New diver getting my certification, is my instructor doing it wrong?

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by Baileywantstoscuba, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Baileywantstoscuba

    Baileywantstoscuba Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: Southern California- Los angeles
    Hi I'm bailey and I'm in the process of getting my open water cert. I have a trip coming up in 7 weeks and wanted to get certified before then, I found an instructor who said 7 weeks is enough time.

    Ao I'll tell my story then list my questions.
    I signed up last Wednesday the 6th and got my study materials and started my first class Saturday the 9th for my in class learning, after 4 hours in the classroom we went to the pool and did 1 hour with the gear. The next day the instructor took me to catelina to Avalon dive park to do some open water diving (he knew this was my 3rd time in the ocean EVER). While diving he would ask me to get in and we had NOT gone over exits and entry's, using my BC, and I had 1 hours experience with the equemt in a 5ft deep pool.

    Also he brought 2 advanced diving students with him and his girlfriend who is certified but could barely swim. He was in charge of us all and told me to wait for him while he did skills checks on the others, so I was alone in the water bobbling from 25ft up and down trying not to fly up to the top. I did my first dive and it was awkward and scary, I hadn't used this equipment much and had very little ocean experience. Also I could equalized pressure in my ears, leaving my ears still today unable to hear much. My second dive was at low tide which is hard getting in with fins and the instructor got knocked over leaving me slamming up against rocks while he was stuck, luckily I rock climb and knew how to grip rock while getting out. I felt unsafe, and like he would be mad if I told him it was going to fast (as I tried and he screamed at me time and again to stop whining and relax). He also had me buy a mask, fin, booties, gloves, snorkel, and hood. He told me I had to buy from his store, but had nothing to fit me (I'm average size 5'4" and 120lbs). Also the equipment he rented to me didn't fit me ( I turned blue from how tight it was), and the BC was leaking the whole time and his student had to point it out. It feels like he is just trying to make money and rush me through. But maybe this is normal? I want to trust someone as it can be your life at risk. After we were done diving he left me with the get and told me to clean it but never showed me how (I read how to do it, but want to be cautious)
    Question #1. Was this too soon and too little pool experience?
    Question #2. What is normal in terms of pressure on your ears? It was uncomfortable the whole time and I was trying to equalize pressure but never got there. Any tips?
    Question #3 did the instructor act like this because this is how they are taught to speak and act?
    Question #4. Is it normal to have a little anxiety at first underwater?
    Question #5. Is this good and I'm just anxious?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!! I left feeling scared and unsafe aand like I was wrong for not getting it in 24 hours. Please help!!!!! I also feel if I ask for my money back he would act out, I watched him cuss and scream all day, he wouldn't listen to any questions, he called it whining. Unless he bragged about himself he wasn't interested, no eggagerating here, he literally said asking about the vis, debth, BC, temp, was whining.
  2. Wookie

    Wookie ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Run, don't walk. There are so many gross violations of standards here I hardly know where to begin.

    You are never allowed in the water unsupervised until you are certified. No how, no way. Never. Any responsible instructor would never mis OW students with advanced students. I've never heard of such a thing. One pool session does not make you ready for any OW sessions. I'm curious. How many pool sessions did he sign off for you before he took you to the ocean?

    You asked for a class to be completed in 7 weeks. This should be no problem, but did you ask anywhere else? Most classes take 2 weekends and the week in between, 2 weeks at most.

    Chalk it up as money poorly spent and as a learning lesson. Take your books and equipment you had to buy to anyone else who uses that teaching material and get you a new instructor. This one is not doing you a service.
    Bombay High, 300bar, mcmski and 5 others like this.
  3. beaverdivers

    beaverdivers ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    You should demand a complete refund on the inadequate training and gear.

    Find another instructor that meets your needs.

    I would recommend a private course.
    Fatterboy and DivemasterDennis like this.
  4. danvolker

    danvolker SFDJ Dive Team

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake Worth, Florida, United States
    You should NOT have been left alone, period.
    There should be no pain or pressure in your ears--you equalize every couple of feet you descend, long before any pain--equalize as soon as you feel pressure.
    The instructor acted like this because he is a bad instructor.
    Anxiety when you have no supervision on initial dives sounds more like common sense than anything else!!
    Ask for your money back. If he won't give it back( probably will refuse), then DEMAND never to be left alone until certified. Demand to have at minimum a certified buddy with you at all times. Another student is not a buddy, until they are certified....But you SHOULD have either the instructor or a DM with you at all times.

