Day 4 and 5: Presentations, presentations. And some descent tips too!

A day of lectures today followed by our first knowledge development presentations in the afternoon. We had another excellent presentation from James Morgan about social media, a lot of the stuff we’re already doing especially following on from the business academy I did last year but there were a lot of great tips. After an amazing lunch at a beautiful location on the beach we had our first presentations.

The view at lunch

The view at lunch

Our group was set up in one of the hotel rooms which was a little cramped and also had hot water unlike many of the other rooms! There was a lot of tension in the air because for many of us, despite delivering this type of presentation on a regular basis this was the first time being evaluated for a very long time! My topic was from Divemaster about DSDs in open water. I diced with a score of one by using a boltsnap as my promoted piece of dive equipment which I had on my belt loop. I drew attention to it with the line ‘I notice some of you are interested in what’s hanging from my shorts’. Fortunately the examiner had a sense of humour and I scored a 5.

One of our fellow candidates then gave a full presentation about wreck diving in Flemish which was brilliant as you were almost able to score him just by following the structure, tone of voice and the fact that wreck is wrak in Flemish.

We had a chilled night as the next day we were heading to open water.

A lot of CDTC candidates

A lot of CDTC candidates!

This morning we met at the dive centre at 8. Imagine the faff of trying to transport 42 CD candidates on 2 boats to a dive site. There was a lot of the requisite faff before we all boarded the boats and headed out into some rather sizeable swell. After a lot of rolling around on the boat we finally got in. Our task was to evaluate the examiners as they took us through a descent and an underwater tour. For the instructors reading, they are really putting a huge amount of emphasis on supervision during try dives and open water training dives. This is because statistically most diving instances in training are actually happening during the tour portion of the dive. They are now saying that you should be swimming on your back or hovering above your students whilst leading them.

The Greengos!

The Greengos!

We had fun swimming around playing naughty students before we headed back in for a debrief. My evaluation score was out on a couple of areas because I was a little too harsh. I was reasonably confident but James clarified some areas of scoring and suddenly it just clicks. Afterwards we had a big buffet lunch on the beach. I’m really trying not to eat too much but it’s kind of impossible with such good food in massive amounts.

Man love

After the lunch we had to deliver our instructor teaching presentations. This follows the same structure as a standard prescriptive knowledge development presentation (sorry for the jargon non-instructors) but this time you actually have to present at large portion of the IDC curriculum so the presentation can go on for some time. I managed to work, Downton Abbey, Will Ferrell and the boltsnap into my presentation again and managed another 5.

Anyway, I’m just finishing my cuba libre before heading over to the bar to convince my fellow team mates to follow my marketing plan. Can’t say too much here in case of spying but if we go ahead it will be sink or swim!


Day Three: It’s the Apprentice

Another early start, but with eggs over easy and a giant pile of American style bacon as you look across the palm trees to the beach and it’s not long before life feels good! This morning we had an evaluation workshop on knowledge development presentations. It’s something I feel pretty comfortable with but a few interesting tips came out including the fact that as instructors we don’t necessarily need to do the ‘An interesting thing that once happened to me….’ Part of the presentation any more. After lunch we  came back to an excellent and inspiring marketing presentation by James Morgan. This involved an abortive skype call with a dive centre that shows that no one is immune to the vagaries of technology but it was one of those presentations when someone tells you a bunch of really obvious easy stuff that for some reason you don’t do, so it was very useful. We then were told that each group had to pitch an IDC to James and that by the end of the week one of us would be the winner. This led to a group marketing meeting in the evening which I am attempting to divert into a pretty outrageous idea. It’s just like the Apprentice again.  I’ll let you know how that one works out..

Team dinner

Team dinner

After the lecture it was back to the swimming pool for our first full teaching presentations. We had to take it in turns as instructors, students and evaluators whilst the PADI examiners looked on. We then had to compare our evaluation scores with them. As each day goes by I’m really feeling incredibly lucky to be in the group I’m in. I’ll introduce them properly later but special mention must go to Dave from Salt Lake City Utah and Sascha from Switzerland who are rapidly becoming partners in crime. Our team even has a Facebook group now so go and like us as it will help with the marketing competition!

