Tag Archives: Island Divers Hawaii

New Scuba Tanks

Since my current scuba tanks will be due for their annual VIP inspections soon as well as their 5 year hydro inspections, I decided it would be a good time to purchase some new ones.

TanksI added four new 80 cf aluminum tanks to my equipment inventory this week. Two black tanks that I purchased from Island Divers Hawaii’s new Schofield Barracks dive shop, and two bright yellow tanks that I ordered from Scuba.com. All four tanks have Pro Valves on them so that I am able to use wither yoke or DIN regulators, giving me more options for later upgrades if I decide to.

I will be using the new black tanks for regular air, and the new yellow tanks will be dedicated to Nitrox fills. I will be using my old tanks as spares for now until I decide what to do with them.

The tanks from Scuba.com were the most expensive because I had to pay full price, along with the high shipping costs to Hawaii. They cost me $276 for both of them, plus another $195 for shipping.

I was able to get both of the black tanks from Island Divers Hawaii for $239 with my 30% employee discount because I am a DMC with them. Normally they are $215 each plus tax so I saved a mint by getting them from Island Divers Hawaii. They even threw in the first fill on each of them for free.

Rethinking Divemaster Training

To become a PADI Divemaster you are required to complete several prerequisites including being at least 18 years old, having completed Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, and Rescue Diver certifications, attaining at least five PADI specialties, and having a minimum of 40 logged dives before you can begin the course. By the end of the course you must have a minimum of 60 logged dives. Since I meet all of the prerequisites by attaining the Master Scuba Diver with 10 PADI specialties, and over 70 logged dives, I have already started my Divemaster Candidate (DMC) course and am working on completing all of the necessary internships and course requirements.

The other day while I was at our Hawaii Kai dive shop getting signed up to intern a couple of classes one of the instructors that I had for one of my classes a couple months ago asked me if I was ready to be a Divemaster. When I said yes, he walked away shaking his head. This has bothered me ever since, at the time making me very upset.

Another instructor stated that I needed to be signed off on setting up a dive site, to which I stated that I already had completed that part of the training the previous week and was already signed off on it with a near-perfect score (44/45 points). He asked where I did it and I told him on the North Shore on a shore dive and he said that doesn’t count because I did not have to tie off a boat at a mooring during the dive site setup, so he asked who the instructor was. When I told him that I chose to work with Michelle at the Scofield Barracks location because I knew her longer he said “isn’t she a new instructor?” smirking and walking away.

A DMC can work with ANY PADI Instructor on their course requirements, another reason I chose her is because she is a fairly new instructor, completing her Instructor Development Course at the beginning of this year. To become an instructor she had to perform all of the skill requirements that I am required to perform, all to demonstration quality as I have to perform them. So I knew that her demonstration quality skills would be sharper than an instructor that had to perform theirs years ago that may have become lax in their quality over the years. I also know that the examination is performed in front of PADI Instructors who are coming from the mainland and since she had recently performed hers in front of them, she may be able to give me some tips as to what they are looking for now that may help me with my testing.

The one that really ticked me off was when an instructor the other night said that he was worried that I was rushing through my training. This same instructor was taking his Divemaster training when I was taking my Rescue Diver course, and now not quite two months later he is already an Open Water Scuba Instructor! In the past month and a half he has completed Divemaster, Instructor Development Course (IDC), and this past weekend he completed the Instructor examination and is already teaching new students. PADI requires that a new instructor wait until they have received their certification and have it in-hand, which takes about a month, before they start teaching classes. Yet somehow the very next day after he finishes his testing he is teaching an Open Water Diver class, before PADI even has a chance to start processing his certification. The comment that I seem to be rushing my training, coming from him of all people, really got to me, I have almost as many dives in as he does.

Michelle made the comment last night that the Hawaii Kai shop is in one of the most challenging areas to operate a dive shop because of the strong currents that are there year round. That’s why I am grateful that almost all of my dives have been out of that dive shop. The South East Coast of Oahu has some ripping currents year round that we have to deal with, which is why we do so much drift diving down there. Almost all of my dive training has been in those currents, which I feel has made me a better diver and a better DMC.

