Second thoughts (from a Newbie)...
Ron - Newbie
September 19, 2003 at 11:21:59
I am not a diver, but I have taken 3 introductory dives. I was looking into doing my 4th introductory dive during my up-coming vacation in Palau. During my search for dive shops I came across this "Scuba Diver Course". Wondering (1) what the difference is between the full OW 4-day certification course and this Scuba Diver course, and (2) if this Scuba Diver Course really means anything, I started looking around and was eventually directed to this site through a search engine. WOW! I am glad I found you. The comments are valuable.
My first dive experience in Hawaii was inredible. A local dive company gave a free 2-hour lesson in the hotel pool The instruction was first rate, and yes it was a ploy to separate me and my money for a "real" dive later. During the beach dive I was hardly able to keep the breathing apparatus in my mouth since I was ooooohing and aaaaaaahing with so much first-time excitment.
Always wanting to dive again, I went to the GBR in Australia and signed up for an introductory dive. It was a disaster--especially for the one other poor fellow introductory diver with me, on a trip with 12 certified divers.
We were shown a 10-minute video and told to look through this flip-flop explanation chart. When it came time to dive, the instructor told us to climb down the ladder of the boat, and when we get to the water line start breathing through our regulator, and then keep on going down, down while pulling the rope that was tethered to the bottom.
Well, the other guy tried a few times without luck, and then went down good and deep finally, only to come up sputtering and panicking and coughing. So much for his introductory dive. He climbed back on the boat and stayed there all day.
From my tidbit experience in Hawaii, I got down without any problem, but by then I had to try and catch up with the "instructor" who waved for to me to follow as he hauled butt with the 12 certified divers. The water was very calm and I kept up part of the way, but then I didn't want to go too deep. It was already 15 meters.
He gestured for me to "stay here" and look around ALONE, as he took off with the 12. I kind of swam there on my own in the water for a second, before I decided that this breaks all the rules and lacks basic common sense. I headed back to paddle around where I could see the boat from about 4 feet below the surface.
Then on the 2nd dive I was told to dive on my own again, but just to watch my air, and then get back to the boat when I was running out. Again, I was half diving/half snorkeling on the surface the whole time. That was all the attention I got. Luckily I had enough sense (plus I am too chicken) to get over confident and push myself and go wondering off. I did enjoy the experience, in spite of the shoddy operation.
Hawaii the 3rd time was about the same with regards to instruction. A notebook chart and some breathing exercises and over the boat we went. At least the instructor was absolutely great keeping a watch constantly on me and the one other guy.
So, after reading the expert comments here, I am deciding NOT to go for the Scuba Diver Course--and not to dive again. I am too chicken to do more than I should, and I don't want to take up the sport as a hobby and make a full commitment, which I found out is necessary from reading here.
To me, the Scuba Diver C-card, which is for infrequent divers, sounded like a perfect answer for someone like myself. It wouldn't take up too much of my vacation to get, and it would prepare me to help myself better underwater, and still afford me the safety blanket of knowing that I have to dive within the 12 meter limit with a "qualified" (certified is more appropriate) instructor, who can offer help or advice when needed. Diving with a certified instructor sounded like a good idea to me. I would expect her or him to use their professional judgment, though, when I am such an inexperienced diver.
The problem is, however, there are both divers and instructors alike who act exactly like that described in the opening of the main article. By this I mean that while the diver is at fault too, I would expect an instructor with professionalism and much more common sense to know better than to take me, with only Scuba Diver level skills, down the Blue Hole just 'cuz it's awesome dude'. It scares me to think that I could end up with a dive instructor who is too adventurous, too excited, and totally lacks plain common sense to take heed of the rules about what PADI recommends, especially for less-experienced divers. I don't know what goes on in people's heads. Maybe these people (divers and instructors both) get so gung ho and wowed into the idea that they don't think straight and end up risking lives. No thank you, please. To me that is really scary and stupid. I've had 2 rather haphazzard diving experiences, luckily I am here to tell about them.
I commend those of you who said that you refuse to accommodate the Scuba Diver C-card, althought I am sure it is disappointing/frustrating for the divers themselves. This is much better than saying "welcome aboard" and then leaving the diving newbie dangling behind like shark bait, as you and the experienced divers go have a blast. The scary reality is that there are instructors/dive operators who are either not willing, or are unable for their own reasons, to adjust their dive outings to suit the level of skills and experience of thier own customers, especially when it comes to taking care of newbies. BUT, they don't want to say "no" either and refuse the money. I don't want to take the chance of running into these kinds. And all the dive-shop hype about the personal attention, well, looks good on the webite.
I will be spending my time in Palau at the pool and on the ocean surface snorkeling peacefully, knowing that I'm not endangering my life 40 feet below trying to do something out of my league. This you all reinforced.
I do want to say though, that you let me know how serious I need to be if I do take up diving, and you also answered my questions about the worth of the ScubaDiver C-card. It's worth less than a pail of fish bait, and I can see that carrying it around is going to get me laughed, as well as, kicked off the boat.
This has really been a great learning experience. Thanks.