Hollis SMS75 Review, Setup and Modification

Hollis SMS75

When people hear sidemount today they often think of 2 companies that have been dominating the market share, the Razor sidemount and the Stealth sidemount systems.  I must disclose that I have never dove the Stealth sidemount system but I have owned and dove the Razor 2.0 complete system.

Let’s get a few things out of the way, the Razor and Stealth systems are both extremely streamlined and take up a small footprint. The Razor offers their batwing which is a dual bladder setup (very nice for redundant lift capabilities).  The Stealth has a similar design however it is lacking a dual bladder (one can be added but it is not standard).  Both Razor and Stealth systems utilize webbing material and metal brackets to form a harness, there are no fastex quick-release style buckles.  The upside to this design is that there are less points of failure and they offer a completely custom fit.

The SMS75 is a more traditional style system in that it is closer to a traditional bcd versus a sidemount harness.  To some this may be a fault, however I believe this is hands down where the SMS75 will make its money.  The harness style systems take significantly longer to setup and fit.  For a comparison it took me about 2-3 hours to setup my Razor to factory specifications where it took 5 minutes to setup my SMS75.  This is critical for shops that sell to primarily open water sidemount divers.  I think that the primary marketshare for beginning sidemount divers will be dominated by the SMS75.  What customer wants to spend that much time  setting up gear when they first get it?  Sure I will I agree that technical divers will most likely enjoy the über customization that can be achieved by the Razor / Stealth, and those same people will argue that the Razor offers true lift redundancy.  I will argue that none of these systems is perfect.

The Good and the Bad

Let me first say this, I am NOT a cave diver and I have no cave experience so my perspective is from open water sidemount, not cave/wreck penetration.

The Bad

1. Size: The first thing that you notice (especially if you have owned any low profile harness like the Razor/Stealth) is that the SMS75 takes up a large footprint and it appears bulky.  While Hollis has slimmed down this new bcd from the SMS100, the SMS75 is still large in comparison to other sidemount rigs.  The SMS75 is more along the same size of a traditional travel size bcd.

The Fix: I’m not sure I would fix this based on what this tradeoff provides the diver.  While the bcd is large it does offer some unique characteristics that are unparalleled in other sidemount only bcds.

2. Vent Placement: The SMS75 has only 1 overpressure relief/dump valve.  While this itself is not a bad thing the placement is.  Factory setup has the dump valve at the top left shoulder which does cause some extremely mild discomfort when wearing it with only a rash guard (it is just enough to let you know it is there, not painful).  The problem I have is with the fact that it doesn’t vent toward the surface if you are in a proper trim position for sidemount.  The vent exhausts into the upper shoulder meaning the diver has to put him/herself into a head up position slightly.  Thankfully the placement isn’t so bad that trim is completely lost, it is just requires a less than perfect trim position to vent.  I suspect that this is because the inflator/deflator can trade places with the vent to provide a recreational style location where the inflator/deflator comes over the left shoulder (discussed in “The Good”).

The Fix: in the next version of the BCD, Hollis could simply put a second vent at the lower tail facing away from the diver.   The current placement of the shoulder vent could be moved up away from the shoulder and more on the upper back facing away from the diver, not venting into the diver.

3. Redundant Lift Capability: There is only a single bladder version at the moment.  For serious tec divers that will be carrying weight that requires a dual bladder setup this bcd will fall short.

The Fix:  I would suggest a bare-bones 2nd bladder that is sandwiched like the Razor system.

As with all sidemount harnesses I had to make some minor modifications to achieve perfect trim.  Ideally I would request that a round ring system that I describe below be part of the factory kit.

The Good:

Can the SMS75 recover from those negatives listed above to make $700 (MSRP) worth parting with?  I would say yes…hands down.  Why?

1. Versatility: The SMS75 is a great multi-system that can be used as both sidemount and backmount diving; and very quickly.  It only takes about 5 minutes (taking my time, careful not to strip the plastic threads) to switch between sidemount and single backmount.  All a diver has to do is swap the inflator/deflator and exhaust vent.  This is especially valuable to instructors and dive shops now that major training organizations allow for training entry level students in sidemount diving.  If a shop/instructor had these as rental units they can train both sidemount and traditional backmount students…no need for 2 systems, the SMS75 can do both.

