Inconsistent message to new divers

[inline=left][/inline] As a new diver, I am perceiving what seems to be an inconsistency among SB members regarding the level of responsibility expected of newly minted OW divers.

On one hand, most SB'ers emphasize that divers are responsible for their own safety. This becomes particularly apparent in the various threads about accidents or dangerous practices among dive ops. Inevitably, some SB veteran will chime in with a comment like "they received their certification, they should have known better than to trust the DM."

On the other hand, some SB'ers (often those very same vets described above) are eager to point out that OW (and even AOW) are just the beginning. Some go so far as to say that they are nothing more than intro courses and that these certifications are meaningless insofar as their ability to determine at least a minimum level of proficiency.

As an SB member, I agree with the former, but as a new diver, I agree with the latter. All else being equal, those who read boards such as this one are, imo, far more aware of best practices, risks, equipment, etc. than those who do not. Therefore, from our perspective as SB members, yes certified divers should be completely responsible for themselves. In fact one could make the argument that even prospective divers who are avid SB readers should know better than to trust their DM/Instructor.

However, as a new diver, I will also say that it is unrealistic and even to some degree elitist to expect new divers to ignore or disobey their DM/Instructor. Try to remember what it was like to be a brand new diver (yeah it's probably been awhile). There is a good chance that most of your dives immediately after getting your c-card were "trust me" dives.

And now for the flame-bait portion of my post: They SHOULD be "trust me" dives unless the new diver is far more knowledgeable than average. Veterans on SB are fond of saying or implying that new divers should heed the advice of those here who have thousands of dives and years of experience under their belt. And that is true enough. I've learned a ton just reading these boards over the past few months. But these same vets castigate new divers who put their trust in their DM, someone who probably has a similar level of experience as the SB vets and are practicing pro's.

The vast majority of divers (old and new) are not active members of SB or other diving forums. To expect a newbie with maybe 10-20 dives to argue about protocol and safety with a DM who has thousands of dives at that location is ludicrous. NOTE: I'm not saying that a newbie disagreeing with the DM is ludicrous - I'm saying it is ludicrous to EXPECT a newbie to have the courage, stubbornness, or confidence to do so. That kind of expectation is just not fair IMO. If a new OW told his DM that the dive plan was bad because of something he read on the internet, he might very well be laughed off the boat.

I do believe that it's good for new divers to confront DMs and dive ops who do not follow protocol. After all, complacency is probably the single biggest root cause of accidents (while I don't have the figures, I wouldn't be surprised if most accidents happen to more experienced divers - say maybe 50 dives or more). But as commendable as it may be for new divers to have the guts to stand up to the pro's, it should not be expected behavior (unless they've been reading SB!).

I don't really have a much of a point - this is just me observing out loud. But on a related note, I would love to see SB'ers stop blaming new divers for just about everything that goes wrong and apply a proportionate blame to the dive ops who take advantage of a new divers' naivete and lead them into potentially dangerous situations. I think we need to recognize that new divers who do not read SB or other forums probably have no clue that "trust me" dives are bad. You can't be responsible for what you don't know (or maybe you can - what do I know?)

Edit: So my 101st post ended up being potential flame-bait. Good thing this was posted in a flame-free zone! HA!

This thread was voted "thread of the month" for the month of May, 2012 by the users of ScubaBoard.

