Nerdy Cat Scuba Travels

A Cat Lovin' Engineer taking a career break by traveling, doing a divemaster internship, and diving around the world

Month: July 2016

What would a local recommend: My top spots and favorites to check out in Iceland!

Since getting back to the States, people have been asking me if I had any recommendations for Iceland. And I do! I love Iceland. It’s a small town city with lots to do. Within the city, you can ride your bike everywhere while feeling safe and secure. Outside the city, you can drive in any direction for 1-2 hours and have plenty of activities to do.

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I love you, Global Entry!

southwest boarding tsa precheck

One item I invested in before I left my job was Global Entry. I was on the fence about it for a year. I wasn’t sure if it was worth my time and effort to spend $100. Global Entry is card that gets Americans a “front of the line” pass when coming from international flights and a “front of the line” pass going through security when flying domestically.

The application process is similar to a job security clearance screening. You will have to give information on your job, you previous addresses, income and other similar information.  I had most of it already since I had to have it for my defense contracting job, so it wasn’t that inconvenient.  If approved, the $100 fee is valid for 5 years. I was approved within a month and then kept checking the interview website for openings for a few days before I got my appointment.  Within another week of the interview I got my shiny ID card.

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The Truth will set you free- Overstaying a Visa

map-of-the-schengen-area-svg_orig

Key:Blue area are countries within Schengen and Orange Areas are “to be added” countries. Grey Countries are not part of this treaty.  (Map from Wikipedia)

This map would have been useful to me before I started traveling. Whoops. When I took a leave of absence, I flew to Finland, then Holland, then to Africa, then to Madrid, then to France before settling down to Iceland.

When I had planned my Iceland Divemaster program, I checked the Icelandic immigration website and found that I could stay in the country on Tourist Visa for 90 days. This worked for me because I was paying for the Divemaster program and I was not working. I didn’t need any special visa. Once I got to Iceland I met a lot of tourists. One couple in particular told me of their one year sabbatical and how it was hard to get around the Schengen area. Huh? That’s when I felt a deep lump forming in my belly.  I went home and googled “Schengen.” Oh to my stupid American surprise that I found this map.

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Divemaster Project Completion: Big Crack in Davidsgja, Pingvellier National Park Map

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I channeled my old “worker bee self” and used powerpoint to do my divemaster mapping project.  As promised, here is the final submittal I gave to Dive.Is to satisfy my divemaster training requirement.

If anyone sees any errors, please comment down below!

Takeaways from the Divemaster Program

divemaster celebration cakeWow. There are so many things that I want to say that I don’t know where to start.

First, the divemaster program was completely the opposite of what I expected. I imagined myself having tons of time for myself, doing yoga, discover iceland, everything except for Diving. (haha) Other PADI programs like advanced Open water, Deep Diver, and Rescue focus on your own development and improvement on diving.

The divemaster course is a big transition from being that vacationer diver to a full time diver that takes cares of others. Yes- you can still enjoy a dive and point out cute little crabs, but its not the main focus of the dive anymore. Instead, you are to focus on helping other divers, give them guidance, and if necessary, save their life. I guess I wasn’t prepared for that BIG transition.

During my three months in Iceland, I was able to dive for fun and dive for work. My fun dives brought back the relaxation and fun in diving. My work dives made me a better leader and stronger person.

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I’m done! Well Kinda…

divemaster collage iceland Yay! I’m done! Well kinda… I finished all my internship hours yesterday. These three months in Iceland have really flown by. There were definitely days where I missed America, but there were many more days hat I was really happy to be learning something new and be in a new environment.

For the last week- it’s been a real rush to finish my program. On July 4th- a fellow DMT and I took our final exams. The exam consisted of 120 questions. At lest half of the questions were easy things that were was or watched in the DVD and Divemaster manual. About 20 of the questions- I really just guessed on. I had read the manual but didn’t memorize these little details. The good part is that after the exam we went over each wrong answer, so now I know what I didn’t know.For example, if a diver comes out of the water with bright red lips, what does that? Carbon Monoxide poisoning!  ( I didn’t know that prior to the exam, but now I will never forget!)

Over the weekend we did our Divemaster workshops. The discover scuba pool session was pretty fun. Patrik was able to find a real student for us. (Thanks Deb!) We all then watched him conduct a DSD and then did our simulated sessions. This practice made it easy when we went to the open water. Continue reading

Divemaster Mapping Project Day

On Tuesday, we (3 DMTs) all went to Davidsgja to do our mapping project.  The day started off really beautiful. Here’s a snapshot:

davidsgja 2    davidsgja 1

We planned to one person stay at depth of the “Big Crack”, another person holding the measuring tape, and then another person using the measuring tape.  We would measure the width of the crack and then also use a buoy to mark every 20 meters.  We practiced a couple times on how everything would play out in the water.

The water at Davidsgja was about 6-8 deg.C. A nice warm up from Silfra. The visibility was about 15 meters.  I think the visibility at the bottom of the crack (approximately 160 meters from our starting point) was about 20-30 meters. Very Beautiful.

We had a couple of hiccups during the task.  For one, the diveshop didn’t have a measuring tape, so we had created our own from a line and some electrical tape.  This made measuring easy to spot the 1 meter tags, but difficult when trying to reel the line back in.  Consequently, it took us longer to measure out 20 meter increments.  We also had to split the task into two separate dives because of the length of the task.

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Stykkishólmur: Diving on my day off


Stykkishólmur is a city in the west area of Iceland where most people come to take a ferry to the West Fjords. About 1000 people live in this small city. After speaking to the harbor master we learned we could dive right next to the bay and at the surrounding islands. The visibility was pretty good- maybe 5-10meters, but the currents were pretty strong. We spotted some cod, many many crabs, medusa jelly fish, sea urchins, and star fish.
I’m getting hungry. We hop on Seatours on the Viking sushi sea tour. The ship took us to various islands along the bay. It starts to rain lightly rain. Bad idea to wear jeans.  The boat stops at various islands and talks about the region and points out a lot of different birds.  Like most tourists, I’m most interested in Puffins.  In Reykjavik, the puffins are all on one island and kinda far away. On this tour, I can really see these cute little birdies! Look at those cute beaks!

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