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Poseidon SSI ITC Cayman Islands

My 8 Days in Grand Cayman with New Poseidon Rebreather Center Owners and Instructors

By Tasha Wallace

 

I’ve been a Poseidon Fish for almost 3 years now. While being able to travel to numerous tradeshows and many Poseidon Rebreather Try-Dive events with the company, I finally got the chance to travel and focus solely on becoming a better rebreather diver by following along with the SSI ITC instructed by Steve Newman, SSI IT and Heidi Shappell, SSI Rebreather Instructor with Choo Choo Dive Center as three of my new Poseidon Rebreather Center owners and instructors became Poseidon Rebreather SSI Instructors. As I arrived at Cobalt Coast I was greeted by Dora who is one of the warmest, friendliest people I have had the pleasure to meet. She showed me where everything was, including my very nice spacious room.

Heidi-Shappell-FullAfter putting my gear away, I decide to explore the resort, wondering what the guys who will be attending the training course look like (I’ve never seen them before).  I immediately saw a familiar face, Heidi, who was talking to Steve Tippetts. I also saw Warren with Fourth Element. I was very happy to see them express and my excitement about what was ahead. I also had the pleasure of meeting Warren’s wife Karla. As we were talking, I noticed a guy looking our way and thought to myself, "he looks like a nice guy." As I walked past him he flashed a big smile and introduced himself as John Izsler with Capital City Scuba in Lansing, MI. As it turned out he was one of the new Poseidon Rebreather Center owners and we became fast friends. John has a great inviting personality and I could tell right away that he is passionate about the Scuba industry and instruction. I will definitely have to let John show me his diving stomping grounds. I have always wanted to dive the lakes. I learned quite a lot from him during our talks.

 

 

New-SSI-Poseidon-Rebreather-InstructorsAs the day moved forward I finally met Ed Ceisla and Brandon Johnson with Woods & Water from Brandon, FL, as well as Bob Camus with Scuba Ventures in Shreveport, LA. Ed is a quiet guy that has a very attractive ease and comfort about him. He has a vast knowledge of diving and if you ever get a chance, ask him about the snake in his heart. It has to be one of the best true stories I have ever heard. I won’t go into detail as a story like this can only be properly told by the person it happened to. Along with Ed is a young guy named Brandon Johnson. For someone so young, Brandon has come a long way in the scuba industry, and I suspect he will be a big presence in the future. He has quite a desire to push the limits all while being a safe and conscientious diver. Cave diving and deep diving are his passions. Bob was a bit of a mystery at first. I got the impression he was a "no messing about, straight to the point, this is serious," kind of guy. I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. Although he's quite serious about diving, he's a very light hearted and enjoyable guy with an infectious laugh. 

 

SSI-ITC-Skills

Let’s get to the best part. Diving! After some classroom time and building our rebreathers it’s time to pre-breath and get wet. We all get our dive buddies situated and off we go. I get to dive with Heidi as my buddy. Heidi is a highly accomplished rebreather diver as well as a doctor of hyperbaric medicine and a fantastic buddy to have for sure. She has a knack for finding the smallest little sea creatures. I would have missed them completely. 

Heidi and I are following in the back of the pack. This gives me the chance to watch these new Poseidon Rebreather divers getting used to their equipment and looking like beginner divers rather than the great divers that they are. Now, I don’t mean this as an insult. It’s just the opposite. I myself have been diving a Poseidon Rebreather for over a year and I needed a lot of help in the trim department as well as other areas. These great divers have discovered a new joy in diving and remember what it was like when they were new divers full of excitement. They all had big smiles on their faces.

Guardian-of-the-ReefOne very exciting part of the dive training journey was getting to see the Guardian of the Reef base being placed in what is now its permanent location. We were diving at Lighthouse Point and while heading back to the exit point we started hearing what I thought was a boat getting ready to tie off so divers could stride in, so I never bothered looking up. Not the case at all. After hearing this boat for what I though was too long and seeing the big cement block from the mooring line get lifted off the seafloor I finally look up to see this giant square above me. I quickly look to Heidi with wide eyes and she signals me to follow her. I started finning diligently behind her. We both stop to look up and that block is right above us again.. It was chasing us, I was sure of it! So she signals me to follow again and off we went. We and the rest of the group head toward the coral. We all turn around to see that the square was being lowered with airbags and was actually the base for the Guardian of the Reef statue. As it gets to what seems like the midpoint between surface and seafloor the block just drops with a huge thud and this big cloud of sand comes billowing from each side. After the cloud cleared we could all see the plaque stating Guardian of the Reef. It is by far one of the more amazing things I have ever seen.

 

RebreathersAs the days go by we conduct daily rebreather builds before diving and breakdowns as part of the course. These men are starting to look really great while diving and I can see that their confidence is increasing exponentially. They have a true drive to complete this course which, by the way, is rigorous with early mornings and late evenings. I did however find that breaking down and cleaning my rebreather is meditative and goes really well with a White Tip beer.

 

 

Steve-NewmanSteve Newman is a fantastic instructor. I have learned so much from him as well as Heidi. I view Steve as a coach...you know, that coach you had as a kid where all you wanted to do is work hard for and impress because you knew they cared about your success. It’s a rare individual who possesses that quality. I think Steve has it.

As we come to the close of the training course, all the guys are looking and feeling great. They all passed the training course and I was overjoyed for them. While I was excited to go home and see my family, I was also sad that this amazing journey was ending. 

I have enjoyed diving with everyone in this course and look forward to seeing and diving with each person again. 

With Steve and Heidi’s guidance not only am I a Poseidon Rebreather diver, but I look really good doing it now!! 

 

Thank you Steve and Heidi and thank you to John, Ed, Bob and Brandon for the great memories.

Tasha Wallace