Archive for the ‘5 Star CDC’ Category

My sister was my Rescue Victim – hard course but loads of fun!!!

Posted on June 20th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on My sister was my Rescue Victim – hard course but loads of fun!!!

Jurgens Rescue Course………….

After a difficult a flight towards Phuket, I could finally start my Rescue Diver Course.  My first attempt to become a Rescue diver stopped in Indonesia because some family problems. I had to fly back before I finished my last dive. So I decided to retake the course with Scuba Cat Diving.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Having dived with Scuba Cat before, I was introduced to my   Instructor, Francois. I already knew him from last visit, we hoped to see that elusive whale shark together, oh well it wasn’t to be that time. He was happy to see us and give me a handshake and kissed my sister three times. After that, my sister filled in all the paperwork for her Advanced Course and I went upstairs to start my EFR.

We started at 10.00am (nice time!) The day was alot of fun. In the Netherlands the rules are different than here in Asia. So I learned the Asian way also. First 2  rescue breaths and after that 30 chest compressions. This was repeated many times then I  practiced with an AED. Luckily for me, I  practiced on a manikin and not with Francois!

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

After the session I had to practice finding injuries that Francois was pretending to have. While we were doing this, we had lots of fun and jokes, quite normal for us. After a couple minutes, he role played passing out and I had to put him into the recovery position. While I did this, he found out, that I did it on another way than he was used to do. He thought the way I did it was also correct, because I already checked his pulse and breathing while I did this and after I finished.

After the senario’s, I did my exam. I only got two wrong! Not bad at all.

Then onto the rescue theory. Wow I passed this with 100%! Time for some fun diving before I finished the course.

I went diving with my sister so we could practice a bit and take some pictures.

The next day after the fun dives, I went for the pool session. Kiwi was to be my instructor for the confined sessions and Nim, Divemaster was my “Victim”

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similans Liveaboard


Nim was a very good Victim, making everything realistic for me so I could master all the skills I thought the skills are easy but spectacular. Everybody in the swimming pool was watching while we did the skills. As I knew. In the swimming pool  everything seemed easy but in the ocean I knew it would be different, a bit difficult because the currents and waves.

One of the skills was bringing a diver towards the surface while he or she is out. I first did it the way I had been taught in the Netherlands. It’s a bit difference than the way wants to do this. In the Netherlands we approach from the front while do this from behind because the risk of panic. No problem, I could do it both ways.

Now the surface skills, exercise number 7,  I had to move the diver through the pool and while I did this, I had to give rescue breaths. Every 5 seconds I gave one and bring her to the side of the pool. In the meanwhile I had to remove her equipment  and mine, then take her on the (boat) poolside. I did this easily…. the problem was, could I do this on the live aboard as well with currents and waves. I Knew Kiwi wouldn’t make it easy for me!!!!

Then it was off to the Liveaboard in the Similans, to finish my Rescue course on the first day and do lots of diving with my sister, whilst she did her advanced course.

We arrived there on New years eve….

Setting up our gear for the sunset dive, Kiwi started screaming for help. I should have guessed it, after all this was all for my Rescue Course!!!  I walked towards the diving platform and saw a rope. I threw it towards Kiwi and he grabbed it. That was the first time! While was setting up the rest of my equipment, Kiwi went out snorkelling. After a minute he was screaming again. I couldn’t find something that floats, so I put on my fins, snorkel and mask. I could save him with my skills from lifeguard. He was in panic so I could swim underneath him and grab him from behind. But he was cheating! While I get down, he followed me with his eyes, very relaxed. I should have known he would make this difficult for me!.  So I had to swim back to the boat!  Kiwi stopped and said: You had to bring something that floats! Damn, he got me!!!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Similans Liveaboard


After these skills, we went diving. Priscilla took her time and Kiwi entered the water first. I followed him, because he was already going under. I gave him a signal to come back, but he didn’t respond, so I followed him at the surface, while I was waiting for my sister. I asked her to hurry up a bit (well she is my sister!) got our buddy checks done. Then entered the water, at that precise moment , Kiwi came up and simulating panic! So Priscilla and I start swimming towards him. I asked her to wait, while I approached him. I did it from behind and grabbed his tank with my legs and inflated his BCD. I asked if he could swim back to the boat. He didn’t answer, so I had to tow him. After a minute he pretended to pass out and stopped breathing. So I informed the boat and started with rescue breathes and moving him towards the boat.

While I was taking of the equipment he said that I did it very good and we stopped the skill. We went down for fun diving! Just before we went down, Priscilla had cramps. When I looked in her eyes I saw there was nothing wrong, and while I did the skill, I didn’t feel anything of cramp. I thought its going to be a long dive!

