Teaching Tips: The Navigation Adventure Dive…

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…

Navigation Dive, Advanced Open Water Course, Teaching Tips, PADI IDC

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:

Navigation Dive, Advanced Open Water Course, Teaching Tips, PADI IDC

I have always used a Dive Rite Safety Reel, and have also, more recently, added the new Apeks Lifeline Spool to my kit bag, as pictured below:

PADI IDC, Navigation Dive, Reel Spool

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 !

Navigation Dive, Advanced Open Water Course, Teaching Tips, PADI IDC

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:

Navigation Dive, Advanced Open Water Course, Teaching Tips, PADI IDC

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:

Navigation Dive, Advanced Open Water Course, Teaching Tips, PADI IDC

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…

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The PADI Fish ID Specialty

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.

PADI Specialty Instructor Training, Thailand, Phuket, Platinum Course Diretcor

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 Specialty has no manual from PADI, so I like to use the excellent ‘Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific’ by Gerald Allen, Roger Steene, Paul Humann, and Ned Deloach.

PADI Fish ID, Specialty Instructor Courses, Platinum Course Director

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.

PADI Fish ID Specialty, Go Pro In Paradise, IDC

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.

PADI Fish ID Specialty Instructor training, PADI IDC, Platinum Course Director

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.

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PADI IDC Staff Open Water, Thailand, Phuket, Richard Reardon Platinum Course Director

PADI IDC Staff Instructor Course

PADI IDC Staff Instructor Course. Phuket, Thailand, Platinum Course Director

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…

PADI IDC Staff Open Water, Thailand, Phuket, Richard Reardon Platinum Course Director

So, what do you gain from the training ? After certification you will be able to:

Independently teach PADI Assistant Instructor courses

Assist on PADI Instructor Development Courses

Get closer to applying for the PADI Master Instructor rating

Improve your own teaching – especially of Divemaster courses

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…

PADI IDC Staff Course, Thailand, Platinum Course Director Richard Reardon

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.

PADI IDC Staff Course, Thailand, Phuket, Platinum Course Director

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.

PADI IDC Staff, Phuket, Thailand, Staffing Credit, Master instructor, CDTC

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…

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Teaching Tips: Hovering…

During PADI IDC training, it’s not uncommon for people to struggle with the hovering skill. This is a basic buoyancy skill, and should be mastered during the Open Water course, but all too often it is not – it is taught, but not to a mastery level. There is one simple trick I learned which made it much easier for me to get my Open Water students to mater this skill – and it comes down to understanding the situations in which we would hover whilst diving…

Another factor in helping your students master this skill is how you have taught the preceding skills up to this point in their training – they should already have a basic understanding and feeling of neutral buoyancy at this point.

In Confined Water Dive #1 we teach the ‘breathing underwater‘ skill. This should be the first skill to teach, and if you haven’t lazily over-weighted your students, they should already have a good understanding of how breathing effects buoyancy. When we reach Confined Water Dive #2, we have our students master the neutral buoyancy skill – usually by the ‘fin pivot’ method. Now the students really get to grips with how changing lung volume changes depth too as they ‘rise and fall in a controlled manner, during inhalation and exhalation’.

PADI IDC Thailand, Neutral Buoyancy, Platinum Course Director, Best CD

Making the transition to the hover in Confined Water Dive #3 should now be relatively easy, but you can make it even easier for them still. During the briefing for the ‘fin pivot’, I explain to students that this slow deep breathing is a good pattern for when they are swimming around a dive site – slow, relaxed, deep inhalations and exhalations. When it’s time to brief the hover, I remind them of this, but add that if you want to stop to look at something, it’s best to change that breathing pattern to slightly shorter breaths. If the lung volume is changing less, the change to the diver’s depth will be less, and they can have a good look at that nudibanch on the wall…

The next thing I do, to make it easier for them, is to give the student a visual reference. I stand next to them with my hand in front of them, and brief that the idea is to use their lungs to keep their eyes level with my hand. If their eyes go above my hand, they should exhale a little, and if their eyes go below my hand, they need to inhale a little. Once they have the level right, the shorter breaths will help them hold that position.

PADI IDC Phuket, Thailand, Platinum Course Director

This visual reference makes the skill much easier to master for the student. In Confined Water Dive #4, when hovering is repeated with oral inflation, I start the skill the same way, but then remove the visual reference once they have their level, and now they should be able to hover perfectly without a visual reference, as they may have to do during a safety stop on a real dive…

If you would like more tips on teaching PADI courses, come join us for your PADI IDC or PADI IDC Staff Instructor courses at Go Pro In Paradise

Email for further details – info@go-pro-in-paradise.com

PADI IDC Thailand, IDC Staff Instructor, CDTC Prep, Divemaster Internships

Phuket PADI Instructor Exams, May 2012

Following a fun-filled PADI IDC on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, Phi Phi Barakuda‘s PADI IDC candidates have just attended the PADI Instructor Examinations held in Phuket. And once more we have had a 100% success rate !!  The two and a half day programme has ended with five big, happy smiles from five newly certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors

Congratulations to the five new PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors !!!

