Experience, Safety and Standards at Master Divers

When browsing for a good dive centre, certain words and phrases tend to stand out in reviews online. Who wouldn’t want to dive with ‘the safest’, ‘most professional’, and ‘best’ dive centre with the most ‘experienced instructors’? But what do these descriptions really mean? And how do you differentiate between a bunch of dive centres who all promise you safe, fun and professional experiences? Here at Master Divers we pride ourselves on our high standards, and also on the safety and the enjoyment of our customers, so we thought we’d fill you in with some more details on how we achieve that…..

Our staff at Master Divers come from various nationalities and backgrounds, however one of the things they all have in common is their commitment to safety and the upkeep of industry standards. Every one of our team members has been specifically selected on the strength of their extensive experience, knowledge, skills, and qualifications in their field. We run regular staff training and development sessions, and encourage all employees to take part in further professional development programmes whenever possible, ensuring high quality experiences for our customers and also continued employment suitability and job satisfaction for our crew. Because of this, our staff turnover is low compared to many other dive centres here on Koh Tao, and our staff generally comprises of more experienced PADI Instructors and Divemasters than at most other centres too. This has been recognised in an official professionalism review conducted by PADI, where our staff (as well as our equipment, facilities etc) were rated excellent across the board.

team
Receiving our Certificate of Excellence for our PADI Professionalism Review

We do employ from within when possible to give new Instructors and Divemasters a chance – as well as the support and mentorship they need – to start their careers. But we’re not the kind of centre where every instructor you’ll meet is a brand new recruit with no additional training (“all the gear, but no idea” as they are often referred to in the industry!). In fact, quite the opposite, and we’re well known for having a solid team of experienced and knowledgeable dive pro’s. Even our newer staff members have additional specialties and qualifications to add to their knowledge and skills set – most are Master Scuba Diver Trainers, and some are also Tec Divers, Gas Blenders, Equipment Specialists, Freedivers etc too. All staff members are knowledgeable about dive equipment across the full range of brands, and if you are interested in investing in your own gear they will happily spend some time advising you on the best choices for you. They will even visit the dive retail stores with you to assist you with trying on/equipment fitting if you wish.

equip

Tri-view-mask

All of our dive instructors are also instructors in Emergency First Response (First Aid and CPR), and are trained in the provision of Oxygen. In addition to this, specific staff members are also trained in advanced medical response and survival. Our emergency procedures are designed to precision. Each boat has a full Emergency Assistance Plan on board, as well as first aid kits, oxygen and spare equipment. We do not allow unsupervised passengers on our boats, and we make sure that every customer has adequate insurance to cover their needs. Many of the better holiday insurance policies do cover SCUBA activities, but if yours does not cover you we offer dive insurance coverage though us on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis as required. We are also proud to be a dive centre who support Divers Alert Network (DAN)  and also the SSS (Scuba Safety Services) network in our region.

DAN_CDN_LifeRingSept2013.indd

We are well known as a dive centre that does everything by standards, so you will not find us cutting corners, rushing courses, or providing you with misinformation to make a quick buck. Quite the opposite in fact – we will teach you how to be a competent and confident diver and if we have to spend extra time doing this, then we will do that…at no additional cost. As such, we have built a reputation for not just meeting, but exceeding PADI standards, and are well known in the industry as the dive centre to come to if you want to have things done properly. This includes the provision of all relevant course paperwork and medical forms. The dive industry is rife with horror stories of students having ‘YES’ answers on medical forms, but being advised that it is OK just to go ahead if they wrote ‘NO’ on the form, or if they get signed off by a physician who is not a specialist in the area required. Here at Master Divers we absolutely refuse to do this, although we are happy to help prior to arrival by recommending test centres and helping you research for a specialist if required for sign off. Sometimes this practice loses us customers, but we would rather not have the business than put your safety – and the safety of other students and staff – at risk. We are proud to be a centre that takes pride in the quality of our work, and make every effort to provide all of the correct and relevant information prior to arrival. This includes not just medical and insurance info etc, but also ensuring you have all the help you need with none dive related information such as where to stay , things to do, and where the best beaches are etc. We also help with information on visas and transport options for getting to/from Koh Tao.

