So, I moved late last year. And unsurprisingly, one of the first things I did was figure out where the local dive shop was so that I could pick up tanks for random weekend diving. But to date, that’s all I’ve bothered them for – tank rentals.
For various reasons, I’ve been thinking about doing my divemaster certification. It’s partly work related, partly I just want to do it. So as you do, I went in to the dive shop to have a chat about it. It’s not the financial aspect, but the time commitment that was concerning me, and I wanted to find out what the logistics were for doing it on a part-time basis. Conversation was had, and I got the information I needed from the dive shop owner (well, part-owner), who also happened to be an instructor.
Then…We just got randomly chatting, because they had a PADI open water class running at the time. And the words right out of his mouth? Verbatim:
Him: “I don’t give a shit if my open water students can’t do their skills. I don’t give a shit if they don’t know what they’re doing at the end of the course.”
Me: “Seriously? Why?”
Him: “Because I will never dive with them again. I refuse to dive with anybody who doesn’t have a rescue diver certification at a minimum.”
And that’s the issue I have with PADI.
Put Another Dollar In!
Because this instructor only ever goes on organised dive trips with the dive shop’s affiliated dive club, and apparently their dive club trips away all have a minimum “rescue diver” requirement, outside of the courses he teaches, he actually only ever dives with pretty well qualified and experienced divers.
Here’s the thing though…The rest of us? Not so lucky. Most of the time when you go on a dive trip, the overwhelming majority of the people you’ll be diving with only have open water certifications, and not a whole lot of logged dives at that. You’ll have a few with Advanced Open Water certifications, maybe a couple will be divemasters, and occasionally there might be an instructor on holiday. But overwhelmingly, they’re relatively inexperienced divers with the minimum certification.
And here we have this instructor saying that he “doesn’t give a shit” if the majority of the people that most of us have to dive with aren’t actually trained properly.
Honestly, if you don’t believe in the training program you’re teaching, why the fuck are you teaching it? If you have such a problem with the PADI open water program, why don’t you get your instructor certification with another agency like SSI, NAUI, or CMAS and teach their material instead?
PADI is notorious for having a weak open water course, but is that not a reason for the instructor to actually do their best to make sure that they teach the material the best they can so that their students come out as prepared as possible? Saying “I know it’s crap so why waste my time?” just makes an already bad situation worse. If we want to actually improve the quality of the divers out there and make a better dive community (something I thought we all aspired to), then instructors should actually make sure that their students are capable of basic in-water skills.
I was really unimpressed with this guy. And if it wasn’t for the fact that they have the only dive shop in the area, I wouldn’t even set foot in the place again. As it stands, I will not be doing my divemaster with them. I will wait until I can get a significant amount of time off work and travel somewhere else – probably overseas – and do the course there instead.