Category Archives: Education

“I want your Job”.

Often a question that we as a team get asked on trips. So this months blog we will have a look at “well do you really want our jobs”!

The perception seems to be (not everyone) that we sit on our asses during the week while playing on FB and other social media sites and then climb onto a boat on the weekend and take you on an underwater tour or in other words we are on a permanent holiday!

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So let us break this down to a normal week in the middle of high season. In high season we get on average 5x two day/two night dhows booked with diving. Once we have chased (more like begging) the divers with regards to their equipment requirements (sizes, gas mixes, no. of tanks, amount of weight required etc), all this info is then passed onto the diving department who go through every profile return with regards to checking cards of people we do not know as well as date of last dive, emergency contact info and level of qualification.

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Then it is into the compressor room where we can pump up to 150 tanks for a weekend, pack 35 sets of dive gear, make sure all enriched air mixes are accurate to within one percent of the requested mix and prepare to put between 30-50 divers into the water for a weekend.

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As we draw closer (Wednesday and Thursday) the guides start checking weather systems (a difficult task in the musandam) as all the  weather sites vary greatly, choosing itineraries and dive sites based on levels of experience, sorting speedboats/chase boats out, crew allocation, water, diesel for the dhows and of course loading the respective dhows/speedboats with the correct gear allocated to said dhow.

We cannot afford a bad day at work whilst preparing for and on trips. The result could invariably be … we will leave it to your imagination!

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Once you are safely back in your vehicles on the way home, we start the off-loading, unpacking and cleaning of equipment. A day off arrives the next day and the following day after a rest it starts all over again.

Would we do it all over again … in a heart beat!

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Keeping your Dive Guide on your side.

The similarities between a dive guide and a barman are almost identical except for the mediums in which we operate. 

We have both heard it all before and we both have an exceptionally great game face that borders on getting our own star on Hollywood Boulevard. Therefore, how would you know that your guide has a genuine, positive outlook towards you or is faking it (we do that very well).

12809777_10153916985278080_1177085423168556251_nDive Briefings – I suggest you actually listen!

Over the years of guides getting together and chatting over a cold beverage regarding the days activities one topic always rears its head. There is always the diver(s) that do not listen to briefings! Fiddling with their dive computers or chatting amongst themselves while we brief is going to get you the game face or in the case of guides who have been around for awhile – they just stop briefing and you receive the death stare. We don`t brief to hear our own voices but to keep you safe, at least afford us a small iota of respect.

” Do you know where my mask, fins, weight belt etc”, is another “mm we have a live one here moment”. Contrary to popular belief we are guides and not housekeepers. 

Chucky” No, I don`t know where you put your freaking mask”.

Dive time! When we say in-water at 7am, we mean in-water at 7am! We design schedules not only for divers but for the non-divers on board as well. Maybe the kids want to use the banana boat or some folks would like to indulge in a spot of fishing. So no it is not all about you! Being on time will get you the genuine face.

Current divers! It does not take a lot to get yourself refreshed with respect to skills and buoyancy before a trip. The last thing we need is having someone flap around on the surface while the rest of the group has decided to descend (back to the dive briefings again) and we are in the a 7 knot current. Result – you get the game face!

IMG_0318This is the face you want to see @ the end of your trip (Jon 2nd left and stoked with his group).

We make decisions based on the group collective and not individual needs. So the next time you have a dive site preference and are politely (insh`allah) told that the group is doing another site – trust me we have our reasons.  Be courteous, have fun with us, trust us and most importantly afford us a bit of respect because at the end of the day when you are 30m underwater and difficulty strikes, the only person who gives a continental snowball about you is us!

A most importantly – the biggest factor about having the guide on your side is offering us a cold bevvie at the end of the day – you are going to have a great holiday 🙂

 

Social Media in a Swimming Pool

We have decided to shelve the humorous articles (well not much light hearted entertainment has occurred recently) and concentrate on what we call “the swimming sheep effect”.

I`m sure like the crew here if you are an avid social media follower and follow all the scuba diving pages out there, then you will no doubt have realized that every instructor/agency has a YouTube channel, Face book or Instagram page with excellent videos on how to perfect buoyancy, deploy surface marker buoys or recover a regulator. The trend and rightfully so is the mastering of the critical core skill – buoyancy. However, it is the manner in which buoyancy is now being taught by some agencies who in my humble opinion have got it absolutely right. Get off the bottom of the pool and do it mid-water!

