The start of each day during the Divemaster Phuket internship is early, so when I wake up I’m yearning for coffee. Coffee in hand, I jump on the transport with the customers who are diving for the day, gradually waking up on the way to Chalong pier as I chat to them about the day ahead. Buzzing with Instructors and customers, everyone on the pier says their hello’s and gets to know their fellow divers for the day. Part of the role is to escort customers to the boat, prepare necessary equipment, settle down, complete the relevant paperwork and just get organised! The first hour on the boat is always a little hectic but once all that is done – breakfast is waiting and you can sit down and have a chat on the way to the dive site.
As a Divemaster Phuket trainee, the main change to your day on the boat is the shift in responsibility. You’re expected to give briefings, guide dives and help with anything if asked – It can be a little daunting at first. Personally, briefings were (still are) the main worry for me – but as with everything else, the Instructors are there to coach you and eventually you feel comfortable undertaking any task.
The confidence that comes with guiding accumulates with practice and experience. It’s something I only recently started doing but towards the end of the training, you will be guiding on most of the dives. This is where your shift in focus changes, as now when you are diving, you’re not diving for yourself anymore – you’re diving and guiding for your Instructor and customers. As a Divemaster Phuket trainee, that’s the case for most things on the boat though, rather than picking up after yourself and getting off the boat with your own bags, you’re helping out with heavy lifting of equipment with the boat crew and Instructors for your customers. Rather than fun diving (it is still fun though!), taking pictures of marine life to add to your personal collection, you’re priority now is making sure everyone else diving is enjoying the dive and staying safe.
It’s not all work and no play though, after a busy day of diving and spending time with your customers, you get to enjoy a few beers on the boat on the way back to the pier.. One of the things I like the most in my day – seeing how happy everyone is at the end of it. It’s one of the best feelings to see divers who may have never been in the water before and after a day on the boat, they’re grinning, they’ve gained confidence and they’re already planning their next dive trip with you – how cool is that!
Once back at the pier, we debrief, carry bags onto the buses, say our goodbyes and then customers and Instructors scramble off to reward themselves with food and drink. I would say that’s a typical day on the boat. Days on dry land are quite different – paperwork and pool sessions to enhance the skills you have learnt. These are still good days as you’re always surrounded by a great group of people.
There’s a bit more to the course too: mapping project, exam, theory, skill circuit, dive site setup and management and timed swims. All that kind of just blends into the daily routine of things though.
I think the best part about being a Divemaster Phuket trainee is that your role on the boat shifts, you get treated differently and you must act differently. It takes a while to fully learn how to “be” on the boat – but as with everything else in the program, it’s a learning curve. The PADI program describes the relationship between the dive master trainee and the instructor as a “mentor-mentee” relationship and that’s very accurate. Over time, there’s the friend aspect that’s included too. The team you’re surrounded with are there to help you, mould you into a professional diver, but along with that, they become your friend group and the people you have a drink with and relax with at the end of a long day. In my opinion, that’s what has made my experience with Super Divers so memorable and unique – I’m here learning and checking off the boxes that will make me a Dive Master, but it becomes more than just checking requirement boxes, you become part of a team, you feel yourself evolve into a better DMT, you make friends and it becomes a work environment that’s addictive. It’s so rewarding because you’re taking so much in, you’re constantly alert and it’s hard work, but if you enjoy diving and living this kind of lifestyle (and I can’t see why you wouldn’t), it’s the kind of daily routine you’ll fall in love with and you’ll come round to find that once it ends, you’ll probably be considering ditching your other life and moving to Thailand instead.
Author: Valerie Cornet, Dive Master trained at Super Divers, Phuket.