My friend Alex and I have been working toward this next stage in our diving career for a while now. We’ve been members of Scottish Sub Aqua Club for long enough and have completed a number of the assessments. In June we spent a Sunday at SSAC headquarters in Edinburgh attending the Branch Instructor course.
Since June we have been (under supervision of our Branch Instructor and Regional Coach) training a couple of the newest members of our club.
I was already a diver when I joined the Dumfries Sub Aqua club. I was a PADI Advanced Open Water diver and started in on the crossover program with the view to becoming a Sport Diver within the SSAC system. I hope I wasn’t too terrible back then. Even though I had completed about 70 dives, most of them were on holiday in warm places. On those holiday dives the water was always warm, the visibility was often over 10 meters, somebody helped me on and off with my fins and handed out cut up oranges after a dive is over.
I had started to dive in the UK, completing a PADI dry suit course at Capernwray in February one year. I almost stopped there. The dry suit course was in the winter and on the day of the open water assessment it was snowing. The water temperature in Lancashire was at about 5 C and I struggled with the cold temperatures. I did soldier on and complete the course but had almost decided that diving in the UK was not going to be for the likes of me.
One autumn, my family and I have just returned from a late season break to Menorca when something in the kitchen breaks. We have this rotten luck in our home with major appliances breaking on the day after we return from a holiday. The charming man who came out to fix the washing machine (but it could have been the refrigerator or oven – it’s so long ago I can’t really remember which appliance it was) was Alex.
Alex had seen the diving equipment drying and asked about it. I said that we had just returned from Menorca and had really loved our family dives. George at 12 had just become a diver and we all really love diving. He said that he was a member of a Dumfries diving club. He told us when they met and I should come along for a chat. I knew one other person who belonged to the Dumfries club and I thought that I would go along one Wednesday night.
It turned out that the Scottish Sub Aqua Club will not admit children under the age of 14 as divers. Although George was qualified under PADI, he couldn't be a diver with SSAC for two more years. I waited with him. I didn't join until we could all join as a family.
That was four years ago. George is away at Napier University studying Marine and Freshwater Biology and yesterday Alex and I finished all the requirements and assessments for Branch Instructor. All the paperwork has to be stamped again and approved before we get the official qualifications, but the hard part is now over! Yipee!