The Visiting Instructor
There is a message in my inbox;
“Hi Dave, we have school group coming out 23rd to 28th June. Are you available to help?”
Without any hesitation, I book flights and start packing. It’s still only April but I like to be prepared.
When June finally came around and the team of 7 Instructors and 2 Divemasters were gathered at the front of the shop at 07:30 sharp for a military style staff briefing from Toby. It felt good to be back.
We have all been here and worked together before with these large school groups so knew what to expect. The weeks of organisation and preparation by Kelly, Amy and Toby, meant that all the equipment, paperwork, logistics were in place.
As Instructors, all we had to focus on was teaching 22 excited teenagers how to dive and have fun at the same time.
At 08:30 the briefing’s done, coffee’s drunk and the first wave of students appear at the bottom of the hill to make their way towards the shop. The team swings into action, issuing kit and assigning students to their Instructors. Thirty minutes later the next wave arrives and are processed.
By 09:30 most groups were out on the terrace area at the front of the shop in the sunshine, having their initial briefing and learning how to put their scuba gear together.
When my group were ready, we took the short walk down the hill to the Roman bathing pools, cut into the rock at Sirens bay, where Confined Water 1 was conducted. And then out into the bay for some fun and games.
4:00 pm soon came around and we let the kids go back to their hotel for a well-earned rest. Both staff and kids wanted to do more but 3 hours of filling cylinders, tidying the centre, then debriefing and rearranging groups so as all the students would get the best instruction possible based on their performance that day, lay ahead of us.
The next day students and staff worked really hard to get through the remaining Confined Sessions and Knowledge Development, Quizzes and Exams
On day 3 the trucks were loaded with cylinders, kit, students and staff and the whole NDS machine moved to Cirkewwa, which is on the North West of Malta and is one of the most popular/best dive sites in Europe, where Open Water Dives 1 & 2 took place.
The Divemasters were kept busy with in-water assistance, surface cover, equipment management, looking after students, driving the trucks to and fro, and most importantly getting coffee for the Instructors. They worked long and hard without complaint.
Day 4 was much the same although with much high-fiving and congratulating as one-by-one the groups completed their courses.
It’s a great feeling to see a student’s face when you tell them they have passed. To watch them grow from someone who, on day one, had never taken a breath underwater, to a confident diver who can remove and replace their mask underwater, plan a dive using the RDP and complete a 3 min safety with good trim and buoyancy is amazing for all involved.
On the last day we had a boat trip to Comino (my favourite days diving in Malta). Our 1st dive was on the P31 - great wreck, 18m deep straight off the boat so lots of time to explore with novice divers. The 2nd dive was at Santa Marija Caves. Only 10m deep with lots of big caverns, wide open swim throughs, air pockets to surface in and spectacular views of the light at the exits. Again a great place for novices to gain experience.
The surface interval was spent in the Blue Lagoon where the Captain cranked up the music, opened his little kiosk which had tea, coffee, cold drinks and snacks. Students and staff could relax, swim, snorkel or jump from the boat into the crystal clear waters. A great couple hours.
When we arrived back at St Paul’s the students thanked us and we wished them the best and bid farewell. The staff had a couple of hours cleaning kit, filling cylinders, paperwork and tidying the centre getting ready for the next day.
The full-time instructors, Amy and Grant, had DSD’s the next morning. It’s never ending as a full-time instructor here. I hung around for a couple of days and took a PADI Sidemount Diver Course with Amy, something I have wanted to learn for some time. All part of Toby’s staff development program but that’s a different story.
When I returned home to the UK it was raining and cold and I was a bit deflated but then I found a message in my inbox.
“Hi Dave, we have school group coming out in October. Are you available to help?”
Guess what? My flights are booked and I am already packed.