A colleague learned scuba diving in Honduras about two years ago and didn't make a single dive since. She heard me talk about scuba diving in the Netherlands and this made her curious. After watching some of my scuba video's she was sure about it... she wanted to try a dive here. However, I'm no dive master (yet), so what do you do if someone hasn't dived for two years and has only 11 dives in her logbook? Netherlands is definitely no Honduras! But then again I'm familiar with al the dive sites and this wouldn't be my first dive with someone less experienced.
I picked her up from the train station and with coffee in hand I drove to Zeeland and the dive center. Where it was supposed to be a beautiful day it was foggy, cold and raining. Just another typical Dutch day during Fall. Changing in to your wetsuit and setting up your dive kit in cold rain doesn't spark any real enthusiasm in anybody.
Reaching the dive site I first took her up the dike to show her the dive location. I always find that it calms people down if they can physically see where they are going to dive. I explained which route we where going to take from shore to the artificial reef balls and our way back. After this we went back to the car for our last dry moment and talked through the basic hand signals we where going to use. OK, up, down, problem, kneeling, how many bar you have, the amount of bar and ending the dive. We would also do some exercises from her OW training. Just to get familiar again with the scuba gear, the environment and the fact she has much thicker wetsuit on this time which limits here movement.
With a splash she landed in the water from her 'commando jump' and gave me the OK signal. We quickly made room for the other scuba divers who where waiting in line for their change to jump. While the water was seeping in our wetsuits we cleaned our masks and submerged above a sandy area. Kneeling down we did our exercises; emptying our masks from water, taking out our regulators and finding our regulators. After her big OK hand signal our dive really started.
The first few meters where really nice with great visibility. When reaching 7 a 8 meters of depth, the depth of the artificial reef balls, this all changed. Our visibility dropped to a mere 2 meters. There had been just to many divers before us making it one giant dust cloud around the reef balls. Nonetheless we had a great time and encountered loads of marine life. Sand crabs, North Sea crabs, lobsters, different kind of shrimp and several types of smalled fish. When looking back at here I only saw eyes filled with wonder behind the mask. Don't you just love that gaze on your buddy! Once back on the surface it was all wow's and aaah's :) My question if she was up for a second dive was met with a big smile and YES. I think Holland is one scuba diver richer!
The to do's:
- Take your time answering questions (manage expectations)
- Show your buddy the area where the dive will take place and visualize the dive to come
- Walk through the hand signals
- Walk through the exercises
- There are no scuba diving cowards, it's ok to hold hands when scuba diving
- Set up your gear together
- Do an extensive buddy check
- Let your buddy get familiar with the environment again
- Take your time scuba diving
- Explain afterwards which marine life you encountered