    If he refuses, then you should be posting his name and his shop, and letting us craft some responses to him that he gets to see :)

    In reality, there is no place for the cussing and screaming, and he sounds like he is such a poor instructor from your description, that even if he certifies you, it will most likely be a bogus cert, and you will need to hire another instructor to actually teach you scuba other words, there is little up-side to trying to make this work with this guy....
  5. Baileywantstoscuba

    Baileywantstoscuba Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: Southern California- Los angeles
    Thanks everyone. I just would like my money back to go elsewhere. It was a really strange experience. I felt like I was failing.

    ---------- Post added February 11th, 2013 at 09:38 AM ----------

    He never signed off on more than 1/2 pool dive. He told me it would be completely different. I did check around and he was the same price as every else, just closer to home for me.

    ---------- Post added February 11th, 2013 at 09:39 AM ----------

    He never signed off on more than 1/2 pool dive. He told me it would be completely different. I did check around and he was the same price as every else, just closer to home for me.
  6. SeaCobra

    SeaCobra Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: West Chester, PA
    was this class through a dive shop or an independent instructor? which training agency are we dealing with? It is difficult to answer your questions, as they say there are always 3 sides to every story. I have no doubt this is how you honestly feel, so will try to help a little.

    Question #1 - hard to say, I teach on the East coast and do not have easy access to nice open water, so I normally complete all pool/confined water training prior to heading to open water. My course provides 12 hours of pool time to learn and practice skills, but I am the exception in the area, not the norm, most provide between 4 to seven hours.

    Question #2 - your ears should not be in pain. with proper training and technique and a little patience you should be able to completely equalize the pressure in your ears (assuming all health conditions are normal) so that you do not have pain or discomfort while diving or after.

    Question #3 - I have yet to see a training agency train an instructor to be a braggart, but it does develop sometimes. It could be that you were anxious and nervous and reacted to his stories when you needed a bit of attention yourself.

    Question #4 - perfectly normal

    Question #5 - again, hard to say since I was not there, with only 1 hour of pool time, I would expect someone to have a little trepidation jumping into the ocean.

    It may be time to communicate how you feel, in a professional manner, to the instructor before proceeding. If you feel he may "blow up" at you, well, why postpone the inevitable? I do not know anyone in the LA area, I know some good people in San Diego, wish I could help you find some support.

    If you search this website you can find one or two threads on how to interview a scuba instructor, perhaps they can guide you to finding one better suited for your needs.
  7. pasley

    pasley Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, CA
    Question #1. Was this too soon and too little pool experience? Each certification agency sets its own minimum standards for pool time and classroom instruction. Each instructor sets their own schedule, some move faster than others. Time is money and pool time especially so.
    Question #2. What is normal in terms of pressure on your ears? It was uncomfortable the whole time and I was trying to equalize pressure but never got there. Any tips? You should not feel pressure in your ears. Clear them before you start the dive and every two feet after that. Don't wait until you feel pressure, then it is too late.
    Question #3 did the instructor act like this because this is how they are taught to speak and act? No, not how they are taught. Could be just a bad day, it happens to us all.
    Question #4. Is it normal to have a little anxiety at first underwater? Yes
    Question #5. Is this good and I'm just anxious? SUBA is fun. Have a talk with your instructor and address your concerns.
  8. Mustard Dave

    Mustard Dave Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Manchester, UK
    #1 - Yes. One hour in the pool is nothing.
    #2 - You should equalise before you feel discomfort. Some people have trouble with doing this and some find different techniques work better for them. A competent instructor will help you with this.
    #3 - Your instructor sounds like a penis. He should not be screaming at you and he has no right to insist you buy equipment off him. Most dive schools include equipment hire with recreational level courses.
    #4 - Yes. We are not meant to breathe underwater and some are more anxious with others. Some take a little time to get over it, some never have it, some will always be anxious but learn to control it and some never get past it.
    #5 - I'm not sure what you mean.

    Seven weeks is plenty - I did mine in four days (one weekend in the pool, next weekend in a quarry) - this is pretty typical. Some people take longer than others and need to learn at a pace that suits them.

    It sounds like you need to find a new instructor. I would ask for a refund and report him to his agency.
  9. Cleavitt

    Cleavitt Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Central Florida
    Find a different instructor that is patient or at least cares about your safety. Diving is supposed to be fun. You are paying the instructor to teach you something. Yelling at you should not be part of that.

    As far as your questions...

    #1) Yes. If you felt that uncomfortable then it was too fast. It sounds like it would have been too fast for almost any student, but that is beside the point. A good instructor should be able to gauge your rate of progression and help build confidence. It doesn't sound like this dive accomplished that.