I did pretty well on the evaluation only deviating by one small point where the candidate I was evaluating was marked down by the examiner on his choice of positive reinforcement during the de-brief. I got a 5 for my presentation so felt pretty smug about that.

alex getting evaluated

Me getting evaluated. Yes it is that warm I’m not in a wetsuit

Jen has become the official team photographer and has managed to get a number of great shots from the pool including the one below of me counselling Sascha on his skills….

Role model evaluation

Role model evaluation

Day Two: Dom Rep Wraysbury

Yesterday was a big day. We followed a similar setup to the first day with a morning in the classroom and an afternoon in the water. However this time it was our turn to start evaluating. In the morning the staff gave us 3 presentations which we had to evaluate. Just like Tommy Cooper playing the piano badly the presenters gave their presentations deliberately missing things out and obfuscating the subject. Now I think I’m pretty good at evaluation so it was slightly disheartening to practically flunk out completely on the first one. I gave a much higher score than the control one, something I put down to playing good cop to David and his ‘Gates of Lau-Kee’ on recent AIs! However as the presentations went along I eased into it and managed a perfect match on the last one.


The classroom

The classroom

After lunch we had a great presentation on counselling candidates although this also included my worst nightmare of ‘role play’. Fortunately it didn’t take long and we all piled onto a bus to be taken to confined open water. This turned out to be a beach with a breakwater upon which large waves were pounding. We swam out and an interesting skill circuit ensued that began on white sand in blue water and ended like Wraysbury on a Sunday. This very much played to my advantage though so I managed 5s across the board.


Gearing up for confined

The Greengos gear up for confined open water water

Anyway, just a quick one now as it’s back to lectures. I’ll get a fuller update this evening!

Course Director day one: The Greengos

Have you seen the first episode of the Apprentice when the 2 respective groups of cretins have to come up with a team name? Well today is the first time I’ve ever had to do that and we had 10 minutes to do it. We began the course in a conference room at 8 this morning and we were instantly put into teams. I found myself in the Green team along with an instructor who works at Phocea Mexico, we met last year called Johan which was a nice surprise. After a short welcome talk by James Morgan every person in  every team had to stand up in turn and introduce themselves. It was faintly mortifying and my weak attempt to crack a joke about only diving in a drysuit was met with blank stares however it was also amazing to see the range of people in the room. After the introductions we had to decide on our team name. Embarrassed silence ensued so I took charge by masterfully suggesting the ‘Sea Team’ to another polite silence. However after a bit of bouncing the word green around someone suggested ‘Greengos’ as in ‘Gringos’ which kind of fit in with the South American thing. For some reason I was then elected as the team spokesperson and had to announce the name to the room however James Morgan had never heard it before, he declared us original and we got 10 points!

After a buffet lunch we went through the knowledge reviews and exams (yes CDs have to do those too) and the instructors amongst you will be relieved to know that the way the top CD examiners do it is exactly the way we all do it!

Rescue workshopRescue workshop

Alan presents the rescue workshop

Fortunately it didn’t take long and we were off to the pool. We had a superb rescue workshop presentation by Alan Jan with some interesting new additions and a great moment where he really laid the smack down on single strand harnesses. After that we had to do the first of our skill circuits. Our team was evaluated by Alan and we had to demo BWRAF, Snorkel/Reg exchange, Mask Removal, Free Flow Regulator and Cesa. I managed 5s on all except BWRAF where I dropped a point for not physically checking the tank was all the way on. After that we practised our rescue demos for a bit before jumping out.

Rescue Demo

I demo rescue with the pocket mask. The perfect way to avoid mouth contact with a beardy man

Rescue Demo2

I score a 5 for being unresponsive

I’m just writing this before heading over to the drinks reception tonight. Tomorrow brings more lectures and the second confined skills workshop before teaching presentations begin properly. It’s been lots of fun, the team I’m in has a group of really great people with no big egos, and I’m Really looking forward to tomorrow!