 

The Instructor Exams started at the Kata Beach Resort with an Orientation session and the written exams (Dive Theory and PADI Standards) – everybody’s ‘favourite’ part of the programme.  Once all five candidates had eased through this section, it was time to head home and begin preparations for their presentations the following day…

The PADI IE begins…

 

PADI IE Orientation Session…

 

The following morning we headed off to the swimming pool for a Confined Water session. Here the candidates took turns in ‘teaching’ one dive skill each. Everybody recorded very strong scores here. Once the teaching presentations were finished a mini skill circuit was performed for the PADI Examiner, again the scores awarded were very impressive…

Confined Water presentations…

 

Teaching in Confined Water…

 

Happy face following a good Confined Water session…

 

Later that day we headed back to the Kata Beach Resort, where the candidates delivered their Knowledge Development presentations. Again they impressed the PADI Examiner and came away smiling with very high scores ! That brought the day to an end, and it was once more time to retire to their hotel and make their preparations for their Open Water presentations at Paradise Beach the following morning.

Paradise Beach, Phuket

 

The Closing Ceremony of the PADI Instructor Exams…

 

The Open Water section of the IE also ran very smoothly. The candidates all recorded very strong scores yet again, and they all performed excellent demonstration quality rescues too. This was the final section of the examination process, and once this was completed it was time to relax and smile and contemplate life as a PADI Instructor !!!

And relax…

 

If you too would like to swap your office for the ocean and become a PADI SCUBA diving instructor, then e-mail me for further information. My next PADI IDC will be starting on June 7th in conjunction with 5★ IDC Centre Phi Phi Barakuda

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PADI IDC In The Philippines…

Our Next PADI IDC In The Philippines…

Thresher Shark Divers, on beautiful Malapascua Island in the Philippines, still has spaces on the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) scheduled to start on 11th October 2011.

The idyllic beach on Malapascua Island…

 

Our dedicated IDC team of experienced PADI Professionals will be there to support you from the moment you arrive at Thresher Shark Divers to the moment you leave.

Debriefing IDC candidates…

 

Our PADI Instructor Courses have been developed to make our candidates well-rounded PADI Instructors who can work anywhere in the world.

You will gain knowledge in areas as diverse as risk management, teaching children, hands-on experience of the business of diving, and PADI standards & procedures.  There will also be lots of practical teaching workshops plus PADI Specialty Instructor training

Help spread the word about shark conservation…

 

Upon successful completion of the PADI Instructor Exam (IE) you will be a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor!

The world can be YOUR oyster…

 

Pre-requisites:

  • You must be a qualified PADI Divemaster (or equivalent)
  • Minimum 100 logged dives
  • Successfully completed a sanctioned CPR & First Aid Course in the last 24 months

So what are you waiting for ?  Come and join us….

Feel free to e-mail me for more details: info@go-pro-in-paradise.com

IDC Thailand

Make the ocean your office…

Imagine having a job where you look forward to going to work every day, because you get paid for doing something you love…

Me and a manta ray...
Just another day at work…

 

This can become a reality as a PADI Pro. Ten years ago I took the plunge and signed up for a PADI Divemaster course, and haven’t looked back since. I used to work as an engineer in the telecommunications industry, and spent many an hour sat in a traffic jam, in the rain, on an English motorway. These days, to get to work I just put on a pair of board-shorts, a t-shirt and slip on my flip-flops and stroll to the beach…

Hard at work…

 

Making that first step towards becoming a PADI professional, and then continuing on to become an instructor changed my life. Now my job is to train PADI Divemasters and Instructors, helping other people change their lives.

Whether you are 18 and deciding what you would like to do with your life, or are bored with spending your days confined in an office and are looking for a new challenge, or you would simply like an exciting gap year adventure, becoming a professional in the scuba diving industry will open up a whole new world to you.

Standing in front of my office…

 

Water covers more than 70% of the globe, making Earth the ‘Blue Planet’. Yet this part of our world beneath the surface of our oceans, seas and lakes is one that few people experience and get to know. As scuba divers we are able to immerse ourselves in a world teeming with life, a world that almost seems to be a different planet from the one we experience here on land, a world where we are the ones stared at with curiosity.

Away from the stresses and distractions of everyday life, you are able to clear your mind of stress and tension, and intimately experience the vast amount of plant and animal life. Scuba diving broadens your horizons, and changes your life.

I do have to share my office tho’…

 

As a dive pro, you have the opportunity to explore a whole new dimension. It gives you the chance to explore and travel. Becoming a dive professional allows you to experience the amazing and diverse world that exists underwater, and get paid for doing so !!

With this lifestyle also comes amazing opportunities to travel. Since completing my Divemaster & IDC courses ten years ago, I have had the privilege of living and working in various countries, experiencing many different cultures along the way. Before arriving on Koh Phi Phi on the west of Thailand, I had already lived and worked in New Zealand, Australia, Philippines, Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Palau and other parts of Thailand.

The view from my balcony in Indonesia

 

It does not matter whether you are already an experienced diver, or you have never dived before, Phi Phi Barakuda have the best programmes for you to achieve your PADI Divemaster or PADI Instructor certification, so that you can dive into life and become a scuba diving professional.

Still working hard…

 

So, if you’re looking to escape the rat race and change your life forever, why not come to Koh Phi Phi and complete your PADI Divemaster or IDC in paradise ? Send me a quick e-mail for further details…

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