This past year, two of Blue Marlin Komodo’s instructors headed over to Gili Trawangan for a holiday full of beaches, tropical island vibes and some fun diving. However, once there, they were bitten by the Tech Bug. Some are attracted to the shiny new gear, some seek the less explored dive sites not available to recreational divers and others love the idea of planning technical ‘expeditions’. However, some just love a good challenge. Enter Vero and Doug.
Guest Blog by Vero Coates, PADI Staff Instructor:
This past year, although already instructors ourselves, my partner and I decided to step things up a notch and head back to school by taking our first step into the world of decompression diving. As both of us work at Blue Marlin Komodo, we decided to take advantage of Komodo’s sister location, Blue Marlin Gili Trawangan, and explore the reputable tech centre.
We hadn’t met all of the staff working there, we weren’t familiar with the dive sites, and we had never even been to the Gilis before…When we showed up, we decided to go incognito for as long as we could to see how the instructors and divemasters would treat a ‘potential customer’ they had never seen before.It wasn’t even 2 minutes before we were acknowledged and tended to by more than one person. And before you knew it, via the small dive community, within 5 minutes we were fully recognised as part of the Blue Marlin Family. Our effort in sleuthing was a complete fail, but a big shout out to the BMGT crew for being so on top of it!!!
Then it was down to business. We met with our wonderful instructor, Theresia, received our materials and began to delve into what the next six days had in store. We didn’t know what to expect from this course, but just after Day 1’s pool session, we knew it would be harder than originally anticipated. Already being an instructor, it’s easy to start the course feeling overconfident. However, dealing with harnesses, twinsets, stage tanks and all of the extra gadgets one needs for tech diving made us feel like inexperienced Open Water students all over again. Yet, along with the feeling of being a little behind, we also got to experience the incredible sensation of learning something entirely new and the feeling of progressing through obstacles.
Over the next 6 days, we spent long hours learning about underwater problem solving, decompression theory and planning, possible consequences of diving with Nitrox blends up to 100%, how to switch gases underwater, perfecting our buoyancy and trim and many other basic skills complicated by new styles of gear. The ever patient Theresia was quick to pinpoint ways each individual could improve, a hard task taking into account the widely varied diving backgrounds we all had. (One diver even did the course using his side mount set up!) I won’t lie; it was tough. Long days, weighty gear, intense theory… You get the picture! But with such a supportive staff by our side, the hard bits were made easier. They were genuinely rooting for us to improve and get better with each dive (thanks Mans for slapping my knees back into trim so many times!). As the days went by, I was filled with the feeling of self-accomplishment and growth as a diver.
By the last dive of the course, our group had all progressed to a point where we were all communicating and working as a team with a great sense of camaraderie in the group. Meticulous planning sessions, briefings, dives and debriefings had found a new meaning in my head and I was glad to know, especially in the rigorous world of technical diving, that I had learned from true professionals.
And what about the “family” that everyone at Blue Marlin always talks about? Although we like to think that no one can beat the love over at Komodo, we were pretty impressed by Gili Trawangan. Even after mentally gruelling and long days, we would still stay and hang out with the awesome characters regularly find around the dive shop – never a boring conversation! We absolutely loved the experience we shared with our extended family in Gili T and extended range course! Thanks so much to Theresia, Will, Edwin, Mike, Mans and all the BMT crew who were lovely and fantastic. Hope to see you soon in Komodo!!!