Lessons Choosing the WRONG Instructor

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

OP
Lurking

Lurking

Registered
Messages
18
Reaction score
18
Location
Catch me if you can!
# of dives
50 - 99
I have some questions. Feel free to NOT answer them.

1) if you knew your tanks were "bottoms up" and you had sliding D-rings, why didn't you adjust them?

2) going from single tank to SM is definitely a big jump. Why are you placing your frustrations on your instructor? I felt the same way and felt I had no clue what I was doing, but that wasn't my instructor's fault.

3) If you just started SM diving, why did you consider it viable to go straight into caves?

4) On Nov 28, 2021, you asked a question on ScubaBoard: "Can I use my nitrox regulator for non-nitrox dives?" and I'm confident that shows you're very new to diving. Do you consider yourself knowledgeable enough to step into cave diving?

Lastly, not a question, but a statement: If you think "more expensive = better" then I wish you the best of luck because I've been there and done that (choosing more expensive) and regretted it immensely due to the size of the EGO and the unprofessional behaviour I dealt with and witnessed.

Safe dives!
1. Well, I obviously adjusted them. Still didn’t help what I was feeling. Since you’re clearly a SM veteran, you must know that there are a myriad of adjustments one needs to make in this new configuration, sometimes it’s more than just a sliding D-ring. That was my first ever SM dive and there’s only so much you know what to do on your first dive. I was overwhelmed and had to fend for myself. Which partly answers your 2nd question.

2. I pay my instructors to instruct me. If I don’t learn, it’s on me. He didn’t instruct, simple as that. I dropped him for someone else because I felt he wasn’t doing his job and this cost me double in the end.

3. In Mexico I did some cenote diving which opened a whole new world for me. It was amazing. I wanted to explore them further and to take advantage of being all the way there, I decided to take the step then. SM was a prerequisite for this, something I hadn’t previously considered, so that was my progression.

4. I was asking a specific question about a particular part that I was considering purchasing and the question was intentionally vague. There are many differences in EU vs rest of world ratings for many components. While I have many dives over 20 years across six continents, I’ll never be an expert or think there’s nothing left to learn. One can never have enough experience to start doing something new and as dangerous as our sport; its risks are tremendous and should be respected. And learning something like SM is like learning how to dive all over again! I appreciate you taking an interest in me and my experience, so if you’d like to know more about me, feel free to DM.

5. I’ve never said or thought “more expensive = better” as I in fact don’t see this correlation, but if that’s what you think about me for some reason, that’s cool too 🤷‍♂️

Anyway, my whole story was to say that I tried to save some money by going with a less reputable instructor for something technical and I ended up paying much more in the end. Since then, understanding the risks more and more, I’ve retaken another SM class and on the way to a few more dozens of SM dives before proceeding with caves. I hope my learning may help anyone in the future!
 
OP
Lurking

Lurking

Registered
Messages
18
Reaction score
18
Location
Catch me if you can!
# of dives
50 - 99
I like your style of interrogation. His article was written in an erudite manner and most likely he was getting paid by the word. The points you made were excellent. Most cave instructors will refund your money if you cannot hold trim. And I know a lot of guides will not take you anywhere deep if you're training in new equipment for the first time. Why would he discontinue the training he had paid for? Another mystery novel left unpublished.
Maybe “most” cave instructors would — or maybe they’d take the money and continue being subpar. Mine was clearly the latter type, which is why I left. But thanks for your comment — and if you know of anyone who’s actually willing to pay me per word, please DM me :rofl3:
 

306dive306

Contributor
Messages
118
Reaction score
54
Location
Canada
# of dives
100 - 199
Maybe “most” cave instructors would — or maybe they’d take the money and continue being subpar. Mine was clearly the latter type, which is why I left. But thanks for your comment — and if you know of anyone who’s actually willing to pay me per word, please DM me :rofl3:
I am also interested in being paid per word.
 

SlugMug

Contributor
Messages
1,488
Reaction score
1,343
Location
Texas
# of dives
I just don't log dives
I just learned a good lesson and thought to share with others so they may avoid any pitfalls. The short version: given a choice, I went with a less expensive dive shop -- one who catered more to recreational divers -- for an advanced course and ended up paying much more than I expected. Read on if you’d like the full story…

I’ve heard it before: choose your instructor wisely. In other words, ask questions, vet them, compare -- and for more advanced courses, find out how often they dive in your specialty, what equipment and configurations they use, etc.

Well, I did all that.

I’ve gone through this process for my previous certifications, and I’ve recently been fascinated about cave diving. Now that I have a chance to vacation for a month in the Caribbean, I decided to do a Caves course! I found out that I had to first learn Sidemount (or twin BM, but I decided on SM) and that my course would look like: SM -> Intro to Caverns -> Intro to Caves for a total of 6-8 days. I was extremely excited.

I “shopped around” and narrowed my choices down to 2: A) one who seemed to love and specialize in cave diving and (but was extremely expensive) and B) the other who was willing to do the cave course, still knowledgeable yet catered more toward rec vacation divers (but half the cost for the entire 3-part course).

I chose B.

