Where is Big Palm Beach? Where’s the beach at Little palm? Or the palms? Despite the misnomer we found the organized parking facility and ramp leading to the azure waters. Three and a half instructors and 7 students I think. I was not trained to count. Two persons, who shall remain anonymous had the hunted look of someone who hadn’t paid their domino fees in a working men’s club. In the north east (oops) the committees are often more tenacious than the French Foreign Legion looking for an AWOL soldier when tracking down subs. These shadowy figures (P+S) were able to dispense a dose of top tips in rescue despite the ever present danger of a man in a flat cap appearing.
It was a hot day and we started with a few waist deep drills and lessons. Belt dumping, including the webbing crotch harness belt catch trick. Some floating, pistol grips, swan neck and nose blowing. Before long we were heading out to sea. The slope at little palm is a bit shallow, so it is a long trip. Eventually gathering in a blob we discussed the CBL and transition into securing buoyancy, pizza, losing weight, blowing noses and the decision to swim for it. But first we went to the bottom, did a bit of shaking and CBL, before heading up. After several practices and swaps the students were ready to swim for the shore. After a minute of blowing beer fumes, the tow began. It was quite a long way and a workout. Eventually we landed near the ramp in the prescribed chest deep water.
Kit was removed, the one man rescue demo and drag, then switched for the two man crucifix. Both designed to test pain threshold and balance on the slippery algae. Casualty placed, head protected we cut the drill at the point of further chest pumping and nose blowing. It went well. After a bit of rehydration we were back in the water to avoid the sun. Hanging about on the ramp was getting warm.
The second lesson was the fabled SMB tow. Inflatables were blow to the preferred firmness, strings attached and reels demonstrated. A short talk on why we use the SMB, when we don’t, precautions and safety with their use. We set off again for the deep. Reaching around 6 metres, but also heading shallow, due to some navigational issues. We found some rocks and some sand. Buoys were towed for a good 40 minutes testing students compressively on holding a buoy and line at the correct tension. Eventually we had a look where we were and headed back towards shore of a bit, then surfaced for some further surface swimming. Fully trained, happy as a clam, we headed back to the ramp for a debrief. We were all done before 2pm.
The visibility was good. Little palm is not the best of scenic sites, but there were shoals of small fish scooting about, a few goby, clown fish. There was some brass and an instructors had found. Next week we are on a boat for the grand finale.