An unforgettable day with SEAFRIENDS
We want your visit to SEAFRIENDS and the Marine Reserve to be inspiring and unforgettable. It is a day packed full of information and experiences, snorkelling rating highest. We always seem to run short of time but with a little help from parents and teachers, the day can be made to flow smoothly. This pamphlet attempts to familiarise you with what is going to happen and the many ways you can contribute to the day's success.

Measuring for wetsuits.
Wetsuits contain bubbles of air that insulate while also providing safe flotation. We use wetsuits that keep your pupils warm. Whereas some children may have a 'shorty' or 'springsuit', such suits cover only 2/9th of the body, leaving 7/9th exposed, and they are very thin. Our suits cover 8/9th of the body and they are 5mm thick, good for at least one hour in the water. It allows you to visit us from September to May. But most importantly, wetsuits provide flotation. In our wetsuits you simply cannot drown!

A wetsuit works only when it fits precisely, leaving very little room for water to flow in and out. All that water needs to be warmed up by the body for the suit to start working. Thus a suit is a very personal thing and we need body measurements to fit the suits precisely. You will have received a wetsuit fitting form on which 4 measurements appear. The height and hips (Not waist!!) are the most important ones. Measure height against a wall.  Do it accurately with a proper tape measure and in cm please!  Make sure that the wetsuit fitting form arrives at least one day in advance because allocating the suits is rather time-consuming. Sometimes when two schools require wetsuits on the same day, we require the forms earlier still.

Rotating the groups
In order to make best use of overlap, the best way is to rotate groups from snorkelling to aquariums to shore study. In that manner the next snorkelgroup is already on the beach and time can be borrowed from the shore time slot for snorkel instruction. The snorkelgroup then goes to Seafriends to warm up. The shore study also allows for munching a lunch, thus saving time spent on a separate lunch break. The aquariums and video take about one hour out of a two hour timeslot so that the shuttle time between beach and Seafriends goes off the aquarium timeslot. In the morning, drive all the groups to the beach first, deliver the shore study and snorkel groups and drive the aquarium group back to Seafriends. The bus waits at Seafriends until that programme is done after which the group is driven to the beach to take the next group to Seafriends.

The snorkelling
All divesuits, masks and fins have been hung on racks or laid out on the sheltered lawn near the changing sheds by Goat Island beach. 

Each group first receives instruction on how to use mask, snorkel and fins and how to get in and out of wetsuits. They are also taught the house rules. Taking a group out snorkelling is like going for a hike in the bush: we stay together; help each other, and do as told. 

Then the class takes off warm clothes and while in their swimsuits, queue up to receive the wetsuits. Much time can be saved if children arrive with their swimsuits already on, under their warm clothes. Parents' and teachers' help is needed because children are not very quick when it comes to dressing and undressing. Parents and teachers also need to put on their wetsuits but they can do so at the end.

Children are encouraged to find the masks and fins themselves. Those who are short-sighted or long-sighted, get masks with optically corrected lenses. Then everyone gets a coloured cap: yellow for all pupils, blue for the parents and pink for the instructors. These caps allow us to see where everyone is in the water and whether a parent is near every group of children. In the water each instructor pulls a float, following the 'leading' float that follows the best course for the day. Pupils are allowed to roam freely within a swimming pool distance (20m) around each float. In this manner they are able to cover a large area exploring the underwater world, and being active keeps them warm. Parents and teachers are encouraged to spread themselves around and please stay within the 20m rule!

For many children the snorkelling is a first experience. Usually 70% swim away with the lead group. A remaining 20% has to be helped and perhaps 10% don't want to leave the shore. Although we want to encourage the children and offer them help, we don't want to force them. It is also important that they learn to help themselves and sort out their own problems with masks and fins. We encourage all parents to take part and not to 'opt out' by staying behind. That would set a bad example. We also discourage 'hand-holding'. Remember that everybody floats like a cork and can not possibly drown. If children get cold, a group is formed that is escorted back by an instructor or parent. In no circumstance are children swimming back on their own!

Before returning to the shore, the next group is already being briefed, ready to get into their wetsuits as soon as these become available. Children and parents try to keep all dive gear clean. Masks are dipped into a disinfecting chlorine solution. Many children need help in getting out of their wetsuits. They then change to dry clothes in the changing sheds.

When all goes well, some time will be available at the end of the day when all groups have congregated at the beach. Questions can be fielded and a word of thanks said.