My introduction to the amazing world of scuba diving came about, I guess like most people, by way of snorkelling.
In 1995 I was on holiday, with my girlfriend at the time, in Corsica. She loved to lie on the beach. I loathed doing so. After two days of putting up with my obvious restlessness, she went to the shops, early one morning, and returned with a bright yellow mask and snorkel. For the next five days, whilst she happily lay on the beautiful white and golden sand beaches of Corsica, I happily snorkelled in the clear, turquoise, warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. I was in my element.
Two years later my girlfriend and I had unfortunately split up. I was young free and single and decided to grab the opportunity and go on holiday to the Red Sea resort of Eilat (Israel). With the intention of signing up to a dive course.
During the pre course medical check, which took place at the dive centre, I foolishly admitted to a minor asthma attack that I had experienced as a child. This immediately struck me off the course. It later transpired that someone had recently died from an underwater asthma attack. The owners of the dive centre were taking no chances. I salvaged the disaster by travelling all over Israel using public transport. This proved to be the catalyst for my passion to travel the world.
It was another two years, in January 1997, before I finally managed to completo the PADI Open Water course; this time in Phuket, Thailand. In 2001 I went on to complete the PADI Advanced Open Water course, on a live-aboard on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Since then I have tried to keep my skills honed by diving at least a couple of times a year. I don’t dive in the UK – it’s far too cold. This dislike of UK diving therefore curtails my diving to holidays in warmer climates.
Over the years numerous people have mentioned the PADI Rescue Diver course, saying how rewarding it is and what a life changing experience it had proved to be for them as individuals.
In January 2023 I visited a dive centre in the Caribbean called Dive Grenada. It’s without doubt one of the best dive centres I have ever been to. Proffesional, yet relaxed. Fun, yet safety conscious. There were no more than 6 people on each of the dives that I did. This was unusual as most of the diving I’d done before had been on big boats with large groups of divers.
I discussed the Rescue Diver course with Neale and Allie, the owners of the dive centre, and mentioned that I might be interested in returning one day to do the course with them. It was left at that.
In the June of 2023, having completed my one-hundredth dive, earlier in the year, I decided to email Neale and Allie to ask about possible dates to make a return visit. No surprise, they were extremely accommodating and enthusiastic about my potential return and said that January 2024 would be a perfect time to do the Rescue Diver course.
They arranged all of the online training for me, which included the prerequisite Primary care αnd Secondary care courses, along with the Rescue Diver course itself. The various modules were split into bite size chunks and included exams at the end of each section, which had to be passed before moving on to the next part. By the end of December I had successfully completed all of the online course work.
On the 9th of January, this year, feeling extremely anxious and nervous, I checked in at Dive Grenada and received a warm ‘home coming’ welcome. Day one involved a review session where we went through some of the elements that I had studied online. The remaining two days involved a mixture of theory and practical exercises. At the end of each day I was physically and mentally exhausted.
Neales’ three favourite words are ‘awesome’ and ‘no problem’. That’s because he truly does make everything feel ‘awesome’ and indeed, nothing is a problem. Neale was ably assisted by Tim who helped act out some of the rescue scenarios that made up the practical side of the training. He also put across some of his personal experiences that were relevant to the training.
I really liked the fact that Neale was prepared to come at things from different angles. If it didn’t work out one way, he was happy to approach things in another way. This pragmatic way of thinking was used on many occasions during the course of my training and it helped me tremendously.
I successfully completed the course on the Friday afternoon. I can honestly say that I found it to be one of the most enjoyable and challenging courses that I have ever done. My approach to diving has definitely changed, for the better, as a result of the massive knowledge base that I acquired during my training. One hopes that I never have to put into action any of the life saving skills that I learnt, but if I do, I’m confident that I am much better prepared to potentially safe the life of a fellow human being, not only when diving but in everyday life as well.