17 Responses

  1. It's kind of a catch 22, damned if you do, damned if you don't. I think you have a fair understanding of the problem you outlined.<br /> <br /> Dale
  2. One simple idea - checkout dive - with a DM/Instructor, one-to-one.<br /> <br /> Should be mandatory, and enforced, for various conditions. Like getting certified in a quarry then doing an ocean dive - needs a checkout.<br /> Haven't dove in X (months/years) needs a checkout.<br /> <br /> The opposite - as was my case, trained locally, did the 4 student dives & skills in ocean. The local dive op made us do a checkout dive in freshwater.<br /> <br /> FWIW, the extra checkout dive done locally is an FQAS requirement here in Quebec, and has to be renewed, etc, to prove basic Scuba competence.
  3. We do refresher dives every spring at our local quarry and when we go to the ocean or lake, our 1st day and dive is always very conservative (depth, time, and the area we cover underwater) so that we can acclimate to the conditions, equipment, and location. I trust the DM/DI for navigation and the area we are diving if new, but underwater skills, safety, and even navigation remains my resposnisbility and that of each individual in my party. If anyone makes a safety call, we respect that and heed the decsion --- life and accidents are not worth it.<br /> <br /> <br /> Great post and I appreciate the discussion.
  4. While I understand what you are saying I think the point is not quite so black and white. First, no, they should not be trust me dives. However, they aren't "I know it all" dives either. At this point in your "career", while you may not be able to argue with your DM, you should know, basically, what is right and what you should be doing. That's really the only point. Yes, you will be trusting to some extent because you just don't have enough experience regardless of what the training may be. However, you should know some basic limits like having working equipment, paying attention to where you are on the dive, check your own air, leave the freakin' camera on the boat, not going to 125 feet on dive 3, no night diving on dive 5, etc.<br /> <br /> Implementation wise, trying to sort out newbies and require some checkout dive is never going to work because of the wide range of shops and locations in the world.<br /> <br /> I also believe that experience is the most value thing you need and no amount of classes are going to teach that to you, so ignore any "you must take rescue diver immediately" tips because it's tough enough to handle yourself.
  5. As a very new diver who was fortunate enough to find SB, I think that part of the problem is money and convenience. Especially with the cert courses. They now have get certified in a weekend, beginning to end. Even my 6 day certification program was pushing it. I think that dive shops and cert organizations push these courses to be faster and more available. For example, I have 23 dives and have been on one dive trip after my OW, I am about to take a trip that will involve diving next week (although not a dive trip) and then have a dive trip planned in February. I live in a land locked state. I would love to work on skills frequently with more experienced divers. The easiest way to gain access to this would be to do AOW with the LDS. However, most people have advised against rushing into AOW right away. I believe it is partially because some AOW classes havethe attitude of push through the 5 dives so that you can get the cert as fast as possible creating convenience for the diver and certifying shop (as well as income). It would be great if there was more opportunity to learn and work on skills locally with a more advanced diver, without feeling like I am paying to get the cert so I can get even more over my head (pun intended) on my next dive trip with the false confidence I earned with AOW/Rescue etc. However - besides that tangent - I will say that SB has really opened my eyes to a lot of things, including the importance of taking personal responsibility while diving. And I agree that it can be intimidating to contradict some of the lax practices of DM/dive shops, etc. One of these reasons I was hesitant to become certified was due to safety issues from stories of folks I know that have gone diving and had incidents occur. I met a really great DM in Grand Cayman when I was a snorkeler and realized that knowing who (the caliber, responsibility level, etc.) you are going to dive with is also really important - especially if you do not have an assertive personality (such as myself). Now I just need to find some great instructors locally, I guess so that when I get AOW/Rescue diver, etc, I will know that I earned it and I will be better prepared to plan safe dives and to handle things when they go wrong, not just that now I can dive more recklessly.
  6. i agree with just about everything you said. but i think what you are seeing is more of an internet message boardthing than a diver thing. the ananymity of the medium makes amazing hypocrits who often feel the need to expound on their expertise and everyone elses failures no matter what he subject. my ignore list is littered with them. :D
