The Check Out Dive (AKA Hell Dive)
In order to finish up your Divemaster certification, you must do a check out dive or what is commonly referred to here at MDDC as the HELL DIVE! Since I suffered greatly, I don’t want to give too much away for up and coming victims… oops uh I mean divemaster candidates!!! So I’m going to keep the details to a minimum ;)
This dive consists of at least 4 pretend customers (usually MDDC staff) that you have to take on a guided dive from start to finish. The point of the whole dive is to pretty much test how you deal with problems in a stressful situation.
And let me tell you, it is stressful.
It starts the moment the "customers" walk in the door. You will experience everything from difficult names (Gibben U. Gas seems to be a favorite around here), filling out paperwork incorrectly, putting on gear wrong, divers “accidentally” forgetting gear before entering the water, buoyancy issues, wandering divers and the oh-so-fun out of air exercise!
It is true what instructors/divemasters will tell you – every problem the divemaster candidate will face is self-inflicted. So, reviewing the paperwork, making sure all the gear is there, doing a thorough briefing (but not excessive!) is critical to success! Of course, even if you do a good job in all those areas, you are not going to get away unscathed!
After I finished my hell dive, my instructor Jay told me that 90% of what I experienced that day WILL happen to me in my career and he was sooooo right. Even though I’ve only been a divemaster for 9 months, I’ve experienced almost all of it. I always know I forgot something in my briefing when I see my divers doing something “off”. For example, I sounded my “quacker” underwater once and all the divers looked around confused (I forgot to brief my sounding device)… they had no idea what that noise was or what it meant. Another favorite is forgetting to stress the “OK” sign instead of a “thumbs up” (indicating the need to surface!). Depending on the situation, I understand the diver was just excited about what they saw underwater, but there is that wave of a stress that goes through my body when I see this happen… what if it’s not an accidental signal?! I could go on and on but I think you get the point!
I love my job – every day is a new and exciting experience!