    #2) It's not normal to have reduced hearing after diving. You should never feel pain in your ears while diving. If you feel discomfort you have already gone too far. Ascend a few feet and equalize before going deeper. Under normal circumstances you should only feel a slight pressure in your ears when you need to equalize. Good bouyancy control makes it much easier to to deal with equalizing since you aren't bobbing up and down. Since this is your first dive your instructor should have been doing something to prevent this situation. Most likely you have irritated your ears quite a bit. Wait until they return to normal before you do any more dives. If you are still having issues after a few days, or if it gets any worse, I would see a doctor.

    #3) Instructors are not taught to act the way you have described your instructor. Different instructors have different teaching styles. Some may fit with your personality better than others. Some people just don't have the ability to teach though.

    #4) Anxiety yes. Fear for your life, no.

    #5) Above all you should be having fun while learning to dive. If you aren't having fun then that is a sign that your training needs to progress a little more slowly. For someone with such limited experience in the ocean I would expect you might need a little more time than average. There is nothing wrong with that.
  10. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    If this occurred as described and this was a PADI class, this was a major standards violation and should be reported. I cannot see any way that, outside of extraordinary conditions, the Catalina Dive Park could be considered an open water equivalent of a pool. And one hour in the pool is not sufficient to move to open water in a PADI OW class.

    Seven weeks is a very generous time frame in which to complete certification. Our shop in Seattle has one of the longest classes available here, and it's completed in three weeks. It involves six evenings of lecture and pool time (nine hours in the pool) and two days of open water diving.

    At the very least (and assuming you booked this through a shop) you should speak to the shop owner about what happened, and request another instructor. If this was an independent instructor, I would request my money back and go look for another place to get certified.

    I don't know where in Southern California you are, but if Hollywood Divers is an option for you, that would be a place to look. Another, with an independent instructor I know very well, is Robert is a very empathetic person.
  11. awap

    awap Giant Squid

    # of Dives:
    Location: Central TX
    On a bit of a selfish note, I suggest you first pursue your course (and maybe even your equipment) refund before you take this up with the training agency.
    Fatterboy likes this.
  12. NWGratefulDiver

    NWGratefulDiver Mental toss flycoon ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: Pugetropolis
    If it were me, I'd try to get my money back ... but regardless I would NOT recommend getting back in the water with this instructor, for the following reasons ...

    - too little pool time prior to taking you to OW ... shows a lack of regard for agency standards
    - he's trying to do two classes at the same time, leaving you unsupervised ... not just a standards violation, but EXTREMELY unsafe
    - there's never an excuse to scream at a student ... particularly an OW student
    - equipment that doesn't fit properly is useless, and only makes the learning experience more difficult and uncomfortable

    Sorry, but if the reality is anything remotely close to what you wrote, don't get back in the water with this guy. Find another instructor and start over.

    ... Bob (Grateful Diver)
    Fatterboy and DivemasterDennis like this.
  13. flots am

    flots am Great White

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wherever you go in life, that's where you are.
    Tell him you want a full refund.

    If he does anything but hand it to you immediately, file a complaint with PADI's Quality Assurance department and your credit card company. PADI isn't especially interested in your happiness, but they're very interested in avoiding lawsuits, and this guy is just begging for one.

    The credit card company will give you your money back, since you were not given the training you paid for, and PADI will stop him from doing this again with someone else.

    tac747 and Baileywantstoscuba like this.
  14. Scott

    Scott PADI Pro

    # of Dives:
    Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
    How many open water students are/were in your class?
    Four hours for a private to complete all the academics is low IMO but could be done. One hour in the pool to have a student ready for dives 1 & 2 in SoCal waters is way too short. The watermanship (swim, tread) plus skin diving and pool dives one, take more than an hour alone. I fear you were woefully short changed in the pool.
    What skills did you do in the pool?

    Catalina is not pool like conditions so I fear this instructor broke the standards (PADI) or is pushing a very recent standards change to the limit.

    How far away were you from the group?

    That alone is enough to walk away. Yes you may lose some money, but I would find another instructor.