2. Insanely FAST setup:  This sidemount system has an unparalleled minimal setup time.  Literally you can dive this system right out of the box in under 10 minutes.  This even includes setting up the tank bands for the tanks…maybe 20 minutes if you have to watch the YouTube video several times to get the tank band setup correctly.  It took me roughly 15 times longer to setup the Razor sidemount system.

3. Quick Change from Cold to Warm Water and Back: This is another great feature of this system over all of the rest, especially for those of us who don’t get to dive in bath water all year round.  Diving here in South Korea we dive dry suits with heavy undergarments almost all year; when we get to dive in the tropics we have to change our harness setup for much less thermal protection (if any).  On the Razor system this took about 30-60 minutes…with the SMS75 it can be done in 3 minutes.  What’s not to love about that?

Overall this is such an excellent and versatile bcd that I have convinced most of those that know me to order one.  I really had to work hard to find some complaints with this bcd.  Even with being hyper-critical I would buy the SMS75 again as well as recommend it to anyone who would like a great sidemount harness but isn’t quite ready to completely go sidemount all the time.

Check out the Hollis SMS75 Open Water Performance Review

What I Had to do to get the SMS75 to My Personal Standard / Liking

Hollis SMS75 waistband round-ringsBoth the Razor and the SMS75 needed (in my opinion) minor modifications in order to be an excellent harness.  To make matters even more close they both (and the Stealth would be included in this if I had owned one in the past) needed the exact same modification.  The modification mimics the DiveRite Nomad bungee system.  It was the addition of 2 – 2″ metal round rings (not “D” rings) in the middle of the bungee on each side.   Since the SMS75 comes with some really nice side bungees you will definitely want to reuse these.

  1. unhook the quick link from the bungee
  2. loop the bungee over the round ring to form a girth hitch
  3. re-secure the quick link to the round ring
  4. adjust the bungee so that the round ring rests in the armpit region.

 

 

inflator retainer setupThe SMS75 needed 2 Hollis SMS75 waistband d-ringsother minor mods.   I added 4 total D-rings to the waist band (2 on each side).  I find that the trim of the tanks is much better (for me) using these as lower attachment points for the tanks; I can also shift the tanks to lower D-rings as they become more buoyant due to air consumption.  The last modification for the SMS75 was to add a small bungee loop to the chest strap for inflator/deflator retention.

sidemount top attachment straps

A modification I make to all my sidemount setups is with large clips attached to bungees to secure the upper portion of the tanks.  I piece of bungee is looped through a clip and secured (using hog nose pliers/staples) to prevent slippage.  The tails are tied with an overhand knot to close the bungee creating a loop.  This will then get wrapped around the tank valve 3 times.  Finally it clips into the round rings on the side of the SMS75.  This makes the in-water trim absolutely perfect.

Parts List:

Delayed / Surface Marker Buoy (SMB/DSMB) – Selection & Deployment

SMB at surface

Deploying a surface marker buoy is critical in many parts of the world for diving and now it is required as part of the PADI Open Water Diver course.  We definitely agree that is a must know skill for divers. We have been part of a few rescues where improper DSMB deployment use or inadequate SMB size caused divers not to be noticed by the boat for pickup.  NO diver wants to be left in the water.  I will use the terms SMB and DSMB interchangeably, just understand the only difference is DSMB would be deployed underwater after dive start, usually on ascent (delayed); SMB would normally be deployed on the surface at the beginning of the dive.  The skill that I will be talking about is deploying the SMB underwater.

Very recently we were on a dive where another buddy team suffered from two mistakes:

  1. They had an inadequately sized DSMB
  2. They lost control of their DSMB

A critical task is to conduct pre-dive checks.  Pre-dive checks are not simply making sure you have equipment, they are there so that you make sure you have the right equipment.  The right equipment will vary depending on many factors … basically your decisions should be made in the following manner:

  • What is the Dive Goal
  • Surface/Water Conditions
  • Dive Site Location
  • Buddies/Equipment Available
  • Time
  • Environmental Impact Considerations

Going back to choosing proper SMB size, if we were diving in the Philippines and it was super flat, clear waters then perhaps a 1 meter SMB could be appropriate.  Now lets move to the Korean East Coast.  On the East Coast conditions can change throughout the day at a moderate pace, also we have seen currents pop up out of no where once in a while.  On the surface there are generally some swells that range from small to fairly large (we dive in all types of weather so long as the boats are allowed to leave the harbor with our experienced divers).  Even with small swells a small DSMB is difficult to see from a distance in this environment.  Most of our divers opt for the larger 1.6 – 2m tall DSMBs.  For South Korea we personally feel that these are the bare minimum for our environment.

