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 (
  • 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 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

IDC Day 7 – There’s a CU over there ….. and a FU right here, and here, and here…


All your points are belong to us! (Course Director and IDC Staff motto)

So we had a day off yesterday to travel to the East Coast, Sacheon Beach Area. Due to half of the Korean Peninsula having vacation there was plenty of traffic. We had to go on and off and on and off the expressway to get around it all. Once we arrived here we linked up together to discuss how everything was going and logistics for the morning.

Around 2100-2130 we got a text that told us to have the presentations ready for the morning. Needless to say we had to dig deep for some fake motivation and get on with it. Some came back to the rooms and began planning, others finished the work that they had left over from other tasks and others just went to bed to get rest. Needless to say the presentations weren’t the greatest. Some of the candidates missed a performance point resulting in a “1” which means… you are a Go…preceded by a NO the sum of the total equals a NO GO. All joking aside it was good to have skills dissected to ensure we will be better able to pass the Instructor Exam coming up VERY shortly (Monday and Tuesday). So we will do it again tomorrow. Yes those candidates were not happy however everyone gets an opportunity to learn from each other and put that in the do not EVER do that or miss that again box. This is of course expected and taken in stride. Something that is common amongst this group is the desire not to simply pass but have high levels of expectations from ourselves. WE are our own worst critic that expects nothing but perfection. Perfection is our minimum, not just passing.  It probably sounds like we are hating our instructors right now when in fact it is us who we are frustrated with.

At this point it was no surprise that rescues went well, today was the mouth-to-mouth rescue. Tomorrow will be the pocket mask rescue. I am sure we will do fine at that as well. Being in salt water with 3-5mm wetsuits makes for quick and easy buoyancy.

The only real pain in the ass that we experienced was the hotel accommodations. We got out here early and the owner’s wife quoted us one price and was happy to take our cash without any issues. 24 hours later the lady was asking us to pay an extra 10,000KRW per day because it was peak season. This would have been ok however:

  1. the lady clearly agreed to the original cash price (110,000 cheaper for the week)
  2. their website says cheaper prices than what they wanted to adjust the new price to
  3. they now didn’t want to take credit cards now

This left us with a sour taste in our mouths to say the least, we are definitely contemplating if we ever use this place again; after all it isn’t at the dive shop and it is a 20 min ride out of the way from where we dive.  The hotel is the Program Motel near Sacheon Beach.  Usually the couple that owns it is exceptionally nice however this shady approach to business is not what we like to deal with.  Here is their site:

Program Motel

Up to you if you stay here or not.

IDC Day 6 – Final Confined Water Tasks

Group Pic Final Confined Water

0700 – Wake-Up
0800 – Breakfast (perhaps one day, haha)
0900 – Pool (Graded Confined Water Presentations: Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver)
1200 – lunch (at Chili’s finally)
1300 – (Remainder of IDC Presentations)
1700 – Complete

So today we started out the day a bit sluggish but ready to finish out the confined water portion and final presentations. Mainly because we knew we had a day off (Friday) from any diving evaluation. Everyone’s presentations went excellent, definitely improving upon the first ones. It would be nice to go home and sleep in our own beds for a night before we go to Open Water.

At this point I believe each of us (I definitely can) appreciate the process of the IDC. Prior to the IDC whether it was watching other instructors or in preparation for this IDC I thought oh wow this is easy, just read the slates, do the skills that I know and keep divers safe…easy cheesy right? Kind of…only not really (yet). Despite being extremely confident and competent in the water when you have students in front of you it is different, now add the fact that you have someone deciding your fate looking for the smallest details in presentation, problem solving and control. At this point you think anything except perfect skills is a “problem” and you do-it-again. I am sure each former instructor candidate will be able to relate to this. Only a few more presentations for Open Water and we can finally call ourselves….oh wait we still have to do that damn examination thing…

As you approach the end of your IDC you feel more and more like a real instructor and you become excited at the fact that the IDC is almost over hoever every once in a while you remember that you still have the Instructor Examination (IE) to complete. At the IE you have to do it all again but with a new (and more intimidating) evaluator and you better not mess up cause you only have 2 days, 2 tries (on some stuff) and that’s IT. You do NOT want to be a recycle … (I know some of you will know that word…and yes it was from the evil school, if you don’t know what I am talking about no worries you didn’t really miss anything).

Today was the first day where we didn’t have to do a Rescue at the end of the pool session so we were able to quickly get out and prepare ourselves for some much needed comfort foods from Chili’s. Not sure that was such a great idea because the sleep monster would eventually creep up on all of us in the class room and tried to put us each in a food coma.


Once we all started coming out of the food coma we were able to focus on the last 2 presentations on Open Water and several workshops. This was a great transition into Open Water diving in the IDC. Finally the presentations are complete we are able to pack up and relax for a day as we pack and drive out to the East Coast, Sacheon Beach to be exact. Stay tuned for Tomorrow’s post.

2012 Labor Day Weekend

It is a great dive trip any time that we are able to dive for 3 days. The traffic coming home isn’t an issue and it seems that we get to relax a bit more during our surface intervals. Having had a Typhoon the week prior and a Tropical Storm at the beginning of our weekend made for some extremely challenging diving and less than ideal conditions; but hey if you can dive here in those conditions then diving everywhere else is a breeze! This is one of the reasons why we LOVE diving in South Korea, best training grounds for enhancing dive skills.

Saturday: Scuba Camp, Samcheok
Sunday: 38th Marine, on the 38th Parallel
Monday: Sacheon Dive Resort, Sacheon Beach

April 2012 Diving Photos

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Here are the pictures from this past weekend with Aquatic Frontier at Sacheon Beach on the East Coast of South Korea.

Sacheon Beach & Boat Dives

So this weekend the 38th Parallel Divers went with Aquatic Frontier to assist in getting video and pictures for their new website  There was one brave Open Water diver who braved the cold and obtained his WELL deserved certification.  Also one member was completing several skills for his PADI Divemaster certification.  We had beautiful (compared to last trip) conditions.  The water temp ranged from 44 – 50 degrees and the air temp was around 60 degrees during the day and sunny.  This weekend was a strange weekend for us in that we were able to swim through a bloom of jellyfish.  We got some really great video from this weekend which should be uploaded in the next couple of hours.  It looks like we will be going to the ocean in two weeks so plan ahead and pack your bags; there is still room available for anyone interested in going to Palau with us May 13-21.  This is going to be a phenomenal trip.  Congrats to Carel Aucamp for winning the patch giveaway!

38th Parallel & Northward

The 38th Parallel Divers went out to dive this weekend to finish their dry suit certifications and explore north of the 38th Parallel. Allen, Sammy, Jay and Larry decided to brave the cold weather and get wet. On Saturday the winds and waves were manageable but the viz was horrible at only 3 meters. On Sunday the viz was barely better 4-5 meters. This was not what we are used to on the South Korean east coast. Usually we are pretty lucky with 10 -15 meters of viz. This was a record setting weekend in that we all made it home from the east coast in about 3 hours!