PADI Dive Master Program Experience

We asked Steve, one of our brilliant PADI IDC Staff Instructor’s, and Pavel Lavrinovic, who has just become a Dive Master, to chat and share with us a bit of Pavel’s journey on this 6 months Dive Master Program.

Steve: Well Pavel, congratulations on completing your Dive Master Program, but for everybody out there reading this post, can you tell them what started your own journey achieving your Dive Master. Where did it all start?

Pavel: It all started three years ago when I came into Andark, straight after my trip to Cuba, where I enjoyed Scuba Diving. So I wanted to progress.

Steve: Why did you decide to do your Dive Master qualification?

Pavel: I was looking for some work, a job not in the office, basically, and as much as possible, close to extremes.
So I was looking for Hiking, Climbing, or Scuba Diving, and I tried all of these, and I enjoyed Scuba Diving the most. It was something that melted my heart. I was where I should be.
Cuba was a bit of a strange experience. It was very beautiful but very unsafe. When I came into the UK, I enjoyed the correct systematical way of how things were done here. Very good for my brain, because my brain works systematically.

Steve: So what has your experience been like learning to be a Dive Master with us at Andark?

Pavel: The good part, in the beginning, was who would be my mentor. I met Steve, and I met a couple of other guys. Their experience was important to me. I wanted to work with people who have 10 or 20 years of diving.
I really did appreciate all the benefits that I got from Andark. I could come to dive every time I had spare time, come any other day, join any single course I wanted to join. So it was really really great, to begin with.
That must have taken me half of the year and it was intensive, which was the good part. It was what I was looking for.

Steve: As part of achieving your Dive Master qualification, you also obtained the PADI Master Scuba Diver rating which only about 5% of all divers actually go on to achieve. It’s often called in PADI circles “Ninja level” of training. So how did you feel about achieving that?

Pavel: I am actually a bit cool about that because it was all systematically. Smart in the way it was showed to me.

Steve: Can you tell us what you enjoyed the most? What was the best thing about the program?

Pavel: I would say, I really do love from my side, I just love being underwater, because I find it a bit extreme, and it feels really cool. I feel like I’m in the place I should be, actually, and another good thing which I got going through the Dive Master is the feeling of being helpful.

I was doing what I was supposed to do and helping people also.

Steve: Your Dive Master Program led you to other career options. So, can you share with us the last couple of days and the two weeks before that, what were you doing?

Pavel: I am interested in all opportunities. I am trying to catch up with everything that the Dive Industry offers. I finished last week my two-weeks course in Inshore Commercial Diving (HSE Scuba) and last week I finished by OPITO safety diver training.

Steve: How did you like that training? Did you enjoy that?

Pavel: Yeah! Plenty of examples, plenty of rescue scenarios that will stick with you, and it gave us plenty of thoughts and practice, and that was good.

Steve: You are training to be a Rescue Diver for what?

Pavel: For the scenario of a helicopter crashing into the water, offshore. Helicopter Underwater Escape Training Safety Diver.

Steve: What are you hoping to do next year? Anything special you want to try?

Pavel: Hum… I would like to start my AI (Assistant Instructor) in June or July. It is quite a short course and then I’ll go for Instructors.

Steve: It’s going to be a hard task when it comes to doing your Instructor Training

Pavel: I hope so. It should be intensive.

Steve: What about Diving? Is there any place in the world you fancy going diving?

Pavel: I fancy going to Mother Russia. I really would like to do Ice Diving, Cave Diving, some Deep Diving probably, and Wreck Diving. All extremes, somehow, attracts me.

If you liked or have any other questions about Pavel’s story, please let us know down in the comments.

5 Reasons why you should learn to dive before going on Holiday

You’ve decided to go on an amazing holiday overseas for an unforgettable trip and thought about learning to dive there. I’m going to tell you five reasons why you shouldn’t.

  1. Get the most out of it

When you plan a Holiday, you get expectations, you spend money, and you want to relax and enjoy all you can of the place you’re going to and the time you’ll have there. What happens is, the Open Water Scuba Diving – the first official step to Scuba Diving – is a serious and technical course you have to take in order to dive safely in the open seas and it takes 4 practical days to do so, plus the time you have to study the theory before making the actual course. Now, imagine if you take four days out of your holidays just for a course, when you could be actually diving, tanning, drinking or eating.

Learning to Scuba Dive on a Holiday trip won’t allow you to get the most out of the trip and neither the course unless you are spending enough time, and 4 days won’t make any difference for your whole Holiday.

  2. Learn in your language and culture

When you go outside your country you can’t be 100% sure, you’re going to have a native English speaker giving the course, which means you can miss some of the talk and details when you could have someone helping who fully understand your doubts, your culture and the specifications of where you live, so you won’t just be able to dive in your Holidays, but also when you get back home.

