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

 


  1. #31
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    This applies everywhere. Not just in Cozumel. If you can't do this it is perhaps best you stay out of the water until you can.
    Who is responsible for what?
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    I'll throw my two cents in: I dove many years ago ('71-'80) in Long Island Sound (Connecticut). My experience was sooooo old, I consider myself a retread n00b. My wife had done SNUBA, some snorkeling and we both did an Intro to Scuba (Aruba) in the fall of '10. We were OW certified in September of '11 in at quarry in Ohio. Our first real warm water diving was in Coz a few weeks ago. I shopped several ops, explaining to each our lack of experience, and desire to dive safely. We ended up doing three days of dives with a private DM, before we/he felt we were ready to join a group. The majority of our dives were done with a single DM, who was normally at the front of the six diver group. The last dive day on Coz, I (without my wife) dove with an op who had a DM at the front of the pack and a DM candidate at the rear. We descended as a group and came up as a group. For new(er) divers the group format is more reassuring. Having the second DM added to the feeling of security.

    In my experience we are subject to the Bell Curve in most of life's endeavors: a few at either extreme, most somewhere in the middle. I'm probably at the higher end of the safety and research curve than many. I can see how someone less concerned with safety can easily get into trouble. It seems the current trend in society is to expect some "authority" to insure our safety. That authority can be the DM, op, or some governmental entity.

    Bottom line: Diving CAN be dangerous. The tools to stay safe are available. Find them. Use them. Think. Prepare. Take nothing for granted. Plan for the worst, enjoy the best.
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by cvchief View Post
    Seriously? I came to Coz after 4 crappy ow training dives. Well, really three crappy dives and one with a nice girl picking up the pieces. But that is another story. Maybe I am still dumb. ALL my diving have been in CZM since then, but is it really all advanced? I did the Eagle Rays in front of Palmas Reales in February. We got dropped a little short and I got a little freaked getting my ears worked out fast enough to hit the hole. That seemed a little advanced, but once I hit the hole and got a grip, it *seemed* easy.

    I did the Devil's Throat and thought, seriously, that isn't a really big deal. At one point I thought I hoped my nephew could see the diver in front of him cuz I can't. Other than that, interesting, but not advanced.

    Once I was in current that changed several times and we went back and forth over the same patch of reef. It was cool because there was a green moray in the middle.

    Maybe I am missing it but where is the advanced part? Is diving elsewhere EVEN easier? Seriously maybe I just don't know better, but Cozumel seems to me to be dunk, ride the current, get out. What am I missing?

    CVCHIEF, give Grand Cayman or Little Cayman a go for some dives for comparison to Cozumel. I think you'd enjoy them.

    For me it is all about the excitement of the drift diving in Cozumel (5 trips to Cozy). In my experience, Grand Cayman (20+ trips) and Little Cayman (1 trip) typically have little to no current. And some great shore diving. Makes for some very calm and enjoyable shallow and deep wall dives. Though, surprisingly, did my 1st drift dive at Orange Canyon in Grand Cayman in February, due to an unusually strong current, go figure. Still very enjoyable, reminded me lots of Cozy and made me appreciate what I've learned drift diving there.

    In short, I love Cozumel for the drift diving and feel it is more well suited for advanced/experienced divers. I love the Caymans for the calmer dives due to lack of strong currents. Any dive is risky, that's why we need to know thyself and pray our training will kick in as necessary. Thank goodness mine has in the few times I needed it...

    Heading back to Cayman shortly!

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christi View Post
    It's been really busy here and I have been way too busy to get on the board lately - so I haven't had a chance to read all of this thread - but wanted to say this in response to some over general statements of how "Cozumel Ops" do things - we are not all the same and we do not all have the same policies!

    This is exactly why I have a very strict policy that I do not deviate from - and that is requiring a private DM without exception for newly certified divers with less than 15 dives in the past year and we reserve the right to require a private DM in various other circumstances as well - I've only had a few arrogant "buddies" object - but I am happy to say this is one policy/call I've never been wrong on - even with those who may initially object to it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Lee View Post
    Interesting. What is the general feedback?
    It is not the same thing, but I have dived with ops that absolutely insist that arriving divers join a DM in the pool, before they can book dives on their boat.