When we reached the bottom, Kiwi lost his mask. I grabbed it and put it on his face. Priscilla had the same problem….. At the same moment, Kiwi started to grab rocks, trying to grab fish etc. etc… I had to respond. It was like diving with school kids! Kiwi and Priscilla pretended to fight. While I came between, Priscilla grabbed me! I was right this was not going to be a straight forward dive!!!  Priscilla pretended to pass out. I had to bring her up to the suface, again using the skills I learnt in the pool. On the way up, I saw big waves and there was a strong current, so change of plan and went up towards the boat (not straight ahead).

When we were on the surface, I had to start rescue breathes. First thing I did, I informed the boat. The waves were big, so I had to get between my sister and the waves, to stop the water was going in her mouth. Because the current, I had to swim very hard. And it was not easy to get towards the boat. After 2 minutes I arrived at the dingy. I wanted to go in there to start the CPR, but Kiwi said, I had to go towards the boat. So I started again and tried to get help from the boat. They didn’t help and everybody was filming and laughing.

So I did it on my own and when I was in the boat, Priscilla start breathing again and stopped the skill, because she had a lot of water in her mouth. It was very hard and at a moment she even said: You supposed to save me, not drown me! When we finished the dive, Kiwi said, that I had passed all my rescue practical.  Great now the rest of the Liveaboard to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Similans!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand

"Jurgen and Priscilla"

During the Rescue course I had to work hard, I learned a lot whilst having loads of fun!

Now for my Master Scuba Diver and then who knows!!!!

Scuba Cat Diving restored my Confidence

Posted on June 7th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Scuba Cat Diving restored my Confidence

I first discovered Scuba Cat Diving, Phuket, Thailand 7 months ago when I had nearly decided to stop diving after completing an Advanced Open Water course that fell far short of standards and left me feeling uncomfortable and lacking in confidence in the water……

Today, I am nearing completion of my Dive Master Course at Scuba Cat.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

While taking my Advanced Open Water course on a Similans Liveaboard, I saw the same course being taught far more comprehensively by an Instructor (Kiwi)  from Scuba Cat.  As a newly certified Open Water diver I didn’t want to question my advanced training but through comparison and several experiences in the water that put my safety in jeopardy, it was clear that my training was incomplete and rushed.  After speaking with Kiwi  relaying some of my concerns he told me to stop by the Scuba Cat Dive shop  in Patong when I finished the liveaboard.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

When I arrived back in Patong I went to see Scuba Cat. General Manager, Sarah, was already aware of what had happened and she offered to put me on one of their boats free-of-charge to receive the training that I should have received during my course.  In short I had not met the performance requirements that would make me an Advanced Open Water diver, however I had been signed off anyway. At this point in time I had no connection with Scuba Cat and here they were prepared to reteach the course for me to ensure that I was a competent AOW diver.

The next day I went to Racha Yai to repeat the navigation, deep, and peak performance buoyancy portions of my course.  From the moment I got on the boat I felt very well taken care of.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Racha Yai Island

Tony, my Instructor went through all of my equipment set up and briefed me on what we were going to do.  It was taught in a very accessible manner and I felt prepared and ready for my dives.  Whilst in the water, we covered all of the performance requirements that an advanced diver should demonstrate.  The training was very comprehensive and I felt my confidence returning in the water.  There was no question in my mind that I was going to continue diving and that that Scuba Cat was the only choice.

Several months on  a Rescue Diver course, 5 specialities and a Master Scuba Diver later) I am now in the middle of my Dive Master training.

How far I have come from those few months ago when I was ready to give up diving because of a poor learning experience!

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

The Dive Master course is the first rung on the professional ladder.  It is challenging and exhausting but so much fun.  I am training with several other people and there is a great sense of camaraderie. We complete an extensive range of classroom training, pool training and open water training and our learning encompasses even more than what is required by standards.  We assist on multiple courses and have access to experienced instructors that are a wealth of information and incredibly supportive in our learning.  I have assisted on a few courses now and it is really a great opportunity to see and participate in different teaching practices.  All of the Scuba Cat Instructors are very vigilant about making sure that their students meet the performance requirements but their methods are varied and to have exposure to that is a good learning tool.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand

As a repeat customer and now a Dive Master trainee, I would say that the one thing that has kept me coming back to Scuba Cat is their commitment to quality and excellence.  We repeat skills and tasks over and over again and our training is not just about doing something once and then being signed off.  There are multiple opportunities to practice and hone our skills.  Of course as Dive Master trainees we make lots of mistakes but even those are turned in to valuable learning opportunities.  Our mistakes also are fodder for the instructors who love to tease us. I, for one, will never again forget to pack my wet suit for a cold and rainy day of pool training!

