Mention an upcoming snorkel test to any seasoned diver and they will smile, giggle and probably shake their head. Odds are they’ll have a story or two, or maybe some words of wisdom or warning.
Mention a snorkel test to anyone else in the world (read: normal people) and they’ll cock their head to the side and speculate what could possibly be meant by this. Why would anyone need to test a snorkel? Or perhaps it is a test of one’s snorkelling abilities? And what does that have to do with diving, anyway?
Well, let me tell you.
The last hurdle before PADI professionalism
As a dive master trainee (DMT) I have had a number of skills and tasks to complete over the last few weeks. I’ve had to map a dive site, do a number of timed swims, perform an underwater stress test, give boat briefings, lead dives, respond to simulated emergency situations (and a real panicked diver, in an unplanned skill test), learn to tie knots, check for current direction and strength, assist on dive courses and a number of other bits and bobs.
So tonight is the final day, or night, of my training. And before we can begin the final celebrations my mentor and colleagues at the dive shop will put me through the wringer one final time: my snorkel test.
This is basically dive-hazing: we get all our friends around to the shop, and before the celebratory BBQ and beer they will dress me up (I have no idea what they have in store – but I know they’ve been prepping for weeks already) and I will don a mask and snorkel… and they will pour anything and everything they can think of into the snorkel while I clear it. By inhaling.
The basis of this is usually hard alcohol – I suspect there is a bottle of Thai whiskey and a bit of the local fire water, arak, that will be incorporated, but beyond that who knows. I’m optimistically (unrealistically) hoping it’ll turn out like a Long Island Iced Tea, but more realistically suspect the concoction might be more like what is sloshing around on the floor of the bar at the end of a Friday night. If I’m lucky they won’t toss in raw eggs, pickle juice or Tabasco (as I have seen for other DMTs). I also hope they skip anything carbonated, as beer and soda are less than pleasant to chug. Besides, I think my beer-bong days are well behind me.
But who knows. They have promised I’ll get home safe and sound, and that I probably won’t remember the second half of the night. And if I am alive-enough tomorrow I’ll go down to the sports bar, eat eggs and bacon all morning and watch game #2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs while hiding behind my sunglasses and moaning while my coworkers piece together the evening for me.
And what about the last six weeks?
I do have some high hopes of doing a series of posts on the whole dive master training adventure, but it turns out it has been really time consuming and tiring! I have a few segments written up and hopefully will get them up in the next few weeks.
I’m in Indonesia until my visa expires on the 16th of June, then I might (??) go back to Malaysian Borneo for a stint before hopping up to Hong Kong then home to see my family for a couple weeks. Then it’s back to Asia to start on my next half year here.
OK, DMT done, now what?
So once I “pass” my snorkel test I’m fully initiated into the PADI professional dive world. Or…. almost. There is one more right of passage: the 100th dive – aka The Naked Dive. I’m on dive #93, so this one should also happen by the end of the week. Stay tuned. But don’t get too excited (or worried..), there aren’t going to be any photos.
For the moment here is one photo of us all fully wetsuited on a dive at Manta Point last week! My instructor Chloe has the blonde poof, Moyo is in the bandana promoting peace and I’m on the right.