This is a video of the tail end of a 2.5+ hour search and rescue where divers were diving with too small of an SMB and they lost control of the SMB as well. Needless to say we were all very grateful when we located the divers.

Now let’s talk about deployment of your DSMB.  This task execution must also be carefully evaluated based on environment.  Many instructors teach students to use their alternate air source to put air into the SMB.  This is a technique but not an ideal technique.  Why not?  If you dive in Korea the water temps in deep water (or in winter months) can reach 5º C.  With water temperatures that cold there is a high probability that your alternate air source will freeze causing a free flow.  Now you have two problems to deal with, (1) you probably just overfilled your SMB and it is out of control (unless you are experienced with SMBs) and (2) you now have a free-flowing regulator wasting precious breathing gas.  Neither are good and the combination probably caused the less experienced diver to also lose control of the SMB reel, so now that is gone.

So what is the right way to deploy an SMB?  There is no 1 specific right way, it is all dependent on your surroundings, however there are ways that work in most situations.  There are 3 techniques that work well in all environments:

  1. Fill your SMB with your exhaled breaths directly from regulator to bag
  2. Fill your SMB by blowing into the oral/power inflator nozzle
  3. Attach an extra low pressure inflator hose to your 1st stage that you will use to inflate the power inflator nozzle.  The same style hose that attached to your LPI (low pressure inflator) on your BCD.

We found 3 good videos on YouTube that showcase each of the options. These are not our videos and we are not affiliated with any of the owners/instructors etc.

Option 1 does take practice in maintaining proper buoyancy and trim however one plus is that the regulator never comes out of the divers mouth.  This however will NOT work for CCR divers, as we simply don’t exhale into the water.  Alternate air source freezing won’t occur.

Option 2 does require the diver to remove the regulator from his/her mouth and blow into the oral/power inflator nozzle.  This could require multiple breaths depending on depth and amount per breath the nozzle allows to pass through.  There is very little chance that too much air will rapidly enter the SMB as the diver controls each amount with precision. Alternate air source freezing won’t occur.  This again would not be ideal for CCR divers as they would deplete their loop contents and change the loop mix.

Option 3 would work for all divers (OC and CCR).  Simply connect the LP hose up to the power inflator nozzle and carefully fill.  Alternate air source freezing won’t occur and the regulator always remains in the divers mouth.

We understand there are several other variations out there that would work as well, such as using the existing LP hose attached to a diver’s low LPI however anytime a diver disconnects items there is a possibility of failure or inability to reconnect.  Each diver must carefully conduct a personal assessment on which way to setup his/her gear and task execution.

Finally a last note, make sure you can find, reach and fluidly deploy your SMB. This is where practice comes in. Start by testing out configurations on dry land in our home. Then do it blindfolded. Then move to the pool. Slightly adjust locations and setup until you find one that works best for you without violating the above consideration list. Think safety first at all times. Finally when you have mastered the skill in the pool move to the ocean. With the help of buddies record each others’ deployment of DSMBs to see how you really look executing the task.

As always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us and keep your eyes peeled for our next dive clinic.  Not sure where to pick up an SMB like ones that we mentioned above?  Comment below or PM us on Facebook www.facebook.com/38thParallelDivers

Get Certified NOW! – Special Pricing for our Divers

Pool

We will be offering VERY SPECIAL pricing for all our club members for a LIMITED TIME. Any 38th Parallel Diver member will be getting PADI Open Water Diver certification for $395. We will also be offering several specialties at VERY low prices too (Sidemount, Nitrox/Enriched Air, Deep, Wreck, Navigation, Search & Recovery, Night, Gas Blender, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Project AWARE Conservation).

