Saturday, July 31, 2010

Here at Divewise we are proud to be a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre running at least two IDCs a year shaping and molding new, skilled instructors ready to be unleashed on the world ready to teach. We are also proud to say that Alan Whitehead is a Platinum Course Director for the past 5 years and has an incredible number of certified divers and staff behind him who come back year after year. We continue to be proud to say that we now have two course directors at Divewise. Neville McLellan has spent that last two weeks in the Dominican Republic diving. Sounds luxurious except he's been sitting his course directors course so it would of been two weeks of skill circuits, of classroom presentations and mounting stress of passing. All the stress has now passed and so has he, so i would watch out if you are in the Dominican republic because there will be a very happy Englishman celebrating!! We are looking forward to his return and a big celebratory drink!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Football Madness

We all love diving and we don't really need any other sport, but we thought just to try and see what all the fuss was about and had a bash at some football. Last night was the first game of the inter-diving schools league with Divewise versus Aquatica. And what a game it was!

We met at Luxol stadium, well a small stadium, ok an AstroTurf pitch by the road but it was all we needed to get into the zone. The teams met and eyed up their competition, had a quick warm up with some alternative stretching methods and got started. We played 5 aside having at least two girls in each team at any time, which I remember the word "unfortunately" come out of Alan's mouth!! I think Sarah, Dorianne and I justified our places on the team, Sarah showing us some tremendous skill as defender, midfielder and striker and not to mention the goal that hit off my behind, so not the most skilled goal but a goal none the less!!

The boys did alright too i suppose, Pau was our man of the match, looking more like Micheal Flatley but still gave Aquatica a run for the money. After the first half we were leading 3-0 with some great goals from Pau and Ben and did i mention that i scored a goal!! We had some player swapping and staff giving and Ben was now Aquatica enemy and for some reason after that tackles got rougher and rules began to become more lax...

As all the players started to flail and collapse we were all happy to see the flood lights turn off ending the game 9-3 to a victorious divewise and have a well deserved drink at the end! After the players on the floor picked themselves up and dusted down we enjoyed the cool down with some Maltese Cisk! Looking forward to our next game on sunday against the bank! Bets are encouraged!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One of the big attractions Malta has to offer is its Octopus, and no I don't mean in the stew at the local restaurants. After years of campaigning by Divewise finally the Professional Diving Schools Association (PDSA) has caught on to this and started to take action. We received an email as did all the other dive centers in Malta requesting any octopus that are found to be left alone, not touched or played with. At the moment its breeding season for this beautiful creatures and if any of them are taken out of their homes then it can effect their young and not reproduce as needed. Hopefully all divers and non-divers are concerned about our oceans and current issues like over fishing so we appreciate any action being taken by these organisation to promote regeneration of our waters.
The PDSA sent infotmation about these animals and they are said to be highly intelligent creatures, probably the most intelligent of all invertebrates. And as mentioned its their breeding season which runs from February to October and the females become very maternal, giving her own life for her unhatched young. The life of any woman changes when they have children, but octopus take it to another level, the mother's body stops growing and she will stop leaving the den to forage for food and not eat for the rest of her life. My mum made no such sacrafice for me!! haha!

The Biological Conservation Research Foundation (BICREF) has been looking into species numbers and has included them in its monitoring biodiversity scuba slate so any diver or snorkler can assist them with their research by request from us or their email Lets gets these animals nicea nd abundant as they are such a trest to see on dives and perfect models for underwater photography!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Special Specialities

P29 at Cirkewwa

Yesterday the baby instructors were honoured with a lesson from a previous Divewise instructor, a wise man by the name of Danny Barber. He taught us the ins and outs of specialties and specialty teaching. We looked into how to make every diver imaginable happy, and how to take divers who have done their open water course, maybe their advanced and are now choosing to take their skills further. If you are not familiar with what I mean when I say specialties, they are the next step after an advanced course and you pick a certain speciality or a few then do 2,3 or 4 dives developing skills and knowledge on that certain aspect of diving. Great way to develop and try new things with a certification at the end for those card collectors! We just said a tear full goodbye to Kimmo after a Mexican meal for him and he did 5 specialities as well as his open water course and advanced in his short week here!!

Here in Malta we have the biggest collection on wrecks in Europe so the wreck speciality is fairly common here and you learn how to dive safely around and wreck and as the course continues and ends with a wreck penetration dive. I know from experience of diving on these kind of dives your taking your dive to another realm. You become used to the underwater world, you go underwater, you see fish. But now your starting to see things that really aren't meant to be under the water and watch them transform into an artificial reef housing lots of aquatic life and become something completely new. Talk about recycling or what! We always go down with respect to the origin of the wreck, how it happened and like some of the wrecks here, if lives were lost on them. Next time your on a ferry or driving past a marina imagine how interesting it would be to explore any of those boats 30m underwater! We'll see you soon then...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lately we have been rushed off our feet from 8:30 in the morning and not finishing til 7 at night, spending our day with a cultural mixing pot of divers from everywhere imaginable- Russia to Rome, Serbia to Scandinavia and everywhere in between. We teach in English and most European languages you can think of, no Gaelic so far though! But apart from the theory diving almost has its own language, as soon as your under the water it doesn't matter where you are from, you do not need to talk, just a few signals with your hands and as an instructor you start to read more and more into the eyes of your diver. It's fairly easy to see when your divers are enjoying themselves, their smiles are beaming from their eyes, they will occasionally give you a big smile, but might end up having to clear the water out of their masks. I often forget the languages barriers we sometimes have after a dive and start raving to my divers how good they were or talk about what we saw and they just look blankly at me, they either can't understand the fast paced jibber I'm talking or I managed to get snot all over my face?!?