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There is nothing worse than a diver who spends time and effort developing their knowledge and skill level in order to be able to dive in differing environments whilst on holiday and having someone with a poor skill level kicking up the sand or damaging the coral combined with poor diver etiquette ruining your not cheap holiday. Even worse if you have lined up that superb photo and have it ruined by “bouncing Barry”.

So in order to improve our skill level we sit on social media and watch videos on how to “do it right”. Do not get me wrong, there are some amazing videos being uploaded by incredibly knowledgeable and experienced dive professionals. I personally have noticed two things that are not wholly representative of real life scenarios.

  • 90% of the videos display a diver in perfect trim wearing a dry suit.
  • Every one of them is wearing a wing.
  • The skills are all done in shallow, calm water. NB: all skills need to be practiced in shallow water first! What we are talking about is certified divers who want to perfect their skills in actual diving situations.

Dry suits allow the legs to float a lot more and promote the feet up, head down profile in the water. Deploying a surface marker buoy in calm water (yes it needs to practiced here first) is not representative of deploying your SMB in a current or turbid water. Diving with a wing ( I personally endorse this over the jacket style bc) also allows the diver to correct their trim and attitude in the water more easily than the jacket style bc.

This we will also be posting videos this year on becoming a more competent diver by uploading videos of actual dives and the skills required in those situations/conditions.

They will be available for viewing on our YouTube channel as well as our FB page.

YouTube – Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises

Face book – Sheesa Beach Dhow Cruises – Dive & Discover.

Our blogs are the opinions of ours alone!

Please bear in mind that there is no substitute for actually engaging with an instructor and honing your skills under their tutelage. 

 

The Human Factor

Welcome to 2018 and we hope it beats the “you know what” out of 2017 for you and your loved ones.

From 2016 onwards there has been an explosion of YouTube videos, Facebook videos and a host of social media platforms that offer up the “right way” to train divers.

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Personally as and educator and collectively as a dive centre we are prone to the “get your freaking knees off the bottom of the pool approach”. We train buoyancy as the core skill in diving and we allow them to fail. Here is why!

Allowing candidates to fail in a safe and non-threatening environment allows them to be vulnerable and thus the opportunity for educators, (I`m not using the word instructor as that is a topic for another time), to provide critical feedback to the candidate.

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This in turn allows them to take responsibility and be accountable to themselves only. Changing their perception from blaming failure on all and sundry to one of being self-aware and recognizing their own weak points. Is not learning the process of making mistakes and learning from them?

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Instructors, dive centres and agencies all need to hold their collective hands high and say “maybe we got it wrong”. We trained skills, we taught theory but how much of the human factor did we teach? For the learning process to be solid the human factor loop needs to in sync and that simply is accepting responsibility as educators and candidates, learning from our mistakes and recognizing our weak points without blaming anyone else. Most importantly using our mistakes to better ourselves as divers and hopefully as humans to!

 

 

 

DM`s, Mola-Mola and Seahorse.

The water temperature has dropped faster than expected. Well, we were caught literally with our pants down due to diving in board shorts and rash vests one week and having to break out the 5.5mm wetsuits the week after. There is a plus to this however as it does bring a prehistoric species back.
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L-R: Dustin, Instructor Jon Athey, Eddie, Terry and Jason.
November saw us complete our dive master candidates over an intensive 3 days on a private live aboard trip. The idea was to give them live aboard experience in seeing what type of logistics and implementation goes into getting a trip out. Jon Athey took them through their skills, drills and knowledge enrichment. Too many times have I heard how instructors get a kick out of “hammering” the candidates as this is what happened to them when trained. A lot of us were military trained including Jon and it was refreshing to see an instructor teach with skill, empathy and compassion.

 

Octopus Rock has been incredible this year and we have found 3 more seahorse that are only known to us (as far as we are aware). It was very unpleasant to see 4 boats all descending onto the known ones at the beginning of the month. Couple this with poor buoyancy skills and no diver etiquette and we were very temp
The change in the way we conduct our Discover Scuba Diving experiences is reaping great rewards which allows us to show the divers more of the underwater world and less time holding them. In fact we do not hold them (there is a very watchful eye) but they dive on their own with a small amount of weight and in a horizontal position.
This is our last issue for the year and we wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a “very merry Christmas” and for “happy holidays” to everyone else.
Your friendly dive centre in the far north.

 

 

Have we failed you and have you failed yourselves?

