Zero to Hero
Man must believe in realities outside his own smallness, outside the ‘triviality of everydayness’, if he is to do anything worthwhile.
- Colin Wilson
You have always thought about it… I did. My name is Will Nel and I am joint owner of, and instructor at, Roctopus Dive.
I had the corporate job in London, earning good money but one day as I was sitting in a black cab on my way to a meeting with Gucci, all suited and booted, I said to myself, do I want to do this for the rest of my life? I was 33.
I decided there and then I was to sell up and do a Zero to Hero package and become a dive instructor.
A Zero to Hero package is for someone that might have some experience or none, starting from Open Water Diver, doing all courses in between to become a Divemaster or Instructor and work in the Dive Industry.
6 years on and many dives later, I still love this lifestyle and have no regrets. The sun shines 11 months a year, the food is fantastic and I absolutely don’t own a pair of shoes or suit!
Have a look at our packages, there will be one that suits you!
Step One: Open Water Diver
This course is broken up into four days. There are 2 Theory sessions, one shallow confined session to build confidence and 4 open water dives. You will be certified to a maximum of 18 metres once all requirements are met.
We start with some scuba diving theory. You’ll learn how a set of scuba diving equipment works, how water pressure affects our body as we descend down into the ocean, plus gain an understanding of the potential problems faced by divers and how to avoid them.
You’ll also discover how to plan your dives, to remain within safe time & depth limits. You’ll complete some simple quizzes to verify your understanding.
Training continues with a shallow water (confined) skills session, familiarising you with scuba equipment in a controlled environment. You practice many skills such as mask and regulator clearing, learning how to control your buoyancy using breath control, plus mastering many other important skills.
We then do 2 Open Water dives to a maximum of 12m, then another 2 the next day to a maximum of 18m. You’ll get to enjoy the coral reefs around Koh Tao, checking out the island’s amazing marine life; reef fish, moray eels, stingrays, turtles and even reef sharks – Koh Tao has it all. A videographer will accompany the last two dives of your course – in the evening we’ll enjoy watching the footage along with some cold beers.
Step Two: Advanced Adventurer
The Advanced Adventurer takes 2 or 3 days and certifies you to 30m. It is designed to make you a more confident diver, learning many valuable skills on your way.
The Advanced Course has 5 dives. The Deep Dive & Underwater Navigation Dives are compulsory. With the Deep Dive, we’ll dive right down to 30 metres.
We’ll usually go to Chumpon Pinnacle or Southwest Pinnacle where you’ll get to enjoy Koh Tao’s big fish species – barracuda, giant groupers, and the occasional whale shark!
During the Underwater Navigation Dive we’ll explain the principles we use to find our way around the dive sites. This includes compass work, combined with natural navigation such as depth, bottom composition, contour, rock formations, corals and sunlight. You’ll complete some simple exercises such as measuring distances and navigating a square pattern, then armed with a map of the dive site you’ll lead us around the reef and hopefully back to the boat.
The other 3 dives is your choice. Your instructor will help you with your decision. Here are a few popular choices:
Peak performance buoyancy:
In this dive we aim to get you moving through the water more efficiently, resulting in a reduced air consumption resulting in longer dives. We’ll fine tune the weight you are wearing and where you are positioning them, how you are controlling your breathing and ensuring your equipment is streamlined as well as using efficient fin kick cycles.. We’ll take you through an obstacle course underwater to make you focus on your buoyancy control. This is a highly recommended adventure dive for someone looking at becoming a better diver.
AT NIGHT, AND UNDERWATER??! Yes, it’s awesome! Armed with an underwater torch you head into the darkness to explore the reef. We usually head to White Rock where we know the barracudas come in to hunt. . The barracudas use the light from your torch to snap up small rabbit fish! Nothing quite like having a metre plus silver missile swimming alongside you. Expect to see corals filter feeding, hermit crabs and more stingrays out and about.
Multi level & Computer Dive:
Deep diving is fun as it extends the limits of your exploration, but bottom time becomes limited if you follow a single level dive profile. If we move to a more sophisticated planning technique, using a multi level plan (and back this up by wearing a dive computer) we can vastly increase our available bottom time. This also allows us an opportunity to make another great deep dive.
