Straight Facts, Proof and Calls For Action...
Stephen Hensley - Instructor/Instructor-Guide-Photographer
September 12, 2005 at 09:32:59
As a PADI Instructor, my annual fees (dues) include membership (dues) in the PADI Diving Society. Sport Diver is the Official Publication of the PADI Diving Society. A responsible dive training agency would not force me to financially support irresponsible journalism. Since it is obvious that the articles and equipment reviews in Sport Diver are more geared toward selling the advertisers products than responsible journalism, it is also obvious what kind of training agency PADI is.
Ty Sawyer, Sport Diver editor / writer / photographer, as well as Host of many PADI Diving Society events, appears most interested in selling advertising and subscriptions, not to mention creating and embellishing his own legend. If Sport Diver were his own diving lifestyle magazine that would be no crime, but he is speaking for the PADI Diving Society, which includes all current PADI Instructors and Divemasters. After years of articles where his first dive somewhere is more exciting than most full time guides have ever had at those locations (Mahi wreck and Molokini Crater for example) without mentioning the 1% nature of said dives, is it any surprise PADI has to support Shark feeding and Aquarium dives. That's the only kind of diving that lives up to his fictional sounding encounters.
Project Aware is so burdened by the hypocrisies of PADI that one of the few really good ideas out of Southern California is losing respect. Speaking of respect, the May 2005 Sport Diver mag Project Aware column introduced the Respect Our Wrecks campaign and gave details of the new Sunken Military Craft Act. In the same issue, Ty's Remains of the Day article about Oahu wreck diving is so disrespectful one wonders if he actually dove those wrecks. He calls the YO-257 a 110 ft submarine, instead of the 165 ft barge it is, misstates the role of Atlantis Submarines in it's sinking, and recommends sitting in the cockpit of the World War-II era Corsair for a photo. Topside, he recommends walking over to a small island at low tide for a better photo perspective.
This article is more offensive given that I complained to Ty last September about the mistake filled Hawaii article that month. It had the very same words "You won't want to miss the chance to have your picture taken in the cockpit of a World War-II era Corsair", as well as numerous Hawaiian word and endemic fish mistakes. Ty's reply was to blame the copy editors without mentioning the Corsair comment. I emailed him again in December, as well as a few other PADI and PADI Diving Society employees, after another mistake filled article about Maui, reminding him of his lack of response about the Corsair recommendation. PADI Pacific Regional Manager Steve Clifford was the only responder, with only thanks for my views and none of his own.
The Corsair is a 58 year old sunken military craft and Mokolii Island (Chinaman's Hat) is surrounded by a reef teeming with life. The Corsair is disintegrating much faster due to divers sitting in it for pictures than it would if divers showed it the respect it deserves. The reef between Kualoa Beach Park and Mokolii Island is not as vibrant as it could be if people would quit walking on it to get to the island. Sport Diver readers would have more realistic expectations if Ty would not lead them to believe they will see tiger sharks at the Mahi, dolphins at the Sea Tiger or manta rays and hawksbill turtles at Molokini. Calling Ty Sawyer a dive industry whore is insulting to whores everywhere. Try greedy self serving hypocrite (GSSH).
I emailed Ty a third time after the May article, as well as a few more PADI people (including Ty's boss Carolyn), with corrections and admonishments. Carolyn and Ty responded, with Ty promising to no longer recommend sitting in the Corsair cockpit. This Labor Day weekend I went to the Sport Diver web site on a lark and Ty's Remains of the Day article was featured, with no corrections and the cockpit photo op recommendation intact, unlike the Corsair itself. My email last week called for Ty to ship out. If more Instructors and Guides would read some back issues they could join me with straight facts, proof and calls for action.
Fortunately there is a silver lining. More and more dive shops and instructors are leaving the PADI universe. Many that maintain standing with PADI have similar values to Ty (GSSH) and their customers are seeing it. The Maui dive community has an increasingly visible lack of PADI affiliations, without financial harm to the industry. As of the end of 2005 I will join the ranks of ex PADI instructors and I thank Ty for speeding me on my way to salvation. PADI could become a responsible training agency, but not with the likes of Ty Sawyer as their mouthpiece. Just imagine if most instructors and dive shops paid the lower dues of the responsible agencies, as well as the related lower insurance premiums. Leaving PADI will actually put dollars into our pockets instead of the reverse, as well as teach the dive public about responsible diving and journalism.