"Cripes DM" said Penfold. I realize now, of course, he was always referring to a Divemaster and not Danger Mouse. I have just completed my PADI Divemaster course in Phuket with Sharkey Scuba and I agree with Penfold on this one "Cripes DM".
I arrived here in the beautiful settings of Kata, Phuket in sunny Thailand as a PADI Rescue Diver. I already had some 130 logged dives from a host of different environments, ranging from the refreshingly cool waters of the UK , to the warmer waters in countries like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Bahrain and the spectacular Red Sea in Egypt .
I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every single one of those dives and believed myself to be a pretty competent diver. My Rescue Diver had further enhanced my ability to look after others but I never thought my divemaster course would take that ability to such a greater level.
I completed my PADI Rescue Diver in May 2006 with Iain of Sharkey Scuba after crossing over from BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club). Iain came highly recommended by a friend from back home. I was told that he was widely accepted as one of the best instructors in Phuket. They were not wrong.
Iain is a great instructor. He is has years of experience, is calm, professional, and trains you to a very high standard. Above all he also makes it FUN. After all that's why we all do it. So I had no hesitation to come back to Iain to start my divemaster course in September.
Like all PADI courses there is a large part of self study. This course was no exception. My practical and theoretical dives knowledge grew exponentially as I studied subjects such as Physics, Physiology, Decompression Theory, Equipment and Skills and Environment. The knowledge reviews and exams helped me understand these subjects and Iain was always on hand to help explain and tutor me where needed. In my case that was most of the subjects! For that I thank Iain for his patience.
Let me ask you some questions:
The answer to all of these, and many more, while doing my course is an empathic YES.
Both Iain and his wife Oui have been out of this world. After my first visit, I knew that if I ever did my DMT course, there was only one place I would ever do it. They are friends for life. And they treat all customers with the same friendly, welcoming, and open way. They are truly professional, have a high standard of excellence, and it obvious to all that they both love their work. Like all divers we are in it because we enjoy it and love to have FUN. Sharkey Scuba are no exception.
I already knew from my previous trip that the diving around Phuket is some of the best I have ever experienced. I worked on many different boats and visited many of the varied beautiful dive sites around Phuket and Phi Phi. Dive sites such as the King Cruiser wreck, Shark Point, Anemone Reef, Koh Bida Nai, Racha Noi, and my personal favorite, a wall dive called Koh Doc Mai, to name but a few. While assisting on an Open Water course we even got to see 2 huge Manta rays at a local dive site Racha Yai. They circled us for about 40 minutes. The only word that can describe such an occasion is awesome.
Now I am a Dive Master. It has been tough at times, but I have loved every second of it. My knowledge and awareness of what goes on behind the life of organizing and managing (both theoretical and practical) Recreational Diving has developed to new heights I would never have dreamed of. Hopefully this will be the start of a long and thrilling Dive career. I know that it has got off to a brilliant start by doing my DMT with Iain Page. Not only is he a great instructor but a great friend too. Thank you Iain.
And does it make a difference? Yes! After the day's diving we normally felt a little tired after three dives but we actually felt quite good. In fact, we were almost buzzing. Did we stay down longer than everyone else? Yes, but then we always do but now it's longer at depth. Now we had got it off to an art, oxygen percentage chosen, dive computers set, all forms filled out, and into the depths we went, just like old professionals, and, yes, we chose to dive with Nitrox for some of the remaining dives.
By now we had set a reputation of being first in the water and last out, one hour dives, not just with Nitrox but also with air, all achieved just by planning your dive profile and relaxing on your dive. So you can imagine to our horror on the last dive when the tour leader stated a maximum dive time of fifty minutes! What's all that about then Stu? So in we go, first in of course, all the usual stuff: good viz, loads of fishes and still no current. Yes, two weeks with no current, gently fining around looking for the macro stuff. Time went very quickly, so up to the safety stop and then back on the boat.
So do I recommend this Nitrox stuff? Absolutely, it's going to be the future, so get in there now and enjoy staying deep longer. Many thanks to Iain, Oui and Max of Sharkey Scuba dive center Karon.