“check out” this dive

I’ve been working at Maui Dreams for about a year and a half now and I’ve got to tell you, I love my job!!! How many people do you know who get to live on Maui, take people diving and then get paid for it???

I feel very fortunate to have landed at Maui Dreams in 2010. Being new to the island at the time, I really didn’t know the difference between the dive shops, and now that I’m more experienced in this area, I can really appreciate the things about our company that make it such a great place to work. For one thing, we are a small shop that can take the extra time that is sometimes needed to make it all happen. Also, since our staff is small, we are more a family than just a group of co-workers. We also do WHATEVER it takes to make our customers happy (and yes, safe too). That can sometimes mean cancelling dives and giving refunds when the conditions are “iffy” but it’s very important to us to keep our divers safe as well as to provide a fun dive experience.

I’ve done almost all of my training at MDDC and I have learned a lot these last couple of years. I’ll never forget my first “check-out dive”. Rachel and Don do things a little differently in that they require a check-out dive with Rachel (and some other volunteer instructors) in addition to the required training agency standards and tests. Rachel wants to make sure that our skills are up to par so that we can provide the level of care that people have come to expect from us over the years. Always going one step further…

Back to the drawing board!

Well, my check-out dive day finally came and conditions could not have been worse! We did our dive in the afternoon with wind chop and a 3-4 foot swell, not to mention pretty low viz. To make things worse, Rachel only had one other volunteer…Don. Talk about pressure! I was fixing to take out two divers that had a combined number of dives well into the thousands and I was going to be their guide? Well, I now realize that that’s what happens in real life, but on that day it just added to the pressure. Well, it was now or never!

I had been training for months to do this, so now all I had to do was perform. Here’s where I could bore you with all the details about how things went (from divers bolting or just not responding to having to do a tired diver tow to get one of them back to shore), but let’s just say this: I did not pass. But boy did I learn a lot! This challenge took a lot out of me and forced me to brush up on my dive skills and how to respond to a problem BEFORE it becomes an accident. Basically, it made me a better diver and in hindsight, I’m better for having suffered this “failure”. Thanks Rachel and Don!

Woo hoo!

So to be a guide at MDDC, you must pass your “check-out dive” before ever guiding anyone professionally, and clearly, I had not. After a lot of practice and asking a lot more questions, I was ready to try again. Luckily, I got Rachel and Don again. I say “lucky” for two reasons. First, I had dived with both of these divers before (so I had some experience here), and second, hopefully I would be able to redeem myself! Things went MUCH better this time around and I passed!

Next, it was time to get out there and start showing folks how beautiful diving in Maui can be. Through all of this, I realized that to become a better diver, there is only one thing you have to do…DIVE! Aloha, Jon