Search and Recovery:
Find out how to execute underwater search patterns such as a U – search or expanding square. When you locate an object, what if it is too heavy or bulky to safely lift it using your BCD? We’ll show you how to utilize a lifting device such as a lift bag, to safely recover the object.
Have a go at capturing some underwater snaps using a digital camera with underwater housing. First we’ll teach you a few simple rules to improve your chances of getting the perfect shot. We’ll make the dive then download the images to a computer and burn the photos onto CD so you have a nice souvenir to take home.
Step Three: Respond Right
To operate as a Divemaster, you first need to have an up to date CPR / First Aid qualification.
EFR is a one day course, giving you the required qualification. You watch a video during the morning, then undertake a practical session in the afternoon learning the steps you take in dealing with an accident. This includes assessing the scene, alerting EMS, checking for breathing, circulation, serious bleeding, spinal injuries and shock then progressing onto secondary care. This is followed by a written exam.
Step 4: Stress and Rescue
The rescue course takes 3 full days.- classroom sessions in the morning and practical water sessions in the afternoons.
It’s a tough and challenging course but most look back on their Rescue course with good memories as a challenging experience, especially the final day’s scenarios!
Day 1 we look at surface problems, tired and panicked divers, rescues where you can remain on the boat and others where you need to enter the water. We also take our first look at coping with an unconscious diver at the surface, and inventory all the objects on the boat which might be useful in an emergency.
Day 2 we move into underwater problems – sorting out divers who are overexerted, have bad buoyancy or are out of air. We practice solving these problems during the ‘dive from hell’ where we’ll simulate situations for you to deal with. We then start to look at how to manage an emergency, run search patterns and surface an unconscious diver, plus make an exit to the boat.
Day 3 starts with a review of the skills you’ve learned, then progresses into final scenarios. You will be in charge of the boat, your instructor and other Roctopus staff will simulate problems which you will have to manage. The worst is to be expected on this final scenario day; swimmers getting stung, missing divers, non-responsive divers and many more!
Step 5: Divemaster
The first professional level in diving is a big step up. On completion, you will be qualified to lead certified divers, assist instructors with student diver training, organise diving logistics (such as arranging equipment, divers and delivering briefings as well as being boatmaster) plus conduct scuba tune ups (scuba reviews) for divers that have had not dived for over a year.
At Roctopus you will become part of our team. We believe that even though you are a customer, you are indeed training to be a dive professional so the necessary level of professionalism is required. You will get a real insight into how the shop runs and will adopt more and more responsibility as you progress. As we are a new operation on Koh Tao, there is always scope to grow with us but will also use our local knowledge and contacts to help you with finding a job on the island.
This is a great experience and people look back on their diving internships with fond memories. Friends for life are made and all this on a beautiful tropical island.
There is a wide range of diving theory and an exam at the end, when you are ready to take it.
You will also take part in several skills circuits, getting your demonstrations of diving skills up to instructor standard. There is a mapping project where you map a dive site, undertake an underwater equipment exchange, with another diver whilst buddy breathing ( fondly known as the stress test!
There are various stamina tests although not super strenuous; you might need to work on your fitness a touch.
You’ll practice underwater navigation and get to know the dive sites around Koh Tao and by the end of the course you’ll be leading our customers on guided dives, briefing them, and showing then all the great marine life around the sites.
A major part of the course is to assist our instructors with student divers in training. You’ll help out on Open Water courses, Advanced and Rescue courses where you will be an integral part of the course. Many Divemaster trainee are often seen as a bridge between instructor and student when in larger groups the DMT will help people with some specific problems.
This internship includes the following:
Duration: 2 months unlimited dives, You will need 60 logged dives to sign off as a Divemaster
- 2 months accommodation included in the Big Yellow Hotel or similar standard
- Open Water Diver
- Advanced Adventurer
- Respond Right
- Stress and Rescue
- All course materials to keep
- Roctopus Dive t-shirt
- Koh Tao Dive Guide
- Full set of scuba gear including BCD, Scubapro T-One, Scubapro MK11 and R295 regulator set, Fins and booties, Mask, Snorkel and Suunto Zoop dive computer.