This includes: Required Study Materials, Processing Fees, Pool Training*, Gear Rental, Ocean Training, Transportation to dive site (if local but can schedule a meet-up and ride out), Motel room 1 night, Ocean Day 1 lunch (dinner is on your own), Ocean Day 2 breakfast (lunch/dinner will be at rest area on way back on your own).

So how do you become a member? Easy, simply “LIKE US” on our Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/38thParallelDivers Or click “LIKE” to the right—>

*only exception is that it is based on pool availability, if our local pool isn’t available there would be a cost to use Suwon/Seoul (or other) pool.

Becoming a PADI Scuba Instructor – Our Experiences

So you are thinking about becoming a PADI Scuba Instructor, check out our club’s video of our IDC / IE experience.  I know for me personally this was a big decision,  because of the responsibility, time and costs.  First of all if you are a diver (and at the point of considering becoming a professional scuba instructor) you know by now that this endeavor isn’t cheap.  First you really should have your own equipment at this point, if not then perhaps you should come back when you do.  Secondly you have to have a minimum number of dives, these are cheap either.  Finally there are all the costs associated with getting to the Instructor Examination…

  • Divemaster Course (if you are not already)
  • Emergency First Response Instructor Course (EFRI) – course and processing fees apply
  • Instructor Development Course (IDC) – minimum a week or longer (Assistant Instructor & Open Water Scuba Instructor Course) — price will vary here by your Course Director and location.  We went with Platinum Course Director Camille Lemmens (www.idcthailand.net)
  • Instructor Examination (flat fee for exam but does have processing fees not included, dives not included)
  • Specialty Instructor (we completed ours with Camille, he gave us a great rate too).  There are Course Director (CD) Costs plus PADI processing fees too.  Dives may/may not be included depending on CD
  • Lodging – don’t forget you need a place to stay
  • Food – you gotta eat

Ok so you have the money…now your ready right?  Ummmm maybe.  Skills need to be perfect and at demonstration quality.  You also have to be ready and comfortable to present knowledge development in a classroom and conduct confined and open water skills.  Hopefully you haven’t forgot what oyu have learned in your other courses because you will need all that now.  You must consistently conduct an open water rescue and be prepared to recall all the physics, physiology, environment & skills, eRDP (or dive tables) and equipment.  Finally you still have one test left…and open book Standards test.  This test isn’t as easy as it sounds, they ask some very specific and intricate questions that will have you searching everywhere to verify it isn’t a trick question.

Don’t be scared though, if you have a good Course Director (like we did) it will be a constructive learning environment that is as challenging as it is fun.  Read our daily blogs below from our experiences:

  • IDC Day 1 – Practice Tests and Skill Evaluation
  • IDC Day 2 – Pool and Knowledge Development Presentations
  • IDC Day 3 – Graded Skills
  • IDC Day 4 – Graded Knowledge Dev. & Confined Water Presentations and Rescue Diver
  • IDC Day 5 – Graded Theory Test & More Presentations
  • IDC Day 6 – Graded Confined Water Presentations, Remainder of Presentations
  • IDC Day 7 – Open Water Presentations & Rescues
  • IDC Day 8 – More Open Water Presentations and Rescues
  • IE Day 1 – Dive Theory & Standards Exams, Graded Skill Circuit, Graded Confined Water Presentations
  • IE Day 2 – Open Water Presentations, Rescue, Knowledge Dev. Presentation and GRADUATION! Night Diver Specialty
  • Specialty Instructor Day 1 – Search & Recovery, Navigation
  • Specialty Instructor Day 2 – Wreck Diver, Sidemount
  • Specialty Instructor Day 3 – Deep, Nitrox, Emergency Oxygen Provider, Gas Blender

 

 

Specialty Instructor – Day 3 (Final Day) — Deep Diver — Dive # 1000

Deep Diver Specialty Instructor
Today was our last day on the East coast and I believe that was OK with everyone. We were definitely exhausted after all of the training that we had been through already. IDC, IE, Specialty Instructor makes for a long 2 weeks, but we are finally here.

