We are more than half way through this summer’s staff training.  Yesterday morning was dedicated to van driver training.  Almost everyone on staff will be required to drive a van load of participants somewhere this summer.  Many of the staff have never driven anything as large as a one ton, 12 passenger van so our insurance carrier requires several hours of training.  After lunch the scuba staff worked on boat mate training, including how the systems on the boats work, safe boarding techniques for the participants, safe loading techniques for the dive gear, how to safety depart and return to dock, cleaning the vessel, common knots used on the vessels, etc.  After dinner the staff went to Alligator Reef to learn how we conduct night dives.

The knot tying is one of my pet-peeves.  Most of our staff are Eagle Scouts.  It is sad that many of them don’t know, or have forgotten, how to tie a bowline, clove hitch, and two half-hitches.  In medieval times (when I was a Scout) these were fundamentals.  It is also critical for them to know how to tie a cleat hitch but I can understand their lack of experience with that knot.  These four knots are critical when handling boats and can be the difference between safe operation and docking of the vessel and significant property damage or personal injury, especially when operating in dicy conditions.

The success to the night dive is preparation.  I’m always comparing this place to Disney Land and the “secrets” that go on behind the scenes is what makes the “magic” for our participants.  The night dive at the Florida Sea Base is the first night dive for most of our scuba participants.  Step one is classroom preparation where the participants are taught proper etiquette and procedures for safely and effectively using the flashlight (it’s harder than it sounds).  The divers are now challenged with carrying something in their hand while diving, not blinding the other divers with their light, and using the light for signaling each other.  They have to control the light, control their buoyancy and BC, equalize their ears, and communicate.  Four or five hands would be enough; two handed this process is a bit of a ballet.  Another issue is fear of the dark water and the “monsters” that lurk below.  So we start our night dive right at sunset so there is some ambient light and the darkness happens gradually and with less of a shock factor.  The divemaster is responsible for herding the eight cats (participants) in his/her crew through this experience and insuring their safety and comfort.  This is no easy task and very difficult for ADD challenged staff.  Attention to detail and focus for an hour is essential.  There is also the equipment preparation: batteries, bulbs, lanyards for the flashlights, tank marker lights and strobes (used as underwater markers).

Once again it was a productive day.  No overcast skies yesterday morning.  It was very sunny all day.  Summer is here!

Capt. Steve
Aboard S/V Escape

One Response to “Summer Staff Training – Day 4”

  1. Jim Aspell says:

    Steve,
    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Our Troop 146 from West Hartford, CT does the coral reef trip every two years and we always have a great time. I personally was on base in 2010 and did a week with Harman on Dutch Love. Our second crew that year did the week with Ed on Siesta and had an equaly great time (although a little more on island time than we were with Harman., lol) I enjoyed myself so much I came back here and bought an O’Day Mariner and have begun to dream of the cruising life 🙂

    We will be back in April 2012 for another week of sailing on the reefs. What a great program! I understand the reasons the program changed (fuel endurance/morality) but our only wish is that the Coral Reef program still did the Key West run.

    You should post a bicture of Escape on your blog!

    YIS

    Jim

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