    10 minutes practicing skills is no big deal, and while it may not really tell a DM all they need to know about an arriving diver, it sure can help them spot some issues before they become incidents.

    I have seen divers absolutely refuse to do that simple check out, and storm away rather than get in that pool with a DM! Myself I found it a short, harmless, amusing, and a decent way to just relax and get to know the staff a bit before I went on their boat. The "interview" process of that pool session can go two ways if you pay attention, and you could learn what to expect from the dive staff on the upcoming dives, just by their attitudes in that pool.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Lapenta View Post
    This applies everywhere. Not just in Cozumel. If you can't do this it is perhaps best you stay out of the water until you can.
    Who is responsible for what?

    Awesome!! I wish every LDS would promote this type of learning!

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brules View Post
    Yes, Devils Throat, as easy at it seems is quite advanced, you can hit 130+ easily if you pop out and hit the shelf to look over the drop off......that is seriously deep on air and getting into NARC zone......same with the walls, a diver can VERY easily drop below 90' as with no bottom there is no visual reference for how deep you really are, and with new/really inexperienced divers, they can drop deep, quickly and never know it.
    One of them could have easily had an issue, gotten narc'd and started the plunge in a matter of seconds with nothing to be done.
    So yeah, Coz is advanced, compared to FL where there are no walls that drop off to 1500' straight down for miles and miles......
    So technically speaking, yes, it is advanced. Quite......and yet shops/dm's take old people, fat people, kids, new divers to 60-120' with not a thought in the world.
    So you would say it is all about the possibility of depth? In 'not advanced' areas there is always a hard bottom at 130 feet or so? Aren't you just as screwed at 250 feet as 300 or 500? My point being does 1500 feet matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by mahjong View Post
    You've less than 200 dives, a good many of which in Coz. Perhaps be thankful, indeed grateful, that you remain unsure as to whether to call the diving you've been doing in Coz "advanced." I've probably close to 600 dives under my belt. I've dove one week in Coz. I'd call it "advanced." And I encountered no serious issues during that week (intense down wellings, etc.), other than swift currents on every dive. These currents were enough for me to deem Coz diving "advanced" diving.
    So for you it is the current? I sort of always looked at it like the weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it. Seriously, though it goes and you go with it. In faster current, the DM parks the leaders behind a coral head in the lee of the current and shortly the group is tight again. I mean I guess that is more advanced than some dunk down, swim around and come back up in the same spot. My later check out dives were on the east side of Antigua. It was surgey I guess. Getting back on the boat was timing the ladder, it came down, grab it and a second later you were out of the water. Now that was hard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mossman View Post
    Beginner divers may inadvertently end up too deep on a wall dive, possibly getting themselves into a mandatory deco situation. Or they may get claustrophic going through a swim-through and panic. Sometimes currents exceed one's ability to swim against them, which can give divers a feeling of being out of control. And then there are the fabled downcurrents.
    That kinda says the problem is really training doesn't train you? If you are new you are still expected to do all those things you were told not to do? Most of the problems I have watched seem to be comfort issues, like:
    1. Not enough weight;
    2. my mask leaks;
    3. I cant get down.
    4. I can't clear my ears.

    Most of these divers seem to relax and then things are fine. Is it just me or is most of the challenge in one's own head?


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    I don't think Cozumel is an 'advanced' diving destination. You missed or over-looked the other half of my post, the part about taking a mixed boat to an easy dive site and the experienced divers being bored.

    I do think the great number of dive sites available in Cozumel which typically divide up into two distinct flavors, either the deeper wall dives or the shallower coral gardens has created the typical two tank morning dive profile of a deep wall dive followed by a shallower dive, evolved from the dive ops wanting to take advantage of the two types of sites in two tanks. It's became the 'signature' of Cozumel diving. That can create a somewhat more challenging scenario to a new diver. Also there is a great variety of dive ops and dive masters who maybe because it's Mexico get a bit loose with safety and take divers with less experience along with more experienced divers to sites that are deeper then the newbies should be.
    How much diving do you have to do to go to 60-70 feet? For me, from the begining it was the first 40 feet getting my ears straight and in the 'groove'. 40 to 70 didn't seem that different. Other than getting to surface in a hurry, (which means bad stuff is happening anyway) what is the difference but numbers on a console?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSandM View Post
    I've only made one trip to Coz, but it was a nine day trip. I came away shaking my head and wondering why people recommend that place for new divers. Yes, there were relatively benign dives -- and they were among my favorites! Night diving on Paradise Reef was as good as it gets. But the deep drift dives presented challenges our group was well-prepared to face -- but I think the person with the fewest dives in the whole group had about 500, and the rest of us all had some kind of tech cert.

