What does a SCUBA instructor do underwater when he’s not instructing?

Go for SCUBA, of course!

We recently conducted a 10-day PADI IDC (Instructor Development Course) in Palawan. The PADI IDC consists of (a lot of) classroom and (a bit of) in-water sessions. – Instructor candidates are PADI Divemasters or dive professionals from different training associations that want to become PADI Instructors. After the course, they will have to take a 2-day instructor exam conducted by PADI in different locations around the world.

Since I’m officially the “wet” instructor for most, if not all of the IDCs that we handle (because father is a PADI CD; Course Director; “Constantly Dry), my talents weren’t needed until the afternoons in the course schedule.

Of course, I got bored and played hooky for one of those morning sessions.

I did a couple of dives with Dive Puerto Princesa. Their air quality was fantastic (more on air quality in a different post) and the rental BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) that I rented worked properly.

The group consisted of a guide, three Taiwanese guests and myself. (Really nice people. I got to utilize my Chinese speaking skills a bit. Good thing they knew how to speak English!)

So we loaded the mini truck, went off to the speed boat, 10 minutes later, we were at the site.

The guide did the briefing (YES, I LISTENED!), we went in, I got to the bottom first as there was a bit of a current and I didn’t want to fight it to have either one of my legs cramp up early in the dive. 5 minutes in, I was still waiting for everyone to get to the bottom. I looked to my side, one of the guests (a PADI Rescue diver taking his PADI Divemaster course in Taiwan) got down then I looked up. Guess what? One of the divers couldn’t get down whilst the boyfriend (?) hovered around, fought the current a bit, waiting for her to start moving down. She was still holding on to the line, the guide tried adding a piece of weight in her BCD to help her get down which worked – since she already had too much weight at this point, but the main problem was her ear couldn’t equalize.

At this point, I started muttering to myself, “I’m not working, I’m not working, I’m not working”.

I swam up to them, signaled the guide to stay with the two other guests and that I would take her down. Now I was mumbling “Okay, now I’m working.” even after I reminded myself that I wasn’t. Being the instructor that I am, I told her to buddy up with me, follow my breathing, yada yada yada, after a minute, we were down. 8 meters became 12, she became comfortable with her movements, I took out the extra pieces of weight from her pockets, put them in mine, a few minutes later I showed her a frog fish (yay! I saw a froggy!) and finished the dive as her dive buddy.

This is a frog fish. It's so ugly, it's cute! Taken at Devil's Point, Maricaban, Batangas

This is a frog fish. It’s so ugly, it’s cute! Taken at Devil’s Point, Maricaban, Batangas (more on froggies HERE)

Post dive, I was chatting with the group and found out that their last dive was at least 4 months prior and that she never did a back roll entry (You’re required to learn at least one entry. Apparently, this wasn’t the one that she learned) during her PADI Open Water course….. FOUR MONTHS prior to the trip and that’s why she started having a panic attack in the beginning of the dive.

The briefing for the second dive came, so as to not ruin the dive for everyone, I told the guide that I’ll take charge of her underwater so that he could do his job and that it’s not a big deal. (Note that I paid for my dives and I offered my expertise so that everyone can enjoy the dives.) We went down, she started Kung Fu gripping my forearm for a couple of minutes. Once she was comfortable, poof! I didn’t have a dive buddy. I felt so used.

While the four of them were all together (They were swimming faster than my normal pace so I was at least 10 meters away from everybody), I was scolding myself for “working” on dives that I paid for. Then I realized, how I am underwater is a reflection of my training and experience as a dive professional.

So as a scuba instructor, if I’m not instructing, I’m “divemastering” whether I like it or not.


Ivan is currently a PADI Master Instructor. He became a PADI Divemaster in 2005 and earned his instructor rating in 2008.

Ivan is currently a PADI Master Instructor.
He became a PADI Divemaster in 2005 and earned his instructor rating in 2008.


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