Denea Buckingham is a Divemaster with Sydney Dive Academy, a PADI 5 Star Dive Center in Matraville, New South Wales, Australia.
PADI Diving Society: What is your current job at Sydney Dive Academy?
Denea Buckingham: I completed my Divemaster certification in Boracay and I’ll be completely honest — I’m a chilly-water wuss, so in the cooler months, I handle the digital strategy and marketing for Sydney Dive Academy.
PADI Diving Society: Describe a typical day in your working life.
DB: In the off season at Sydney Dive Academy I’ll be working on a number of projects involving social media, events coordination, and marketing. Multitasking on the days I’m physically in the dive shop, I’ll fill tanks, assist Peter Cross and Jamie Illistom with courses, help fit our divers with rental gear, and make sure everyone feels welcome when they come to our club.
A standard day in the water could mean guiding a dive club trip around Bare Island (Botany Bay) and pointing out the beautiful amount of marine life in the waters of Kamay National Park. I might be coordinating a group to meet for a dive trip to the HMAS Adelaide or down to dive with the seals at Wollongong. Other times, I’ll be bringing up the Open Water pack — looking after a new diver who isn’t particularly confident.
My role is varied and there’s always something exciting to work on!
PADI Diving Society: When did you start diving?
DB: In 2009, for a holiday with an ex-boyfriend! He was already qualified, so he made me complete my Open Water Diver course in the middle of winter in Sydney, so I’d be certified by the time of our holiday. The weather was hideous and I froze my tail off. But 29-degree C water in Sipadan and a subsequent adoration of diving were more than worth it.
PADI Diving Society: When and where did you become a PADI Divemaster?
DB: I did my Divemaster training from January to April 2012 with Calypso Diving on Boracay Island in the Philippines.
PADI Diving Society: How did you feel when you became a PADI Divemaster?
DB: I was absolutely thrilled because I’d grown and changed as a person as well as a diver.
PADI Diving Society: What highlights do you recall from your DM course?
DB: Calypso is working on an exciting new resort on one of the islands neighbouring Boracay. I was lucky enough to go with Rene Buob (our Course Director) and Andy Barrett (my Instructor) to explore new dive sites around the island.
Andy Barrett and I orchestrated the release of two little bamboo reef sharks from a neighbouring Chinese restaurant. We also negotiated with the restaurant to remove all shark dishes and shark meat from the menu. A very decent crowd assembled to watch us release the sharks (who we’d nicknamed Ni and Hao) off the beach near the dive shop. You can read my full article about it on Project AWARE’s site: Phoenix Sharks Go Free!
I could go on and on — there were so many highlights. I recommend the PADI Divemaster training course to anyone who wants to discover a new depth in themselves; it is an experience that means so much more than just a certification card.
PADI Diving Society: Where have you worked as PADI Pro?
DB: With Sydney Dive Academy here in Australia, but who knows where it will take me!
PADI Diving Society: What is one of your favorite memories in your diving career?
DB: In March 2012, the Boracay Association of Scuba Schools (BASS) sunk a Yakolev Yak 40 aeroplane as a new dive site. I was well into my Divemaster training at that time, so I jumped on board for all the activities surrounding the sinking. I took video of the 70-odd people who physically pushed the jet across the tarmac and into the water to be towed to the dive site. Then I helped video the actual sinking, and I was the first one to create a dive site map of the wreck.
My last dive in Boracay was guiding my friend and PADI Course Director, Sue Gibbins, around the wreck. The ownership and pride I felt in being qualified to lead her around something I’d had so much to do with was fantastic.
PADI Diving Society: What words of advice would you give to new dive professionals?
DB: You get out what you put in. If you’re not prepared to bring the best you have to every dive, you won’t have as much fun or feel as rewarded as you can if you give 150 percent every time you get the chance. We’re incredibly lucky to have earned our way into the world of Professional Diving. Now the fun is in continuing to deserve it!