Well, Chris wrote a blog about the closed circuit rebreather course and I asked if I could add to it. He said “you can write your own blog about it, if you want to.” So, I decided to take him up on it. Normally I do write the blogs, but as Chris is the one that was actually taking the course, he decided to write one himself. I may not have taken the course, but I was here, (both before and after the course) and as you all may have noticed, I seem to have a lot to say.
First of all, Rich Stevenson came down to do the training for us. This is significant for a few reasons… First of all, Richie is one of the best at what he does. If you are lucky enough to sit around and hear him tell stories of some of the things that he has done, it is unbelievable. He is very modest about his accomplishments, (although he does refer to himself as “we” sometimes… 🙂 ) so I will say it for him, he is a the forefront of rebreather diving, cave diving, and exploration diving. This is the first significant reason.
The second significant reason is that Rich Stevenson is the reason that Chris and I are together and that Octopus Diving even exists in the first place.
That is a pretty strong statement, but it is true! Rich was the guy that sent Chris to the Red Sea on that fated diving trip where we met. You see, originally Samantha was going to be the Dive leader on the trip, but she (unfortunately for her, but great for us) was hit by a car on her motorcycle just days before the trip, so she couldn’t go! Don’t worry, she only broke a leg or something, it wasn’t that bad… So, Chris went instead. He had only been working there for about 3 days, and already was getting a free trip to the Red Sea.
So, really, if Rich didn’t have that diving center, if he didn’t send Chris to the Red Sea, then who knows what would we would be doing today. So, thanks Richie! From all of our divers, Chris and me! (Please take note, dad, of my proper grammar in the previous sentence 🙂 ).
It was kind of a full circle really… having the owner the of the diving center that Chris first worked, where I did my open water course, coming to Saint Martin where we now have our very own diving center. Well, it kind of made us feel a little proud, actually. “Awww”, I can hear you say.
NOW, back to the important stuff, the Rebreather Course! There is a lot of preparation that goes into these courses, that Chris won’t tell you how hard he worked to put it all together. There is lots of special equipment that needs to be gathered, and that special equipment also needs to be put together, adjusted, fixed in place etc. All of this also needs to be ordered and done in advance, here in Saint Martin you can’t just drive down to Home Depot for that specific fitting that will allow us to pump air into the special Poseidon tanks… Chris worked really hard in making sure that everything went super smooth while Richie was here, great job Chris!
I was surface support on the boat most of the days that the guys went out training, there was one day when I actually got to dive with them. I have to say, it is a weird moment when your divers descend and there are just no bubbles. Where are they? Where did they go? Normally, when we are surface support, we watch the bubbles for a bit to make sure they are all going in the same direction and that no one pops to the surface with a problem, but with no bubbles, there is nothing to watch. Strange feeling.
Rich stayed with us for the week and we had a really great time getting to know him. It is a different relationship when Rich was the boss! He is a very genuine guy, honest, and funny. He also has a way with animals and our little Roger quickly fell in love. He drinks far too much tea (but luckily with no sugar) and has this strange habit of referring to things he’s done in the past using the pronoun “we.” (I think I mentioned this earlier).
“So, Richie, how did you end up in Plymouth?” I would ask.
“Well, we bought a boat, the Loyal Watcher, and we needed to find somewhere that we could keep it. So, we brought it to Plymouth.” He replied.
“Oh, great. Who is the ‘we’?” I inquired.
“Well, err, actually it was just me. I do that sometimes.”
This, of course, was a great opportunity for me to ridicule Richie over the next couple of days asking things like “Would you and your entourage like a cup of tea?” ha ha ha Good times!
Richie is also one of the whitest British people that you could meet. It was 12 years since he last dived in a wetsuit, normally donning a dry suit. 12 YEARS, can you imagine! He was very kind though, and made sure that all the people on the boat were wearing their sunglasses when he took off his shirt and put on his 7 mm Fourth Element wetsuit on. (Personally, I dive in shorts and a rash guard, but not everyone can be as hard core as me!). We appreciated that, as otherwise we may have briefly lost our senses.
In all seriousness, it was a fantastic week, Chris is so pleased, and so am I. Chris, of course, did fantastic on the course and passed with flying colors. I am just worrying that he will soon be wanting to be doing some of the 18 hour dives (with 9 hours of decompression) that Richie does. We hope to get Richie out again soon, for the Instructor Development Course in November, Chris just has to get his hours in on the unit before then. Rich and his entourage really are gems from the UK.
Please enjoy some of the photos from the course, both topside and underwater. My favorite is the one of Rich and his entourage with sunglasses on underwater!
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