    First dives on Coz are deep, and not all tanks are large. Currents can be strong enough to be a real obstacle to keeping a team together. EVERYONE who dives there should have an SMB and know how to deploy it, IMO. (The recent accident confirms this.)

    Nobody should ever, IMO, do a dive where they expect the DM to do anything but indicate the desired course and point out cryptic critters. If you need the DM for anything more, you shouldn't be doing the dive except as a training exercise.
    Two things this brings to my mind. In a strong current, the group can get a little strung out, but that train is going in one direction. I could never wonder to far off because of the current. Now that I don't get the 'close' eye of the DM like when I was new, sometimes the missus and I lollygag and the group gets ahead while we are taking pics. If riding the reef "low and slow" put us behind, we just come up a little where the current is faster and catch up.

    I don't disagree that everyone should have a SMB. I do disagree that the recent accidents confirms it. I *think* all we know is the diver started for the surface. I don't think we know if she surface or if she did, if she remained there. For all we know this could have been some sort of medical issue that caused it and condition had nothing to do with *causing* the loss.

    As for the DM, I would say I think divers should be *prepared* to have a DM who is useless for their safety, but they should EXPECT a DM who puts their safety and care at the top of the list. I don't think a tour guide only DM is acceptable.


    Quote Originally Posted by mstevens View Post
    The fact that many of us agree that they're necessary in Cozumel is further argument that it's a generally advanced location.
    Well, the definition of necessary comes into question. I have NEVER shot my bag. (Yes, of course I should practice it. Maybe next time?) That being said I have never seen the need. My DM shoots it and delivers divers to the boat as need. I did see another member of our group shoot hers last trip. She didn't NEED to, but she choose to do it on her own rather than let the DM do it. I take it that is the way her usual op does it since she was a rather experience diver. Through the capitan off a bit as he wasn't aware she was going to break the routine and didn't recognize her SMB.

    So anyway, my point is you should have them, but you don't need to USE them.

    Quote Originally Posted by RickyF View Post
    I have to take issue with this generalization and I think other "old people" will too. A properly trained AOW diver should be able to handle an emergency the proper way. It has nothing to do with age, body mass or the number of dives. Some of the problem lies in the number of LDS's that generate poorly trained divers with just enough skills to get them certified to be able to sell them gear to make money. I would have to say that even my LDS has been guilty of this at times. And by the way, I am 59 yrs old.
    I get the gear sales. I had a great instructor for the class and confined OW, but they did also talk me into the top of the line, just introduced, fins. Man they were expensive..... And 59 is old? I dove with good divers in their late 70s early 80s. Good diver under water. Does it take something away from the younger, fitter, more gung ho diving crowd's ego when old, fat people dive just fine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunny2012 View Post
    CVCHIEF, give Grand Cayman or Little Cayman a go for some dives for comparison to Cozumel. I think you'd enjoy them.

    For me it is all about the excitement of the drift diving in Cozumel (5 trips to Cozy). In short, I love Cozumel for the drift diving and feel it is more well suited for advanced/experienced divers.
    Well someday I will try something else. maybe... You keep scarying me with all this talk of no current? So like how far do I gotta swim? Sounds like work..... I might be not young enough, fit enough or experience enough for that!

    Seriously though for you current equals advanced? In the Caymans can you not pay attention and go deep enough to kill yourself? It just seems, with the exception of the rare downwellings, most of all the 'issues' that seem to make some think Cozumel is advanced diving is mostly about divers given the opportunity to do stuff they have been trained not to do and thereby put themselves in danger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSandM View Post
    EVERYONE who dives there should have an SMB and know how to deploy it, IMO. (The recent accident confirms this.)
    I believe that I have read everything on this forum on that event and I see nothing that suggests that having and using a SMB/safety sausage would have changed the outcome. I can dive most Cozumel dive sites and ascend solo and not HAVE to have a safety sausage/SMB. I would have to maintain vigilance for arriving boats (required even with a SMB). I would be less visible to be picked up. But those are workable FOR ME.

