Regular guests will know we have a constant presence in Sharm in the shape of the MFO (Multinational Forces and Observers), a peace time military group who are here as part of the Camp David Agreement. These guys are pretty much confined to camp, which is just outside Naama Bay, but on their days off they like nothing better than to learn to dive. And we love teaching them.  It’s their last week before the next rotation come in, and not wanting to leave them out of my blog, this week I will be reminiscing…….So, some weeks ago……

What ideal students these 6 guys are. Its all Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am. (haven’t had a 3 bags full Ma’am yet… but there’s always time!) You ask them to do something, and it’s done with no complaints. Which means an Open Water Course becomes possible in 3 days, no problem.

They are all fit guys and girls, so the swim and float test is never a problem – apparently they have to complete a monthly swim in their uniforms, so a 200m bimble in the bay is nothing!  It’s warm so I gladly get in and enjoy the paddle around with them – plus it’s a great time to find out more about them, you can tell a lot in these few minutes, so I’m already mentally preparing buddy teams and more importantly, how to remember the names of all of them! Red Shirt Jon, Scuba Steve and Skinny Ryan… great, that’s 3 committed to memory!

Its day two of their course, and I’ve been subbed in to replace their original instructor who is needed for an unusual specialty course that he is one of only a handful of instructors who are allowed to teach.  So they’ve gone from an ex-marine to me….. Quite a change!

One makes a break for it.. (posed by models!!)

We hit the water running (if that’s possible) and soon we are ticking off skill after skill, but with 6 of  them, anything seems to take a long time, even when they are all getting it right first time. And thank god for that. Any ‘moments’ will delay us and with this timetable we don’t have much wiggle room. One minute no-mask breathing on its own takes me over 10 minutes, what with the skill itself and the logistics of trying to keep 6 well-built men underwater and together…there’s always one whose attention wonders at the mere passing of a parrot fish and another who can’t keep still. Grown men aren’t keen on linking arms underwater it would seem.

At the college, our course groups are normally only 4 people (unless you are MFO), so it’s a challenge for us to teach groups this large. It definitely keeps you on your toes, and makes you appreciate the ease of our normal, smaller classes.

At the end of day two, we’ve been in and out of the sea 4 times. We’ve achieved a lot today and everyone is pleasantly tired, although I suspect one or two fell asleep in the bus back to base!

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