Here in the UK the water temperature, depth and visibility are different from other places in the world that you might be going for your Holidays, and diving doesn’t have to be an occasional hobby, but a sport you do when you can/want, and someone that understands the weather in the UK can probably understand what you’ll go through, whats the best equipment, and tips, and to be honest, after diving here, you’ll be qualified to dive anywhere, and then, when you go for a Holiday you’ll be more prepared and knowledgeable about what you’re interested in, what you want to explore and discover.

3.  Guarantee

As I said earlier, the Open Water Course it’s the first official course you take to learn diving. There are different places you can go to learn, but it’s imperative to look for a place that is PADI certified, as PADI is one of the safest and recognised curricula in the world and is a certification for life. So, you’ve got to make sure; you are taking this course in a trustworthy place.

Many places and hotels have their own courses, but they are not worldwide certification like PADI, which means you’ll be only certified to dive there, no other place will recognise it.

4. Financial Plan

Instead of getting a surprise spending on your Holiday or an extra spend, you can actually plan your diving course previously to the Holiday and organise your finance to do it first, knowing exactly how much everything costs, if you want to buy something or wait for a most appropriate moment, what you’ll need for the course.

We get many clients that went diving on a Holiday that wasn’t part of the plan and actually paid way more they would if they had done in here because they didn’t know if diving was for them, so they paid an expensive course for the whole family to try diving and then realised that they did like diving, but would take too many days to complete it during their trip, and they end it up doing here, regretting of the one they paid that wasn’t valid for anything and more expensive than ours, and also that they missed their chance to dive into an amazing . So, if you can plan your trip the best way possible and go prepared for almost everything and just worry about enjoying your time, better.

If you don’t know if diving is for you, there are safe and not expansive ways to try it first, before getting into it with all. For example, we have the Try Dive sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays evenings that were made especially for that, with professional and experienced instructors.

5. Pressure

Last but not least, you won’t have a pressure to buy and do things you are not ready and prepared for yet. As we know that some places take their students to learn diving in places they are still not comfortable with or ready for. When you take the course, you’ll learn that you are responsible to say no, to say you’re not feeling ok, something is wrong, or that you need something, and learning that in a place that won’t judge you for it, but will respect you, without any pressure, will give you more confidence to say “no” anywhere, if you need.

*”But should I Scuba Dive on my Holiday Trip?”
DEFINITELY! Scuba Dive is so much fun! And if you are going somewhere on the beach, you’ll be seeing just half of the place if you don’t go diving. Scuba Diving is the way to meet the underwater world, which is an entirely different world from what we have, full of creatures. So, it’s totally worth doing it.

If you want to give Scuba Diving a try, you can do a session we call “Try Dive“. The “Try Dive” session, as the name suggests, it’s just a taste of what Scuba Dive is, since pretty much everything you’ll do are things you’ve never done before, it’s an entry-level way, to test it if is for you, not having to invest, until you are sure. You don’t get a certification for this one.

Then, if you do like it and decide to invest in a course, we have the PADI Open Water Course, which is a 4-day course built to develop your knowledge and skills underwater, so you can dive safely. The PADI Open Water is a lifetime certification, recognised worldwide, which means you can dive any place in the world.

Andark Spring Sale Event

Are you ready for the Season ahead?

We all know that we are now entering to the best and most wanted Season of the year. The sun is out, birds are singing and the water looks more and more attractive. I don’t know about you, but all I want to do is enjoy the most of it, especially on outdoor activities,  getting exercise, taking some natural vitamin D (if you know what I mean) and just appreciating the great weather and contact with nature, to be honest.

Now, maybe you already have the whole season planned, dinghy sailing with your friends or scuba diving with your family on Holidays, but maybe you don’t. Maybe you already have great hobbies and activities that you love doing, or maybe you want to start something new but you’re not quite sure what you would like to do. So that’s why I wanted to write something for both of you.

Here at Andark, we don’t only sell diving and water sports equipment, we actually want to give people new experiences and open a whole new world for them, and we do that through our experience of more than 40 years now, also selling great products of the best brands available on the market so people can appreciate their above water or underwater moments, protected, safe and comfortable. Not only that, but we also have Scuba Diving Trainings from beginners to professional, certified by PADI, which means our students are certified for life and are able to scuba dive in any place in the world! Pretty cool, isn’t it?

So I would love to invite you over and introduce you to the watersports and underwater world, but if you are experienced, I know you want the best, and you want it from someone that understands what you’re looking for, so I would like to invite you too. Especially this weekend, we are having a BIG Sale Event at our store, starting on the 18th of May at 9am and ending on the 20th of May at 5pm, and it will be the perfect time to start something new or to buy that thing you’ll need for the season ahead. We have a massive selection of products for Sailing, Scuba Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling, if it is on the water, you name it.

I really hope you come, and I’ll leave a video below for you to see what you can expect.





