A response to “A Divemaster’s thoughtful Rant”

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I am glad to see that I am in the good company of Bret Gilliam in wishing to respond to the anonymous JD (are you scared to say who you are, JD?) with a few home truths about divemasters, gleaned from my nearly 50 years of scuba diving.

I have experienced all of the following behaviours from professional DMs, some many times:

  • DMs with limited experience, but who think they know it all and treat you like a simpleton
  • DMs who lack flexibility of approach to their job- the ‘do-it-my-way or not at all’ type
  • DMs who apply silly limitations to one’s dive time and depth so one returns to the surface with over half a tank left; some really stupid behaviours in this category
  • DMs who think they are Ian Thorpe & swim like hell, expecting everyone to keep up, thus depriving clients of the opportunity of having a real look around
  • DMs who allocate divers to buddy pairs for their dive, but then insists that everyone start to ascend when the first diver has used their air to 100 bar
  • DMs with no ability to cope with a group with mixed diving skills/experience
  • DMs who do not know the environment they are guiding in
  • DMs who just float around looking bored and making no attempt to look for critters for their clients
  • DMs who use horns, beeps or tap their tank constantly throughout the dive as though they were in the middle of the Paris rush hour traffic
  • DMs who are demonstrably anxious
  • DMs who run out of air before their clients do
  • DMs who give you a harangue at the dive briefing about care of the coral, then proceed to knock the hell out of it themselves because they have no idea where their fins are or who hold on to live coral when showing clients something interesting
  • DMs who are impatient with clients
  • DMs who give lousy dive briefings; this includes those who give so much information that nothing is left to chance, surprise and excitement on the dive.
  • DMs who allocate a really experienced diver to buddy with an anxious newcomer so they don’t have to look after them themselves (but that can be a pleasure too, when you can provide the novice with a dive that leaves them wide-eyed & bushy-tailed at the end, bursting to get under again!)
  • DMs who take a spear gun on a night dive!!!

Undercurrent likes names, so here from my long experience are my votes:

Favourite DM ever: Pauline Feine in Hawaii, escorting dives to Molokini Crater. Pauline was awesome!

Favourite dive charter company: Dive! Tutukaka in Northland, New Zealand. Dive!Tuts has the ability to take 20-30 divers, with experience ranging from first open water dive since their basic course to teckies with rebreathers and underwater scooters, out to The Poor Knights Islands & everyone come home happy after a great day’s diving. Good skippers, competent DMs, flexibility of approach and a determination to ensure clients have a good time, all of which stem from outstanding leadership at the top, make this company the gold standard by which I judge all others.

Dr. Mike Davis
Associate Professor (ret’d) Michael Davis, MA,MB,BChir(Cantab),FRCA(Eng),FANZCA,Cert DHM, MD(Otago)
Editor, Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine
The combined journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society and the European Underwater and Baromedical Society
Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine is indexed in MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch®) and Embase/Scopus, the Excerpta Medica databases.
Address for correspondence:
C/- Hyperbaric Medicine Unit, Christchurch Hospital
Private Bag 4710, Christchurch 8011
New Zealand
Phone: (New Zealand) +64-(0)3-329-6857 or (mobile) +64-(0)27-433-2218
Fax: +64-(0)3-329-6810
E-mail: editor@dhmjournal.com
Website: www.dhmjournal.com
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11 comments for “A response to “A Divemaster’s thoughtful Rant”

  1. Bret Gilliam
    August 22, 2011 at 4:58 am

    Dr. Mike is a real diver, both professionally and in his private life on travels around the world. I’m proud to be mentioned by him and we share virtually the same perspectives on diving medicine, emergency field treatments, decompression models, training standards of practice that need to be implemented, etc. We also share a disdain for simpletons as he has noted…

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  2. August 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Another nomination for DiveMaster/Captain of the Year: Capn’t Mike from Aloha Divers in Kona. Not only do they treat you like a client, but they respect you also. They attempt to provide a complete experience, from taking you to interesting places, to acting terribly interested when they’ve seen that site 50 times this year. A great boat, and great crew!

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  3. Rich Jacoby
    August 22, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Just returned from a trip on the Utilla Aggressor, and need to respond to Dr. Mike with kudos to a divemaster there. From the moment Saby met us at the airport, we could see that she was calmly in control. Never did she get in the way before, during, or after dives; yet she was aware of what was going on. Her briefings were direct and to the point. To me, Saby looked too young, but not only did she have it together but she turned out to be a fine photographer.

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  4. August 24, 2011 at 2:10 am

    I am continually dismayed with the number of Divemasters and even instructors who have fewer than 500 total dives and yet think they have the esperience to qualify students to be Scuba Divers.

    There should be a minimum experience level required for applicants for either Dive Master or Instructor.

    I am only a Master diver with 1500 plus dives.

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  5. John Bantin
    August 25, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I still remember fondly the American young lady DM in St Lucia who ripped into me after a dive with the words: No diver shall go in front of the instructor and no diver shall go one metre below the instructor…I had been photographing her!

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  6. August 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Re: Dr. Mike’s list of DM’s

    I think I have dived with all those guys!!!!!!

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  7. September 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I second the vote for Pauline – she’s the perfect companion to the uniqueness of Maui.

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  8. Ozark Diver
    September 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    In response to David Rowe and the number of required dives for an instructor rating. PADI’s website states a minimum of 120 dives for an instructor (pretty low). My problem isn’t so much the required number, but the fact that many instuctors go straight from open water to instructor in the minimum amount of time. I understand getting hooked on diving and wanting to teach, but in this case the instructor doesn’t have much real life dive experience. Almost all their dives to this point have been supervised.

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  9. Kathy Weaver
    September 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

    Saby…Indeed a fine DM. I very much enjoyed diving with her!

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  10. September 26, 2011 at 12:20 am

    One more vote for Pauline, and kudos to Ronald and peers at Lembeh Resort, Ketut at Bali’s Aquamarine, almost the full staff of Asia Divers in Puerta Galera, in addition to the many excellent DM’s who once worked for dive ops no longer in business.

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  11. Patrick Graham
    October 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I too, have dove with Pauline in Maui and she is very good. One of my favorites is Linda Marsh in Kauai who is knowledgeable, professional, and always tries to make every dive a fun experience. She and her staff strive to tailor each dive to the capabilities of each group to make safe dives that explore each dive site.

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