Course Director: The prelude

It’s kind of amazing how much can happen in one day. Yesterday we got up at 6.30 to head to Gatwick, one 10 hour flight later (I watched Django Unchained, Stoker, Jack Reacher and the Look of Love- I love long haul flights) we got to Punta Cana. There followed a slightly fraught experience getting out of the airport which involved lots of people asking us where we were staying. ‘Punta Cana resort’ we replied to endless blank looks. I later worked out that this would be like landing in Heathrow and upon being asked the same question, replying ‘London’.

A short taxi ride later we were checked in and propping up the bar with a chilled cuba libre chatting away to some fellow CDTC candidates. In the end we finally made it to bed around 11ish .

Punta Cana Resort

The view from the dive centre

Today our body clocks woke us up at 6ish so we decided to get up early and have a dive. We ended up heading out with 4 other CD candidates and a kind of good natured ‘dive off’ ensued. We were diving a local reef at a dizzying depth of 9m but it was still a lot of fun checking out my compadre’s skills. About half way through the dive an instructor suddenly appeared with a huge melee of bicycle-kicking try divers, they crashed through our group before shooting off along the reef. I watched all of my fellow CDers hovering around amidst the chaos and for a moment it brought into focus just how far we’ve all come and how privileged we are to be here. It was a lovely moment but then their boat nearly ran us all over at the end of the dive and put the kibosh on any warm, fuzzy glow.


Thinking hard about non diving related training aids

The course begins tomorrow and so far we’ve managed to glean the following facts. The entire group is about 70 including all the candidates, staff, partners and translators (one lady has a 6 person entourage). There are 42 candidates in total including people from Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Japan. There apparently were 43 candidates but one of them deployed a black SMB after a dive today and was instantly lost at sea.

I can’t wait for tomorrow and I’ll update you all in the evening!

Project Apsyrtyus Chapter One

Project Apsrytus (pronounced Ap-si-t, no hang one, Up -sir, twat, no that’s not it…). PA Chapter one was completed in June 2013 by a team of DLL tec divers. and what an incredible, awe inspiring trip it was. The project is a plan to map and explore some of the less dived and unknown wrecks of the Kvarner bay region of Croatia. The trip was planed as an orientation at the tec 50 level to get a feel for the area and logistics but ended up as a perfect example of just how rewarding tec diving can be when done as  team with excellent back up from the dive centre.


We flew into Venice so as to make transporting tec gear easier. Our last experience with Ryanair was less than satisfactory given that it would probably have been easier to put a human being in the hold than it was to get a rebreather onboard. This meant a 3 hour transfer from Venice, via Slovenia and then into Croatia. However we had air conditioning and beer so everything was OK. The dive centre is located in a tiny village called Krnica which has one lovely little restaurant. Amazingly they had stayed open for us so despite arriving at close to 11 we were fed a huge amount of Kum …Pizza. The restaurant is called Kum. It sounds like…. anyway moving on.


The next morning we were up early and over to the dive centre for the usual faffage before we could start diving. Tec faffage is like recreational faffage except with more onus on looking like you know what you’re doing. Maurizio, the dive centre owner, helped us as we set up, casting dubious glances at Dimitris and his ebay death machine I mean rebreather.  Once we were sorted we headed out for our check dive on the wreck of the Lina, a wreck we were familiar with last year but now one we could get out teeth stuck into. As check dives go, the Lina is an excellent dive. It starts at 25 and then slopes away to 40 with a great penetration available between the decks. We got our skills sorted out, had a brilliant little dive and then headed back ready for the the action to begin properly the next day.

Maurizio sees Dimitris' rebreather for the first time

Maurizio sees Dimitris’ rebreather for the first time


Inside of the Lina

Inside of the Lina


After a meal at a local agriturismo of slow roast meats and pasta (amazing) we had a good nights sleep and then got picked up for the days dives. We were going to head out to a wreck called the Baron Gautsch a  huge passenger steamship that sunk in 1914 after hitting a mine. Whilst on the boat out there David continued his yearly tradition of enraging German divers by not touching their stuff. Their highly strung nature became more understandable when it transpired they were diving home made rebreathers something that would give anyone anger management issues. However once peace had been made we were on the wreck and it was time to dive. The Baron is a brilliant dive. the wreck sits completely upright and is full of amazing penetrations. We had tremendous fun navigating through the holds and swimming below the decks.