Today is also a special day because Allen Rivera will hit is 1000th dive! This is definitely a nice achievement to be proud of. This week has been full of milestones. We had 2 divers make their 100th dive, Allen hit 1000 and Camille hit 2000 dives!

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 10.15.24
We had to conduct 2 deep dives today for the Specialty Instructors course. For dive 1 we dove to 30m (planned) on NITROX, although some decided to get in an extra meter or 2 just for fun… and hung out for a bit at some cube fish blocks. After only a couple of minutes we headed back up for a very slow ascent. For this dive we hung a tank of 36% NITROX (EANx) at 5m for use at our safety stop. Each diver breathed off of the tank for 1 minute and then we took a very slow 5m ascent.

George and Larry Deep Puzzle Buddy Team

On Dive 2 we compared depth gauges (Shearwater Petrels were by far the most consistent), did a child’s puzzle where you put blocks into holes (square block into square hole etc.) and then we also did some other skills like navigation out and back, and took a look at a flexible container that was full on the surface but collapsed under pressure.

Allen's 100th Dive

While we were down there we took a picture with everyone and Allen for his 1000th dive! This is definitely an accomplishment. What a great way to end the IDC/IE/MSDT training.

Once we got back to the shop everyone was scrambling to clean gear and fill out paperwork…and hand our credit card info over to PADI (we still had to pay for all the specialty instructor processing fees). It was a bitter sweet task because we had grown to a pretty well bonded group who had fun and ribbed each other throughout the IDC/IE. We were all happy to be getting a small break from diving and waking up early however we did still have to say goodbye to people as they left for other countries and other parts of Korea.

Seorak Mountains

We had beautiful weather for the long drive back from the East Coast. We decided to take Highway 44 to 46 to 60 back, this meant long winding roads through Seorak Mountains and it was a great idea. Minimal traffic off the expressway and amazing scenery.

I would like to say thanks to my fellow IDC Candidate’s (and newest PADI Instructors): Carel Aucamp, Michael Podesta, Lisa Rivera and George Smith. It was a great experience and I am glad to have gone through it with you. See you in the water!

Specialty Instructor – Day 2 (Wreck & Sidemount)

Sacheon-myeon Instr specs group

Today our Course Director (Camille Lemmens) had three dives to do with us. We have definitely kept him very busy (and well funded) while he has been here. We started the day off with a late work call (0900…finally) at the dive shop. Everybody was doing the two dives required for PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Instructor. Both dives were at Ocean Park wreck site. The site has a fishing boat and a large man made metal structure. This made for a great site. Dive 1 we could map/survey the wreck and determine penetration points and also practice laying line through the tight spaces in the metal structure. Because of the depth 25m it was slightly cold for some of our warm water divers, around 10° C. Once all performance measures were complete we all slowly ascended for warmer waters. Once on the beat we headed back for about a 2 hour surface interval.

Dive 2 was a staged drop off. In buddy teams 5-7 minutes apart we descended down to the wreck to do a penetration, lay line and recover line in teams. The wreck is on a heading of 330° in 25 meters of water. 3 years ago the wreck was about 50 meters south of it’s current location and it was sitting perfectly upright, now it is laying in her left side partially collapsed. Once everyone had penetrated and exited we returned to the surface where everyone was eagerly looking forward to a break for the day.

Camille, Allen and myself went out for one last dive of the day. I was interested in doing the Sidemount Instructor course and needed to log a dive and conduct all the skills for sidemount. Usually I dive my PRISM 2 rebreather but for the past few months I put anyhting Tec/rebreather related away to focus on recreational diving for the IDC/IE. I completely forgot how comfortable, streamlined and awesome sidemount was. Once we entered the water and descended the tanks trimmed out nicely and perfect trim was easily achieved, no weight on my back and completely comfortable. Now THIS is the way to dive!! Makes me wish I didn’t sell my Razor bcd. I can’t wait to teach others this most excellent way to dive!

After we all got out of the water I think all of us were ready for some relaxation. We all came back to the hotel, washed up and tried catching a few winks…and of course making sure to update our blog.

course 1

course 1 seafood

full course 1

seafood stew

course 2

last dinner of IDC
We finished the night off with a short drive to Kyung Po beach for a walk on the boardwalk and some food. We got a 3 course dinner, Raw fish (Hwey), Sashimi mixed platter and seafood stew. It was a great way to spend our last night in Gangneung.

