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#475608 - 10/24/13 09:09 PM PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole
elbert Offline
I am writing to all PADI Members in your area regarding the use of the local Blue Hole dive site for dive tours with newly certified or novice divers.
Some dive operations and dive guides have been taking newly certified or novice divers without deep diving training or experience on dive tours to depths exceeding the limits of those diversí training and experience. Specifically, PADI Americas has been informed that PADI Members are taking newly certified PADI Open Water Divers (or other such novice divers) without deep dive training or experience to depths of 40 metres/130 feet in the Blue Hole. Though PADI Standards define the maximum depth limit for recreational divers with deep dive training or experience as 40 metres/130 feet, even the Deep Adventure Dive in the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course is limited to a maximum depth of 30 metres/100 feet. Therefore dives in excess of these limits for inexperienced or untrained divers violate the Code of Practice outlined on pages 144 to 146 of the PADI Instructor Manual (2013 English language version), specifically points one, two and ten which state:

1. Put the safety of diving clients and students as your first priority and responsibility. In doing so, abide by the requirements and intent of PADI Standards and Procedures in the PADI Instructor Manual, PADIís Guide to Teaching, Training Bulletin and other updates while applying your best judgment during the PADI courses and programs you conduct.
2. Although scuba diving is a reasonably safe activity when safety rules are followed, the risk/consequence of scuba diving can lead to very serious injuries. Be safety minded, safety conscious and practice instructing and dive mastering professionally.
10. Comply with the intent of the PADI Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding while teaching and supervising.

Although these dive tours may not be course training dives, they may still violate the intent of the PADI Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding and may place insufficiently trained or inadequately equipped divers in harmís way. If your intent is to provide a guided experience for someone without previous deep diving experience or training, consider the level of supervision provided as well as the ratio and the overall depth and whether taking these divers to a depth of 40 metres/130 feet is really necessary to introduce divers to the thrill and excitement of the Blue Hole.
Should an incident occur, your actions while acting in the capacity of a dive professional and PADI Member will be scrutinized. Violating the PADI Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding, especially while supervising divers, may increase your liability. Further, depending upon the specific circumstances, this could also jeopardize your PADI membership.

The vast majority of PADI Professionals follow safe diving practices and have the safety and wellbeing of customers as the top priority. However, for the few that may be taking such risks, we ask that you immediately cease taking divers without the appropriate experience or training and equipment to excessive depths.
Sincerely,
Johnny Wetzstein
Director, Training
PADI Americas
cc: Belize Tourism Board
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#475610 - 10/24/13 09:32 PM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
elbert Offline
Wow, I wonder if the Blue Hole experience is possible at 100 feet.
The thickness of the collapsed ceiling of the ancient cave was an appropriated 110 feet. Operators have been diving this 130 foot depth for two reasons, because of the assumption shallower was just a featureless wall and 130 feet seemed to be the limit of the licences and liability.
This clarification from PADI will have a major effect on how this dive is conducted.
It will be an interesting read if the Belize Tourist Board responds. I value my relationship with PADI and will respect this clarification Johnny has made. I think it's time to explore the Blue Hole at 100 feet and see if we can find stalagmites and stalactites at this depth somewhere on the circumference.
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#475635 - 10/25/13 01:59 AM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
Chris Offline
nope, you have to go to 130ft or so to get underneath the roof of the cave...even at 130ft there all isn't that much headroom, a few feet to 10 feet perhaps.

All the PADI letter does is showcase their ignorance of a world diving phenomenon. The Great Blue Hole has such importance in recreational diving that ever senior executive at PADI should already have dived it and studied it carefully so that they understand that there is BUGGER ALL TO SEE at 100ft and that at 125ft or so a whole new world of wonder and awe opens up.

The real reason for the PADI letter, of course, is that if there is an accident to a PADI certified diver at the Blue Hole there will be no chance of a lawsuit adversely affecting PADI. They can say they did everything possible to stop local (Belize) dive shops etc. from taking their divers to 130ft. I wonder if PADI has written to the Aggressor and Dancer Fleet?

In reality those two small sections of the North and South sides of the Blue Hole are the only really interesting/awesome spots to dive...the stalactites/mites and roof overhang are nowhere near as pronounced in other parts of the Hole.

If PADI really wants to have a diving hernia they should check out https://www.facebook.com/pages/Belize-Cave-Diving-Society/523308801045243

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#475636 - 10/25/13 02:20 AM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
Gaz Cooper Offline
I agree with Chris on this one, in my old days with the Manta IV we dove and explored the Blue hole hundreds of times and there is nothing except those 2 north and south locations and pretty much a featureless wall everywhere else so basically attempting to dive at 100ft will be completely boring and divers would see nothing except the odd shark and certainly not worth the hundreds of dollars and entry fee's that are charged today.

Gaz Cooper


Edited by Gaz Cooper (10/25/13 02:20 AM)
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#475637 - 10/25/13 02:35 AM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
Gaz Cooper Offline
If I was still in the dive biz on Ambergris I would immediately use this as a positive and a way to increase revenue for my dive shop.

It would be an opportunity to provide extra value to my customers and in my dive packages by

1.) Offering a deep diving specialty for any diver wanting to dive the Blue Hole included as part of their dive package.

2.)For those that need it provide the necessary deep diver training and certification prior to their Blue Hole trip

I would arrange my packages so that the first few days we train the divers to increasing depths and provide the necessary deep diver training during the first part of their dive week building them up over the first part of the week so they do have the experience and training required to comply with Padi standards and requirments.

