive is when and where you will conduct this dive. I would never plan to conduct this dive as the first dive of an Advanced Open Water Course, I would prefer to see my divers in the water first. Ideally, I like to conduct Peak Performance Buoyancy as the first dive of an AOWC, and certainly before the Navigation Dive. Another thing to bear in mind is depth and site selection. It’s preferable to conduct the Navigation Dive on a shallow site, with relatively open sandy areas. Also, a site with little or no current is ideal. Aiming for a shallower site is another reason not to plan this as the first dive of the course. I prefer to plan my Navigation Dives as either second or third dives of the course – it’s also not a nice dive to finish the course with for the students.
Now let’s have a look at the performance requirements – what the students must achieve…
Okay, so we need to get ourselves organised before we tackle those performance requirements. We need to get our instructional equipment together first. Our students should each have a compass, as per PADI standards, for every Adventure Dive. But for me, we also need a reel/spool – that’s how I measure the 30 metres for skill #2, and I also then use it as a baseline, and a way of measuring performance requirements, for the other skills. I have a reel and a spool, and I have marked them both off for distances every five metres. I also made sure when I bought my reel and my spool that I selected ones with orange lines, rather than the more common white. The orange line is much easier to see (when using a dSMB, or conducting wreck penetration, as well as when laying it on the floor for Navigation skills). I then marked my lines every five metres as below:
Once I have laid this line out, carefully avoiding damaging any aquatic life, I am ready to start the skills with my students. If there is a slight current, I will try to set the line perpendicular to it. Skill #1 will be combined with all the other skills and monitored throughout the dive. Skill #2 is pretty straight forward, but the trick is to avoid this turning into a race along the line. I am very careful how I brief this skill – I brief that the 30m swim should be at a normal dive pace, and that I will set the speed by swimming in front of the students, emphasising that they should not overtake me. I instruct the students to count their own kick cycles, and I time the swim. The number of kicks and time can then be noted on the Adventure Dive Data Carrier slates. I perform this skill twice – once in each direction to ascertain an average. This is especially important if there is a slight current.
The next skill is the natural navigation swim, returning within 15m from the start point. This is a skill that needs to be briefed well too. We need to emphasise what features to look for in the reef formations/topography, and also to point out that often things will look different when returning in the opposite direction. I brief my students to look back at a reference point as they pass it to get an idea of how it will look on the return leg. I also brief the importance of slow relaxed swimming – the normal dive pace – and tell them how many kick cycles I would like them to complete before turning around. I start this skill from the centre point of my 30m baseline – the 15 metre mark. I now have 15 metres of line either side of the start, so I can very easily see if the students have met the performance requirement, which is to return within 15 metres of their start point.
Skill #4 is then combined with skill #5. Correct positioning/handling of a compass to swim a reciprocal heading. I also remind the students they can also incorporate some natural navigation techniques as used in the previous skill into this exercise – especially if there is a little current. For the skill #4 element of this reciprocal heading swim, I do emphasise that the compass must be level, and that the lubber line must be pointing in the desired direction of travel, but I do not insist they hold the compass in the manner pictured below during the entire exercise – because nobody dives like this, ever – it just needs to be held correctly when checking the heading/direction !
Rather than insist on the above position, I brief students to use natural navigation in conjunction with the compass – keeping the compass level, point it ahead, and pick out a natural feature in line with the lubber line, then when they reach that feature, they can again hold the compass level with the lubber line in the correct direction and pick another natural feature – this is a more natural, ‘realistic’ way to navigate with a compass. This is also a much better technique if there is any current – if people just stare at the compass in a current they may not notice they are being pushed off course. Also bear in mind that nowadays people may be using a digital compass on their dive computer, so you might need to cover how to calibrate and use that version of a compass. Again, we need to cover how many kick cycles before turning in the briefing. I also start this skill from the same 15 metre mark on my baseline, so I can check that they meet the performance requirement of returning to within six metres of the starting point – I have a mark on my baseline five metres either side of the starting point…
With both skill #3 and skill #4, if conditions are good enough, and my divers are also competent enough, I can send two buddy teams off simultaneously if I have four students. I assign one member of each buddy team the task of navigating with the compass (setting the heading by pointing the lubber line in the correct direction and rotating the bezel so the north arrow is between the two index markers), whilst the other will be counting their own kick cycles and tapping the shoulder of the buddy to signal time to turn around. To turn around, the buddy member with the compass just needs to turn their body until the south arrow is in between the two index markers.
Before I allow a buddy team to begin the swim, I position myself directly in front of them, blocking their path, until I am happy they have set the compass correctly, then I move to the side and let them begin. Once buddy team #1 has started, I position myself directly in front of the second buddy team until I am happy their compass is also set correctly before I allow then to swim. Once the second buddy team have started, quite often the first buddy team is arriving back, and I can have them swap roles and repeat the skill. This helps me work more efficiently and have time to explore the dive site once all skills are completed:
Once everybody has performed each role for the reciprocal heading compass swim, the final skill is the square pattern. For this, I also get the two buddy teams swimming in different directions at the same time (conditions and competency allowing) to work efficiently:
Again, I start from the 15 metre mark of my line and use the marks on my line to gauge whether they have met the performance requirements of returning to within eight metres of the starting point. I prefer to use the Suunto SK8 compasses for this dive too, as they have all four cardinal points on the face, and not just a north arrow. This makes this square pattern, and the search patterns in the Rescue Diver and Search & Recovery Specialty, much easier too. Again, for the first heading, the students need to point the lubber line in the right direction and turn the bezel until the two index markers are over the north arrow. Now, when they come to make the first 90 degree turn, for a turn to the right, they do not need to touch the bezel, they just need to turn the body until the east arrow is between the two index markers, and on the next turn, the south arrow between the two markers. For a left turn, they would turn the body until the west arrow is between the index markers.