As trainees, we a representing the company and therefore are expected to abide by the company code of conduct.  We have responsibilities just as the staff members do and our assistance is required in order to keep things running efficiently and effectively.  During the course you learn that your scope of responsibilities lies well beyond being in the water with customers. In many ways, we are relied upon more than some of the instructors as customers feel more comfortable talking with you as you are nearer their level in terms of dive experience.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

One of the most magical parts of this course is being there for the first moment that someone takes their first breath underwater.  As we are in the ocean so much it is easy to forget the magic that surrounds you on a daily basis and it is always a reminder of how lucky I am when I get to share that experience with a new diver.

The Dive Master course is a serious commitment and I could not recommend Scuba Cat more highly.  In just a few weeks, I feel that I have learnt so much.  The staff are supportive and I feel that I am part of a team.  Every day offers something new to learn and I feel confident that when I am signed off as a Dive Master I will have been trained to the highest standards.

IE – Ivan Stanton Part 4

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on IE – Ivan Stanton Part 4


The IE starts I have Finlay on the table, the Shark Project Aware mascot, (I had kinda stolen it during the IDC), the surroundings were beautiful it was the first time I had ever done an exam with flowers on the table and a table cloth, time and effort had gone in to making this a nice place to do the exams.

Scuba Cat Diving 5 * CDC Phuket Thailand


There were some speeches and some motivational stuff then we were given our folders with our skills for the next couple of days, I don’t really get that excited about things but when I saw the skills I had to present I really could of jumped in the air and shouted YESSSSSSSSS

Knowledge Development Presentation

Confined water teaching presentation

  • Demonstrate Rescue Breathing Using Pocket Mask only

Open Water Teaching Presentation

  • Mask removal and replace
  • Knot Tying Sheet Bend
  • Rescue Demonstration Mouth to mouth

And 5 skills from the skill circuit.

First exam


Question one, I knew the answer, and didn’t need to look it up, but I did anyway just to make sure many of the answers were like this, still I reminded myself not to assume I was right and double checked. I finished handed in my paper and got told take 10 have a break then come back, so off I went had a drink (coffee) then came back.

Second Exam


I finished with a lot of time to spare, I did not go back and check my answers I find that when I do that I end up doubting my original answer and getting it wrong so last box ticked and I handed it in I waited while they marked it finally ….. Congratulations you passed I had scored high on all of them lowest mark was 85% I scored 95% on standards too.

Relief now all I had too do was prepare for the next day,

I went back to the classroom with Roy and Marc and prepared for the next day’s class room presentation, and our slates for the pool.


Confined Water

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Red team (that was us) were first in the pool, I was relieved I wanted this over with, I swore that if I screwed up on the skill circuit I was just going to grab a load of weights and not come up ever, no way was I going to go back to Big Vin and say I failed, it was going fine until I did remove equipment and replace, I missed a release and yes the examiner saw it… now with Vin that would have been a 1… shiiiiit still just keep going.

Confined Water Presentation :  Mouth to pocket mask. I did my demonstration then had the students do it, 1st mistake pocket mask upside down spotted and corrected in about 5 seconds flat, second student dunked the head, I saw it coming next thing I know I was given the cut and skill over.. Fastest cut of the day … I knew that was a pass…

Scores were 4.8, and 23/25 not perfect but high.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Back to the hotel (Kata Beach Resort) ….

Knowledge Development presentation

I went second out of our group. This was not my best subject, lots to remember and lots of places to get it horribly wrong, but Sarah and Sean had done their jobs well Point by point I hit the critical attributes , Passed second highest marks…..4.6

That was it for Saturday that left Sunday, I knew that the game wasn’t over there was still time to screw up.

Open Water

Sunday again we were first in but first time to do an awesome briefing, this is where it matters almost more than in the water, while nobody wants a bad score it can happen, but a good briefing and de-briefing can save the day, I wanted points on my side just in case, I had been prepared well during the IDC by Sarah and Sean now all I had to do was apply it , briefing went well so as I swam out to the dive site I was hopeful but still mindful that almost anything could go wrong. One of my team mates was talking about skills, I told her shh you know it don’t wind yourself up, yeah but… no shh I started singing she joined in and chilled we got to the patch of sand laughing dropped the line in and were as ready as we could be.


