What Makes a Good Divemaster?
by, April 13th, 2012 at 04:58 PM (1279 Views)
I've been reading comments lately about helpful dive masters, pain in the neck dive masters, overbearing and restrictive dive masters, and dive masters who are barely present. I have encountered all of these, both as a recreational diver and as a dive professional. Diving with a good dive master, as I am about to define that term, can make the difference between a bad dive experience and a good one, whether you are brand new to our sport or a seasoned expert with thousands of dives.
A good dive master (DM) has to be a good diver, with good equipment, who is knowledgeable about the dive site and the conditions at the site. The good DM also communicates that information clearly to the group. A good DM will learn all he can about the divers he will be with in the water. I always ask first for a show of hands of those who have dove the site, and make note of it. By engaging each diver briefly before the dive, and observing them setting up gear and the nature of their gear, I get a fair idea of their level of comfort and competence. I also asks divers about their expectations for the dive- photos, video, hunting, observation, and so on. When there are expert divers aboard I discuss with them if they want to do their own profile, something that is usually ok (depending on the site and conditions) especially if there is a person with current professional credentials and insurance in their group. It is helpful if they will tell me what they expect and want, and if they intend to stray from the group, how I will know, etc. This invariably works out well for everyone. That's because part of being a good DM is knowing who needs your close attention and knowing who does not. All of this is done with a pleasant and helpful attitude, and that is what I look for from those diving with me. There are other things that you can do to help make your DM a better DM.
1. Pay attention to the briefing. Don't be talking, fidgeting with cameras or gear, or using the head. If you have a question ask it.
2. Tell me about any limitations or anxieties you have, whether about depth, current, waves, animals, or who your buddy is. We can resolve it if we know about it.
3. Tell me the truth about your experience and competence level, and recent dive history.
4. If you didn't know your buddy before the dive, talk with them and share experience levels, expectations , and get acquainted with each other's gear.
5. Once we get in the water, unless we previously agreed otherwise, (you and me) follow the planned dive profile and stay reasonably close to me and the group.
6. Stay close to your buddy.
7. Check where you are in relationship to me and the group on a regular basis. If you have strayed, catch up.
8. Communicate clearly and accurately about air supply if I ask you.
9. Between dives, let me know if you had a problem or complaint. Let's get it resolved before we dive again.
10. Ask for help if you need it, above or below the water.
I am sure there are other things that may come to mind, but these are my 10 ways to help me be a better DM, and 10 ways to help you enjoy your dive more. I think all DM's leading recreational dives should be this way, or approach the role like I do, but not all do. The fact is there are some bad DM's, and there are good DM's who have a bad day now and then. So help them out by listening, communicating, getting acquainted, and following these procedures. If they are not responsive, make the best of it, and tell the other crew or supervisors about any issues. But please, also remember that if we didn't arrange for you to dive your own profile in advance, if you are exceeding planned dive depth or chase off repeatedly and don't even know where you are or you constantly ignore your buddy and a DM retrieves you, they arn't being a pain, they are doing their job. You weren't doing your job.
We DM's really do want to have happy divers. Happy divers leave nice tips. Help me and all DM's to help you have a good dive experience.