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September 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 32, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Divemaster or Dive Guide?

from the September, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

So often these terms are confused, and even Undercurrent reporters commonly call dive guides "divemasters." Last month we reported in Flotsam & Jetsam the case of 13-year-old Taryn Felde, who helps her father, a Florida PADI dive instructor. A report in the Navarre Press said she was a divemaster, and we asked if, like us, you thought she was too young to be doing that job?

Jim Rogers summed up your reactions when he wrote, "There is no way I would ever put my safety and my dive buddy's safety in the hands of a 13-year-old. The parents are asking for a lawsuit, and they are jeopardizing the child's childhood by allowing her to act in such a capacity. I don't like putting my life in the hands of a 19-year-old divemaster either, but that is just me. Most have zero life experiences and no clue how to handle a real emergent situation."

In fact, the original report got it wrong. Young PADI divers, 12-14 years old, must dive with a certified adult, and dives cannot exceed 60 feet (18m). Navarre Press changed the HTML version of the report to say she was "a master scuba diver," but in its headline, the relentless confusion between divemaster and master scuba diver continues.

Speaking of young divemasters, Dennis Lewis (Fresno, CA) was shore diving with Extended Horizons on Maui in July, and says "Our young divemaster/leader was very nervous and had a hard time staying on topic at the shop. My buddy had to ask four times to get his rental wetsuit. When we got to the beach to unload our gear, we found that he packed my buddy's suit, but gave him the wrong size fins (by a lot) and two left boots. He brought the other diver the wrong amount of weight. OK, switch things around, and we got ready. When we were ready, he discovered that he forgot his mask. So we waited for him to run back and see about a mask. Once in the water, he seemed to need to make up time and darted off. Knowing that it would be a short shore dive in 30 feet, we let him go. He had to come back and then gave in and slowed down."

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