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In Coz: You, Your Buddy, Your Group and Your DM. Who should do what?

Discussion in 'Cozumel' started by cvchief, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. cvchief

    cvchief ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pennsylvania
    In response to a good suggestion, (you know who you are) I am starting this thread to continue or at least create a place for the discussion of who does what in the warm waters of Cozumel.

    1. I think a diver should look to be able to take care of themselves.
    2. I think my buddy should be close, but I admit we aren't as good about that as we should be.
    3. I think the group should be keeping and eye on each other. I have hung back to wait on a photog just to keep an eye on them when they are alone. I have helped keep an eye on newish divers when another diver has taken up all the DM's attention. You know the routine. Haven't been in the water in a year or two, convinced it isn't enough weight, floundering trying to get down. Just gotta smooth the edges.
    4. I think my DM watches new and rusty divers closley until it is CLEAR they are relatively skilled. I think my DM should keep some degree of eye on everyone and keep us all safe. In Cozumel diving the DM is really the expert, right?

    So here is a nice spot to move all those post on the Diver Lost thread. I think the conversation is valuable for new divers to Cozumel. Plus it will let the other thread rest.
  2. Brules

    Brules Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Oklahoma City
    I do not agree with DM's allow people to solo ascend....

    I also think SMB's should be required for all Coz dives due to currents ability to spread/break groups up. Also due to above.....
  3. cvchief

    cvchief ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Pennsylvania
    I agree, Brules. My thoughts are the DM should take the divers up and get them in touch with the boat before returning to the group, whether it is one or a pair. The part between group and boat seems to me to be the highest danger area.
  4. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Scuba Media & Publications Staff Member

    # of Dives:
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I have a million scattered thoughts on this topic.

    I think everyone will agree that a skilled DM is a different person on different dives with different divers. I was once in a group of highly skilled photographers with a DM who had already been with them before. This DM was almost invisible during the dive. He essentially stayed near the group as it went about its photographic business; he was just there to fulfill a legal requirement--that is how he acted, and that is how everyone liked it. I will bet that if he were with a group of new divers at the same place with the same conditions the next day, we would have seen a totally different man, someone watching people continually, checking their PSI, watching for people straying too far, etc. It is hard to define the DM role, because it can change from one day to the next.

    On another dive I was on, the DM blew an O-ring on the first stage very early in the dive. He took off the BCD, shut down his air as I handed him my alternate, and made the repair on the spot. When he then saw that he had lost too much air to continue the dive safely, he had to make a decision. He decided (rightly, IMO) that everyone on this dive had enough experience to be safe, and the current was light enough, so he went solo to the boat for a new tank while we looked at the nearby coral awaiting his return. What would he have done with a less experienced group? I suspect he would have had to take everyone to the surface while he got his new tank.

    So what about the issue of divers having to ascent very early in the dive? I don't know what a normal procedure would be. My first thought is that I would shoot a bag from depth for their ascent. I would leave it up until they are on the boat. At that point the boat would deflate the bag and send it back down to me as a signal that everything was OK. (That's just my first thought, though.)

    The divers have a responsibility to participate in the dive in a responsible manner as well. I was once in a group of highly experienced divers, and the one assigned to be my buddy chafed at the idea of having to follow the DM. He was always darting off, making my job as a buddy a real challenge, which was evidently not a concern of his. We were heading toward a feature at a site we all had wanted to see, and as the DM worked his way there, my buddy once again darted off from the rear of the pack to look at something. Caught in the middle, I pointed to where my buddy had gone when the DM looked back to see why I wasn't following. I could see the look of exasperation on the face of the DM from that distance. Seeing that my buddy would never be able to fight the current and get back to the group, he took the group to my buddy, which meant that we all missed the feature we had planned to see.
    Randy43068 likes this.
  5. Mike

    Mike Great White

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denver, Colorado
    That's really great Christi, nice to hear!
  6. Ron Lee