PADI Medical Form

Our equipment is checked on a regular basis and we are constantly cycling all of our gear through our tried and tested equipment maintenance regime. All BCDs and regulators are taken apart and cleaned inside and out at least once per month, and our tanks are visually inspected at least once per year and hydrostatically tested at least once every 5 years (as per industry standards). We have a tech room on site where our equipment technicians perform day to day repairs and replacements for any wear and tear pieces such as o-ring/mouthpiece/mask strap replacements, new hoses, depth guages etc. Any faulty or damaged equipment is immediately serviced or replaced to ensure maximum safety. Our compressors have their filters and oil changed frequently, and our 2 dive boats and our longtail boat are each sent to dry dock on the mainland for a month every year for servicing,  maintenance, repainting and upgrades.

tec-gas-blender

tanks-longtail

We invest in the best facilities so that your time with us is as comfortable as possible. The dive shop itself is large and airy, with many tables and chairs where you can chat to staff, fellow students, and log your dives after a day out at seas. We have a well stocked retail area and can provide equipment counselling of anything any everything scuba related.

Dive Centre
Dive Centre

Upstairs you will find our custom designed classrooms. Each has the teaching essentials – a mini retail area, whiteboards and markers, comfortable tables and chairs and full set of gear for practice set ups. Each classroom also has a full digital library of PADI videos for each and every course that we teach, so there’ll be no getting stuck with scratched and outdated DVD’s when you learn with us. We also have a set of tablets pre-loaded with digital materials, so if your ferry is late on arrival or you are running a little behind schedule, you can watch the course videos at your resort in the evenings so as not to lose time and delay your course.

Classroom
Classroom

Our equipment room is also large, and is well organised, well vented and well looked after. Everything is clearly labelled and has its place, and our efficient daily sign out procedure helps us keep track of any gear that is not in its place, or out of circulation for servicing/maintenance. The kit room is cleaned daily, and there is plenty space for customers with their own gear to store their belongings whilst diving with us.

Equipment Room
Equipment Room

We have a full stock of additional equipment for rent and also a range of dive specific gear for use on everything from entry level to pro level courses. We use Suunto Zoop dive computers which are given to all students free of charge for use on course dives from open water upwards. We also have SK7 compasses and dive knives for the PADI Advanced Open Water Course. Plus lift bags and reels so we can run Search and Recovery adventure dives and specialty courses. We also have Olympus Tough underwater cameras and housings available for rent for use on Digital Underwater Photography adventure dives and specialty courses.

Suunto Dive Computers

My first underwater camera !

All in all we invest a lot in making sure our equipment, facilities and staff are up to the highest possible standards, and that we have the equipment and skills to be able to teach you any PADI course you may be interested in (within reason of course – if you are interested in Dry Suit Diving or Ice Diving for example, then Koh Tao is not the place for you!).

Your safety and enjoyment are our top priorities, so we hope you enjoy your time with us, and feel comfortable in our care!

How to make the most out of your Divemaster course

 

The PADI Divemaster is probably the most important course within recreational diving. As a Divemaster Candidate (DMC), you will not only summarise and improve upon all previous dive related knowledge and skills, but truly develop into the divemaster you wish to become in the future. It’s best recommended to take the Divemaster course over 4 – 6 weeks to complete all performance requirements, workshops, and assists, and develop yourself as a PADI Professional. You only plan on doing it once, so best make the most of it! Here are our top tips on how:

1. First and foremost, choose the right dive centre. All PADI dive centres will give you the same certification, however not all dive centres will provide the same training and experience. Training methods, safety standards, equipment quality, instructors, expectations and overall atmosphere will be different depending on where you complete your Divemaster course, so make sure you invest in your future with the right dive centre for you.

All Aboard!

2. Dive dive dive, and dive again. There really is no substitute for practice. The more you dive, the more you will learn, and the better you will become. This is true for not only personal ability in and under the water, but also for other important Divemaster skills such as; boat briefings, dive briefings, skill demonstrations, supervising divers, boat organisation and logistics. The more you put in, the more you will get out. Upon certification you will be responsible for your own group of divers both on and under the water, so best to get comfortable and confident in what is expected of a smiling diving ninja guru, a PADI Divemaster.

DMC Crew!

