Dan Jolly and Patrick Enlow were enrolled in a SDI Instructor class that I started in September of 2006. The original plan was that there were to be six to eight students in this class and that we would finish the open water and evaluations by mid October, but circumstances prevented the other potential candidates from completing the required prerequisites in time to enroll and other factors affected the timetable for the class.
An SDI instructor training program has two phases and requires the participation of two different SDI instructor trainers. Since I am the only SDI Instructor trainer in the state of Ohio I had to refer to SDI headquarters for a recommendation for a second IT. They gave me several names of IT’s in the Midwest. As I mentioned the original plan was to complete the course in October in Ohio. But all of these extenuating circumstances put us in the middle of November for the open water phase of the course. Dan and Patrick were not too excited about doing this part of their class in Ohio so I suggested we look for a place “down south” to complete the course.
My first choice was Ginnie Springs Outdoors in High Springs Florida. I had dove at Ginnie years ago before it was commercially operated for cave and cavern diving and a couple times since considerable improvements had been made to the property. I was pretty comfortable with the idea that the basin at Ginnie Springs would be ideal both for confined water skill practice and also as an open water site. And I thought that the basin at Little Devils spring (also on the property) would give us the depth to do some of the ascent training that was part of the course. Ginnie also has very sturdy docks and stair ways leading to all the entry sites and hot water showers throughout the property. I also could count on the water temperature being a constant 72 degrees and the weather being cooperatively warm. All in all I thought it was a very comfortable choice (other that the Cayman Islands) to complete the course. I approached the new owners of ASK Scuba & Snorkeling Center with the idea and they agreed so we set about planning the logistics.
The candidates agreed to make the drive to Ginnie (about 14 to 16 hours) and I called SDI for a referral for a second IT. They gave me two names and I choose Larry Green. Besides being a very highly respected cave and extended range diving instructor Larry is also on the Training Staff of International Training, the parent company of SDI. After talking with Debbie Green (Larry’s CEO) I learned that he had two dates open in December and we choose to build the IDC around the date of December 15, 2006.
I then called Ginnie and made arrangements to rent a trailer on the property for accommodations and we proceeded with the plan. Because I had plans to dive on Aqua Cat in the Bahamas December 2 – 9 my idea was to fly from Nassau to Orlando and rent a car to drive north to Ginnie. That meant I had to stay a few days in Orlando before the start of the classes on December 13th but I was able to take in a few attractions in the area to keep me occupied for three days and things worked out fine. Patrick and Dan decided to drive to Ginnie from Ohio.
Dan suggested that if he was going to drive to Ginnie that his fiancée Michelle Melillo might also be interested in going along and asked if I would teach her a rescue diver class following the IEC. Then Dan, Patrick and Michelle asked me to also teach the SDI Computer diver specialty that week too.
Since we were all staying at the trailer at Ginnie the classes worked out beautifully. Everyone (except me because I knew what to expect) was totally blown away with the beauty of the Ginnie Springs area. There are about half a dozen spring systems on the property and to say that the water is gin clear is an understatement. That first day of class when I took everyone on a walking tour of the dive sites we would be using they could not stop oohing and awing about how great the dives sites looked.
The week was full of training classes, dives and good company. The trailer was very large and roomy and we did all of our class work around a huge kitchen table and took turns cooking meals and sharing diving stories. When Debbie and Larry showed up on Friday my candidates were more than ready for the IEC phase of their instructor training and they literally breezed through the test and skills elevations. After the open water skills were completed Larry and I signed off on the paperwork and congratulated ASK Scuba & Snorkeling Centers’ two newest instructors – Dan Jolly SDI OWSI 8343 and Patrick Enlow SDI OWSI 11444. That evening Larry and Debbie joined us at the trailer for a champagne celebration and steak dinner.
Larry also shared some of his cave diving videos and everyone swapped dive stories
Saturday I completed the open water portion of Michelle’s rescue diver certification. This was the final certification that she needed to qualify for Master Scuba Diver and she was thrilled.
All in all, it was a really fun series of courses. This was my first SDI Instructor Course and I was delighted that my two candidates did so well. The choice of Ginnie Springs for the open water training was a great one and the staff at Ginnie was extremely helpful and gracious. My only complaint was that I could not get cell service there – although they did have wireless internet.
My congratulations go to Patrick Enlow and Dan Jolly for completing their instructor training and to Michelle Melillo for her new rating of SDI Master Scuba Diver. Great job everyone!