diving in the cold
Sydney Travel Blog› entry 8 of 12 › view all entries
I flew into Sydney, and made my way over to Manley to get a hostel room and check about work. Unfortunately, the skate shop didn't need staff, but my old boss recommended a diveshop in Fairlight, not too far away.
With the PADI organization, as an instructor, you need to register with whichever office you are living closest to, in order to be able to certify students. Because of the country's strict immigration laws, PADI Australia won't allow you to register unless you show a work visa. So I wasn't overly optimistic about being hired on, as I wouldn't be able to certify anyone.
The diveshop needed an instructor, so they worked around things with me. I did all the classroom and poolwork, as well as the first few dives, and then another instructor would take my students for their certifying dives. Everyone was happy (the other instructor got credited with all the certifications, the shop had their instructor, and I had a job!). There was even a place for me to stay! There was an apartment above the diveshop with an empty room, I shared it with another instructor, and a guy that helped out at the shop on weekends.
Working there really sharpened my instructor skills. We taught the open water course in 3 days instead of the typical 4, which meant everything had to be very organized and well-timed. We'd have pretty large groups, and the water was murky and cold, so you had to have really good student control. Teaching large groups (usually 6-8 to a class, sometimes double that, so we'd split it up in the pool and dives, so we would surpass the maximums) was really fun, there was such comraderie. We'd usually have a pizza party when the course was done. Part of the course was a 3 min tread water, and I'd have my students singing to me, or make them have shouting matches 'Mel's the best instructor in the world!' (the loudest ones got to get out of the water first).
I started dating a guy that was friends with one of my co-workers. On my birthday, he snorkelled out to where I was underwater with a class, and swam down to give me a birthday kiss (that rates on my list of one of my most romantic moments).
Occasionally a group of us would go see the movies that they'd show outdoors in the park at dusk by Sydney Harbour. Lots of beach days, and some days we'd go off to do some fun dives. My friend Ali (an American that was doing a year in university there, and instructing part-time) and I organized an underwater Olympics. That was so fun! We went off of Shelly Beach, a group of 7 of us (all experienced divers, except one recently certified student that acted as referee). We had underwater wheelbarrow races, leapfrog, chocolate bar eating- ever tried to eat a Snickers underwater? Disgusting! It was so funny! Then we came up to the beach for boat races, running with fins on, and chugging a beer through a snorkel.