Ready for 2 tec dives

Ready for 2 tec dives

Baron Deck

Middle deck of the Baron


Penetrating the Baron Gautch

At the end of the day Dimitris entertained us all by deploying his new black SMB. This is supposedly marketed as being easier to see in certain lighting conditions where the black stands out as a contrast against the water. The picture below clearly shows this to be bollocks and we had a huge amount of fun at Dimitris’ expense. I can now say the Big Greek with the tiny black sausage in about 4 different languages thanks to Jules!

Spot the SMB

Spot the SMB


The next day the trimix dives began. We were diving a weck called the Argo, a fitting title given that Aspyrtus is a character from the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece and the Argo was the ship they sailed in. The Argo was a refrigerator ship that also sunk after hitting a mine in 1946. The wreck is in 2 separate parts at a depth of 50m and had just been cleared of all the accumulated fishing nets snagged all over the wreck by the lovely guys at Ghost Fishing. As a result the wreck was beautiful to dive and we had 2 fantastic dives on the bow and the stern. That evening we had a huge BBQ at the dive centre. It was perfect, eating food, drinking chilled beer and watching the sun set over the harbour in the warm evening.

Bow of the Argo

Bow of the Argo

bbq time


On the penultimate day we dived the Luana and the Cesare Rossarol. Both of these wrecks are quite unbelievably pristine. The Luana sank in 1947 whereas the Cesare Rossarol sank in 1918 after, you guessed it, they both hit a mine. Both wrecks lie in about 50m of water and the level of preservation is amazing. On the Cesare you can clearly see the compass, ships wheel and other instruments. Items that have usually been long since ripped off other wrecks. Dimitris deployed his black SMB again and we were unable to see him so sadly he was lost at sea.

Team deco

The team decos in formation

Giving up the search for Dimitris and heading for port

Giving up the search for Dimitris and heading for port


That evening despite the loss of Dimitris we had another great evening out at Kum pizza mainly excited about the next day and the dive on a phenomenal wreck called the vis.


The team makes the best of it after the loss of Dimitris

The Vis sank in 1946 due to bird strike when a flock of geese entered the main funnel and blew up the engine room. Or it might have been a mine, I can’t remember now. Anyway it’s a brilliant dive, like a kind of supercharged Rosalie Moller mixed with Scapa Flow but again in a remarkable state of preservation. The funnel on the top is huge and the deck is littered with bottles and other detritus from the sinking.  You are able to drop into the holds and swim through the middle of the ship. Although we were already one team member down with the missing Dimitris we were almost 2 down when Jules decided to walk head first into the side of the boat and wipe herself out. At first we thought she might be dead but we gaffer taped her up and she was soon back and ready to dive.

Jules post impact

Jules post impact

The vis

Amazing funnel on the Vis

We rounded off the trip that night with a trip to a local nautical museum and then dinner in an incredible restaurant overlooking the Istrian hills.


Chapter one was a great success. Congratulations go to Steve Barham, Jules Claro and James Creighton for trimix distinctives and tec 50 qualifications. Our next trip will be based around 60m normoxic dives so let us know ASAP if you want to join us!


The all time greatest diving movies

On a liveaboard, after the diving and after the food, there’s often time to squeeze in a film before bed. We’re  off to the Red Sea again this August in search of sharks, do join us if you can:

But what are the best films to watch? Well, because it’s never ever been done before, I thought it was about time to put together a definitive all time list of the all time greatest diving movies of all time. Of all time.