3. Try to work with multiple instructors and divemasters throughout the DMC workshops and course assists. Each individual PADI Pro will have different tips, tricks and niche expertise for you to learn from, but everyone will also have an individual personality and flare. Try to experience the different teaching styles and methods of different instructors, or the different leading styles of divemasters. You will learn something new from everyone, and the variety and diversity of styles will help you build your very own for the future.

4. Develop good dive habits. Habits are far easier to learn than to forget, so make sure you’re putting into practice the best procedures from the very start. Not only will this make you a better and safer diver, but it will also set an example of role model behaviour to others around you. The PADI Divemaster is a title that inspires confidence and many divers will look to you to set the tone; make sure it’s a good one!

Day At The Office

5. Take this opportunity as a DMC to learn the local dive sites well, and also to educate yourself on the local marine life. Navigation can be tricky, but it comes with hard work and practice, so stick at it. If you intend to work in the same area you completed your Divemaster course, you’ll be expected to know your way around the dive sites. Learning about the local marine life is equally important; knowledge is power! That way you can point out all the amazing and interesting fish to your divers, and answer any questions they may have about what they’re seeing. It’s important to show your love and passion for the oceans to inspire other divers and to enjoy the dive yourself!

6. Submerge yourself in opportunity. There is so so much that goes into operating a dive centre, and this is your opportunity to soak up all of it! Ask questions about everything, lend a hand whenever possible, and say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that comes your way. By fully integrating yourself into the dive team, you’ll gain invaluable experience in the dive industry and prove that you have the drive and ability to work as a Divemaster upon certification.

7. Enjoy it. Throughout the PADI Divemaster course, you will be working very closely with the dive centre staff, instructors, divemasters, and even customers. You’ll make friends as close as family and remember your experience forever, so enjoy it!

MD Team Supreme!

 

Drink Diving

White beaches, crystal clear waters, blue skies, and great people enjoying some holiday vibes. It seems that some of the best conditions, environments, and circumstances for diving, are also some of the best for drinking.

BeachBar

 

After a days diving, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing and watching a sunset with a cold beverage of your choice. However, as with everything in scuba diving there are certain limits we need to abide by in order to stay safe underwater, and alcohol consumption is one of them. Alcohol has many physiological and psychological effects, (many of which we enjoy!), and therefore it is important to understand how these may effect us underwater.

1. Alcohol is a diuretic, and therefore causes dehydration within the body. In combination with a loss of water through immersion diuresis, heavy sweating in hot climates or hot exposure suits, and the dry air we breathe from our tanks, this can put our body at a serious risk of dangerous dehydration; which in turn is a leading risk factor of decompression sickness.

2. Alcohol is also a vasodilator and causes our blood vessels to dilate, meaning we lose body heat a lot faster by conduction and convection from any exposed skin. Not only will this be uncomfortable and cold underwater, but maintaining our body temperature becomes even harder and can lead to feeling tired and fatigued. Loss of body heat will in turn change our circulation, increasing the risk of decompression sickness and hypothermia, both of which we want to avoid while diving.

3. Another physiological effect of alcohol is that it reduced our blood sugar levels, raising our risk of hypoglycemia. This in itself is inherently dangerous, but even more so underwater where we cannot regulate our blood sugars and any loss of consciousness will likely lead to a drowning situation. Even small reductions in blood sugars will leave you feeling tired and fatigued after a dive where our bodies metabolism speeds up whilst surrounded by a cold aquatic environment.

4. There are also the obvious psychological effects of alcohol; reduced concentration, reduced awareness, lack of inhibition, poor judgment, slower reaction times, reduced coordination etc. These may be both safe and enjoyable within moderation around a bar with some friends, however any mental or bodily impingement is very dangerous underwater and will seriously affect how you prevent or react to an emergency. We should never drink and drive for such reasons, and therefore we should never drink and dive!

So… as scuba divers should we avoid alcohol altogerther?

drinkdiving3

 

No. Alcohol is both safe and enjoyable in moderation and you’d be hard pressed to find a diver or dive professional that doesn’t enjoy the occasional drink after a great day under the sea. Refrain from drinking AT ALL before a dive, as it’s seriously dangerous to be diving under both the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol. Only drink moderately after diving, as heavy consumption can increase the risks of dehydration and decompression sickness. Finally, if any drinking before a days diving leaves you feeling groggy or hungover, you should cancel or postpone the dive until you’re fully recovered.