Rescue Scenario

All was going well then a release on my victims BCD wouldn’t release; damn I missed a breath, immediately gave two breaths, no prompting and carried on….

Score 5

 Under water

I had dived this site and knew how much space wasn’t there, I swear it’s the teeniest patch of sand you have ever seen especially with 5 of you in it and skills to do.

People took their goes then it was my turn, 1st guy fumbled with his mask, cut redo…

Remember … damn he did it again… redo oh crap this isn’t good and again, stress levels are going up, am I wasting time? Have I nailed it? I could almost see it falling apart right here… stop breath focus, briefing was good just get this guy done and move on…job done, next one mask replace upside down… stop redo… remember… he got it right second time…. Up to the surface back to the beach

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Swimming back I knew in my heart I had done enough, but I had to sit on the excitement I still had the de-brief to do. Stress levels around me got higher, I stopped listening I needed to focus on my de-brief I wanted a 5 that mask thing was bothering me.

On shore, I wrote up my debrief. De kitted and packed my gear…then it was time

I listened to the others then gave mine…. Well done Ivan you passed 4.8

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Passed - The Red Team

That night I got a text message from BIG VIN… a man of few words, he did not disappoint ….”Well done mate welcome to the club”. Praise indeed.

IE Over and I passed it was the 25th of March 2012 and I had been at this since mid way through January. Final Hurdle the IE Party at Molly Malones………….

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC  Phuket Thailand

I stayed in Phuket until May team teaching and guiding, I also took some Speciality Instructor Certification with Scuba Cat.

It’s been one hell of a journey, and many people to say thank you too.

So I’ll just say thank you to every one that has added to the experience and knowledge I have acquired, ALL the Instructors and Dive Masters at Scuba Cat.

To Big Vin, for giving me all those 1’s and for sharing his knowledge…  If you ever want to become a DM I really don’t think you could ask for a better Instructor anywhere in the world.

Little Vince, For showing me more about how to help the qualified instructors during my Divemaster training, from setting up bouylines to accounting.

Kiwi, for being a mine of information and having time to answer even the dumbest of questions.

To Sarah and Sean for giving us hell and preparing us to go through the IE with the highest scores.

To my partner Cameo, for making it possible for me to be here and keeping our world running at home.

And to my Dive Buddy, Patience that sat and helped me go through all the e-mails and number crunching at the beginning and had faith in me during my journey.

IDC – Ivan Stanton Part 3

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on IDC – Ivan Stanton Part 3

IDC Phuket Thailand March 2012

The IDC is two weeks of intense learning, it takes the skills you have and teaches you how to teach them, instills the standards that are expected of you by and prepares you for the Instructor Examination.(IE)

If Vin gave me the ability to demonstrate the pool skills then Sarah ( Course Director) and Shaun ( Master Instructor) taught me how to Teach the skills.

Confined and Open Water presentations

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

Rule 1 ….Never Ever Ever loose contact with your students… ok to dive master, ok to students have 1 student come to you, have the Dive Master hold the students that are left, damn I got turned, oh look one has quietly swam off and the others drowned (theoretically) and the dive master is on planet zorb…. 1


Here we go again with the 1’s if you hadn’t guessed by now 1 is a fail….

Back to class let’s do a presentation on ow confined 1…. Write it up present it… yep you guessed it 1.

Wait for Sarah and Sean to stop laughing, be told how to do it properly.

Do another get a 3.5  yaaaaaaay it worked (bout blooming time)

More Physics, more theory aced every thing with one exception….. physics;  now physics is actually a subject I like, It really isn’t complicated but I was failing and just couldn’t figure out why, as Sarah kept saying RTFQ, problem was I was reading the FIN question and totally not understanding it, ask me the question and I could tap my calculator and give you the answer no problem give me it written in form well I might as well of been reading Chinese, finally I cracked it 95%.

Class Room presentations

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand

These turned out to be the hardest yet simplest of things to do, hardest because you have to learn how exactly to put over the information that you need to but done to a formula laid out by , once you understand what is needed it becomes easy

Standards preparation

Standards are exactly what the word means, it is the bible of what you are and are not allowed to do under rules, two books are used in this exam, Sean goes through it lots and lots by the time he’s finished if you don’t actually know the answer to a question you will know where to find it.

AI exam

I woke up in the morning the sky was blue and I knew I was going to pass which felt kind of odd because Physics still wasn’t going right but I knew that I knew the answers to any thing that was asked and that today the questions were actually going to make sense.

