Location: Denarau, Viti Levu, Fiji

Today started out in the best possible way – cinnamon rolls made by Izzy, Una, and Marina. Everyone (particularly the staff) woke up excited to get the rescue course started. We began by watching the rescue video and going through all of the knowledge reviews that the students had completed whilst we were still underway. Whilst the rescue candidates were busy with the video, those who chose not to do rescue got some well-earned leisure time up on deck. Bella and Louis kindly offered to hop in the water with Niko and me as he conducted a PADI Skin Diving Course (Snorkelling) as part of his Divemaster training. Bella and Louis decided to really test him by being ‘nightmare’ students and began by jumping off the stern and bow of the boat before Niko had even got started. From there, it was a series of playing jokes, swimming away, and ducking under the water, which Niko managed to laugh about and handled fantastically.

After lunch, some of the staff decided to show the students what the rescue program is really going to be like – we pre-warned them they must be ready for anything at any time – so Tim and Lolo jumped in and started simulating a panicking diver right in the middle of clean up. A bunch of people jumped into action and jumped in the water to save them. We had others throwing life-saving devices in and others standing by on deck to help out once the panicking divers were out of the water. Lolo (simulated) becoming non-responsive, and Giselle expertly swam her back to the boat, where Mac assisted in lifting her up the ladder. Amanda (simulated) fainting and becoming unresponsive from seeing her friend lying on the deck, so Marina and Elie took action and began helping Amanda. I became panicked and ‘fell’ into the water and was rescued by Izzy, Marina, and Trevor. It was a very interesting and eventful clean-up!

The afternoon consisted of the rescue students practicing throwing life-saving devices in and how to approach a panicked diver in the water. We had people constantly jumping in, throwing life rings, using the boat hooks to pull people back in, and calling out words of comfort to those panicking – it was action-packed!. At the other end of the boat, Bella volunteered to be Niko’s ‘victim’ as we practiced another rescue skill – giving rescue breaths to a diver while towing them back to the boat – again and again perfecting techniques. We then practiced demonstrating some of the surface skills for his skill demonstration assessment until it was nearly time for dinner.

As usual, the day ended with some jump-in showers, a whole bunch of backflips off the bowsprit, and a sunset that turned the sky pastel pink, blue, and yellow.

Pictured: Last night’s awesome sunset; Lolo up the mast; a beautiful setting for a day of rescue fun; Gabe and Thea excited about rescue; Izzy preparing to do a throwing assist; Felipe demonstrating the wrong and right way to be towed by a life ring; rescue chaos; Riley, Marina, Frankie, Sam, and Amanda after our first day of rescue training.