    Add to that the stress that trying to use a SMB could be for an inexperienced diver and its use could make matters worse.


    Quote Originally Posted by RickyF View Post
    A properly trained AOW diver should be able to handle an emergency the proper way.
    You can have an AOW card with as few as eight or nine dives. Does that mean that you can handle a non-benign Cozumel dive where you may have multiple new factors causing stress?

    As a non-instructor, my gut feeling is that a private DM for at least the first day in Cozumel...where you are actively taught how to handle the various situations of Cozumel diving...would do far more to helping inexperienced divers adapt to Cozumel diving than having a SMB.

    No, I would not have the Cozumel government mandate it. It is a dive shop policy issue. Perhaps the Cozumel dive association (if it exists), agrees that it is a desirable policy, but I would not suggest that even they mandate it.
    Last edited by Ron Lee; April 3rd, 2012 at 11:59 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvchief View Post
    So you would say it is all about the possibility of depth? In 'not advanced' areas there is always a hard bottom at 130 feet or so? Aren't you just as screwed at 250 feet as 300 or 500? My point being does 1500 feet matter?

    I was just referencing that in Coz, you can do a wall dive on a vertical drop to 1500' which makes it very easy to go deep quickly without knowing or realizing it as a new diver. You can come out of a swim through, on the wall side and slowly drop or quickly to 130 or deeper while the rest of the group and DM are at 90-100'. I see it happen quite often.....little bit of NARC and down you go. Most new divers I have been on the boat with just don't realize that going to 100' + on your 1st-4th-10th dives is not to be taken lightly, yet in Cozumel it is done thousands of times a week.

    No wonder a fair amount of divers get bent, die, disappear down there.

    The age quip was just a generalization that most OP's/DMs will take ANYONE in any condition diving at any time with no regard to saying no, not going to serve you....
    /Insert snarky signature here

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brules View Post
    I was just referencing that in Coz, you can do a wall dive on a vertical drop to 1500' which makes it very easy to go deep quickly without knowing or realizing it as a new diver. You can come out of a swim through, on the wall side and slowly drop or quickly to 130 or deeper while the rest of the group and DM are at 90-100'. I see it happen quite often.....little bit of NARC and down you go. Most new divers I have been on the boat with just don't realize that going to 100' + on your 1st-4th-10th dives is not to be taken lightly, yet in Cozumel it is done thousands of times a week.

    No wonder a fair amount of divers get bent, die, disappear down there.

    The age quip was just a generalization that most OP's/DMs will take ANYONE in any condition diving at any time with no regard to saying no, not going to serve you....

    First, with experience elsewhere are you saying conditions in other warm water location PREVENT the new diver from going below 100 feet?

    Second, I think saying
    Quote Originally Posted by Brules View Post
    a fair amount of divers
    get hurt is an over generalization. How many die or disappear really? For bent, I don't think THAT many get bent in comparison to the numbers diving there. I haven't read anything to say numbers are higher in Cozumel than any other dive destination. In fact I have read that Cozumel is perhaps better prepared for accidents than some other areas of the world.

    Third, what would be the critera for turning away a diver? I agree there probably should be a line, but where would you draw it? Especially since you are only a dinner and a website away from your own op.
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    Perhaps it might be time that the Cozumel Dive Assosc. come out with a flyer that needs to be signed by all divers explaining clearly what the role of the DM is. In my early dives in Coz I too was under the mistaken idea that a DM's job was to keep me alive at all costs and perhaps that was because I had the distinct fortune of diving with Pedro Pablo who is one of the few people I know who can guide a dive, find fishies and critters and also aid with all the issues that the divers might have. Clearly he is one of a very select bunch.

    If divers were aware what the actual role of the DM was it might go a long way in making divers more responsible for their diving and the situations they allow themselves to be placed in. As an off shoot it would likely improve revenue to the dive ops as I am sure there are many divers that would spring for a private DM but dont as they are under the mistaken idea that the leading DM is their private DM.


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    Last edited by MMM; April 4th, 2012 at 08:29 AM. Reason: copied from another thread; unrelated material deleted
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