Welcome to the Team Christine!

We’re excited to introduce Christine Albanese as our new underwater photographer. Christine joined the team at the beginning of October, and we could not be happier to have her on board (pun totally intended!).

Christine made the switch  to photography shortly after becoming a PADI Divemaster, and has not looked back since. A natural behind the camera, she has built an impressive portfolio of shots of Koh Tao dive sites, marine life and divers. You’ll see Christine and her enormous alien space ship style camera on board one of our boats most days, and chances are she’ll be following you on one of your dives with us too, capturing some souvenir images and of course those all important Facebook profile pictures!

Christine’s photographic abilities speak for themselves and some of her photo’s have been published in PADI contests and articles. She is also a member of the National Geographic community, and as such has had some of her pictures published on the Nat Geo website too!

Check out some of her images below, and feel free to have a look at her portfolio on her Instagram page: @chrisalba_underwater_photogram

snapper

 

jelly

Pinnacle

night dive

chumphon

whaleshark

sattakut

Pretty impressive huh?! So we’re understandably excited to have Christine join the team! If you’d like to read more about Christine and our other team members, feel free to have a look at our staff profiles.

If you have any questions or would like more information on availability and prices for souvenir photography on your dives with us, or about Digital Underwater Photography Specialty Courses, just let us know. You are also welcome to chat Christine up about anything and everything photography and marine related on arrival. You are guaranteed hours of enthusiasm – some on relevant topics, some not so much! 😉

Things to do on Koh Tao

Most people come to Koh Tao for diving, as worldwide it is famous as THE place to train! But there’s much more to this lump of rock than just the ocean that surrounds it, and lots to do on Koh Tao that doesn’t require a scuba tank to have fun!…

Viewpoints
Koh Tao has many viewpoints, some you can drive to, others you will need to walk to as the tracks leading there aren’t suitable or safe for bikes, most even have a restaurant of bar where you can relax and soak up the view!

John Suwan Viewpoint

 

Love Koh Tao

Hiking

There are plenty of hiking trails around the island. Due to the heat it is recommended to do any hiking either in the early morning before it gets too hot, or later in the afternoon. While the tracks are generally safe, it is a good idea to take a cell phone and a first aid kit with you just in case. And lots of water, and many of the more remote trails do not pass by any shops. If you are going hiking on your own do let someone at your hostel or hotel know where you are going and when to expect you back – just as a safety precaution.

Hiking Trail
The Road to Laem Thian

 

Snorkelling

Koh Tao has some fantastic snorkelling, so if you’re not keen on fully submersing yourself in the water but still want to see the wonders of the sea then Koh Tao’s sandy beaches and shallow waters are a great place to start! You may be lucky enough to see Juvenile Black Tip Reef sharks & Hawksbill Turtles as well as all different types of colourful reef fish.Snorkeling

Snorkeler and Seahorse

SUP

Stand Up Paddleboarding has become more and more popular worldwide in recent years and the trend has made its way to Koh Tao. SUP TAO offer hire on an hourly, half day or full day rate. Just don’t forget your suncream!

SUP Tao

Kayaking

A great way to see some of the island and get to some deserted bays, kayaks are usually two person boats so it’s great to split the cost as well, they can usually be hired out for an hour/half day/full day. Do be aware of the weather before you go out and make sure you take lots of sunscreen and water on your adventure!

Kayaking

 

Rock Climbing

Koh Tao has some great rock climbing routes, whether you are a beginner or an experienced climber the rocks of Koh Tao definitely have something to offer you!

Flying Trapeze

A once in a lifetime experience! Where better to find your inner circus monkey than on a tropical island in Thailand! Good Time Adventures offer beginners classes to advanced classes as well as multiple class passes for enthusiasts. If you don’t have a problem with heights this is definitely one for you!

Flying Trapeze

Yoga

What better setting than a sleepy island in the middle of the ocean to ground yourself, the setting for yoga here is blissful, whether you want to join a class or are an experienced yogi that just needs a beautiful setting to enjoy your practice, Koh Tao can accommodate. The three most popular yoga schools are Ocean Sound, Shambhala & Grounded; they offer a range of different classes for every type yoga from Hatha, Yin, Restorative and Vinyassa, you name it, it’s covered.