In the books for today we have a hand full and more of students coming to Malta to learn English, and now diving as well. Each instructor has got 3 or 4 young, tired, restless teenagers speaking English as their second language all keen to learn, well maybe by 10 o'clock when they wake up! Once they wake up they do not fail to impress, i was lucky enough to teach two very impressive young divers their open water course, Felix and Sarah, raised the bar for all open water students to come, and congratulations to Sarah who finished her advanced course yesterday doing her boat and wreck dives at Comino! Another trip is heading out on the rib today to check out those caves and the p31, the sister ship of the p29 at cirkewwa.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The nirtox panel has arrived, has been assembled and is working perfectly!!

We've had our lessons on how it works and what buttons not to press, apparently some of us, cough cough, are a bit of a liability! But from the blenders point of view this new set up is a dream! The other day, rather than staying blending until the late hours of the night 4 twin sets with trimix were finished in less than an hour, so the blenders, who will not be named went to the pub instead!! Much better use of time!!

This morning already we've been rushed off our feet with a trip going to beautiful Gozo with some newly qualified open waters to experience some grown up diving, no more skills on these dives! Fingers crossed they'll see some grouper and enjoy the awesome chimney taking them from 18 to 6m to the coral garden. Then off to the inland sea which gives one of the most amazing views I think Gozo and maybe even Malta has to offer. They start by descending at the start of the tunnel that takes a lot of the tourist boats, so don't be worried if you hear an engine over head, as they continue it slowly gets darker and darker until they turn and see straight into the big blue. The contrast from the dark tunnel to the light is spectacular and it glows in such a mesmerising way. One diver said they had this attraction to go towards the light and stopped for a second to remember they were diving and not dying! If anyone wants to come and see for themselves there is another Gozo trip on Friday and plenty more this summer!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dangerous Diving? ? ?

In a place like Malta where diving is so common that after surfacing the kids are unfazed as you walk by them fully kitted up like spacemen, diving is almost assumed, by being here you are a diver or have at least tried. But I've been thinking lately about a novices view on diving, after a while of jumping in and out of the water everyday it is easily forgotten the nerves and worries of that first breath underwater. My mums going to coming out for a visit later on in the summer and is convinced she wont dive as she thinks its dangerous and scary. So if you've ever done an open water course or a DSD you've learnt about pressure, about never holding your breath and yes we have to admit there are dangers to such a sport, but think there must be hundreds of divers everyday diving the Maltese waters and millions around the world and we hear of very few fatalities, less than a hundred a year. It's amazing to think really that an activity that has such a high potential for disaster in reality has so few accidents.

My brother studies martial arts, trained in combat, surely my mum should be more worried about him that about me, I guess they're both the same though, once your trained and trained well you know how to handle situations, what move to make and how to overcome any problems that may occur. I think here at Divewise we can confidently say that through combined experiences we can prepare and teach people to do just that, overcome those nerves and worries and discover a love for diving and the ocean that they never knew existed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We've been doing some well deserved patriotic support lately for Dorianne and Ben, our dutch side of divewise, they took a brief moment away for this little photo shoot, so come tomorrow when Holland play Uruguay, we want to see all orange shirts at Huggins cheering them on! Sorry Pau but you didn't have a Spanish top for the pictures! Who knows it could be Spain v Holland in the Final???
Enough of football and Wimbeldon has also finished, Spain can always rely on Nadal, we can now focus on diving again. You may of noticed yesterday there was no blog, no updates on facebook or twitter, we weren't being lazy we were given a very generous staff day, and guess what, we went diving! We had the day to only look after out buddies, rather than starburst DSDs or "you watch me" moments, we enjoyed the boat trip out there and then just went diving. I think when your working as a diver, yes you enjoy every dive, you get a buzz every time you perfect your buoyancy and if you anything like I am then you still get memorized watching your bubbles float 30m above you to the surface. But you do always have that responsibility, be it nervous first time divers or even experienced divers who are following your lead with expectations of blowing their minds, so yesterday was nice- to just go diving. A big thank you to Viv, Alan and Nev from all the divewise team!!
Sorry I think I lost my train of thought there as I was called away as Alan needed my body (sshh don't tell Viv) Since the new compressor panel is being fitted they needed the shortest person in the shop, apparently that's me, to test if i could reach it. Haha, no cylinder filling for me!! I'm sure they'll find away around it...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Diving on air is so 2009

We've been working our boys hard this week in preparation for our new compressors arrival. The back of the kit room has been transferred from a messy store room to a modern, chic, spacious area fit for its new potential. After it was cleared they went nuts with the drill and extended the wall then gave it a fresh lick of paint. I'm not sure whats with boys but when they start with the DIY it all goes to their heads. The were walking around with their drills, managing to get paint of everything but the walls with a very proud look on their face like they were well achieved manly men!! If only they hard working everyday!! haha!!

The point of all this labour is not only for the boys' egos but we are moving up in the world of compressors. We're going to have new panels installed hooked up to the oxygen bank at the back and you simply ask the bank whatever mix you want be it 36%, 25% and anything in between and it fills it for you. So no more long nights blending or sums to be done it will now be just as easy to fill nitrox cylinders as it will to fill air, so it anyone is thinking about doing their nitrox course then don't hesitate to ask, and we'll even show you how it works!!
So the panels arrived and it's in its last stages so there may be another day or two with macho boys walking around the place, don't worry soon enough Sarah will have then back under control!