This is the first edition of the First Class Diver diaries written for DIVE magazine in 2005.
I'm sitting in front of a pool in Hurghada reading 'Diving and Sub-Aquatic Medicine' and studiously making notes. Why? Have I had too much sun? Perhaps last night's procession of Sakara beers has robbed me of all reason? The truth is that I have started to prepare for my BSAC First Class Diver qualification, and I'm here to tell you all about it.
When I crossed over from PADI four years ago I read the BSAC manuals. Being a something of an obsessive personality, I looked ahead to see what qualification was at the top of the recreational diving tree and my gaze fell on First Class Diver (FCD). Now it may have been presumptuous of me to think that far ahead but I don't believe in half measures. In true Spinal Tap style I decided to crank the volume up to 11 and work towards the big one!
So why am I writing this column? Well I want to demystify the whole 'first class' thing. Bringing you over the coming months the thrills and spills, warts and all account of the training process from a simple Ramsbottom lad's perspective.
So what's happened so far? Well I registered for the course on the BSAC website and downloaded the pack. Printed it, looked at it, then felt a sudden urge to visit the little boy's room! Immediate impression? It's a lot of work; a skim over past theory papers confirmed it is indeed the heavyweight of dive courses.
Undeterred, I ordered the books I didn't have and contacted Jim Donbavand, regional coach for the North West, who put me in touch with the local FCD coordinator, Sinclair McKay. Within an hour of sending the e-mail, I had a reply with talk of putting together a study group of candidates.
I also received an e-mail from Mark Wilson - First Class Chief Examiner - who had 'good naturedly' savaged me on my Advanced Instructor preparation (waffling, me?). Mark welcomed me to the programme and set me up on a FCD Yahoo 'smartgroup', where all the FCD candidates can share experiences via e-mail.
So far, so good.
What have I learned up to date? First Class Diver is about truly understanding theory, honing & developing your personal skills, creating then working with your team of candidates and bless my little thermal socks - actually going diving!
Next month the fun begins!