I feel like I am being targeted and harassed because I chose to pay cash for my training myself instead of going through their “Hawaii Scuba University” (HSU) eight week course and letting the government pay for my Divemaster training which they would receive more money for. When I paid for my Divemaster course I was told that if I go through HSU for the course, it was a scheduled eight week course, and I would be required to meet at the Hickam shop two nights a week, but if I paid for it myself instead of letting the VA pay for it, I complete it on MY schedule, so that is what I chose to do. However after paying them the money, that’s not how it has been working out. I wanted to start my DMC course on April 3rd, right after receiving the Master Scuba Diver certification, however I kept getting put off every time I asked the instructors about how to get it started. I kept getting told that I had to wait until the next HSU class started, to which I would reply that I am not part of HSU and am not bound to their schedule and that I complete everything on my own schedule.

I was finally able to get the course started by taking it upon myself to ask Michelle to start working with me on the course and my internships because no one at the Hawaii Kai shop seemed to be interested in it. But even now I still run into problems with getting skills checked off because since I am not part of the HSU program and am doing it on my own schedule, I don’t have access to a pool for my skills. I will have to perform them out in the ocean and deal with surge and silt getting kicked up while I try to do the equipment exchange skill. I feel that I am clearly being discriminated against because I chose to pay for the class myself instead of letting the government pay a higher price for the exact same training.

With all of the flack that I have been getting this week from other instructors I am starting to rethink even becoming a Divemaster. If this is the type of person that I will become when I become an instructor, I don’t want any part of it. Right now, I have no interest in continuing with the training. As a DMC I dive for free for the next year, so I plan on using that benefit so that I do not have to pay for dives. As far as getting certified as a PADI Divemaster, I don’t think so.

As a Divemaster I would be required to carry additional professional liability insurance on top of what I already carry as a First Aid & CPR Instructor. I would have to pay an enormous fee to PADI every year just to stay active as a Divemaster. The chances of being hired as a Divemaster by one of the dive shops here is extremely remote because they all would rather hire Instructors who can teach more classes than a Divemaster can. Instructors here barely make more than minimum wage each year. After adding it all up, it doesn’t make financial sense for me to get certified as a Divemaster, so why bother with it.

On top of all of that I am tired of putting up with all the BS from some of the other instructors from Island Divers Hawaii. Several of the instructors from the Hawaii Kai shop have stated that they will not sign off on anything that you do once or twice as a DMC, you will have to do it multiple times before they will even consider signing off on it. This is not PADI’s procedures, and doesn’t make any sense to me. Once a person completes an internship, they should get graded on the internship, and if they receive a successful grade, the internship is complete. This doing the same internship over and over again, hoping that the instructor will finally be in the mood to grade you on it, one of these days, is complete hogwash.

Many other dive shops on the mainland and around the world offer the DMC course as an 8-DAY course. If I ever become interested in completing my Divemaster training again I will go to one of those shops to complete it, without all of the BS that comes along with it here. For now, I am fine with just keeping the Master Scuba Diver rating.

Dive 80

Date: May 23, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 2 of 2

Time In:  15:50  Time Out:  16:26  Time:   :36

Dive Location: Angler’s Reef,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  N/A

Purpose: Discover Scuba Diving – DMC Internship

Dive Type:  Boat      Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  5-7′ Swells, Moderate Current & Surge   Wt:  16lbs

Visibility: 40-50′

Air Temp:  82° F    Btm. Temp:  77° F

Max Depth:  38′    Average Depth: 18.7′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 3,084   End PSI: 1,201      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, Dive Light, Scuba Pro Jet Fins, iGills

Notes:

For the second dive of the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) internship we headed over to Angler’s Reef, a reef line just West of the Koko Craters dive spot. After an uneventful tour of the area we headed back to the boat with the students.

Back at the boat we were able to convince the female student that had panicked on the first dive into getting back into the water with just Kendal and myself which she agreed to. I hovered nearby as a precaution as Kendal calmly talked to her and relaxed her. He was finally able to talk her into descending a little while holding onto the descent line and was able to take her down to about 22 feet and hang out there for a few minutes.

Once we were back on the boat she said that she was grateful that we took the time to work with her by herself and she loved the special attention that she had received by us going out of our way with her.