Mini Golf

Stuck for something to do in the evening? Hacienda in Mae Haad may have the answer! They have an 18 hole mini golf course where you can relax and have a drink and some food and play a couple of rounds of mini golf. Great food and a great atmosphere. They are also starting to show films throughout the week and have built a mini theatre!

Night Life

Koh Tao has a great atmosphere after hours with many different venues offering many different experiences. From relaxing sunset drinks, elaborate cocktails, fire shows, cabaret dances and even dedicated beer pong bars, there is always something to do once the sun goes down. Sairee beach and Sairee Town has the majority of late night bars and parties with a variety of music options and always a friendly group of travellers and locals. (Just try and ask for ‘no-straw’ when ordering drinks and reuse plastic cups to reduce our single plastic consumption!)

IE Party

Stay SCUBA fit with Koh Tao Crossfit

July 2016 marked the reopening of Koh Tao Crossfit, inspiring many of us to try Crossfit for the first time. Merty, who has previously enjoyed Crossfit in the US thought she would introduce the topic, and explain why it’s a great scuba fitness regime:

‘The image my friends back home have crafted of my life here on Koh Tao seems to be some combination of Bay Watch, Finding Nemo, and Eat Pray Love. To them, I spend my days froliking with whalesharks along side beautiful, sun-kissed colleagues who only drink beverages served in coconut shells.

Moving tanks, loading gear, carrying spare weights, towing students… these are the consistent, behind the scenes realities in the day-to-day activities of dive professionals that outsiders are not often privy to. Scuba diving and all that goes into it places high physical demands on the body and it is important that dive professionals are prepared to meet those demands in a way that is sustainable.

KTC Beach WOD

When I first arrived on Koh Tao, I maintained a fitness routine that included a lot of running and swimming, but I struggled to find a suitable strength routine that would fit into my dive schedule. Many of the fitness classes on the island were offered only when I was on the boat or under the water. My strength was declining just as the physical demands of job were increasing, and my body began to feel the adverse effects.

KTC1

Recently, I began training at Crossfit Koh Tao. Their new class schedule caters to divers’ schedules (early morning/evening sessions) while still offering mid day classes for my days off. For me, Crossfit is the perfect fitness compliment to my diving career. Crossfit’s emphasis on functional movement allows me to meet the physical challenges of my day-to-day life without worry of injury while the high intensity interval training improves my lung capacity and breath control. I would encourage any diver to go check it out!

See you at the box!’

Master Divers Course Director Gaz is currently the co-owner and Crossfit coach at KTC, so feel free to ask him any questions on WOD’s and work outs and make sure to stop by!

Gaz KTC

 

Is Scuba Diving Safe?

2

Visiting the fascinating underwater world is an amazing experience, and also very safe provided that you follow some simple rules.

Diving is relatively easy to learn, but do make sure you are trained by a reputable school with experienced staff. Proper training will also make you aware of the most common problems that you could encounter underwater.

Make sure that you are medically and physically fit to dive as certain medical conditions are not compatible with diving. Aside from physiological factors, it also helps to be physically fit. You should be able to walk at least 1.6km in under 12 minutes as a minimum, and as part of your open water course you will be asked to swim 200m and float for 10 minutes. So if you’ve been a couch potato get some exercise before your next dive trip – the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy your dives!

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

If you have your own dive equipment, then check it all thoroughly and get anything serviced if necessary.

Have any necessary immunisation jabs required to travel.

Make sure you are fit to dive and have had a medical if required. Students are required to self-certify their fitness to dive using the form below. If any of the answers to the questions listed is a ‘Yes’, it’s important to get a medical sign off prior to departure:

http://www.master-divers.com/medical_statement.pdf

Make sure you have adequate travel and dive insurance. At Master Divers we offer our customers dive insurance for just 100THB for the duration of  your stay with us, but we also have weekly, monthly and yearly policies for more active divers, as well as some recommendations for general travel insurance:

https://www.indepths.org/public-member/policies/

http://www.worldnomads.com/

 

BEFORE YOU DIVE

Check all your equipment to ensure nothing was damaged in transit.

