Skipper Apprenticeship Program
Skippers are an extremely important asset to the club. Without them, there is no diving! Any member can become a skipper and here's how to join our team of skippers:
1. Get out on the boat!
The first step is to get out on the boat a few times and just enjoy some diving. You can pick up a lot of the basics just by keeping an eye on how the day goes and what the skipper, apprentices and other assistants do during the course of the day. Ask questions, let the skippers get to know you a bit better.
This is the main part of becoming a skipper and to start you just need an RST (Recreational Skipper's Ticket). When you're ready to get started, tick the "apprentice skipper" box when making a booking so the skipper knows you want to get involved skippering. Then on the night before the dive talk to the skipper about your experience and he/she will help you out and teach you the various things you need to know. If you haven't already done so you will need to download an apprentice skippers log book. This is a guide to the skills required of a skipper. A quick reference Skippers Checklist and a boat and dive site briefing guide have been created to help skippers and apprentices remember all the things that need to be done when taking the boat out for a dive.
During your apprenticeship you need to get practice handling the boat, trailer, operating the radio and co-ordinating divers in various situations. Ask the skipper to show you how it's done and where you can improve as you progress. If you are diving you will also need to be competent and capable in handling yourself, your gear and setting an example to other divers.
It's important to note that being a skipper takes responsibility and requires you to be able to take initiative in many situations and this starts in your apprenticeship. We will not spoon feed this training to you but rather it is up to you to drive the pace of your learning, asking and using the skippers as a resource to building up your skills and experience to the point where you can take the boat out unaided.
3. VHF Radio License
To all those apprentices ready to become skippers, the next step is the VHF Radio License or Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency as anyone who operates a boat equipped with a VHF Radio must be qualified as specified by the Department of Transport. There are many instructors and schools teaching this course in Perth and you have the choice of doing a course or independent study at home. Passing a short exam is all that is required to achieve the certificate and the cost varies between different instructors and schools. Once you become a club skipper, the Club will reimburse half of the cost of your course!
4. Finishing up
Your apprenticeship finishes when you have your VHF Radio ticket and that you have demonstrated to two skippers and the committee that you are competent in safely operating the boat; choosing optimal dive sites for the conditions and experience of the divers aboard, handle any emergencies that crop up with some degree of effectiveness and overall be someone that club members can enjoy a day out on the boat with.
Remember: although we don't hand out skipper status to anyone, we ARE here to help those of you who are keen to build up your skills and experience to the point where you are ready to become one of the club's most important assets. So ask away, get yourself out on the boat, get in there and get it done!