That’s what great customer service is all about.

iGills Snapshot

Dive 79

Date: May 23, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 1 of 2

Time In:  14:37  Time Out:  15:09  Time:   :32

Dive Location: Koko Craters,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  N/A

Purpose: Discover Scuba Diving – DMC Internship

Dive Type:  Boat      Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  5-7′ Swells, Moderate Current & Surge   Wt:  16lbs

Visibility: 40-50′

Air Temp:  82° F  Btm. Temp:  76.5° F

Max Depth:  35′    Average Depth: 19.5′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 2,915   End PSI: 1,456      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, Dive Light, Scuba Pro Jet Fins, iGills

Notes:

Today I did an internship with a Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) class taught by Kendal, a recent addition to the teaching staff at Island Divers Hawaii from Australia. The class started off with the students watching a video at the Hickam shop while I assisted Kendal with getting the student’s gear ready. After the video was finished we headed over to the pool to teach the students mask clearing, equalization, and regulator recovery skills.

Most of the students picked up on the skills quickly, however we had to work with one for quite a while on the regulator recovery skill. Every time she would take the regulator out of her mouth and start to recover it she would panic and stand up in the pool. After working with her for about an hour in the pool we were finally ready to head over to the Hawaii Kai shop to meet the boat for the next part of the class.

Once on the boat we headed out to Koko Craters for the first dive of the day. This morning the visibility was about 15 feet so we were a bit apprehensive about how the dive would go. Thankfully the visibility at Koko Craters has improved today after the high tide came in from about 15′ to about 40-50′.

At the surface as we were about to descend the student that was having so much difficulty with the regulator recovery skills started to panic and did not want to go down. As Kendal guided the other students down the descent line I had her turn over onto her back with her BCD fully inflated and talked to her to get her to relax while I towed her back to the boat. Matt, the owner of Island Divers Hawaii was Captaining the Sea Fox today so he said he would work with her on the surface at the swim step of the boat so that I could catch back up to our students.

Once we were all at the bottom we began a tour of the area showing them the sea life that we typically find here which included a large school of Sergeant Major fish, moray eels, and nudibranchs. We also saw a cloud of thousands of Sea Hares floating past in the current. one of the Sergeant Majors took particular attention to one of the students who was too close to his eggs and started pecking him over and over again on the top of his head. It looked like a wood pecker searching for a meal. I started laughing so hard I almost lost my regulator as he fought off the pesky fish.

Another student lost part of his weights and it we had to catch him before he floated up to the surface and replace his weights. A few minutes later he had a similar problem when he got too high and once again he floated to the surface while I fought with him to keep him down. It finally took both me and Kendal to push him back down until his wetsuit compressed enough that he could stay down with the rest of the group. He was a little bit underweighted so we gave him a couple extra pounds of weight and he was able to continue the dive.

iGills Snapshot

Divemaster Mapping Project

As part of my PADI Divemaster training I am required to create a map of a dive site to teach me underwater mapping and reinforce the underwater navigation skills that I learned in the Underwater Navigator Specialty course that I took last month.

For this task I was allowed to choose Koko Craters, a popular dive site off the South East coast of Oahu. Because I dive this site very often, and had already started a rudimentary map of the location in the Underwater Navigator Specialty dives it would save me some time.

Normally the mapping project is done by a group of Divemaster Candidates (DMC’s) who collaborate on a finished map. Since I am doing this mapping project alone I would have to do everything myself, which would mean multiple dives at the location to get measurements, compass headings, etc.

Unfortunately we have been getting hit with a south swell for the past couple weeks that has made diving on the south shores almost impossible. Most of the dive boats have cancelled their dives and everyone is shore diving up at Sharks Cove for the past two weeks. In order to work on my map today I was forced to do a solo kayak dive in very rough waters.

I ended up getting rolled 4 times today while trying to get out to the site. Once I was offshore out at the site the seas were much calmer and I was able to get some diving done. Unfortunately the visibility was very poor for this location, normally we have around 100′ visibility at Koko Craters, but because of the south swell today it was only 10 to 15 feet, which made working on my map very difficult. There was also a strong current which also added to my challenge, luckily I had strapped one of my DPV’s to my kayak in anticipation of the strong currents and surge. Using the DPV I was able to overcome the current and get some work done on my map.

Here is the map I made of the Koko Craters Dive Site. Hopefully it will be good enough to pass and I can get signed off for this project. I don’t see how I can make it much better.

KokoCratersDiveMap

You can download a Printable .pdf version of the map by clicking here or a larger .jpg image by clicking on the map above.