Specialty Instructor – Day 1

2014-08-06 15.57.32

Last night we finished the Night Divers Specialty Instructor course. So today we woke up early (not as early as the previous days) to knock out some specialty presentations. We did Search and Recovery and Underwater Navigation Specialty Instructor training before diving today. PADI puts a 3 training dive limit on students and since we were in a “student” capacity for the instructor courses we can only do 3 training dives per day. This meant some pretty busy days with 3 dives in the morning / early afternoon followed by remaining presentations and coursework.

Once we came back from the 3 dives we cleaned equipment and grabbed a quick bite to eat. Around 1500 we gathered with our Course Director (Camille Lemmens) for the Wreck Diving Specialty Instructor training. The information that he provided was really great, especially for those of new instructors that weren’t familiar with any technical diving. Although the course is NOT technical diving there are risks involved that are greater than that of just normal diving…after all the last dive for the specialty could involve penetration.

To give everyone a minute taste of how difficult it could be to navigate while blind we practiced setting up and following lines by feel. We had to follow our original line and not get off our exit line. This was a great exercise that everyone had fun with while learning some difficulties that might occur underwater.

If you are interested in doing penetration diving please watch this video first:

IE Day 2 (Final Day)- Reward or Recycle?

PADI IE Sacheon, ROK August 2014

“When you have some goal out here that you are stretching for, reaching for, that takes you out of your comfort zone you will find out some talents and abilities you have that you didn’t know you had. When the messenger of misery visits you, what are you going to do, what will keep you in the game?” (Les Brown)

Talk about nervous…we all stayed up LATE to ensure we hit every point possible for our Knowledge Development presentations as well as the Open Water Presentations. Each Instructor Candidate had to present 2 skills, conduct and evaluate students (with problems) and then conduct a debriefing. We arrived at the dive site early and conducted Pre-Dive checks and equipment inspections to ensure we had everything that we needed for the skills. Once we were all confident we had everything we gather around our Examiner to begin the briefings.

With the briefings out of the way we headed into the water for our remaining Open Water evals: Open Water and Rescue Exercise #7. Open Water evaluations went well, everyone caught their problems. By now it was no surprise that Rescue #7 wasn’t difficult with anyone and we were now moving through the rescue with professional skill and speed…slow is smooth and smooth is fast. One of the difficult considerations within this particular IDC/IE was we were in a transitional period between old PADI Open Water course and the new PADI Open Water course. This wasn’t a huge hindrance however it did present unique situations for both our IDC Course Director and Staff as well as the Instructor Examination process. All in all it was still a great experience and I personally was glad to be taking the IDC/IE during this transition.

After a short break for lunch and gear clean-up we moved back to Bahama Dive Shop to conduct debriefings and present our LAST task…Knowledge Development Presentations. Everyone did a great job on the presentations, by now we were down to +/- 6 minutes with videos. A very nice accomplishment for some. Now that those skills were completed with excellent scores we were all ready to finally join the ranks of PADI Scuba Instructors.

There is no doubt that we couldn’t have made it this far with these scores without the dedication of Allen Rivera who was an excellent IDC Staff Instructor and of course our PADI Platinum Course Director Camille Lemmens (check out his post). Thank-you both for getting us here and being great mentors!

Mango & Grapefruit Bing Su

After that was done we treat ourselves to some MangoSix Mango Bing Su…however we still weren’t able to relax yet. Once we came back from MangoSix we rolled right into PADI Specialty Instructor, Night Dive Specialty. Once we got out of the water we were finally able to relax and enjoy our accomplishment.

I wanted to take a couple lines to put up some IDC/IE quoates:

“you know what I do…I just go on online and google the objectives” (Wildcard, 2014)

“bam, I go to this website…I never look at my cards” … “and then I just look at the video” …”fuck my cards” (Wildcard, 2014)

“all your shit is in space…on your air drive, on your blocks of 22,000 terabytes” (Wildcard, 2014)

Congrats to the 5 newest PADI Instructors!