Make sure you are properly rehydrated after your journey. If you’re not feeling 100% then don’t dive, and in particular don’t dive if you have a cold or hangover! Leave the party night until the end of your diving trip…

If you haven’t dived for a while just sign up for  a couple of easy, shallow dives to begin with in order to get back in the swing of things. Remember if you haven’t dived for six months or longer then you may need to do a scuba review first just to recap on all your skills…

Skills Practice In The Shallows
Skills Practice In The Shallows

ON THE BOAT

Remember to drink plenty of water, and bring your sunscreen and seasickness tablets (if required, although the water here is generally very calm). If you suffer from seasickness make sure you have something light to eat and always take your tablets before the boat journey – don’t wait until you actually feel sick!

Set up your equipment in the allocated area making sure it’s all together in the one place. Attaching your mask to your BCD and putting your fins inside it are good tips for keeping all of your gear together.  Take your time double checking everything is in working order, and if you’re not sure of anything then ask just your Dive Master or Instructor. Never be embarrassed to ask for help – safety is always more important than speed!

 

Equipment setup!
Equipment setup!

Store your bag and weight belt under the bench to keep the walkways free, and try to make sure you return to the same place after the dive. A tidy boat is a safe boat!!!

Be careful walking around on the boat when it is choppy, especially going to the back of the boat and upstairs – make sure you have three points of contact at all times. Do not jump off the top deck and/or over the side after the ladders have been pulled up, as this means the engine is about to start!

Listen carefully to your dive briefing – no matter how experienced a diver you are! The Instructor/Dive Master know the dive sites intricately and will tell you what to look for along with any potential hazards you should be aware of.  They will tell you the dive plan including the maximum depth and time, making sure that you are familiar with all the relevant hand signals.

Once kitted up make sure you do a proper buddy check with your allocated dive buddy and do not enter the water until you are told it is safe to do so.

 

Buddy Check
Buddy Check

THE DIVE

Make sure you are properly weighted and adjust your buoyancy accordingly so that you are streamlined throughout the dive.  Proper buoyancy control not only reduces fatigue and makes your dive more enjoyable but it also improves your safety and prevents you from damaging the coral.

Buoyancy Fun
Buoyancy Fun

Regularly check your air, your buddy and the environment around you. Make sure you follow your dive guide and don’t go off in the opposite direction…

Listen to your inner voice – if you do not feel right while underwater, or you feel that you have exceeded your comfort level, let your dive guide know that you want to abort the dive. If you become low on air let your guide know immediately and follow his/her instructions.

Don’t touch anything – the golden rule is “You take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but bubbles!”

At the end of your dive make sure you ascend slowly never exceeding an ascent rate of 18m/minute and make a safety stop for 3 minutes at 5 metres.

White Rock

AFTER THE DIVE

White Rock

If you are doing a second or third dive make sure you have an adequate surface interval. Be sure to drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated. Avoid any strenuous exercise straight after a dive as it could increase the risk of decompression sickness.

DO NOT free-dive, do any cardiovascular exercise, have a Thai massage, or take an excessively hot shower after scuba diving. After a dive you will have increased levels of nitrogen in your body, and any of these activities can effect how efficiently your body off gases it, and in some instances it can be harmful to you.

Properly rinse all your equipment, hang it out to dry and remember to log your dives.  A record of your diving history is not only nice to look back on, but is also required should you ever need to prove your experience for higher levels of training.

FLYING AFTER DIVING
PADI recommended that you wait a minimum of 12 hours before flying after a single dive, and 18 hours after 2 or more dives.

 

A Day in the Life of the Master Divers Office Staff

Most days start the same… you’re greeted by the shop dogs who are always happy to see you, especially if you have food for them! They come rushing towards you for a hug as they follow you into the shop!

First things first, the animals need attention, so only after giving them some love and fuss it’s time to start opening up the shop for the day. Music on, computers booted up, check-in files ready for today’s arrivals, check! Classroom allocations, course allocations, tables and chairs nice and tidy, check! Hot tea and coffee on the boil and cold water ready and waiting for when the customers and other members of staff to arrive, check! Time to open the doors!

