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If you’re thinking about getting a scuba dive refresher course, here are 6 simple steps you’ll learn through the course.

The dive refresher takes about one full day. I’m not a dive instructor (yet), so please always follow the direction of your instructor, but I did recently go through my dive refresher course around Komodo National Park in Indonesia after 15 years since my last dive. I’ll try to explain it in laymen terms without all the technical talk about the simple steps you’ll review when going through your dive refresher.

1. Buddy Check

In the buddy check, your instructor will show you how to safely check your buddy’s gear and essentially being their second set of eyes. This requires checking their BCD (the jacket that keeps you afloat) and seeing that it inflates and deflates properly, making sure the breathing apparatus is functioning on the regulator, and making sure all the harnesses are in place for a quick release, and that their weight belt is on.

2. Giant Step Entry

This is an easy step, literally! If you’re on a dive boat, or I imagine on a pool ledge, you just take one giant stride into the water holding having one hand on your weight belt and the other holding your mask and regulator. Once you fall into the water, you inflate your BCD and make clearance for the next diver after you.

3. Regulator Clearing

There are two methods of doing this. The first one is you take the regulator out of your mouth (pointing the breathing part down, so air doesn’t escape) and then placing the regulator back in your mouth. Once the regulator is back in your mouth, you’ll want to exhale as hard as you can until the regulator is clear.

The second method is following the exact same method, but instead of blowing air into the regulator, you use the purge button on the regulator. The purge button clears this for you.

4. Regulator Recovery

Again, there are two ways to recover your regulator if you happen to lose it. The first is to lean to the right and, then in a sweeping motion, use your right arm to grab it. It’ll likely come over your shoulder making it easy to recover.

The second method is to reach over your head or shoulder with your right arm and recover it that way.

Don’t forget to clear your regulator as needed.

5. Mask Clearing

There are 3 ways to clear your mask. I don’t know why I had such a hard time with this. Maybe it was my new mask and the silicone.

Partial mask clearing is you allow a little water to clear into the mask. Once it’s 1/2 filled, you open the bottom of your mask breathing out until the water clears. Repeat as necessary.

Full mask clearing is pretty much the same as the partial mask clearing but instead of filling your mask with only 1/2 the amount of water, you fill it completely.

Open mask clearing you take the mask completely off remembering to only breath with your mouth and not your nose then putting the mask back on and clearing the mask as above. You’ll want to make sure you always take a deep breath before clearing so that your breath is more powerful clearing out all of the water.

6. Neutral Buoyancy

Buoyancy is one of the most important skills you can learn while diving. If you can master your buoyancy, you can avoid damaging our ecosystem when diving underwater. In this step, you’ll essentially learn the difference between positive buoyancy (too much air in your BCD), negative buoyancy (too many weights or not enough air in your BCD), and then neutral buoyancy, which is what we want to strive for. In this step, you’ll observe your buoyancy and how to control it when inhaling and exhaling under water.

That’s about it! There are YouTube videos to give you a better visual. Just type in one of the 6 simple steps to getting your dive refresher. And, remember, to always follow the instruction of your guide when taking a refresher course.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last month with the Wicked Diving Komodo team working on my certifications from Advanced to Divemaster. It was nearly 15 years (yes, that dates me!) since my last dive and now I get to immerse myself fully at one of the greatest dive locations in the world (raise the roof!).

Because it had been so long since I’ve been back in the diver life, I had a lot of questions. What is a BCD and regulator again?? Octo-what?? I hope I don’t have any trouble equalizing. But then one of Labuan Bajo’s finest instructors, Marsel, introduced me to the underwater world again with a few simple steps in a refresher course, and since I put my mask on the right way, I knew I was off to a great start!

Our first dive was in Siaba Basar, also nicknamed Turtle City, and it was pretty easy-peasy for beginners. I’m feeling like a natural. Fins are appropriately placed on both feet, and I remembered how to breathe without using my nose again. We saw a some tropical fish and my confidence is up. In other words, I got this! Like a true champ.

Now that I’m feeling all mermaid status, it was time to step up our skills and visit a more interesting site – one with [drum rolls] MANTAS! I’ve never seen mantas before, so I know this is going to be freaking awesome!

On our way to our second dive, I hear Ilham, one of the other dive guides, screaming, “Whaaaale shark!!!” We all run to the side of the upper deck and see a baby whale shark swimming next to the boat. “Stop the boat!” The guides grabbed their masks and then jumped into the water without hesitation. I’m watching from above and then I see other divers following suit. I don’t want to miss out on this opportunity and jump on the whale shark party train with only my mask being able to see it for the last 10 seconds before it drifted deeper into the sea.

At this point, we’re feeling ecstatic. We get back onto the boat and continue to our second dive site before mantas came flying out of the water from a short distance away. Now I’m even more mindblown. What an incredible thing to witness and we’re not even in the water yet! This is surely a good sign.

Everyone is pumped and eager to get in. Andreas, one of our other dive instructors, was trying to give us a dive briefing, but we couldn’t help but take our attention off of him to see the mantas flying from different directions. But once he said the sooner we get through the briefing, the sooner we can see these mantas underwater, he had our undivided attention.

The second dive was at Makasar Reef that is known for being a cleaning station for Mantas. It started off with a light drift dive. I’m trying to be cool and mimick Marsel’s perfect buoyancy looking ever so relaxed and keeping my arms in place instead of like an amateur doggy paddling under water. I think I did okay!

We passed along some brown bamboo sharks, sweet lips, Little Nemo, and even unicorn fish – but it wasn’t until we saw four mantas between 3-4 meters circling that we decided to lay low and observe these majestic creatures for about 10 minutes.

Nothing compares to the very first time seeing a manta ray – especially when it hovers so close above you that it could touch you. I remember being in awe as we watched these guys get closer and closer to us, one of them even spouting out something from it’s rear in sets! I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one. At that point, aside from nature’s sense of humor, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. No other world existed but this one at this very moment.

We have one more dive for the day, and we ended it at Tatawa Besar. This was another low-key drift dive with plenty of coral to see. We saw both white tip and black tip sharks, Hawksbill turtles, and many other great marine life. A nice and relaxing way to end the day after being filled with so much excitement as we chase the sunset back to Labuan Bajo.

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