Dive 76

Date: May 19, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 1 of 1

Time In:  08:56  Time Out:  09:24    Time:   :28

Dive Location: Sharks Cove,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii – Scofield Barracks

Purpose: DMC – Open Water Dive 4

Dive Type:  Shore       Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  1-3′ Surf    Wt:  21lbs

Visibility: 20-30′

Air Temp:  81° F  Btm. Temp:  79° F

Max Depth:  25′    Average Depth: 17′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 2,974    End PSI: 1,665      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 7-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, Dive Light, Scuba Pro Jet Fins

Notes:

The surf had come up a little from yesterday, which meant that the visibility would not be the greatest, and ended up being only about 20-30 feet. Since we had already completed 3 of the 4 required Open Water Dives, the students were given the option of making a second dive today as a “fun dive”. Since the visibility had gone down from yesterday, and the surf had come up a little the students chose not to do the additional “fun dive.

For the last dive of the students Open Water Diver course, Open Water Dives we went back to the sandy area at the center of Sharks Cove so that they could perform their required skills. Afterwards we took them on a short tour around the area, again taking them over rocks which made them go into shallower water to see if their buoyancy had improved.

One student still struggled with his buoyancy and used a lot of air because he was constantly inflating and deflating his BCD to compensate for his poor buoyancy. When he was too low he would air his BCD up, making him rise too fast, then he would notice his mistake and dump all the air out making him crash back to the bottom.

After watching this a few times to see if he would grasp the concept of what he was doing incorrectly on his own apparently he was not getting it so when he was on the bottom I signaled for him to add just a little bit of air to his BCD, when he did that he rose just off the bottom so I signaled that it was good, then motioned with my hands to use breath control to rise up a little and to sink a little. He seemed to understand and performed as I showed him, but then when we started the tour once again he was back and forth from about 5 feet to the bottom like a ping-pong ball. Hopefully with more practice it will start to click for him.

iGills Snapshot

Dive 75

Date: May 18, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 3 of 3

Time In:  12:27  Time Out:  13:26    Time:   :59

Dive Location: Sharks Cove,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii – Scofield Barracks

Purpose: DMC – Open Water Dive 3

Dive Type:  Shore       Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  0-2′ Surf    Wt:  22lbs

Visibility: 30-40′

Air Temp:  81° F  Btm. Temp:  79° F

Max Depth:  27′    Average Depth: 18′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 3,091    End PSI: 1,356      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, Dive Light, Scuba Pro Jet Fins

Notes:

For the third dive of the students Open Water Diver course, Open Water Dives we first went to the sandy area at the center of Sharks Cove so that they could perform their required skills, then took a tour of Sharks Cove going over some shallower areas where the rocks from the bottom come up higher. This was done so the students could see how their depth affects their buoyancy and as they come up shallower they have to release more air from their BCD’s to keep from floating up too fast and surfacing accidentially. Again a couple of the students had some buoyancy issues which I assisted them with.

Since we completed dives 1, 2, & 3 of their Open Water Dives today we only have 1 dive left that they have to complete tomorrow. The forecast is that the waves will be a little higher tomorrow, so hopefully this will allow us to get it over with before it gets too bad for them.

iGills Snapshot

Students taking a break between demonstrating skills

Dive 74

Date: May 18, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 2 of 3

Time In:  10:01  Time Out:  10:25    Time:   :24

Dive Location: Sharks Cove,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii – Scofield Barracks

Purpose: DMC – Open Water Dive 2

Dive Type:  Shore       Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  0-2′ Surf    Wt:  22lbs

Visibility: 30-40′

Air Temp:  81° F  Btm. Temp:  79° F

Max Depth:  21′    Average Depth: 17′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 1,363    End PSI: 737      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, Dive Light, Scuba Pro Jet Fins

Notes:

For the second dive of the students Open Water Diver course, Open Water Dives we went to the sandy area at the center of Sharks Cove so that they could perform their required skills.

A couple of the students had some buoyancy issues and other problems which I assisted them with so that it didn’t cause a problem or turn into an emergency situation.

After the students had finished performing their required skills we ascended so that we could take a long surface interval before continuing with their third dive of the day.

iGills Snapshot

“Lookout Below”

Dive 73

Date: May 18, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 1 of 3

Time In:  09:07  Time Out:  09:40    Time:   :33

Dive Location: Sharks Cove,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii – Scofield Barracks

Purpose: DMC – Open Water Dive 1

Dive Type:  Shore       Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  0-2′ Surf    Wt:  22lbs

Visibility: 30-40′

Air Temp:  81° F  Btm. Temp:  79° F

Max Depth:  30′    Average Depth: 18′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 2,640    End PSI: 1386      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, Dive Light, Scuba Pro Jet Fins

Notes:

As part of my Dive Master course I have to assist an instructor (Michelle) with teaching several classes, one of which is the Open Water Diver course that we started back on May 6th. The conditions finally cooperated with us and we got to do the Open Water Dives for this class today.