Natalia and the shop dogs
Natalia with Sky and Sandy

 

Elaine at Work
Elaine at Work



From then on our main tasks revolve around the instructors and dive masters; making sure they have what they need for their day of diving and teaching. Our most important task though, is meeting and greeting our lovely customers. We work very hard to ensure that their needs are met and that they are aware of their daily schedule if they are doing a course, and that fun divers are aware of all the trips we are running. We also rent out snorkel gear, advise on dive equipment, and recommend dive sites and pretty much everything else – from the best restaurants on Koh Tao to where to get a tattoo! This is by far our favourite part of the job, we love meeting people from all over the world and from all different walks of life. It is a very social job, and we are all lucky enough to have met some fantastic people who still stay in contact and return to Master Divers each year.

 

Linzi and Charlotte Scheduling
Linzi and Charlotte Scheduling

 

Once all the diving staff and customers are organised, whether out on the boat or studying in the classrooms, it’s time to catch up on the paperwork, office admin and finances; making sure the customers details are inputted correctly into the system and their accounts are up to date, making sure emails are answered and the weekly dive site schedule is up to date, updating the board with the next set of bookings, processing PADI certifications, and updating all of our various spread sheets. Before we know it the afternoon boat is back, so we must be ready with the next round of hot and cold drinks. This is usually our busiest time of day, as we are dealing with sign-ups for the following day’s boat and organising boats, tanks, groups, staffing and scheduling.

At the end of the day, we make sure all of the customers’ accounts and paperwork are up to date, before cashing up, powering everything down and closing up. One last fuss and feed of the animals and then its home time – usually via our café and beach bar, Coconut Monkey, for a relaxing drink to watch the sun set before heading off. Another satisfying day at work in paradise 🙂

 

Sunset View from Coconut Monkey
Sunset View from Coconut Monkey

Why Take a Divemaster Internship?

You’ve finished your Divemaster training, so now what? You have been assisting on courses, taken workshops,  skill circuits, and been out diving with other DMT’s, but are you really ready to be out there on your own to lead customers or to conduct scuba reviews? Do you actually know what else is going on in a dive shop and what is expected of you as a full time Divemaster other than being in the water?

This is where the Divemaster internship comes in handy. Here’s why….

Fundivers and Scuba Reviews

During your internship you will take customers out in the water under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor or divemaster.

The main task as a divemaster will be taking customers out in the open water. Either you will lead them on a fundive or you will be conducting scuba reviews. During your divemaster training you might have simulated taking customers out with your fellow divemaster trainees. Maybe you solved a few assigned “problems” left or right. But in the end you have always been diving with “good” divers.

In the real world customers can be really unpredictable. Think about a customer that wants to keep diving after he/she reached 50 bar and simply refuses to go up. Think about a customer that freaks out every time he/she has to do a mask skill. Or even worse, panics every time he/she sees a 2cm big cleaner wrasse (this is a true story!).

During your internship you get to deal with such customers. In case you have a hard time handling the situation there will be an experienced instructor or divemaster nearby to assist you. Hopefully they don’t have to assist, but even then these instructors or divemaster can give you valuable feedback on how you handled the situation and how you might have done it differently!

Scuba Review

Assists

During your internship you will yet again assist on another open water course and a rescue course. As a certified divemaster you are now qualified to demonstrate every skill done in these courses, rather than just sitting there and watching how an instructor does all the work or being used as the victim for a rescue scenario.

Did you master all your skills yet?? It is very convenient to have an experienced instructor by your side to help you when a customer looks clueless after your (not so) perfect demonstration. And yet again the instructors can give you valuable feedback on how you demonstrate your skills.

Surface Marker Buoy

You will also assist on a EFR course. Are you interested in talking about medical stuff? This is your moment to find out.

The EFR course is the only non-diving related course that every dive pro has to do. Therefor it is possible to become an EFR instructor without becoming a diving instructor. As an EFR instructor you will be a great added value to a divecentre because you can take the pressure of other instructors in busy periods.

Gear/Technician Days

During your internship you will spend a day with one of the full time divemasters to clean equipment.

A good divecentre looks after its rental equipment. All gear will be washed after a daysof diving. But it is hard to clean diving equipment from the inside. Most divecentres will therefore periodically wash all equipment themselves. Most likely you as a divemaster will be responsible for this. During this cleaning process the gear will be partially disassembled so it can be inspected and cleaned from the inside in places that are normally hard to reach.

