I started my Divemaster course during weekends whilst I was a volunteer English teacher living in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia. What an amazing place to live! The weather was always hot, the food cheap and tasty in the foodcourts, and people friendly!
Fun and Physics exams
I tagged on to dive groups with local divemasters getting to know the dive sites and spent a lot of time working on my theory. Most of it went well but I failed my physics exam the first time. There’s a lot to remember and after sitting down with my instructor and going through the things I’d struggled with, I passed second time!
Once my English teaching placement finished I moved into a little flat with some instructor friends.
We managed to find a flat in a block which had a tennis court and swimming pool too – bonus! I started working in a smaller dive shop run by the fun but rather disorganized Jeffrey! Within a week I was responsible for the running all of the small shop as well as all diving activities.
During the day I would sit in the shop and take inventory of the stock, greet customers and get them booked in for diving, and finish off my Divemaster theory. I was given the company minibus which I drove home each evening!
A typical day for me: most mornings I got up around 6am and would drive around hotels picking up our customers for the day.
I would drive them to the shop, pop next door and buy spicy chicken and rice for lunch for everyone, then jump on the boat and take them diving for the day.
After the second dive we would stop at one of the five islands for lunch on the beach. After the third dive we would return to the shop and I would drive them back to the hotel.
Then I would return to the shop, organize the equipment for the next day, and then either head home or out for drinks and dancing with friends and customers!
It was a great experience for me and I did this for around six months. I met a lot of local divemasters and instructors – working alongside them probably taught me the most about dealing with divers.
The diversity of the job
One day on the boat a fin strap broke. Having no spares, I took off my mask strap, put it on the fin and it worked! And my mask stayed on during the dives! Since then I have never been on a dive boat without a box of spares!
I remember assisting an instructor during a rescue course. I was playing the unconscious diver and he asked me to dive to around six meters to play the victim.
As I settled on the sand I realized that I was alone underwater for the first time! This was weird, delightful and the realization dawned on me that I had to take responsibility for myself – divemasters and instructors often lead groups of divers without an official buddy assigned to them, and this definitely made me more aware of safety underwater.
The highlight of my course for me was doing my timed swim tests alongside my fellow divemaster trainee, a guy 6’4. I just beat him on the timing and I was very proud of myself!
I remember speaking with a senior instructor about whether I should do my Instructor course one day. We spoke about the lack of female instructors and he encouraged me to go for it in the future. Little did I know this would happen in Thailand the following summer!
Do you dream about becoming a Divemaster? And living the Divemaster dream?