Is Diving Difficult?

I have people ask me all the time if learning to dive is hard. My answer would have to be that it’s not supposed to be. Nor is it supposed to be hard to stay diving. With that in mind, I wanted to take a second and complain about all those people, places and things out there that are trying to make diving harder than is has to be. I would like to start with a big disclaimer. Many of my complaints are about people who are safety nuts. Diving needs to be safe and I do not want anyone to skirt around that, however some people take it to the extreme. I am not an idiot, (debatable I know) and I do not need to be treated like one. So let’s get started.

Having been in the diving industry for over 10 years, I have seen all types of instructors and dive classes. My all time favorite was an instructor who didn’t even bother getting into the pool and taught from the pool deck. I guess that is what the agencies call “indirect supervision.” Maybe he made diving too easy. Most times we see instructors who have gone off the deep end the other way. These are the wanna-be Navy Seals. I am sure you have all seen instructors who think they just about walk on water. These are the “do this way or else you are going to die” kind of guys. They wear all black and do not think kids or women should be allowed to certify. I understand if we are training for a 200′ tri-mix dive, but for recreational diving? These are also the guys who yell at you if your mask is on your forehead. Seriously, I have had people tell me I am a bad diver because I do that. Guess what, it’s more comfortable there! I was taught this a few years ago when a shorter, rounder student told me he couldn’t put his mask around his neck because he didn’t have a neck! But Dave, you run the risk of losing your mask in rough seas. Well in rough seas, your mask should be on your face, not around your neck. Also, I am not going to die just because I left my snorkel in my bag. I don’t run out of air and I know how to navigate back to the boat. I don’t need a snorkel unless I am going snorkeling.

Gear heads can sometimes bug me as well. I saw this guy in the Bahamas last year that carried two knives, two masks and two snorkels with him on the dive. We weren’t diving the Andrea Doria, it was a 50′ reef dive. The best part was that the divemaster said he was the worst diver out of his group. I’ve ordered one pound weights for people before. A one pound weight!! Isn’t that a little much? I also ordered custom hoses for a regulator that were one inch shorter than the standard hoses. Now please, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sales but isn’t that going overboard?

Another complaint is geared to “Scuba Diving” Magazine and those who believe whole heartedly in the gospel according to Scuba Lab. They have made themselves out to be the Consumer Reports of scuba diving by trying and testing different pieces of gear. The funny thing is that they rate two different computers or sets of fins differently when they are made by the same people but sold to two different manufactures. They also have an item that makes a “Tester’s Choices” one year and then don’t review the product the next. My all time favorite was early this year when Scubapro pulled their advertising from “Scuba Diving” and stopped submitting their items for testing for the very same reasons I mentioned here. Scuba Lab went out and purchased an item independently for an upcoming test and gave it a glowing review. The best part is that Scubapro didn’t agree. They didn’t think it performed that well and actually had gone back to the design to see how they could improve it! And Scuba Lab is not swayed by advertising? Yea right.

Thank you for listening to my rant. My last problem is with self important instructors/dive shop managers who try to bit the hand that feeds them. This is scuba diving, not brain surgery. Let’s try not to take things too seriously, including ourselves.

Let’s go diving!
Fall 2004