Author: Juliet Semple, December 2007
Well one dreary day in 2005 Paul and I (Juliet) decided that a career break and round the world trip was in order after many years in my job in the NHS and Paul's job in IT. Not sure whether there is a link between UK IT careers and diving in Thailand but look at Iain's history! Paul and I had been diving for three years up until this point. We had undertaken our OW, AOW and Rescue courses in the UK but had done most of our pleasure diving in warmer climes.
I was tasked with the logistics of the trip whilst Paul was in charge of the diving. He e-mailed many dive centres in Phuket with either no response or just a copy and pasted email about the divemaster course requirements. Paul then stumbled upon a forum where someone had recommended Iain and Sharkey Scuba, mainly due to his accurate information on facilities just post the Tsunami. Paul fired off another email to Iain and had an immediate response which actually answered our questions. So we went ahead and booked the course. Iain also arranged our initial few nights' accommodation which then turned into several months.
So in November we set off to Phuket via Hong Kong . We were picked up at the airport (arranged by Iain) and taken to our accommodation which was, as Iain described, fantastic. Iain and Oui then came to meet us in the evening in the bar. He explained how he planned to run the course but was totally flexible regarding when and what we wanted to do.
The course is certainly hard work but Iain makes it totally enjoyable. We mixed academic study with practical diving and skills. Iain expects 100% commitment but gives 110% back. He tells you when he is pleased with you but will also tell you where there is room for improvement. He is very patient especially with a certain person who didn't like clearing her mask (even as a divemaster trainee!!!). Paul would say that the biggest achievement of the course was leading a dive where the party all shot off in opposite directions and depths and somehow he managed to herd them all up, much to Iain's great praise and mine would have to be managing to do the full kit exchange whilst buddy breathing. The course certainly takes your diving to the next level and a better instructor than Iain we think would be hard to find.
We broke up our 2 months in Phuket with a liveaboard to the Similans which Iain arranged. It was superb and highly recommended - remember diving is fun and not all exams and skills!
Iain's teaching skills and passion for diving speak for themselves but the thing that makes doing your divemaster course with Iain and Sharkey Scuba is all the extras....beers in the evening, invites to Iain and Oui's place, moped tours of the island, seeing places you would never know about and talking to someone who was brave enough to leave the UK rat race and making friends for life.
We could not recommend Iain, Oui and Sharkey Scuba enough and if we were ever to do our IDC (instructor course) it would definitely be with Iain - if he would have us! At least he knows these two divemasters were trained by an OK sort of guy!!!!!
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