A question I get asked quite often is “what`s the temperature like or what`s the visibility like”? There have been numerous times when we answer the question but with mutterings of hostile intentions.

After making a decision recently to change my current in-date training agency to another and starting the theory for the crossover I came across a simple, innocuous question which got me thinking about the heading for this blog!

The question was simply about choosing a wetsuit. You choose the wetsuit according to the temperature at the bottom of the area you dive in and not the surface temperature. Simple yes! But a simple question that gets answered incorrectly and leads to a diver having insufficient exposure protection which in turn leads to potential hypothermia and therefore a decompression sickness risk and thus no longer avails themselves to your services or anyone else.

Years ago when I was a young training leadership candidate, the dive sites were always full. Weekend after weekend there were divers in the water both new and regular divers. Admittedly there were less adventure sports available then for people to spread their time around but the reason I keep coming back to, is quality of training was a lot better then. Evening classes over weeks, weekends spent honing skills in the pool made us confident, comfortable and want to dive because of the very factors I have just mentioned. We had made an investment and boy were we going to cash in on it.

It was an age ago and times have changed, technology reared its head, globalization took over and we no longer have the time to do a 6 week open water class. However, most of the divers I did those classes with are still actively diving today as my peers in the industry or those that now do it purely as a form of escape from the world of one atmosphere. I can name quite a few of our clients that dive every monthly sharing trip and sometimes weekly on the fast boats. The common denominator still being quality of training. They still dive, ride bikes, jump out of perfectly good aircraft and have time to carry on with their lives so where are we missing the boat and thus why did you miss the boat!

We got caught up in the world going crazy, learn to dive now, courses completed in 2 days and a host of advertising gimmicks designed to get you into the dive centre and in reality straight out again as you do not feel confident and peer pressure takes its toll because your dive guide spent 20 minutes with you on the surface to get you down while everyone waited. We became and are “cash cows”. Spend more time on payment details than on the reason we got involved in the 1st place – to share our love of the underwater world with others.

Doing courses is not a way to part you with your money (ok it is) but it is a very important reminder to us as to why we wanted to learn. It took a very simple question to bring me back and I hope some of what is written here will help you do the same!

Pelagic Soup

We hope you are all surviving Ramadan and this leads us into the new blog.

April and May saw some incredible diving in our tiny piece of paradise. The water stayed quite cool well into May but delivered some amazing encounters. We were greeted by large pods of Dolphins on every trip out and a few lucky divers got to witness the unique spectacle of killer whales/Orcas in the Musandam. Underwater delivered Mola-Mola (sunfish), massive shoals of trevally, barracuda and tuna to name a few.

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It was great to welcome back the warm water divers (or as we would term it – ageing gracefully 😊). The shenanigans continued. If you have never been on a sharing safari and keep hearing about the shenanigans, then you need to witness it personally. Lots of heckling each other, sundowners, cheese and crackers in the evenings and loading up on bacon etc for breakfast.

Although we have a schedule to keep and all our divers buy into the schedule, we do keep it as informal and relaxed as possible. Depending on the groups we also like to push further into the lesser known sites and the rewards are often to be talked about over a sundowner in the evening.

For a number of years we have not pushed the courses here at Sheesa and if you are wondering why, it is because we walk a fine line between being a service provider to dive centres as well as being a dive centre ourselves. What we did concentrate on was the diver who wanted to continue diving after they had qualified and Jumeirah open beach did not quite do it for them anymore. There are excellent dive sites on the east coast in the UAE and some great operators to boot. The Musandam however cannot and will not be beaten by anything the UAE can throw up.

So learning to dive here is unique. We combine our live aboard trips with courses thus giving the diver the skills to survive at sea and live aboard experience. Let`s be frank, live aboard diving is the ultimate !dive holiday. The courses are also unique in that we differ quite a lot to others. Over the years and through experience in varying conditions we have thought out of the box and do not blindly follow what is written on a slate. Yes we adhere to the standards that follow but we add in more. More time is spent on buoyancy, understanding your body and the water column surrounding you and making you a bit more responsible as a diver. This not only benefits you but it definitely benefits the guides both locally and internationally.

The sheesa staff would like to thank all of you for your continued support of us and the culture we have tried to create for our clients. Book and let us do the rest! Keep an eye out for our newsletters in your inbox, the FB and Instagram posts ot pop along to our youtube channel to see the latest shenanigans we have cooked up