    Normal is you shouldn't have continuous pressure, meaning you shouldn't have to feel the discomfort throughout the dive. The 5 foot pool for an hour did you no favors.
    I equalize at the surface, then just below and continue every few feet. Make sure you pull the hood away so you have water inside the ears. An extremely tight fitting hood can create another air space between the hood and the outer ear.
    Gaaawd I hope not, otherwise the majority of us have been doing it wrong. ;) Just trying to lighten it up some.
    Pick any industry and you'll find horrible, miserable people who should not be interacting with other humans.
    At first I think all students have a little anxiety. Proper training can help alleviate some of it. If you had spent 14 hours, as an example, in the pool doing the various skills that you would be doing at Casino Point, do you think you would have had less anxiety?
    Whenever you make a comment "I felt unsafe" it is not good. One thing you need to do is file a report with their agency
    Your training failed to meet a number of standards by any agency and frankly the instructor is subpar.
    The best thing you can do is walk away and find a reputable instructor that is not going to try and short change you and will take the time you need to feel comfortable in the water.
  15. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Tech Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    Guy is a moron and quite likely to get you killed. One hour in the pool is horsecrap. My classes are 16 hours in the pool. Over 6-8 weeks. Can it be done in less time? Yes. But that means twice a week in the pool instead of one. I do not do pool sessions of more than 2 1/2 hours with OW students. Ever. More than that and people start to get tired and/or cold even in wetsuits early on. When that happens the learning process stops. I also see when doing long sessions that things tend to run together in people's minds and they do not absorb as much. The body and mind need to recover and process what they have just been subjected to. They can't do that with too little time and marathon 6&8 hour pool sessions I have heard of are just as bad if not worse. Get your money back and name this guy. You may save someone's life by doing so.

    Sent from my DROID X2 using Tapatalk 2

    CAPTAIN SINBAD Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Woodbridge VA
    I have had to deal with an instructor similar to the one you were describing. it is deliberate malpractice which needs to be reported to PADI or whoever is the certification agency. Once that is taken care of I would look into instructors in your area that have a solid reputation behind them and a personal commitment towards graduating competent divers. Some are on this board too.

    So sorry that this happened.
    Baileywantstoscuba likes this.
  17. Badge353

    Badge353 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Visalia, California
    I just finished OW. Seven weeks is plenty of time. Mine was done in the three. Saturday four hours of classroom. Sunday four hours of pool. Next weekend another four classroom and again on Sunday four hours of pool. Third weekend, Saturday beach entry, surface skills and regulator recovery. Sunday three boat dives to complete skills.

    During my fourth dive another student swam next to me swung his hands out and knocked my mask crooked and regulator out. He never realized he did it. Point from pool time and practice even with limited dives I was able to properly handle this. I would say 1 hour in the pool is not enough time because things can happen that if you don't know the skill could hurt you.
  18. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Murphy Cove, Nova Scotia (Eastern Shore-Atlantic)
    Bailey, It's all been said. Just curious--I assume you know how to swim from places other than the ocean. If not, this would be very advisable first.
  19. 261311

    261311 Barracuda

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Barrie, ON: CAN
    I was a third way through your post and as a diver in training even I feel you should find a new instructor. Mine takes everything slow, my first class we were given safe instructions on using all of the equipment we'd be using on the course, did a review on our books that we were to read to make sure we understood and spent an hour in the pool together all having fun under water after we were comfortable with our gear. There's something wholesome about being able to be in a group of people you enjoy, not need to worry about the course too much and just get used to the experience. My instructor is now moving into the important stuff now that we've had our shenanigans but it's truly motivated me to not only keep going through my course, but solidified my desire to become a diver. This was all done in the safety of a pool.

    Q1: Was the out of pool experience too soon? Yes/ no. PADI regulations (the school I'm with) allow* for new divers to be in an open confined water environment (no current, not all too deep and good visibility [ie. same conditions you'll find in a pool]) under strict supervision. You're never to be alone.

    Q2: Not sure what organization you're diving under but any with literature state that you should never be diving deeper if you can't clear your ears. It doesn't matter if your instructor wants to attach a piece of depleted uranium to your leg to get you down, this is your comfort and safety. Move back up slowly (1-3 ft), clear your ears, continue down. You should clear before you feel discomfort.

    Q3: No. The instructor needs replacement like a blown tire.

    Q4: It's normal to have anxiety trying anything new but the negative experience you're going through is only adding to that.

    Q5: You'll have a wonderful time if you find someone worth the time and money who will want to you to succeed. This current situation is not good. Your dives should never leave you feeling scared and unsafe, you need to talk to your instructor about this experience, find a new one and learn from these negatives. Don't give up on diving because this is not what this is like when it goes well.

    Even if this was an unproved feeling, you should find a new instructor just based on this fear. If there's proof to back it up, all the more reason. Report him if possible.
    Baileywantstoscuba likes this.
  20. Islandheart

    Islandheart Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Orange Park, Florida
    Like it has been said, tell him, "Refund Now or I report you",...... and if the gear you purchased does not fit... then he should have never sold it to you.

    So refund that also.

    Get an Instructor that cares and follows the training standards at a miminum.

    Not saying you do, BUT If you need private instruction be honest about it and pay a little extra for it.

    I just hate it when I read of situations like this.
    Baileywantstoscuba and Fatterboy like this.

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