Here’s DLL’s guide to the very best:

The Abyss

The Abyss

No list would be complete without James Cameron’s 1989 underwater classic. Much has been made of the hardships endured by both cast and crew during the grueling filming schedule but what many don’t know is the story that inspired the film. Before finding Hollywood fame a young Cameron made his living directing soap opera episodes and it was whilst on the set of the popular Antipodean soap Neighbours that Cameron was inspired to create the story of the Abyss. In one particular episode Stefan Dennis, Harold Bishop, Madge, the twins, Todd Landers, Toadfish and the girl who got shot by a duck hunter are trapped inside the Lassiters compound cut off from outside communication. Over the course of the 20 min episode the very safety of Ramsey St is thrown into doubt by the discovery of a mysterious group of flaming galas. During an accident Helen Daniels is killed but is brought back to life by being repeatedly struck in the face. At the end of the episode the cast strap a nuclear device to Bouncer who then carries the weapon to the underground fortress of the galas whilst wearing a liquid filled breathing helmet. In stark contrast to the end of the Abyss, however, Harold Bishop detonates the bomb turning the whole of the Ramsey St area into a toxic, radioactive wasteland where no actor or storyline can survive and the show is picked up by Channel 5.

The Silent World

The Silent World

‘Sometime it is necessary to use dynamite.’ When exactly is that Jacques? Oh I see, when you want to have a look at the nice fishies on the reef. ‘Underwater, it is a tragedy’. Well it certainly is in this rip roaring adventure caper on the high seas! Follow crazy Cap’n Jacques and his wiry team of budgie smuggling frogmen as they lay waste to the animal life from the Caribbean to the Red Sea and back again. The Silent World harks back to a simpler time when if you wanted to blow up a whale then you could just bloody well get on with it and there’d be no EU do-gooders coming round to tell you off and stop you from selling a pound of bent bananas. I remember when I was a boy and there was no swearing and everyone knew their neighbours and there was no equality for women, foreigners or homosexuals (although they didn’t exist back then) and the local bobby would give you a clip round the ear for scrumping apples. Now it’s all women with no clothes on and women in burkhas and I’m confused over which enrages me more.

For more Top Gear Film reviews simply visit

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

 Mega Shark vs Giant Octopu

Already one of the most lauded films of the last decade and the overall prize winner at both Cannes and Sundance, Megashark Vs Giant octopus tells the story of what happens when a megashark and a giant octopus have a fight. The film is notable for a harrowing sequence where the megashark  jumps out of the water and eats a plane. Many viewers found the scene incredibly distresssing to watch but few can doubt both it’s power and relevance to the uncertain times in which we live. The lead roles of the scientist tasked to find a way to stop the megashark and the giant octopus from having a fight and the government official with slicked back hair in a pony tail are sensitively played by multi award winning Debbie Gibson from the 1980s and Lorenzo Lamas who played the interchangeably named Reno Raines in early 90s essential, after-pub viewing ‘Renegade’. Does anyone else remember Renegade? It was really brilliant. Reno had a

Dunston Checks in

Dunston Checks in

sidekick who wore one of those bootlace ties and had an amazing mullet. Plus he was called Bobby Sixkiller. It used to be shown at about 11 pm and Reno used to drive around on a big harley without wearing a helmet solving mysteries. In the credit sequence it was explained in an awkward and long winded fashion that Reno had testified against crooked cops, been framed for his wife’s murder and was now a renegade ‘prowling the badlands’. This was followed by a montage of shots including ones of a revolver’s chamber being spun and Reno pointlessly emptying a bottle of water over himself whilst stripped to the waist.

My mate Ben and I used to love watching Renegade but it did eventually jump the shark in a couple of notable episodes, one which failed to sell the idea that a man with long hair and a leather waistcoat could single-handedly end the LA gang warfare between the Crips and the Bloods and another one in which it implies that Reno meets Elvis. At that point it all started getting a bit silly and I think I was probably about to head to University and somehow as all these things happen Renegade slipped from my life.

The Big Blue

The Big Blue

The Big Blue, or the Very Big Blue as the directors cut is known, is famous not only for telling the story of a boring, uncharismatic man who mystifyingly becomes the love object of Rosanna Arquette before unceremoniously dumping her to become a dolphin man but also because despite being only about 3hrs in length it actually takes an entire day to watch.

Other films that have Blue in the title are Betty Blue which, when I was young, seemed to be the answer to every teenage boy’s prayers before savagely wrong footing you half way through when she gouges out one of her own eyes. Troi Coleur Bleu, which is another one of those french sort of films and Blue by Derek Jarman which is about AIDS not Scuba Diving

Look Who’s Talking Now!


That’s enough top scuba films please- Jen.