    Ron Lee Loggerhead Turtle

    Interesting. What is the general feedback?
  7. Mike

    Mike Great White

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denver, Colorado
    I have no problem with dive masters sending buddy teams to the surface together if they have a SMB on a reel. The exception would be diving barracuda, a night dive, or if conditions are less then ideal. Other than that, a buddy team should be fully capable of surviving a safety stop and a dive boat's captain should have no problem seeing one of their divers SMBs. This is about as dumbed down as I'd like to see this get to, and I'd rather see the divemaster stay with the group.
    Mayor likes this.
  8. Mossman

    Mossman Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SoCal
    I like that policy, but could see divers who would be affected by it and don't agree with it just moving on to the next dive op where they can save the money on the private DM. Perhaps such a policy should be island-wide, but could it be enforced? Also, 15 30' dives in a quarry in the past year still doesn't prepare one for downcurrents deep on a bottomless wall.
  9. Craig66

    Craig66 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Jersey
    To be honest I don't think that there are any dives anywhere that will duplicate the dives in any one location and in general 15 dives should mean 15 buddy checks, 15 descents, 15 opportunities for gas management, 15 minor issues as will happen on any dive and 15 safe ascents - a whole lot better than a new diver arriving on the island fresh out of padi course. Christi has to have some line in the sand and 15 seems a reasonable number as 15 in a year is more than just a "vacation diver"

    Also to be fair 15 quarry dives - even at 30 feet - can result in a huge learning curve. With the lack of good viz and the cold that goes along with most quarry dives that is some serious task loading and I would sooner dive with a 15 quarry dive diver than a 30 dive vacation diver. At Dutch springs, PA where I certified, 30 feet is thermocline territory and although the zebra mussles have improved viz you are still talking poor viz with COLD water - now that makes for beefy divers.

    I have dived approx 250 dives and still consider myself a beginner - I shudder to think that my 8th dive was in Coz off of a cruise ship with Sand Dollar and a deep wall with a ripping current - mainly because despite my training I had no idea what potential dangers awaited me - Hey I was on a cruise line with RCL - they would never let anything happen to me - Whew - there but for the grace of God goes I
  10. mahjong

    mahjong Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Mountain View, CA
    Funny thread. Looking to resolve the Coz conundrum on the sly. Bottom line is that Coz is advanced diving. Period. On easy days, of which there are many, non-advanced divers slide by and feel fantastic at having done so.

    But all divers need to be reflexively and honestly aware of their experience level. If a beginning-ish diver gets on a boat with advanced divers and there is only one DM/guide, then those beginning-ish divers are taking a risk. I think it was "Mike" the 'Freakonomics' whiz who presumed to make a mockery of parsing boats to accommodate different diver levels. However, one doesn't need to parse boats. An operator needs only to add to one boat another DM/guide. I have seen on many occasions a single boat with multiple DM/guides. Beginners go with one DM/guide, more advanced divers with another. In Mexico, if not most places on the planet (except perhaps the US, where most boats don't even provide DM/guides unless you individually hire one), this doesn't send the cost of diving spiraling to freaky proportions. DM/guides rely on tips, even if, as one DM/guide told me, the most high maintenance divers tend to leave the smallest tips. Adding a DM/guide gives that DM/guide an opportunity to make some money from tips. It doesn't jack for everyone the cost of diving.

    In Coz, esp, any beginning diver who enters the water as part of a group with advanced divers and a single DM is only asking for trouble. It is the beginning diver's responsibility to make sure, before the boat leaves the dock, that the situation on the boat is right for his/her diving level. Economics only ensure that the DO 'might' indeed be willing to leave the dock in a situation that might not be right for you.

    Dive only with other divers at your approximate level, and with a guide who is managing ONLY a group of divers at roughly the same experience level.

    This is especially true if you are a beginning-ish diver and diving in Cozumel.

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