Days and Times:




PADI Instructor Exam

We had a great weekend at the PADI IE with all 3 candidates passing with flying colours maintaining our 100% pass rate.

Looking forward to the next IDC especially now that Government sponsored Student Loans are available to assist with the IDC and IE costs along with a Level 3 NVQ in Dive Business Management.

PADI instructor ExamPADI instructor Exam

Michael Ambrose last week of his scholarship

The last few weeks of the scholarship were a lot of fun, with lots to do.

In the last few weeks of the scholarship we were as busy as ever. I completed the Full Face Mask speciality, which included using a full face mask in the Andark pool first, followed by Andark Lake. This was quite an experience, and it was strange being able to breathe through your nose and communicate with the surface underwater! I also completed the PADI Deep speciality, which involved planning and diving three dives at the National Diving & Activity Centre in Chepstow. I really enjoyed this, it is eerie and breathtaking at such depth and it’s great to now be able to dive to 40m as it opens up more dive sites and new adventures.It was sad to say goodbye to many great new friends as the scholarship drew to a close. We had a ‘goodbye’ meal which was lovely. This won’t, however, be a final goodbye, I’ll continue to go back to Andark to take advantage of the great facilities, great shop and most importantly see the great people! I’m extremely thankful to everyone at Andark for such a brilliant summer, I learnt a lot and had an excellent time!

Michael Ambrose Blog from Week 8 of his Scholarship

Last weekend was a busy one at Andark, with a large PADI Open Water course, a PADI Advanced Open Water course, a PADI Rescue Course and some PADI specialities such as Peak Performance Buoyancy and PADI Drysuit diver all training at Andark Lake. I was assisting on the Open Water course, which is always good fun as it’s great to take people into open water for the first time. It was brilliant to see the lake so busy and so many people having an enjoyable weekend of diving. During the week I did the PADI Enriched Air Diver speciality, which was done over one evening. The speciality was a hands on experience- we analysed nitrox cylinders, planned dives using different mixes and learnt about how to use our Suunto dive computers when diving with nitrox. Having completed the speciality I’m now able to get nitrox fills and dive with nitrox- which I am looking forward to doing soon!

Sophie’s Blog from Visiting Suunto

Suunto Blog

We visited Suunto UK in Alton on Wednesday to find out all about their dive computers. We had a tour of the office, workshop and warehouse then a presentation from Matt and Ryan showing us how Suunto all began. They showed us the range of products that Suunto make from the Zoop to the Eon and an overview of their specs. Next into the workshop to have a go at battery changes on a range of computers. We got to watch an Eon Steel be dismantled and put back together again which was interesting to see all of the components laid out. Later we had a presentation on Suunto’s sister companies, Finnsub that make wings and a company that makes rechargeable LED dive torches.

We were incredibly grateful to be given a Suunto Eon Steel dive computer laser engraved with our names on. An amazing piece of technology that I’ve had fun testing out. We also got a backpack full of great things – a spork, dry bags, hat, polo shirt, stickers, and FogCity for our masks. Thank you very much to Matt and Ryan for a great day and our amazing gifts.

Scholarship Week 6

Will Hardman Blog – Week 6

On the 3rd August on Wednesday, we were fortunate enough to get to visit the Suunto UK diving workshop and office in Alton where we were shown around by Matt and Ryan! We were able to see where the ‘conquering of new territory’ all came from with the help of the team giving us the ins and outs of the company and its products. We were introduced to the maintenance team in the workshop who showed us how to dismantle the D-series watches to conduct a battery change and we even got to see the taking apart of an Eon Steel, one of Suunto’s latest dive computers! We really enjoyed the day having been given presentations on the range of diving and outdoor products Suunto offers, going through the different dive computers, torches and wings – making us really want to get one for ourselves! At the end of the day, Matt and Ryan were incredibly generous and gave each of us a Suunto rucksack with our names on a label. This seemed confusing as they were all the same, until we opened them up and found a haul of gifts inside, including the Eon Steel dive computer! This top of the range computer was given to us individually as the team had even gone to the trouble of engraving our respective names on the back, making them really unique and personal which was such a privilege to receive and I highly recommend any one of Suunto’s latest computers as they really are top class for the diving world!   

I’ve been really busy at Andark during my Divemaster training, there seems to never be a day where there’s nothing to do! Kit room maintenance every Monday; checking our kit is in order, cylinder filling after all the PADI courses have been going on at the lake or in the pool and of course being the trainee divemaster on many of these courses assisting the instructors and getting my eye in as a professional in the diving industry – actually my favourite part of the training! Being on the Sunday dives has also been really enjoyable, Swanage Pier has had 2 great Sunday Dives which I have been on, with great vis underwater. I highly recommended diving under the pier for anyone recently qualified as a PADI Open Water Diver as it is a shallow dive, but with so much life to see in the shade of the pier, so join the Andark Sunday Dive team for a safe, supervised dive where we can help out and make you more confident in the water!