Also during your training to become a divemaster you will most likely have noticed that a lot of rental equipment has minor failures (small bubbles leaking from somewhere?!?). If not looked after this might cause a major problem. During your internship you will spend a day with one of the shops equipment technicians to see how they repair gear. This does not only give you a better inside in how diving equipment works, but maybe you might actually like tinkering with equipment.

If you do like tinkering with equipment you might look at doing your Equipment Specialist Course. Doing this course will be a major career boost! After this course you will much more valuable for a divecentre, because you can now repair and maintain the equipment!

Equipment Maintenance

Office

During your internship you will work in the office for a day. Most divemasters like to be in the water and don’t want to worry about paperwork. But unfortunately with diving comes a lot of paperwork.

If you work in a big divecentre most likely there will be a fulltime member of staff to handle most of the administration for you. If you work at a smaller divecentre, most likely you will have to do the paperwork yourself. Either way it is good to know how the administration is done. Or you will have to do it yourself or you know how to help your co-workers in the office as efficiently as possible. It’s always good to be loved by the office people, in the end they make your schedule and they pay your salary!

Social Media

During your internship you will spend half a day to see how social media works at a professional level and how this can get more customers into you divecentre.

These days social media is the most powerful tool to get customers to you divecentre. These days 99% of the customers will look at google, tripadvisor, facebook, twitter etc., before they walk into a divecentre. If you are not on there and your neighbour is, guess what divecentre they will walk in first. Therefore understanding social media is very useful for you as a divemaster.

If you are interested in social media or have some experience with using it, this may add value your CV over that of another CV because you know how to get the customers into the shop!

Social Media

Conservation

During your internship you will organize a clean-up day. This can either be a beach clean-up or a dive clean-up.

There are many articles already written about conservation, but it can’t be said enough, ocean pollution is a major issue! For some of us it’s hard to imagine, but in most countries in the world waste is either burned locally or being flooded into the ocean by streams and rivers. Plastic and glass especially are a major problem since it takes nature 100-1000 years to break these products down into reusable material.

You might not be able to solve this issue by yourself, but if you are aware of it, you can make the people around you and your customers aware of it. And then hopefully one day we can solve this problem together!!

Beach Clean Up
Beach Clean Up

 

My conclusion? A Divemaster Internship is a great way to extend your experience as a divemaster while getting useful feedback from experienced instructors and divemasters. Beside it gives you a good overview of what is expected of you when you start working as a fulltime divemaster.

Last but not least, it’s a great added value to your (still empty) CV as a new Divemaster!

 

2015 Round Up – A Year in Pictures

2015 has been a big year for Master Divers, and one in which we’ve seen a fair amount of change. But rather than bore you with a bunch of wordiness, let’s review the highlights in pictures!

We reinvented our ecological programmes. As well as our regular land and sea clean ups and weekly eco nights, we now offer Green Package options on our Open Water & Advanced Open Water courses. We also offer bespoke courses dedicated to conservation. These are run by David, our dedicated conservation instructor.

The Eco Team

We were, as in several previous years, accepted as a registered Shark Guardian Dive Centre, with whom we collaborate on marine conservation and research projects.

Shark Guardian

 

We waved goodbye to ex shareholders Ayesha and Wilco and also to manager Charlotte.

Ayesha & Wilco

Charlotte

But said hello to new business partner and manager Linzi.

 Linzi

We got a bit more into Tec, with several Sidemount Diver, Self Reliant Diver, Gas Blender, Tec 40 and Tec 45 courses.

Sidemount

We launched our new website, which you probably already know, since you’re reading it right now!

Master Divers Homepage

Be became the first dive centre on the island to begin teaching the new PADI Freediver courses.

Freedive

We became an Aqualung partner centre.

partner-center

We opened Coconut Monkey, our chilled out beachside café, right over the road from the dive centre.

Coconut Monkey

So wow, what a year it’s been – and that’s just the highlights! A big heartfelt thank you to all of our amazing staff, customers, business partners and friends who have made it such a fantastic year. We couldn’t have done it without you. Bring on more Master Divers success as we head into 2016! Happy New Year Everyone!