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#375501 - 05/04/10 01:12 AM Diving standards and safety
Peter Jones Offline
A compelling article in this months' "Undercurrent", about a diver who died on her first dive on a Galapogas trip. A quote from the published report:-

“And PADI et al. make it worse when they certify people as divemasters or even instructors with 60 or 120 dives, most of them in lakes or swimming pools. My wife’s instructor certification was worth nothing at Darwin’s Arch, where the current was so strong it twisted our reef hooks. The only thing that counts is experience, and this cannot be provided by the dive guides. However, only a few instructors I’ve seen tell their students bluntly about their capabilities and prevent them from overestimation. For the same reason - - the truth is bad for business.”

It has always worried me that it is far too easy to become a DM or instructor, and this report bears that out. The only thing that counts is experience.

#375507 - 05/04/10 03:55 AM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: Peter Jones]
seashell Offline
It is sad, but his wife would have met the same fate even if she hadn't gone all the way to instructor. It's the experience and how do you get experience at Darwin's Arch without doing Darwin's Arch?

They have been better served to have recieved a good dive briefing on what to do to protect themselves if X happened, if Y happened, if Z happened. Or even if someone had checked the current, took experienced measure of it and then told them that they shouldn't dive it that day.

None of these things have anything to do with PADI.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#375508 - 05/04/10 04:21 AM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: seashell]
Gaz Cooper Offline
I have personally dove Darwins Arch probably 20 times in several trips to the Galapagos and will be going again next year for the 4th time.

The current there is rip roarin its not that much of a diffcult dive and on the trips I have taken. No divers on the boat had less than 50 dives most were in the 200 range and a few with with thousands.

I personally know divers with thousands of dives under there belt that still had problems in the Galapagos, it is a tough destination and the diving is very challenging especially round Darwins Arch and Wolf Island.

Divers know that when they book to go there, and they are informed the currents there are very strong and seas can be very rough its up to the diver to know there own limitations when choosing to dive somewhere as advanced as the Galapagos Islands.

Every now and again someone loses there life in the Galapagos and 99% of the time its a very experienced diver who is generally overconfident of there abilitys and fitness,and then they meet the Galapagos which seperates the men from the boys sometimes in a fatal way.

It does not mention how many dives this lady had, only that she was an instructor and as an instructor she should know her limitations and still dive within her limits.

I do not think Padi or any other training agency has anything to do with this story as way more experienced divers than her have gone before her so the argument has no merit.

Gaz Cooper


#375509 - 05/04/10 04:27 AM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: Gaz Cooper]
seashell Offline
Thanks Gaz, that was what I was trying to say.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#375510 - 05/04/10 04:39 AM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: seashell]
Gaz Cooper Offline

Here is a quick explanation of a typical dive off Wolf island or Darwins Arch.

Diving in the Galapagos is as mentioned very advanced rigourous diving and every dive has a 20 minute dive and safety briefing. There is a rip roaring current on every dive at those divesites and no dive is cancelled due to current as thats why we are diving there to get the absolute best diving experience and to see the many Whale Sharks and Hammerheads that hang out in the current.

There are no punches pulled on the briefing everyone knows when you hit the water you get to the bottom as quickly as possible (around 60-70ft) and hang on to the rocks to stop from being swept away in the current.

As you drop in the water you are immediately taken by the current and you drop as quick as you can and re group on the bottom.

from there its mainly a hold onto the rocks (no coral)and watch the world go by Hammerheads Galapagos Sharks, Dolphins,all at the same time, really awesome stuff

After a while we let go and I tell you its hold onto your mask time, if you turn your head your mask will be ripped off your face its that strong.

We drift in Blue Water looking for Whale Sharks at around 25-30feet for the last 30 minutes of the dive, when we surface we are at least a mile and a half away from the boat which is just a speck in the distance, thats how strong the currents are.

Some divers have been seperated taken by another current as they cross paths and end up in a complete opposite direction to us.

If something went wrong you would pretty much have to deal with it yourself you have to be self sufficient.

Its fantastic diving there but I can easily see how something like that could happen.

I have several stories of close calls on my trips even one which I almost didnt make it but I will say, in that case it was experience that saved me.

None of it has anything to do with a training agency.



#375518 - 05/04/10 08:56 AM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: Gaz Cooper]
Peter Jones Offline
My quote is taken directly from the Undercurrent article. It says that the experience level required was around 50 dives, the briefing was all too brief and inadequate, there was a single DM (in circumstances when there should have been two), the DM's conduct on the occasion was inadequate, the divers/DM carried no auto-location equipment in an area with unpredictable currents, etc. I haven't been on that dive, but I recognise the scenario from other tricky dives I have been on, and the general comment made that commercial pressures seemed to govern how the dive was conducted are very credible.

I am in little doubt, not because of this article because I have thought it for a long time although the article does bolster the viewpoint, that DM and Instructor certifications are way too easy to obtain, and getting easier by the day. To be an instructor with just 100 dives is a mockery.

Read the article.

#375527 - 05/04/10 09:29 AM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: Peter Jones]
Gaz Cooper Offline
I can only speak from my first hand experiences of diving the Galapagos multiple times, and in my case the boats take safety very seriously but its no place for divers not used to the conditions that they will encounter there.

On all the trips I have made not once did a DM go in the water to baby divers all divers were supposed to be competant and self sufficient to handle the dives else they should not of been there DMs only went in the water as a guide and its your buddy thats responsible for his buddy period.

Most of us ended the dive either alone due to taking pictures or not with the group due to the conditions, the tender guys were superb at rounding everyone up.

None of us carried auto location devices but did carry extendable dive flags for signaling and also Air horns.

If a perfectly competant dive instructor with 120 dives in calm Caribbean waters and is considered a good instructor, decided to go to the Galapagos and do his first dive at Darwins Arch he would be an idiot as it would be totally out of his capabilities limits or experience, it has nothing to do with his teaching ability or how quickly he became an instructor.

As an instructor he should know his limits.

If I went back to the UK and took up diving there (NO CHANCE) i would not have a problem taking instruction from a local diver with less certification than myself,as he dives there often and is way more experienced than me in those conditions and I know it.

An instructor from the UK with 120 dives in Uk waters would have no problem in the Galapagos I am sure, but it does not have to do with how quickly be became an instructor its the conditions he dives in that makes him the diver he is.

I disagree that a instructor with 100 dives cant be a good instructor especially if they have done it like the guys on the island do by diving every day.

A good teacher can teach anything once he has mastered what he is teaching and the OW course is very easy to teach and in no way would require hundreds of dives to be able to teach well.

How many dives do you think the requirement should be ??

Sounds like you want to go back to the old BSAC days where it took you 6 months before you could even try out a regulator.


P.S Link to the article

Edited by Gaz Cooper (05/04/10 10:14 AM)

#375613 - 05/04/10 07:45 PM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: Gaz Cooper]
seashell Offline
I recently heard (or read) of a woman that had her hand severely bitten by a moray, on a Galapagos dive. I guess that was PADI's fault too. smile

By the way, thanks Gaz. GREAT description! You got my heart rate up.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#375615 - 05/04/10 08:39 PM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: seashell]
Peter Jones Offline
All I'll say is that Undercurrent is the most reputable diving magazine in the world.

#375634 - 05/05/10 12:33 AM Re: Diving standards and safety [Re: Peter Jones]
seashell Offline
I'll agree with that comment Peter. Regardless, experience is everything and certification is almost nothing.

And even experience might not be enough . . . frankly, from the dive that Greg explained, even with all my dives, I don't think I could manage that.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

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