Carel Aucamp
Larry Bainbridge
Michael Podesta
Lisa Rivera
George Smith

Instructor Exam, Day 1 – The day is finally here…

IE Orientation Brief

It has taken a lot of training and mentorship to get here but we are finally starting the PADI Instructor’s Examination. I am sure that I don’t have to mention that everyone was excited and nervous; afterall our futures were in our hands. Our PADI Examiner was Kim Boo Kyung, he is also a PADI Regional Manager for this region. We were grateful to have him. He gave us our initial briefing and orientation and did a very good job at minimizing anxiousness.

PADI IE In Progress

Once the orientation was done we went straight into the Dive Theory Tests (12 questions in each: Physics, Physiology, RDP/eRDP, Skills & Environment, Equipment) and then the PADI Standards Exam (50 Questions). A required minimum score of 75% is needed; if you don’t pass the standards exam there are NO retakes.

Confined Water Prep

Thankfully everyone passed the exams without difficulty. As we each finished the exams most of us waited around to make sure everyone passed. Then we had to begin prepping our confined water presentations for after lunch.

Confined Water Presentations

After lunch we moved to the pool, which wasn’t too bad but definitely COLD! Fresh water outdoor pool, we all switched to semi-dry’s, 5mm, 7mm with hoods and gloves. Everyone did really well on the Confined Water Presentations scoring high marks all around.

At the completion of IE Day 1 we all were still “alive” without any problems. At this point 50% of the IE was complete. We needed some dinner…so we went out and had some good food in Gangneung. Once we were all back we had to hit the books again for one last night. We had to prepare our Open Water Presentations (another no-retake portion) and then our Knowledge Development Presentations for tomorrow.

IDC Day 8 (Final Day) – add a new 38th Parallel Diver!

38th Parallel Scuba Divers just before dive

0630 Wakeup
0730 Meet Up
0900 Open Water Dive Briefings at Namae Beach #2
1100 Open Water Dive Skills
1300 38th Parallel Dive
1600 Dinner & Relaxation

The final day of the Instructor Development Course (IDC) was great! We were ALL looking forward to completing our final Open Water Presentations during the IDC and going into the PADI Instructor Exam (IE). Needless to say there was a definite method to the madness which resulted in successful completion of the IDC for all instructor candidates. We can’t recommend his services enough, if you have anydesire to not simply pass the IE but excel during the IE please contact him.

The celebration is definitely bitter sweet because even though all of us did well in the IDC we still had to begin and successfully complete the IE. Talk about stress… not so much because it is anything terribly difficult, because at this point we have done all the skills hundreds of times…the only difference is we have the stress of ourselves on top of us because a PADI Regional Manager will be evaluating each of us and deciding if we will become an Instructor.

New 38th Parallel Divers

After the Open Water skills portion was complete 4 of us headed up to the 38th Parallel to welcome 2 new divers to the 38th Parallel Divers, Dive Club. Our Course Director (Camille Lemmens) and a fellow instructor candidate (Mike Podesta) joined myself and George Smith for a quick dive north of the 38th Parallel. We almost weren’t able to complete the dive because the local police said it was too dangerous of conditions to dive. We were finally able to convince them that a very short dive near the jacks would be ok for us and that made them feel better so they let us go in. As we were coming out of the water the emergency sirens were blaring for everyone to evacuate the water. As we exited we happily welcomed Camille and Mike to the dive club. The dive sites don’t have massive amounts of aquatic life and the conditions are often cold and murky but how many people can say they dove north of the 38th Parallel in South Korea?

Successful completion of the IDC, a dive above the 38th Parallel with 2 new club members…how could it get any better? Want to know what the dive was like? Check out Camille Lemmens Post on his blog about this dive

With some TTak (or Dak) Galbi:
Dak Galbi

Camille new 38th Parallel Diver
Now that our bellies were full of some delicious spicy chicken and vegetables we were able to express our gratitude to our great Course Director, Camille Lemmens. He is actually a PADI Platinum Course Director and it is definitely evident with his amazing talents in mentoring and instructing future dive industry leaders. His dedication was evident throughout the course, we all learned a great deal from this man…so to properly thank him we presented him some SWAG, 2 shirts and some stickers to put up. He can be contacted via his website PADI IDC Thailand.

THANKS CAMILLE!