The visibility wasn’t the best in the world today at Sharks Cove, but it was the only dive spot on the island available because of the high surf caused by the South Swell that is hitting the island this weekend. There were at least 4 classes going on from Island Divers Hawaii, and more classes from at least 4 other dive shops on Oahu all at Sharks Cove today. I have never seen so many divers all at one spot before, very tricky trying to walk up and down the hill from all the foot traffic today.

For the first dive we went to the left side of Sharks Cove where it was shallower and found a nice sandy bottom area for the students to perform their required skills. Since it had been so long since they were in the water performing the skills (May 10), some of them had trouble remembering the skills so we had to work with them a little more to refresh their memory.

Everyone was finally able to complete their required skills so we ascended to take a surface interval before the next dive.

iGills Snapshot

“Follow the Leader”

Dive 70

Date: May 5, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 3 of 3

Time In:  13:28  Time Out:  14:13    Time:   :45

Dive Location: Sea Cave,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii

Purpose: DMC Practicals – Con Ed.

Dive Type:  Boat / Drift  Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  Mild Current    Wt:  16lbs

Visibility: 100′ +

Air Temp:  80° F  Btm. Temp:  77° F

Max Depth:  77′    Average Depth: 46′

Safety / Decompression Stops: 3 Min @ 15′

Start PSI: 2,840    End PSI: 472      Air/EANx:  35%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, 2 Dive Lights, Scuba Pro Jet Fins

Notes:

After switching over the students scuba tanks and eating lunch we decided on doing a drift dive at Sea Cave. For a drift dive from the boat we would use a “negative entry” meaning that we would empty all the air out of our BCD’s and descend from the surface as quickly as possible so that the group is able to stay together.

After a site briefing on the boat and quickly checking the students to make sure their equipment was ready the captain maneuvered the boat into position for our entry. Once in position, everyone quickly entered the water one after another similar to paratroopers jumping out of a plane.

As we descended I looked around and counted that we had everyone in the group together then Nate headed toward the Sea Cave leading the group as I followed along behind. We reached the entrance of the Sea Cave at about 50′ and stopped for a moment to check the current patterns, then proceeded inside up to about 20′ depth at the back of the cave. Frequently we find the highly endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals playing around inside the cave and I was hoping we would find some on this trip, but unfortunately there were none to be found today.

We were able to find one of the area inhabitants that are rarely seen in the area though, a Dragon Moray Eel. Because people can sell them for a lot of money we don’t often see them so it was a treat to be able to see one today. I will try to check in on him on future dives here.

After checking out the Sea Cave for a few minutes we headed back out to continue our drift dive of the area.

Normally when I have dove this site as we leave the Sea Cave we always drift to the West along the wall, but todays currents were backwards so we drifted to the East along the wall at about 70′ deep for about another 20 minutes before we deployed a delayed surface marker buoy and started to slowly ascend and make our 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet.

Once surfaced we realized that the seas had changed over the last 45 minutes that we were down and it had become quite choppy on the surface. Once the boat had maneuvered back into position we all swam for the current line trailing behind the boat and made our way back up the ladder.

Unfortunately the only injury of the dive came while floating on the surface waiting to get back aboard the boat when I was stung on the back of my hand by a jelly fish because I had forgotten my gloves onboard when I was assisting the students and reading them for their entry. I am severely allergic to jelly fish and insect stings/bites so I was very concerned. I had no idea how good he got me so as soon as I was back on the boat I readied my EpiPen just in case I started having an anaphylactic reaction to the sting. My chest started tightening making it difficult to breath easily but it was still manageable so I held off on administering the shot and applied a hot compress to my hand which was temporarily partly paralyzed from the sting and continued to monitor my breathing and pulse rate.

About half an hour later my breathing improved as we headed back into shore and I started to be able to move my hand again. Since the feeling was coming back into my hand, unfortunately so was the searing pain which subsided after I kept applying hot compresses to it for the rest of the night along with taking a Vicodin for the pain and 10 Benadryl tablets to help stop the rest of the reaction from the sting.

If anyone was to get stung on the dive I am glad it was me and not one of the students or other customers that we had on the boat today, so all in all it was a good day.

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