I recently got back from a scuba diving vacation. While I was there, I was waiting to sign up for some charters at the resort we were staying. One of the lines was for people to sign up for courses while they were on vacation. As I was patiently waiting, I overheard one of the instructors talking to a non-diving customer about signing up for an open water class. If you have been a reader of mine, you’d know that I’m not a big fan of these resort “courses”, but what I overheard scared the tar balls out of me.
Here’s The Situation
There was this father, who was already a certified scuba diver. He wanted his two sons to take a resort course, basically a discover scuba diving type course, so that he could dive with them. The problem was, all of the “resort courses” were full and no instructor was available. So the guy behind the counter said if his two sons took the open water course, they could go scuba diving right away and be certified for life. Let’s stop the story here because I’m already seeing a big red flag (and it’s not the scuba flag). If all available instructors were not available for the discover scuba diving course, how is it that there one is available to teach a full out open water course? Hmmmm, let’s come back to that thought in a bit.
As the guy behind the counter was going over the details, the father asked about logistics of the course. Here’s the part that scared the crap out of me. The guy said that the two kids could finish their open water class in only two morning sessions, running from 8:30 till 12:30. Wow!!!! An full bore open water class in just eight (8) hours!!!! Sure enough, three days later, the father and sons were on the same boat as me doing their checkout dives, in only 100 feet of water.
During our surface interval, I was asking the boat captain (who was from the the Gulf of Mexico area) if he thought the instructors on the boat were any good. He smirked at me and said with a southern drawl, “Son, you’re the only instructor on board this here boat.” For the first time in my life, I peed in my wet suit. After only four hours of “God knows what” type of class, these two teen age boys were doing 100 foot dives for their open water class. All under the “direct” supervision of a Dive Master.
This entire situation left me thinking, that’s one way to kill yourself. To this day, it still boggles my mind why people would choose to purchase such classes. The story I just shared with you is real. It happened just last week and will continue to happen. Even though scuba diving has a very good safety record, it is still an inherently dangerous activity. When learning to scuba dive, new divers need to pay more attention to the fine details to remain safe. If you are a person thinking about taking a scuba diving class while on vacation at one of these resorts, you’re putting your life at risk.