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A very bad week in Florida

Discussion in 'Cave Diving' started by Bruciebabe, Mar 29, 2007.

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  1. Bruciebabe

    Bruciebabe Instructor, Scuba

    As a catharsis and to help other divers I have written it up here:

    The following is an account of how I wasted a lot of money and over a week of my time to put up with a lot of harassment and grief. I have thought long and hard about whether I should post this and have discussed it with friends who say that I should. Some may say that it is sour grapes, that is up to them, I am merely documenting events from my perspective. I have done so as a warning for other divers. Please take great care when buying training. As you will see I didn’t take enough and have paid the consequence.

    Nine years ago I did my PADI Cavern course at Salgar Diving in Menorca and really enjoyed it. I have been diving the caves and caverns of Menorca regularly ever since. Two years ago I did the IANTD Intro to Cave with Phil Short, also at Salgar Diving in Menorca. This was a fantastic course and Phil is a first class teacher. I learned a lot and really enjoyed it, so much so that I was determined to go on and get my full cave certification.

    One huge problem with cave diving is the certification agencies, unfortunately there is no equivalent of PADI. The top standard (leaving GUE out) is supposed to be the National Association Of Cavedivers (NACD) and the National Spielogical Society Cave Diving Section (NSS CDS), both in America. The NACD qualification is necessary to dive the top Mexican sites and some American sites can only be dived if you are NSS CDS. Both of these organisations are pretty much unknown outside America so you also need a tech agency ticket and IANTD are the best for that. In other words if you want to travel and cave dive you need these three tickets and I found an instructor who could teach all three. Not only that, he was British and taught in Florida, the best place to learn. I will call this person CI for Cave Instructor. My massive mistake was to take him and his teaching at face value, I should have checked him out more. As it turned out he was the worst diving instructor that I have ever met. I knew from the second day of the course that he was going to fail to teach me well enough for me to get through. I would have known earlier but the first two dives were aborted when his DUI drysuit flooded through multiple holes, very unprofessional.

    The main problem is that his teaching method is to berate you. Before, during and after every dive. It is like being a WW2 army recruit. He just did not support and instruct in the manner that I have experienced from every other diving instructor. Some people may find this works for them but it certainly does not work for me. I dive for fun and enjoyment, not to be treated like this. It is extremely wearisome to the soul to put up with this day after day. Another problem was that his telling offs bore only a scant resemblance to what had happened. For instance he told me off for “standing up” in a cave. A bit difficult when there was less than four foot of room and I am over six foot tall. What he meant was that my trim had gone a bit head up. Early on in the course I accidentally put my hand once into the mud on the cave floor. This got me not one, but several telling offs for the destruction and devastation I had wrought on the cave. I reached the point were I only turned half an ear to most of what he said, it was the only way to retain my sanity.

    One time I was making a jump into a side tunnel. The gold line was very low, just above the mud floor, running between circular concrete blocks. I got down low with my buoyancy spot on and placed my cookie on the line. I then got a jump reel and looped it round the gold line. I was facing into the cave wall and needed to move myself back into the tunnel. I could have finned backwards but I reckoned there would be less chance of creating silt if I pushed back very gently off a concrete block, so I did. I got a massive telling off for this. CI said “what if it had been mud and not concrete?” well it wasn’t mud and if it had been I would have finned backwards instead of pushing back. I told other, experienced cave divers about this incident and they said that I had chosen the right option in not finning back so close to the mud on the bottom of the cave.

    Every technical instructor has a different pre dive check routine. CI expected me to know his by telepathy and I got told off for not instantly memorising it when up to my neck in water in a spring. So I asked him to write it out in the classroom. This got me another telling off that I couldn’t bring a list with me on a dive. I explained that I just wanted it written down so I could memorise it. With this he did write it down, however he got it wrong and left out a key check. I didn’t bother telling him, I just added the check back in.

    Every time I tried to explain why I had done a certain thing I was told I was making excuses. One time following CI out of a cave he dropped a pencil onto the cave floor mud and didn’t notice he had done so. I picked this up and handed it back to him when we were de kitting after the dive without saying anything. The excuses he came up with then were one of the highlights of the week.

    (more, cont. here: http://www.scubabrucie.com/dive/2007/03/28/an-expensive-lesson/)

    Note: added information with permission from owner, link to the entire story and closed thread. -cbulla
  2. mania

    mania Cousin Itt ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Warsaw, Poland
    What can I say...
    I'm really sorry you had such an ******* as an instructor.

    I did my intro in Florida with GDI who is an extremly demanding and absolutly great cave instructor.
    My course was difficult but one of the best I ever had.

    So my recomendation is GDI.

    GDI - luv u
    your the only reddish Polish woman
  3. Dive-aholic

    Dive-aholic Dive Shop

    # of Dives:
    Location: North Florida - Marianna area
    All I can say is WOW! What a Richard Cranium!

    An expensive lesson. I'd take Jim Wyatt's advice if I were you and report CI to all the agencies. This behavior should not be tolerated.

    Besides Jim and Rick (GDI), Johnny Richards is also a great instructor. He's hard on you, but in a very quiet manner. I would have rather had Johnny yelling at me than getting quiet on me! Thankfully, those spells never lasted very long.

    Good luck with your future training.
  4. Missdirected

    Missdirected Giant Squid

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tampa
    There is a guy/shop down the street from me that is just like that. I cringe when I have to go there for something. Even worse, a newb has started using the shop, I feel really bad for him. He is going to learn a hard lesson.

    Anyway, hindsight is 20/20. Good luck in the future. :) Thank you for taking the time to share your experience.
  5. Kirkandtiger

    Kirkandtiger Nassau Grouper

    I've met that guy. He was teaching a rebreather cave zero to hero class down in North Florida a couple months ago. I've never met such an arrogant instructor. His students were pretty cool, however. I especially liked how they made fun of him behind his back. - Kirk
  6. PerroneFord

    PerroneFord DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives:
    Location: The Borg Cube
    I think I might know of your instructor but I cannot say for sure. There is certainly someone I know who I've heard is like this.

    Your lesson should be heard by all. You must do your homework when looking for instructors for this level class. I have met a great many reputable and genuinly nice cave instructors, and am very thankful for all the advice they've given. Perhaps if you should try for your full cave cert in the future, you'll spend a fair amount of time talking to other cavers in the area that you respect and getting their advice.

    I am very sorry this worked out so poorly for you.
  7. timle

    timle Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Florida
    Were you in Peacock I on Saturday the 17th? I think I might have witnessed some of this. Either way sorry you had a bad experience. My advice on finding a Cave or any instructor but especially more difficult diving is to seek advice from other like minded people such as here or TDS. People don't want to name names publicly but if you are looking for an instructor lots of people can recommend good ones - and might steer you away from others privately.
  8. roake215

    roake215 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Ottawa
    My son just finished his OW with GDI while I followed along as a tune-up. Don't think I could find a better instructor anywhere. Demanding, fair, patient, comprehensive (even with a 13 year old). Know where I'll be going next time I'm looking for a course.
  9. PerroneFord

    PerroneFord DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives:
    Location: The Borg Cube
    You can most certainly name names on TDS! :)
  10. rjack321

    rjack321 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, WA
    I beleive you should name names. Not here since its a TOS violation (dumb policy).

    But on your website and over on TDS. Give people enough information to make their own judgements about instructors.
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