For a smart marketer this can be used in a positive way and for a Blue Hole operator its cheaper to employ a full time instructor to provide the necessary training and certification prior to Blue Hole departure, compared to the amount of money they may lose if they comply with this notice and start refusing divers that don't have the experience.

Gaz Cooper
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#475638 - 10/25/13 06:48 AM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
seashell Offline
Agreed Gaz. That's what they do on Roatan. Won't take OW divers on any of the deeper dives until they've taken their advanced. KACHING!!

I think PADI probably has more than one motive here. Also other scuba forums have been making a big stink about it so perhaps they had to send out the letter. But in fairness to all, it is a better idea to have better trained divers in the Blue Hole, the newer divers will enjoy the experience far more. In that regard, chances are good that reviews of the dive will improve overall and therefore dive ops running to the Blue Hole will ultimately make more money. Therefore, shouldn't turn out be a money loser for them and overtime could even increase their revenue as new reviews get the word out. The scuba forum dissenters and any others that now won't dive the BH because of their beliefs will come around and at a bare minimum stop making negative discouraging comments.


Edited by seashell (10/25/13 09:42 PM)
Edit Reason: fixed many mangled typos
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#475640 - 10/25/13 10:03 AM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
elbert Offline
This sounds good, we're all on the same page here. One door closing another opening. Packages for Advanced and Deep specialty courses are being written now.
I'll chat with Changa today.
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#475665 - 10/25/13 01:06 PM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
elbert Offline
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#475687 - 10/25/13 04:50 PM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: elbert]
ScubaLdy Offline
I think this will just help support those good dive shops that refuse to take unprepared divers. Many new divers can be very demanding and really don't know what they are getting into.
I've been shocked to be on boats with people who have just completed their open water and have very little experience.
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#475698 - 10/25/13 07:36 PM Re: PADI's Opinion on the Blue Hole [Re: ScubaLdy]
Sailfish19 Offline
This all started and is on the personal agenda of a dive instructor employed by the BTB that now has the support of Padi and their is a lot more to it than just the notice issued by Padi. I am pretty sure that Padi nor BTB has any hard proof or any incident to support their claim. The intention of the BTB personnel is to pass a law that tour operators must abide by that only advance divers can dive the blue hole. Whether they have looked at the ratio of open water divers compared to advanced divers in general beats me. Of course Padi will support them as it is an additional income for them. Has the BTB looked at how it will financially impact the dive operators or dive industry entirely? What will happen to the other protected sites around the country of Belize that is sustained from the blue hole park fee through the audubon society?

While I agree that safety is a priority and newly certified divers(meaning right after completing your 4th open water dive should not be taken to the blue hole) implementing that you need to be an advance diver or deep diver specialty to be able to dive the blue hole is a bit extreme and will only destroy the blue hole dive market. To acquire a deep dive specialty as per Padi's standards you need a minimum of 2 days since you they require at least 4 deep dives supervised by an instructor. Automatically this means that you need 4 days and 5 nights minimum since you need 24 hours before flying if you want to dive the blue hole. Additionally you are looking at a minimum cost of $300 for the blue hole trip and $250 to $300 for an advance course. How many divers will spend $600 and a 5 night stay just to dive the blue hole. Lets say a family of 4 dad, mom and two kids are on vacation together. Will they really spend US$2400 plus a weeks stay's to go dive the blue hole. For that amount of money they can go to cozumel for a week at an all inclusive resort including diving and do wall dives all week long.

Moving away from the money factor and the lost the dive industry will incur in general, is being deep diver certified that important. What do I mean by this statement. Lets say I just got my open water certification and immediately after I do my advance course. This would mean that I have a minimum of 10 dives under my belt. Am I really a better or safer diver than an open water diver that has 50 dives under his belt? In my personal opinion being a better diver can only come by practice. From my experience diving Hol Chan marine reserve when there is their is a strong outward current is much more dangerous than diving the blue hole. For those that have dove the blue hole, they know that the blue hole is a deep but very easy dive. Their is no currents, you are in calm water and 99% of the time you have decent visibility. Furthermore from my knowledge the way most operators conduct the blue hole dive is very very safe. How do most operators conduct the blue hole? Well after a thorough dive briefing this is how the actual dive is conducted. Using an example with 14 divers on the boat. They would dive as a group with a leading dive master with 1 or 2 dive masters in the back. Why dive this way. Its pretty simple. You have 8 minutes bottom time to 130ft depth. That 8 minutes start from you leave the surface to 130 ft depth and at 8 minutes start ascending. If for some reason a diver has any trouble going down the back up dive master can attend to that individual while the rest of the group continue with the leading dive master. At no time is any diver left alone or unattended to. While people may think diving in smaller groups of 6 divers with 1 dive master is better, what happens in the case of an emergency with one of the divers. Its simple. The dive master attends to that diver while the other are left alone. Would it be right to leave whether an open water or advance divers on their own at 100+ feet? Well if you go by padi's standards its fine for an advance diver. So is it safe or enough just to follow padi's standards. Their are other and much more effective safety measures that can be implemented to make the blue hole dive safer than it already is. The authorities need to lobby with the major players in the blue hole market and come up with ideas and ways to improve safety that will not affect the industry instead of getting advice or listening to the opinion's of people that do not cater to the blue hole market or that will not be affected whether this draconian rule is implemented.

Just my 2centsÖ

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