  7. I've been diving since 1975 and I'm 62 years old, and have gone on over 500 dives. My "basic" open water C card included CPR, first aid and rescue diving back then. Man have times changed. The advice I have for new divers is the same for "old" divers. (I attended a DAN seminar at the Santa Clara convention center last month about dive accidents and their causes. I was a video presenter for the San Jose flipper Dippers right after the DAN seminar.) Some important tips; old tip- plan your dive and dive your plan. Review hand signals. Know how to release your buddies weight belt and practice doing so. Have your regulator, tank AND BC serviced every year. Check all equipment before leaving home and again before entering the water. Know where your buddies octo regulator is and know how to use it. And the most abused rule; try to dive SIDE BY SIDE. I know this can be difficult, but if you are in front or behind your buddy and get into trouble, by the time he or she finds out you need help, it's too late. Never dive if you feel uncomfortable by the conditions and don't be embarrassed to say so. Don't push your limits and get too tired; you use more air on the return trip than going out. I normally turn around when the first diver in our group hits half their air. If you get cold, let your buddy know and call the dive. Of course all the rules you learned in class apply; never hold your breath, ascend as slow as the smallest bubbles and as the dive computer tells you to do. Make a safety stop. <br /> I could go on and on, but you get the general idea. Diving can be really fun and safe, but like driving, you need to pay attention. I hope they don't invent a waterproof I- phone. I could just see divers texting! (I know, I'm old.) Have fun!
  8. Cosmographer: Good article, you balance both sides well. <br /> <br /> I recall some terrifying dives - my 12th & 13th. Both dives were on a one-to-one with a DM. <br /> Unfortunately, I did not have the confidence nor ability to challenge the DM and surface by myself.<br /> In fact, it took me around 30-dives to even get my buoyancy sorted out to confidently do a 3-min stop.<br /> <br /> Yeah, with some 180 dives under my weight belt the 12 & 13 nightmares would not have taken place. But then<br /> again in a strange ocean, fumbling around with new gear, trusting in an experienced diver (DM), the<br /> nightmares did take place. When I shared dive 13 (dare not share dive 12) with the SB the response was very inconsistent.<br /> One group was encouraging, the other blaming. I guess we are all inconsistent in some ways, right? :D
  9. If you are paying for the services of a Divemaster/Guide then you are quite within your rights to ask questions. As an Employee and seasoned Pro i encourage guests to question staff if they believe they are doing anything outside of what is considered normal protocol. I must admit we have never had any problems and i believe the secret to this is having staff/guides that are both approachable and have a passion for what they do. My staff would love to sit all day long and talk diving, unfortunately for them someone has to fill tanks. When a Guide/Instructor no longer excepts Divers for who they are i would suggest that it is time to find a new career. One would assume that as a new diver you would encounter more problems than that of someone who has 100+ dives, this is simply not true. From experience i personally know someone who has got 45,000+ dives, yip thats right 45,000+ dives and when on a dive with someone i recently taught, my new diver put them to shame.<br /> <br /> Top tip for any diver would be to seek the services of a reputable diving operation, yes you pay a liitle bit more money but it will be worth the extra. Any good dive operation listens to their guests after all you are paying the bills.<br /> <br /> If you pay peanuts you get monkeys, if you pay next to nothing for the services of a guide i' am sure you will get next to nothing in return.<br /> <br /> Diving is fun and when shared with fellow divers, guides and Instructors with a passion and respect for diving becomes a lot more fun.<br /> <br /> Happy bubbling.
  10. My OW third certification dive was to 68'. The DI would signal 'follow me' then get 25-50 yards ahead of me, infrequently looking back to see how I was doing. And this was a US PADI instructor, not a third-worlder 'dive-in-a-day' operation.
  11. <blockquote><strong>Sinbad the Diver;6363025 wrote:</strong> i agree with just about everything you said. but i think what you are seeing is more of an internet message boardthing than a diver thing. the ananymity of the medium makes amazing hypocrits who often feel the need to expound on their expertise and everyone elses failures no matter what he subject. my ignore list is littered with them. :D</blockquote> <br /> Concur! This is not a unique to scuba board, many internet forums enjoy the presence of arm chair experts... Here is to everyone diving safe and often!!!!!<br /> <br /> Cheers,<br /> Roger
  12. being one of "those" divers with 1,000 plus dives.....i generally agree with you! The vast majority of my dive knowledge came not from a cert course or a DM or an instructor. It came from diving with experienced divers. I learned the most by asking things like "why?", and "how?", and "When?", and "what?". <br /> Your OW and AOW are only the first part of the journey. Other certs may or may not be part of that journey but the experience of diving and sharing with others is a constant part of that journey.<br /> I enjoy diving with "newbies".....well as long as they are safe and willing to learn. I expect newbies to dive within their training and experience. Someday, they too will be a "old experienced" diver.<br /> I've also dove with DMs and instructors that were worthless. Finding a good DM or instructor is kind of like finding a good doctor. Just having a bit of paper on the wall does not tell me if you are good...or if you are good for me.<br /> <br /> So Cosmographer, enjoy your diving journey. And yes...if you come visit our little bit of paradise here on Florida's Treasure Coast, i'd even go diving with you!
