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Archive for February, 2010

End of Training!

As of Sunday training is officially over!!  We were off yesterday, and today I become officially a paid staff-member.  Key word there is PAID.  Woohoo!  This week we start shadowing current instructors and next week we start teaching.  : )

A few days ago we finally had good enough weather line up with an appropriate place in the schedule for us to go out to Looe Key and snorkel on the outer reef.  I got to drive us out there — first time driving in the open ocean, and using my compass instead of landmarks!  The reef was gorgeous.  It put all of our other snorkeling trips to shame and completely re-energized me for this job.  We saw tons of fish: parrotfish of every species, tangs, jacks, snapper, grunts, damselfish, angels, and two sharks!   A nurse shark about five feet long swam directly below us between two of the reef’s fingers and I dove down to swim just above it, it was great!  Then a bit later we saw a black-tip that was a bit larger but it was too far away to get a good look (or a swim).

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Happy Valentine’s!

(I wrote this on Valentine’s Day, but only now got some internet.)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Over the last couple days we got our schedule for next week (the last week of training) and the rest of the month. It’s so exciting to see something other than “TR” (training) on our schedules! Next week we enter the rotation for “hospitality services” with the rest of the staff and begin observing instructors with their teaching groups. The following week we start team-teaching!

It’s been cold and windy over the last couple days so we’ve been staying out of the water for the most part (thank goodness). Sometime next week I have to finish my Skin Diving Leader skills, which I’m not looking forward to.

Today’s picture: Nicole and I about to get in the harbor to scrub some boat bottoms on Friday’s “maintenance day.” Every two weeks or so, we have maintenance days where the teaching staff (including interns) are assigned to work-crews around property. Duties cover anything from bleaching water coolers, to deep cleaning the staff lounge, to building a new boat ramp, to everyone’s favorite (and the only constant): scraping boat bottoms. To be honest, it’s not that bad as long as they’re done every few weeks, and would be a lot better if the water was warm. Here’s how it works: you suit up (for protection from cold AND from the stuff you’ll be scraping), then hop in the harbor with mask, fins, snorkel, scraper and brush. You work your way around and under each hull of each boat scraping, then scrubbing, scraping, scrubbing, scraping, scrubbing… you get the picture. Periodically of course you duck under your pontoon to pop up and scare the person next-door! We also thought to bring out the boom-box from the staff lounge and set it on the dock with us so we had a bit of a dance party under the boats which was a slight waste of time I’m sure, but so much fun. Between the four of us we got four flattops done during our shift so we were pretty happy with our progress. When we got out we were exhausted from scrubbing, breath-holding, and trying to maintain body temperature in the cold water. How to warm up? Hot shower, clean clothes, followed by a date with the laundromat, then out to dinner at No Name Pub for pizza and beer!

It’s supposed to warm up tomorrow, so as long as I can survive today’s bitter single people and mushy couples I’ll be happy! (We’re off Tuesday this week instead of Monday for some reason.) Personally I think Valentine’s Day should be to celebrate all of the love in your life, not just your significant other. So happy Valentine’s Day to my family and friends, miss you! Love from the Keys!

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Sorry for not posting in a while, but things were rather stressful and insanely busy last week.  I guess mid-training is always bound to be that way…  I can’t wait for training to end so I can finally work with the school groups on a regular basis.

So last week wasn’t so great, but this weekend was a blast!  Sunday a bunch of us went to one of the bars on the island to watch the Super Bowl.  We had a great time, even though I lost a bet.  Since I’m not a fan of either the Colts or Saints, I arbitrarily bet a Saints fan, and now I have to wash his car.  Woops.  But it was good to get out and participate in the real world and meet some new people.

Then on Monday, our only day off, we went out to breakfast at a local diner, then to the beach.  Reading on the beach has never been so relaxing!  After the beach we went out to Mexican for dinner, then saw Avatar at the local single-screen theater.  I can’t believe it took me that long to see it, but it was so good!!

Today we had our “Joey Drill,” which is our procedure for a missing swimmer in the canal.  It is, in a word, terrifying.  Basically this is for cases that will never ever happen unless everything goes wrong, but even those times need to be practiced for I suppose.  For purposes of the drill, the management station us around camp to wait for the alarm.  The alarm is sounded (an air horn) and we sprint from wherever we are to the swim canal, while stripping off clothes and shoes, to get in line with a bathing suit and dive mask only.  The person in charge (PIC) at the canal organizes us into five-man search lines, directs us to an area of the canal, and in we go.  Each line has a leader, and on leader’s command we jump in, check behind and beneath us, yell “clear,” regain our line and spacing, and dive on command.  We dive to the floor of the canal, swim three strokes at the bottom, surface.  We then back up to the furthest person, then three more feet, then regain spacing, and dive again.  We repeat until Joey (the sunken mannequin) is found.  When he is found, all searchers exit the canal while the rescuers bring him to the dock and get him started on oxygen and CPR as needed.  Keep in mind the canal is about 10-14 feet deep depending on the tides and the visibility is rarely more than two feet.  (One time when we practiced saving Joey, I had my hand on his clothes and couldn’t see him at the end of my own arm.)

Today’s times:
Alarm to Joey found: 2 minutes
Alarm to oxygen being administered on the dock: 3 minutes

It’s a nerve-wracking drill, but for good reason.  After it’s all over, it’s actually rather empowering to be part of such a well-practiced team.  In reality, it’s never happened, and never will so long as we all do our jobs.  : )

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