I ask the students to set the first side of the square to follow the direction of my baseline (as in the picture above). This means their final leg of the square will be back towards the line, so again I can see how close to the start point they finish. And once more, when the buddy teams return, I get them to swap roles and repeat the skill. The conditions will determine length of each side of the square – if the conditions are good enough, I will have the students use the same amount of kick-cycles as it took them to complete the 30 metre swim earlier (This is PADI’s recommended size for the square), but if conditions are less favourable, I may shorten this to suit (as in the example picture above).
Another key to making this dive run smoothly and efficiently underwater is to practise these skills on land before the dive. I like to do this with a towel over the students’ heads, so all they can see is the compass, and to learn to trust it (and me!).
And that is basically how I try to run the Navigation Adventure Dive. As I mentioned above, sometimes conditions or student skill level means I need to adapt my approach a little. But this is the Advanced Course, and the students, as certified divers, should be good enough to swim a short distance away from the instructor, and allowing them that little extra freedom will also help them become more confident divers…
If you have any questions about how I run my Navigation Adventure Dives, or would like to take an Underwater Navigator Specialty Instructor Training Course to see it first hand, please feel free to email and ask for more information…
The PADI Fish ID Specialty is for me one of the most misunderstood of all PADI Specialties. Often (wrongly) sneered at by Instructors, and much maligned by dive professionals. The point to remember is that this Specialty is not for dive professionals, but for new or novice divers. And when taught properly, this target audience will gain much from taking this course.
Every Divemaster and Instructor should be able to identify the majority of the common fish/marine life in their local area. But remember the point is for them to pass that information on to new divers.
It’s also not just a case of taking a fish slate underwater and pointing to a fish then showing the new diver a picture of it on the slate with the name. The idea is that we teach the new diver how they can learn to identify fish for themselves. Perhaps they will be diving in the future without a dive professional.
When I teach this Specialty, I teach people to focus on family groups first, and then, when back on the boat, to get the books out and find the exact species. With this approach, divers don’t need to start at page one, and flick through every page of the book until they find the picture they are looking at. Rather, they know straight away to start with the angelfish section, for example, then can look for the nuances in colouration to find the exact species, perhaps with the aid of the picture/notes they made on their slate during the dive. This is how the Specialty should be taught. And a new diver will enjoy this and gain a lot of knowledge and enjoyment from this, and more importantly, will want to keep diving to discover new species and creatures.
The contents page of this book includes outlines of the shapes of major fish families and is perfect to use during your dive briefings. Then after the dive, your students can look here first, and then know which section of the book to head to next to try to identify the species they saw and drew during the dive.
During the dives, I like to focus on the common reef fish in my area. I am not looking to identify the ornate ghost pipefish, or the frogfish, but am paying more attention to different types of butterflyfish, angelfish, and anemonefish. I let, and encourage, my students to draw whichever fish they like, but I will also point out a few that I want them to pay close attention to – some that are difficult to identify for a beginner. I usually get them to draw longfin bannerfish and moorish idols, and a couple of different types of anemonefish, to see if they can spot the slight differences.
I think this is a great Specialty for Instructors to be able to teach and offer their students, especially after the Open Water Course. If you would like to know more about teaching this Specialty, feel free to send me an email, and see when I am next running a Specialty Instructor Training Course. Or if you are a PADI Divemaster, join us for an IDC and add this rating on at the end of the programme.
If you have been teaching a while, you might be considering your next steps, and maybe even planning on attending a PADI CDTC and becoming a Course Director in the future yourself. The PADI IDC Staff Course is the first step on the instructor development ladder.
As a certified PADI IDC Staff Instructor you will be able to assist Course Directors with IDC programmes and share your wisdom and experience with new PADI leaders. The IDC Staff Instructor course provides you with extensive knowledge of the PADI IDC process and prepares you to positively shape the next generation of PADI Professionals. It’s also a great career move, and opens up more opportunities…
So, what do you gain from the training ? After certification you will be able to:
There are two options for the IDC Staff Instructor course. The most popular is to sit in on a full IDC programme. You start a couple of days before the IDC itself, learning about the psychology of evaluation and how to evaluate the candidates IDC teaching presentations. Also during these days you will need to pass the PADI Dive Theory and Standards Exams again – with a higher passing score of 80% this time. You will also need to deliver one Confined Water and one Knowledge Development Teaching Presentation again. Also with higher passing scores than on an IDC programme. Then it’s time for the IDC candidates to arrive, and you sit back and relive the IDC experience from a different, more relaxed, perspective…
As a PADI Instructor with teaching experience already, you will be able to take in more information now you are on the other side of the fence, and more relaxed. You will absorb even more of the valuable information stored in the heads of our experienced Platinum PADI Course Director, and help pass this on to the IDC candidates. You will also help deliver the extra workshops and seminars added to Go Pro In Paradise IDC programmes to help the IDC candidates hit the ground running after the IE, and see how we try to focus on teaching our IDCs neutrally buoyant.
The longer option outlined above is perhaps the better option. You will get more practice getting to grips with the evaluation process for Confined Water, Open Water and Knowledge Development presentations. However, for those short in time, there is a shorter four-day option. During this option you will still learn the basics of becoming an IDC Staff instructor, but you will not then see everything put into action in a real world IDC setting. Following this shorter option though, you can always come back when you have more time and gain that experience staffing an IDC at a later date.
If you are interested in improving your teaching skills and knowledge, and becoming a member of the PADI Instructor Development team with our highly experienced Platinum PADI Course Director, then please drop us an email for further details. If you are already a PADI IDC Staff instructor, we also offer programmes to help you get more staffing experience, as well as Master Instructor and CDTC Prep programmes…