Monday, July 14, 2008
A couple months back I solicited questions, it's time to answer one, or at least make an attempt at it.
Reader Mel asked this... this is probably the most difficult question that was asked.... "Have there been any customers you haven't allowed back on the boat because they were too obnoxious/dangerous/poor divers?".... In a netshell, no. I guess I should probably say... "Not yet"... to give myself a little leeway.
Every person has their own personality, but I think the dive hobby tends to attract a fairly gregarious and adventurous crowd. For the most part we all get along quite well, and in the rare event personalities don't get along, it's generally over that day and life goes on. I've really met very few divers who I consider flat out obnoxious (being kind of obnoxious myself, I can't really tell), I can't say that any really stand out thinking back.
As far as poor or dangerous divers go, once you work here for a while you realize the vast majority of the people who come to Hawaii to dive DON'T have more than 10 - 20 dives under their belts, so you figure out a way to run your tours so that everyone can get their diving needs met and you start assessing and take a certain amount of control before it gets to the point where dangerous situations can pop up. I'll try to give an example: I get people asking me why I don't do single tank night dives with divers I don't know. Well, I used to lead dives for a dive op that did that and we'd get people signing up for the manta night dive that hadn't been in the water in 2-3 years or longer... well folks, a night dive first thing when you've not been diving in the last few weeks or months is NOT a real good idea. It works most of the time, but we ended up doing a lot of "mini-rescues" (panic attacks, dropped masks and weightbelts, etc) that either end up with customers sitting on the boat upset with themselves or doing the dive and breathing so hard they'd be low on air in 25 minutes. Add the afternoon dive and virtually none of that happens and the night dives are longer. Other stuff you can take care of just by following boat policy, giving a decent briefing and making sure people are listening to that first briefing. Most any problems that might occur are usually within 2 feet of the surface at the start of the dive, so you just take it slow and it generally works out. The flat out dangerous diver who is a liability to themselves or others is quite rare.
I've got to admit there are rare occasions that we're happy someone is not coming back on. It's happened a few times over the years, literally 3 or 4 times, the last time for me personally was 2 years ago, and invariably it's the same thing... so I might as well fess up to what it is and anyone who falls into ths category and reads this will know they might be better off checking with another operator... "experienced" divers, who don't want to listen to a thing the crew says, and want to go a completely different direction as the group is going. I put quotes around "experienced", because they're generally somewhat experienced... usually say 35 to a 100 dives and haven't done much in the way of mixed group charter diving... the really experienced divers are very easy to dive with and actually mix well with less experienced divers. The reason this can turn into a problem is that most of our dive sites have specific critters in specific spots, and the DM knows where they are and has a pattern they lead to make sure everyone has an opportunity to see them. When a portion of the group suddenly decides on thier own they need to go another direction, that can mess up the tour for everyone. You can't just let people wander on their own merry way unfortunately, as they're paying for a "guided" dive and the DM is responsible for them should anything go wrong. My recommendation is for anyone that just has to go a different direction or on their own should check into shorediving or make sure their operator is cool with self guiding ahead of time.
This picture above is of an octopus that is trying to appear "invisible". In general, if we see an octopus we'll hang low to the bottom and back off 6-10 feet and they'll pop up and put on a show once they realize you aren't out to eat them. This guy I didn't notice 'til we were on top of him. He just settled straight down and tried to look like a rock, so I figured I'd snap a shot of him. Usually they'll find a quick hole to crawl into if you get over the top of them, this one was stuck in the open.