So the blog is suffering a little at the moment but with 11 hours of work a day five days a week I’m having trouble finding the time to write about all the things going on! Today is my second day off and I have no plans besides walking to East End to buy some washing powder so it should give me some time to work on the blog (and maybe also a little bit on my master report but we’ll see about that..)!
So the days all start with a meeting at 7.15am and then we usually finish around 6pm. Every week we each have two days off – these days can either be consecutive or spread out. We get a new schedule every sunday for the following week which tells us what we’re doing each day and when our days off will be.
At the moment there are 15 members of the staff, two interns (one is me, surprise!) and a divemaster trainee (that I have yet to meet since he just arrived today).
So before I start telling you about all the different work I’m doing I’ll just introduce Sail Caribbean Divers where I’m an intern. The base is in Hodges Creek Marina but then we also have smaller shops in “Mariner Inn and Marina” in Road Town (MiM), on Cooper Island and on Norman Island.
A lot of people come to the Caribbean to charter a boat for a week and then sail around. In MiM where a lot of these boats are chartered from we therefore mostly do rentals of both diving equipment and fishing gear for people who’d like to either dive or game fish on their holiday. On Cooper and Norman Island we also do a bit of rental or swap their empty tanks to filled ones. Then we’ve also got people coming in to book dives and if they want to we can pick them up for their dives there as well. At the base we do both rentals, lots of bookings and a fair amount of retail plus we run the compressor to fill all the empty tanks. So everyday we have a member of the staff in each of the smaller shops and at least one at the base.
We have four different boats (Atlantis, Explorer, Discovery and Endeavour) ranging from 26 to 46 foot. The boats go out according to whatever is needed. So sometimes we only have a few certified divers diving and then we’ll take one of the smaller boats and at other times we’ll have several boats going out. So we’re generally quite flexible. We usually (well it obviously depends on whether we have any bookings or not) do two dives in the morning leaving at 7.45am from the base and one afternoon dive which leaves around 1.30pm from the base.
I have yet to be introduced to the routines at both MiM, Cooper and Norman. So I’ve spent most of my time on the boats so far and some of my time at the base. The first few days went almost solely with introductions to everything – at times I was worried my head would explode with all the information I was given. Luckily some of it (the information that is) stayed but I feel pretty sure that a fair amount just went in thorugh one ear and out through the other. At the base there is always a lot of different tasks to do. For instance yesterday afternoon I folded t-shirts that we had just received for the shop, I prepared newly arrived BCD’s so they were ready to be used, I helped out preparing for an EFR course that is being taught today and I labeled some of our rental kayaks (oh yeah we also rent out kayaks and stand up paddle boards by the way).
Now let’s move on to talk about being on the boat. This has also required quite a lot of introduction but I’m now capable of moving the fenders around according to what’s needed (I think my parents will be proud that I can now finally do a fender knot!), I can help with the lines when we’re both docking and mooring at a divesite and I know the few preparations we do when we arrive at a divesite before we can start diving! What is also a big part of being on the boat is preparing the equipment for the divers. There is a big difference between diving in the Caribbean and SE Asia with the diving here being a lot more luxurious! Basically the only thing the customers have to do themselves is breathing while underwater – everything else is being taken care of for them. So we set up the equipment for them, prepare their weight belts, spray defog in their masks, turn on their air, help them get to the back of the boat and so on. This is not meant as a complaint it is just to give an idea of the level of customer care we do!
Whenever we dive there is always one person (the surface support) who’s back on the boat the whole time and yesterday morning that was me. Being the surface support includes logging everybody’s tank number, how much air they have before and after the dive, the time they get in the water and the time they get out of the water. And then helping everybody safely in and out of the water.
When we get back to the base after the dives we have to rinse all the equipment (this can often be done on the way back), get it back on the hangers where it belongs, run back and forth to the compressor shed with the tanks (we have carts that can take six tanks at once) and then scrub and rinse the boat so it’s ready for the next day.
Quite often there are cruise ships arriving at Tortola and sometimes some of the guests will have booked a dive trip. I’ve had two cruise ship days so far so let me just walk you through them. Hopefully the cruise ship will have emailed us the equipment sizes for our divers but if not we’ll just have to make qualified guesses. Then we set up the equipment and head over to the tender where we’ll pick up our group of divers. We’ll do two dives with them and then head back to the tender. If we run according to our time schedule we’ll then have about half an hour to stow the equipment away, prepare for the arrival of a group of snorkelers and quickly eat our lunch. When the snorkelers arrive we then take them out for a nice afternoon of snorkeling at two different spots and then we’ll head back to the tender to drop them off. On our way back to the base we’ll do as much of the scrubbing and rinsing of the boat as possible. And Dad, if you think scrubbing and rinsing Athene is hard work then try doing it while the boat is moving! It can be difficult to just stand up when the boats are moving here because of the waves so trying to clean the boat at the same time is a tough job! But it means that we’ll have less to do when we get back to the base.
I hope this helped understand better what it is that I’m doing at the moment (but I’m a little worried it might have confused you more..). Feel free to ask any questions if it’s all too unclear!