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FL Cavern instructor

Discussion in 'Cave Diving' started by B Lo, May 4, 2014.

  1. B Lo

    B Lo Nassau Grouper

    This is sure to be a heated topic but I'll go for it anyway. I'm looking for a cavern instructor in Florida to train a total of 2 or 3 people in a class. I expect to spend around $400 each for the training plus site access fees and gear costs to ensure my setup is appropriate for the course. If it's a bit more than $400, that's fine, as I would prefer the eventual certification has a value.

    I am looking for someone who (#1) isn't full of himself or herself and who (#2) meets or exceeds all established training standards for NSS-CDS and/or IANTD. If he or she also certifies PADI Cavern (in addition to NSS-CDS and/or IANTD), that would be a little plus. I'd prefer to get NSS-CDS or IANTD and PADI certified. Respectfully, I would prefer not to elaborate on why I'd like the PADI certification in addition to either the NSS-CDS or IANTD certification.

    SCUBA instructors tend to be worth a lot or worth extremely little. There is generally no middle ground. I've had excellent instruction and worthless instruction. I'd prefer to get quality instruction here on out and would like to select the instructor rather than the shop.
  2. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    You will get a host of replys,because typically everyone will say their instructor is the best. Take these recommendations,and call the individual,then make your determination. At one time there used to be a feeling that cavern was pretty basic,and most people will teach it well,I have changed my mind after exiting Peacock and observing instructor and students all standing on the bottom. A key indicator is finding out how many classes,especially cavern classes they did in a given period of time. You may also with your requirements have eliminated some of the best instructors that teach this course by wanting a PADI cavern card. Quite a few instructors have let PADI go,because they can get the OWSI affiliation from the same tech agency,or just don't use PADI.

    You may want the PADI cert for a master diver rating (5 specialties),but definitely get a card from an agency like you mentioned. Many cave instructors will turn down a PADI cavern card from people trying to advance. Just remember in your $400 "+",the instructor will want to charge you for each pic.
    B Lo likes this.
  3. j2s

    j2s Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: florida
    PM sent...
    B Lo likes this.
  4. kwinter

    kwinter Rebreather Pilot

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Jersey
    Or the worst...:D
    Gren and B Lo like this.
  5. tiki_bill

    tiki_bill Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Chicago
    Are you a card collector then?
  6. Trace Malinowski

    Trace Malinowski Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Alexandria Bay, NY
    NSS-CDS, IANTD and PADI sounds like Jim Wyatt to me. Full of information rather than himself.
  7. Randy g

    Randy g Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Virginia Beach, Va
    I was thinking Jim as well. 3 of us did our Cavern with him back in Dec and had a great time learning from him. As the NSS/CDS training manager you can't get any better instruction than Jim Wyatt.
    Omisson likes this.
  8. B Lo

    B Lo Nassau Grouper

    To the fellow who opined that I am a card collector: No. [Sarcasm] Thanks for the helpful contribution. [/Sarcasm]


    Thank you to all who replied and the many folks who sent me messages regarding this topic. I have received a good many suggestions, nearly all with great reasons why I should pick a particular instructor.

    To those folks who suggest Jim Wyatt, I have a concern based upon his website. "An improper attitude may constitute grounds for denying certification, regardless of proficency." I've never seen an instructor post anything like that and it strikes me the wrong way. If I am a proficient, safe, diver and the instructor arbitrarily decides he doesn't like my personality, I'd rather my money not go into the toilet. He may be a great instructor, but based upon that, he's not for me.

    Regardless, I have gotten a great many suggestions including folks who have literally "written the book," been cavern diving on every continent on earth, been training folks since the 70s, etc. How can I whittle down my list to select the instructor who will work best for me?

    I'm not going to knock anyone who was sent via a private message. There are some suggestions I received that I have heard less than stellar things about. I am listing those suggested to me who are in the running, based upon my not being aware of any negatives about them.

    Some of the individual names suggested include:

    Steve Cushman (North FL area)
    Richard Dreher, TDI
    Paul Heinerth (Hudson, FL), NACD, NSS-CDS
    Marissa Lasso (High Springs, FL), TDI, PADI
    Johnny Richards (North FL area), TDI
    Brent Teller (Sarasota, FL), IANTD
    Michal Turek (Destin, FL), IANTD, NACD

    Some of the shops suggested include:

    Cave Excursions
    Cave Adventurers

    Assuming, hypothetically, they are all in the same cost range, how would you go about picking from the above list of instructors?
  9. bamafan

    bamafan Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Panama City Beach, Fl.
    I would call them. I would also call Jim Wyatt I really think you took what was on his website wrong. The thing you might want to consider before you call them is your gear configuration. If you are going sidemount or backmount. Also the location of the shop and the area you will be diving. If you pick an instructor in the High Springs area and it is flooded you will be diving Ginnie and Manatee if they are open. If you go to Cave Adventurers in Mariana (Michael Turek & Edd) they are located on the Mill Pond and flooding isn't an issue as it's controlled by a dam. But the main thing I would do is call and talk to the instructor.
    Omisson and B Lo like this.
  10. Trace Malinowski

    Trace Malinowski Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Alexandria Bay, NY
    I highly recommend a DVD called "Facing Darkness" about cavern/cave training. In the video, my NSS-CDS instructor, John Orlowski, comments that most of the people who have failed his classes have failed due to attitude. I agree. Most people who have failed my tech & cave classes have failed due to attitude.

    I'm a little biased toward Steve Cushman and Edd Sorenson, not just because they are great cave instructors, but because we are all PSAI. However, Jim Wyatt would fit the bill of everything you asked for as an NSS-CDS, IANTD and PADI cavern/cave instructor. Richard Dreher is excellent as is Dan Patterson at Extreme Exposure. I hold both of them in the highest regard. Paul Heinerth has the widest dive resume of any instructor I know. He's low key. I adore Marissa Lasso. She's new and passionate. Johnny Richards teaches well, efficiently and by the book. I don't know that much about Brent and Michael. If you want IANTD I'd also suggest Peter McCumber too.

    Don't let a variation of $25 - $100 in price determine any cavern/cave training. The biggest problem for most cavern divers is trim, buoyancy and propulsion. Running line, drills, and gas management are relatively standard at the cavern level. Generally, it's hard to know how much an instructor will push for "perfect" skills. You may need a "fudge" day if skills need some work. Ask if that's included. Look, most every cave instructor is quite proficient. One of the best instructors I ever had no longer teaches. He was NACD and I didn't choose him by name or reputation. He just happened to be available. You don't have to overthink it or become a "bridezilla" just make a few calls, talk to the instructors, and pick whatever one you think you might get along with for 2 or 3 days.
    Omisson and B Lo like this.

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