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Return To Australia Accounts of my working holiday

Back in Cairns!!!

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 19 October 2015 | Views [210]


So, I know I said that I would catch back up on this upon my return to Oz, but I've been quite busy with my traineeship and just now have had the time to finally sit down and recap a bit of the last few weeks.

First things first, I am back in Cairns!!! Hooray!! I spent the first week or so catching up with some friends from before who were still in town. Many of them were on their way out, so the timing was perfect. I managed to find a house to stay in for a bit and started getting the rest of my stuff sorted. I went to the dive shop almost straight away to organize my traineeship start as well as time to do my rescue diver course. I had about a week to hang out before courses started. A few days of it were nice, but after too long, I just wanted to get back into diving and work.

The rescue course was great!! It was probably the hardest course I have ever done. It was also the best. I feel heaps more confident in the water and feel like I could really contribute in an emergency situation. It was exhausting though. We were told that the first day would be a bit easier, getting acquainted with the boat and doing a few drills, then the next day was supposed to be the hardest with the last day giving us a great feeling of accomplishment.
It was a bit different for me. The first day was by far the most physically difficult for me. We started with getting a boat induction, explaining all emergency procedures, knowing where all the emergency equipment is and so on. After that, we had to grab our fins, mask and snorkel and do drills gearing up as fast as we could and jumping off the bow, swimming to the back deck and repeating over and over until we could successfully gear up in under 10 seconds. After that, the drills started.

They let everyone on the boat know that a rescue course was going on, so that no one would be alarmed. We also don't yell "help" for our emergencies, we yell "pizza! pizza!" When we heard this, we had to grab out gear, a floatation device (usually a ring or BCD) and book our asses to the bow where we had to assess the situation and take charge. The first few times, I jumped in as lead rescuer. This is where I got drained. The other trainees got to play victims for us. The first victim we rescued, our friend Roy, did an amazing job panicking. He was apparently told to do whatever he wanted and that's what he did. Even once we got him in a safe position and talked to him to calm him down, he wouldn't calm down. He kept struggling the whole time. There was one drill where he was off the port side about mid boat and because of the current he drifted quite far from the boat. Next he went unconscious in the drill, so after doing rescue breaths and drifting even further away, our instructor yelled at us to just get in as fast as possible. There was a lot of yelling, but it helped to put us in the right direction.

The second day, people went a bit easier on us. They would stop panicking when we talked to them and calmed them down and climbed back into the boat on their own. That's not to say it was super easy. Often times two would be in the water pretending to be siblings and as soon as one would be back on the boat s/he would jump back in after the other one. We did a couple of back to back drills as well. We did a few underwater panicking drills and then I was made to be unconscious while the other girls brought me back to the boat. I wasn't yet on board, and they informed us that our instructor was missing. Shit. I couldn't do anything yet as I wasn't safely on the boat. Once they revived me. I took off as a snorkel team. We found him hanging onto the front mooring line. Me and the other trainee dove down a few times to calm him, and he told us not to do that afterwards, otherwise he would have pulled off out masks. He eventually came up, continued panicking and I settled him down before our divers made it over. We had recaps after every drill talking about what we did well and what needs improvement. I expected it to be a little bit harder, but I think he was going a bit easier on us. Honestly, the hardest bit was waiting for something to happen. The second morning I almost threw up after breakfast because I was so worried and kept getting inside my head.

In the end, we all passed and passed out on the ride back home. One of the other girls and I tried to help find a missing drone right before we had to head back, but we were unsuccessful. I felt bad and we drifted quite a bit, but the other team didn't find it either. The worst bit was probably the fact that we had reverse profiled really badly all day. Whoops. After that dive I wasn't feeling too great. I started to get some sort of cold, sinus infection thing with a sore throat that was dampening my mood a bit. I spent the next two days before my first working shift sleeping and taking Benadryl and anything else I could find to try and make my sickness disappear. I was still sick for about a week and a half, but it was fine.

I spent my first shift working at our dive shop on Fitzroy Island. Here, we basically issue fins and masks and snorkels to guests, gear up any divers that go in the water, bring kayaks and paddle boards down to the beach and fill up scuba tanks. It's a pretty chill way to get eased into everything. I only spent one four day shifts here, then they bumped me to the day boat for three shifts. The day boat, Reefkist, is probably our hardest boat to work. It's very fast paced and you don't have much time to rest of even eat lunch. I had the great pleasure of having my first shift on the boat when we had really windy weather, about 25 knot winds. This meant I was on puke duty on the back deck. The first day I even threw up a little, and I normally don't get sea sick. Luckily for me though, I can just use the sick bag, toss it and I'm good to go helping others. I don't feel like crap after.

A typical day on the boat starts with us gearing up all our tanks we will need for the day and checking the cylinders. We prep the galley with tea, coffee, biscuits and water for the guests. We get wet suits, masks, snorkels and fins set up and start a head count as we board. We collect paperwork from the snorkelers, intro divers and certified divers then leave port. We make a stop at Fitzroy Island to drop off any crew and passengers and pick up any passengers coming out with us. After that, it's an hour out to meet our liveaboard boat, Kangaroo Explorer.

Once we're moored up to KE, we transfer our passengers over that our staying the night, bring over any stores, get some more tanks and get our lunch. Then we head to the first dive site. Once here, we each have our own responsibilities. Someone does a snorkel briefing and will be guiding in the water for the first session, another person is on lookout and another usually helps on on deck and with lunch set up. If we have a lot of us on, we often get the chance to go diving. The first session lasts about 2 hours. After this, we have lunch and head to the second dive site where we basically do it all again. The lookout and snorkel guide swap positions though. Often times we moor back up to KE and dive/snorkel at their site. This helps because at the end of the session, we give back their dishes and they give us their dirty laundry, extra tanks we'll need and their passengers. Then it's back home. We clean up gear, do stock take and check over our gear on the way back. We stop at Fitzroy Island again and then go home. Once back in port, we clean the boat. Often times we end up work 12 hour days. Longer if we have to refuel, because we have to be at the boat at 5:40.

It can get really crazy if we have a lot of intro divers and certs with changing gear and what not, but it's nothing that a beer after work with the gang can't solve. We've met some really cool people on the boat as well. The other day we had the production manager and merch coordinator from Fleetwood Mac on the boat as well as Mick Fleetwood's guitar tech. They were super cool guys and I ended up chatting with them most of the way back to Fitzroy where we picked them up.
Often times we all hangout after work for a beer and to chill out. It's a lot of fun and you get a good friend base just with the other trainees. It's great meeting people from all over the world. It sounds like a lot of us will be trying to find work around Thailand or Indonesia or the Philippines when we're done. We might end up having mini little reunions with each other as we travel, it will be great fun. Hopefully after getting a little experience as a divemaster in Southeast Asia and after working our summer season at home, I can go on to get my instructor license and spent 9 months out of the year traveling and teaching diving. That's the pseudo plan for now. So, until next time chickens, have a good day and peace on the reef!!


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