My response to Mr. Robinson...
Colin Miller - Dive Medical Officer/Surgeon
October 20, 2004 at 20:23:45
Read all the posts on this forum (I have): the overwhleming majority are negative and complain of everything from the air conditioning to people not getting along. Some contain profanity and ad hominem arguments (on both sides), both of which I can do without. My disappointment at the number of off-topic posts, unsupported accusations, and lack of moderation is not a "cheap shot" at Scuba Forums. It is an expression of my surpise that such a potentially valuable online resource is being misused, nothing more.
Your comment on the timing of posts is irrelevant. A large number of useless posts is just that.
To answer your question: No, there are anti-Agressor posts that I found useful and would take into account in future bookings (on any liveaboard). Mimi Greenberg's post for example - factual, measured and useful. Suzanne S asked germane, vital questions - no response.
Unfortunately, most posters seem to be jumping on the bandwagon with every complaint about Aggressor than can come up with. That does nothing to further anyone's knowledge of what it's like to take an Aggressor trip. I reported my positive experience in furtherance of that discussion, not to make excuses for safety violations or to "counter" negative posts. A couple of folks have reported on positive experiences they've had on other Aggressor boats even though they had problems on one.
I never glossed over a fatal dive accident. Risk management is part of my job, and I take it very seriously. In fact, the paragraph I wrote (#3) specifically encouraged divers not to trust anyone when it comes to dive safety. You must take matters into your own hands and not rely on any crewmember/dive buddy/divemaster. They are Plan C: Plans A & B are on each individual who straps on a tank. But posts such as "you don't want to be in the middle of the ocean on a small boat with people you can't trust", etc. add nothing to the discussion.
Similarly, I felt the original article to be poorly written and vague. It seemed bent on sullying Hassan's reputation and implying some kind of conspiracy to defraud divers rather than reporting the facts of the matter. Unfortunately, the trend of publishing opinion, rumor and innuendo as fact is prevalent even in the "professional" media these days.
My comments on trip insurance were meant to run as a counterpoint to the complaints about trip refunds for the *insert your disappointing experience here* folks and the Wayne Hassan is a ripoff artist accusations, not to excuse poor judgement or safety violations. Trip insurance is a fact of life in my experience. Get it or be prepared to make lemonade.
Finally, I have seen no definitive discussion of what crime was committed by Wayne Hassan or an Agressor Captain. There are a lot of serious accusations of safety violations, broken international and US laws, "killing people" etc. But someone must know what the standards are and who is responsible for enforcing them. I think that discussion should come before calling someone a criminal. Also, the outcome of any accident investigation is vital before assigning blame - no one on this forum knows the facts.
I have no beef with you not booking on Aggressor (although I'll disagree with you painting the whole fleet with a broad brush for one Captain's actions). We all take risks in life, we just have to choose wisely. Safe diving!