  13. :acclaim:I have been diving for over 40 years and seen many changes in the way divers get trained and certified. In the 60's we went down to the local YMCA and after 6 weeks of classes we received our card after a check out dive at a local lake. There wasn't much follow up by the shop or instructor unless they wanted to sell you something. Today it has changed and for the better. Everyone knows that pool training and lake diving is not the same as deep sea open water diving. As part of the training community we want every student not only to get the best instruction possible but the experence to handle problems as they arise. Honesty a lot of new divers just loose it while making their 1st saltwater dive in deepwater. Experience and common sence is the answer. I don't know how many times I had to go in and pull someone out because they forgot the basics. Additional training is always good but you still need someone to watch over you until you get your sealegs. I keep an eye on all divers around me just to be safe. It just takes one person to really mess up a great trip because they did something really dumb that they should have known better.
  14. Let's see. I've got 17 years diving, 250+ dives 61 years old. <br /> 1) check and recheck equipment every single time. <br /> 2) a new buddy is always a risk situation<br /> 3) keep checking yours and buddy's air until you are totally comfortable that you can predict consumption and actual consumption agrees with prediction. <br /> 4) every dive that is deeper or darker is a an extra risk situation. <br /> 5) if your buddy is 30 feet away you are both diving alone.
  15. <blockquote><strong>firelaw;6364481 wrote:</strong> Let's see. I've got 17 years diving, 250+ dives 61 years old. <br /> 1) check and recheck equipment every single time. <br /> 2) a new buddy is always a risk situation<br /> 3) keep checking yours and buddy's air until you are totally comfortable that you can predict consumption and actual consumption agrees with prediction. <br /> 4) every dive that is deeper or darker is a an extra risk situation. <br /> 5) if your buddy is 30 feet away you are both diving alone.</blockquote> <br /> To quote Rick Hunter : "It works for me".<br /> <br /> <span style="color: silver;">---------- Post added ----------</span><br /> <br /> In 1972 I received a "Deep Diver Certification" from a NASDS shop. After a couple of hours of classroom instruction I dove down a line in Lake Travis to retrieved a flag tied off at the 200ft level. I passed and got a nice certificate. Did it make me a better diver ..... no. Did it make the shop $100 richer .... yes. I still have that piece of paper somewhere around the house and today I wonder why I didn't see how dumb that stunt was.
  16. very well thought out and well wrtten. i have not read all the following posts but will take the time to do so at a later date. <br /> i believe in todays world, everything is about liability. no one wants it. most business (including dive ops) will always try to deflect the liability/responsibility to someone else to avoid legal action in the event of an accident or especially a death. this is the way it is and always will be. <br /> it would be very difficult to try and decide who really is ultimately responsible for the safety of a "new diver". at first, we might say that it is always a divers responsibility to make sure they themselves are safe, and not participating on a dive that they are not ready for. and no matter what, they are responsible for themselves.....period. but that would not be the reality. many times i have been on a boat with divers that are clearly, and obviously not experienced or comfortable enough to be on those dives. even though they think they are. and if it is clear to me (as an unprofessional diver) then surely it is clear to the staff and or the crew of the dive op. in a case such as this, i believe the op must take at least partial responsibility if something goes wrong. after all, the very definition of negligence is allowing something to take place when it should be clear to you that something most likely will go wrong. as a paid proffessional, whos role it is to bring those paying customers on a dive. it is definetely your responsibility as the one "in charge" to prevent any diver from participating if you think (for any reason) they are not capable of safely completing the dive.<br /> don't get me wrong. there will always be unforseeable circumstances that result in an injury or a death. but if a dive op knowingly takes someone to a site they are not qualified to be at. they should be held responsible in part, should something go wrong. <br /> a "new diver" is just, and inexperienced. they are paying for the services of a proffessional outfit to provide them with a reasonably safe and enjoyable experience. sometimes we need those proffessionals to use their knowledge and training to save a diver from themselves.<br /> if a rookie diver seems to be well trained, comfortable in the water and has not shown the staff or crew a reason to doubt their abilities, then that dive op cannot be held responsible should something go wrong.<br /> just a reminder to anyone here who is just starting out. NEVER, EVER, allow your self to be put in a situation that you are not comfortable. don't let the fear of shame or embarrassment keep you from asking questions or voicing your concerns. most dive crews are good people. they will be there to help in anyway they can. but they are not mind readers. they can't make informed decisions about dive planning if you don't give them the info they need to make those decisions. speak up !! if it feels wrong, don't do it !!
  17. well said. I think it's true that we are all responsible for ourselfs at the end of the day but if a DM / instructor can't identify that someone with 5 dives needs a little extra observation at first than someone with 500 dives regardless of certification then maybe we are trusting most of them a little too much. and all these "experts" with tons of dives maybe got to that number of dives only because nothing went wrong until they got to a level where they can now ,yes ,be at lower risk,although I do agree that open water is given a little too easily. .