In Wollongong, we’re lucky to have a number of good dive sites close to us. We have the 5 islands just off Wollongong which has some great diving; such as toothbrush island, pig island where there’s an abundant of aquatic life and Martin Island where you can dive with the seals. For shore diving, there’s Bushrangers Bay, The Gutter and the Gravel Loader at Shellharbour, which is just 30 mins drive away. There’s also the much overlooked Wollongong Harbour which, even though is not as fantastic as the other dive sites, still offers some great diving.
While we can usually find a dive site which is sheltered when a north-easterly comes through (i.e: Bushrangers Bay), being the ocean, the conditions can sometimes be unpredictable. On the weekend, I was diving at Wollongong Harbour and while the seas were a bit choppy, the waves weren’t breaking against the breakwater or anything. There were lots of activities happening in the harbour; there were kayakers, standup paddle boarders, kids jumping off the side of the coast guard tower into the water and a few kids near the sand taking selfies of themselves. Then out of nowhere, the seas changed and suddenly huge waves were breaking off the breakwater. We saw a few unsuspecting folks who were happening to walk along the breakwater when the waves started crashing through and they got drenched! There were also a group of people fishing off the lighthouse point and they got thoroughly drenched too.
Luckily we stayed within the safety of the harbour for our dive, but the dive could have gone horribly wrong if we were caught on the wrong side of the breakwater. That made me think about two articles I had recently read on the PADI website. PADI is a scuba diving professional body and they’re the largest certifying organisation for scuba divers. The articles were about their rescue diver program and whether you should be a rescue diver. The headline for the first article was:
PADI Rescue Diver = Confident. Responsible. Prepared. A bit tired as well!
Being a Rescue diver, when an emergency arises you’ll know exactly what to do. Your training kicks in and moment-by-moment you know what the next step should be. Performing rescue skills provide instant feedback. The challenge and skills are in balance.
Being a Rescue Diver helps you transform a threat into a challenge. The experience is rewarding.
Should you become a Rescue Diver? If you’re comfortable pushing yourself beyond your normal limits and if you like helping other divers, then this course is for you..
I did my rescue diver course many years ago and it has definitely made me a more confident and prepared diver. The experience is very rewarding too. Hence if you’ve a certified PADI Advanced Open Water diver and have been so for a while, I would recommend the Rescue Diver course!
In Wollongong, the local dive shop is United Divers and I believe they can run Rescue Diver Courses upon request.