Scuba Cat Diving  5 * CDC Phuket Thailand


Went to the class room sat down got the exam, and away we went box after box to be filled in, I finished Roy my class mate was still doing his, If I failed this I would not be going to the IE it was make or break time, I got up gave my paper to Sean he asked if I was sure it was done I said yep just mark it please, and then went down stairs for a coffee.

You have to understand that going to the IE for me was a journey that could end at any moment, I could of failed my Divemaster and now I could fail the AI exam, its most definitely a one step at a time journey, I finished my coffee and Sean came down, well done mate an easy pass I had scored out of the exams 2 100%’s and physics 95% I was going to the IE.


The night before the IE, I was on facebook I posted some music and a couple of comments, Big Vin posted …. “You should save your Energy for the Job in hand Ivan” the truth is that’s exactly what I was doing, trying to stop my head from making mountains out of mole hills, The IE if you let it can be a stressful time, 3 days of exams; first is the written exams on the Friday, physics, physiology, standards etc, Saturday brings pool skill circuit and your demonstration of a skill or two, Sunday is rescue and open water skills.

I was sitting on the balcony of my apartment reflecting on the journey so far and the three days that were ahead, my phone went Big Vin ….. Don’t let the others stress you out just do what you have to do good luck mate.

To say I wasn’t nervous would be a lie, but I was if not confident then hopeful, I knew that all I had to do was not be a Muppet and just do what I had been taught, as for the exams there wasn’t a question I didn’t know the answer to or couldn’t work out, I just needed to RTFQ and do it.

People get stressed about exams but this was the first exam that I wasn’t stressed about, a thought came in to my head and it stuck and everything became easy, An exam is really just a bunch of questions you already know the answer to…

Divemaster Course – Ivan Stanton Part 2

Posted on May 20th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Divemaster Course – Ivan Stanton Part 2

I arrived at Scuba Cat Diving in Phuket early January 2012.

I was ready having completed the Elearning dive theory on line. I had a few little problems with physics but that was easily sorted out so I got good scores in the on line exam.

After a couple of days trying to acclimatise it was off to meet my Instructor/mentor for the Dive Master course, It was the unenviable task of Big Vin (Vincent Callahan, Master Instructor) to get me ready to become a Dive Master.

The next few weeks were spent either on the boat assisting other instructors or in the pool doing skill circuits.

Class Room: start time 07:00 am

Dive Theory, Physics, Physiology, RDP; ERDPml, The Environment and more, Big Vin is in a word awesome.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand  Dive Master

Big Vin

Vin’s class room is Neat and tidy I don’t honestly think a speck of dust would dare soil his space, the chairs are nice and comfortable, the lectures and lessons began, much of it covering the things I had already done in the e-learning so no drama, I screwed physics up, Vin sent me home to study and study I did, re-did my physics the next day and got 95%.

The Pool

I think it was about Day 4 we hit the pool we started with the swim test, 800 metres Mask Snorkel and Fins swim, followed by 400 metres swim, followed by 15 minutes treading water.

Scuba Cat Diving  Phuket Thailand  Divemaster

Kata Big Rock

What a cluster F*** about 200 metres into the 800 my legs were burning, a nasty realization hit me, I wasn’t going to make it….. For the first time in my life I failed a swim test this was a very bad day, This failure was going to hang over me for the next couple of weeks, I drank more water, took electrolytes eventually I passed on my second attempt.

Pool Skills

24 pool skills not so difficult after all its something you start in the open water, WRONG, Vin demonstrates the pool skills ONCE and only ONCE now you might think ok so I get it wrong and he will show me again, you weren’t listening were you? He said once and that’s exactly what he meant, the first thing you need to do that’s different is take control of your DM and your students, dm watch students, students watch me… (Under water) remember deflate… skill signal… do skill…. Think yep got it Big Vin is frowning and writing on the slate scoring you and shaking his head.

Scuba Cat Diving  Phuket Thailand  Divemaster

You go through more skills.

Debrief on the mask clearing you forgot to show that the strap was not twisted and the hair was not in the mask you scored 1, on CESA your spg touched the bottom 1, and so it goes on, by the end I was scoring 4’s and 5’s but damn was it hard to please this man, there was only one thing he required…………PERFECTION.

In between pool sessions and class room sessions I was on the boat assisting other Instructors with courses, DSD‘s or Fun Dives, I racked up something like 50 dives in 4 weeks I had about 3 days off, I hurt, I ached my aches had aches and my head was spinning.

Finally Vin signed me off as a Dive Master, I was now ready for my IDC, with about a week to spare, first thing I did was take a day off, then I was back on the boat guiding………