I figured I could spend the cost savings on additional cave dives and really perfect my skills (i.e. get 2 weeks of cave diving with Shop B for the same price as 1 week with Shop A). Unfortunately, I didn’t really get the learning I was hoping for. I was paired with one of the shop owner's available instructors. On Day 1, we did the SM basics in a pool, and he was super helpful in adjusting my new bp/w. We didn’t do any drills other than “take laps around the pool, practice frog-kicking, switch regulators, try sideways, get used to the tanks.” Underwhelmed, but I guess it’s just the first day. Stress Level: 2/10

Day 2, they scheduled me to join an OW boat excursion and dive in SM a couple times before we would start the cavern training (I’d be joining 1 other diver who had already planned a fundive). Fine with me. Suddenly I was on a tour boat with 40 people who were going to a nearby island to enjoy the all-inclusive snorkeling, music, food, and drinks (not what I expected but ok). I would have had amazing fun, but I was in business-mode, focused. No real pre-dive prep -- just set up your rig, jump in the water, and clip them on like I showed you that one time in a pool a couple days ago. Nothing like learning by doing! Stress Level: 6/10

Dive 1: Our plan was to follow a reef wall down to 30m. Not that I minded at all, I was curious why we’d bother going that deep if we were going to practice drills? Well, I guess he had to also cater to the other diver, since after all, he paid for a fundive. Well, the other diver went through his air like a rhino on speed. 16 mins and 0 drills later, we turned back up from 22.3m, and at about the 30min mark (after the other diver surfaced), we started practicing buoyancy and trim a little (sliding the tanks down the harness); I kept tilting to the right and struggling to stay level. I’m glad I watched all those YouTube videos beforehand because I learned more from those than this so far. But hey, I saw fish. Total dive time: 37 mins. Stress Level: 2/10 (Annoyance Level much higher)

Dive 2: Now I knew what to expect. Another fun dive, and more of the same. We used the same two tanks from the previous dive and jumped in, though still struggling to put the bungee around my right tank valve – I was using two “right tanks,” and we had practiced with 1 left/1 right in the pool. According to my computer and dive profile, we went down to 11.6m max, and I spent most of the first 43 minutes several meters behind the instructor (I’m using this word lightly), who was taking pictures and videos with his GoPro, presumably new promo material for the shop’s website. During the interval I had asked if we were going to do any practicing for what I needed to prepare for caves, and he confirmed. Minutes 43-53 were for drills (alright!). We simulated OOA scenarios, and he asked me to kick backwards + flutter kick + swim upside down. By that point my tanks had become quite buoyant, and I struggled heavily staying anywhere near flat. I was being pushed forward so much, legs straight up in the air, that I ended up just using this momentum to swing back around to come back to horizontal instead of fighting against it. I was getting sucked up during my safety stop, Willy Wonka grandpa style (the original), that no amount of burping (purging) would bring me back down. Learning: add weight next time when starting off with tanks that are only half full. This should’ve been obvious (though I didn’t realize they were the same tanks -- my fault for trusting, not checking beforehand). I feel that the extra buoyancy difference is significant with the extra tank, so I’ll remember to account for that next time. But hey, I saw more fish. Total dive time: 56 mins. Stress Level: 8/10 (Annoyance through the roof)

Overall, I felt like I was learning how to dive for the very first time. In fact, it was a horrible feeling, I felt dumb, like I lost all my training from the past decade+, bad at this, completely inexperienced and starting from scratch. Such a newbie. :oops:

I think back and wonder what my experience would have been like had I chosen the other instructor. It’s worth noting, both have great reviews and are very good shops, it’s just that they really cater to two different markets. And while this instructor was very nice, I just didn’t learn too much. I guess it’s not too late. I voiced my displeasure and said I didn’t gain what I expected. I don't think he's a "wrong instructor" - but I feel he was a wrong instructor for me. I’m now scheduling the Caverns & Caves with the other shop and may need to start from scratch again, including SM, making it much costlier than I had anticipated.

I hope my experience can help anyone who may be in a similar situation of choosing between dive shops. Remember, what’s cheap is expensive. But hey, I saw fish :D
I "self taught" (with sidemounting.com) sidemount, and it sounds like I had a much better experience than you did!

TLDR, I had difficulty finding side-mount instruction locally, and when I did there were a couple yellow-flags including a lack if information, using backplates, etc. Since my primary goal was just redundant-air-supply, and I had a flexible schedule and a lot of patience, I decided I was better off self-teaching for now.

Some day, I might travel take the course from the Sidemounting.com instructors, even though I'm moderately-competent at side-mount now, a year later.

On a related note, I was about to sign up for an inexpensive nitrox-course locally, but it turned out to be just a classroom session; whereas other are about 30% more expensive but seem to have an accompanying dive as well.
 

Marie13

Great Lakes Mermaid
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
12,803
Reaction score
12,725
Location
Great Lakes
# of dives
200 - 499
On a related note, I was about to sign up for an inexpensive nitrox-course locally, but it turned out to be just a classroom session; whereas other are about 30% more expensive but seem to have an accompanying dive as well.

I dare say most nitrox classes are eLearning and a classroom session for review and hands on learning how to analyze. Nitrox ain’t rocket science. For the actual diving, it’s staying above your MOD and figuring out how to set your computer. Do you really need dives with an instructor to figure that out?
 

SlugMug

Contributor
Messages
1,488
Reaction score
1,343
Location
Texas
# of dives
I just don't log dives
I dare say most nitrox classes are eLearning and a classroom session for review and hands on learning how to analyze. Nitrox ain’t rocket science. For the actual diving, it’s staying above your MOD and figuring out how to set your computer. Do you really need dives with an instructor to figure that out?
Makes sense. I hadn't done my research on nitrox-dives yet to figure out how necessary it was.
 

jsnorman

Registered
Messages
43
Reaction score
34
Location
Chicago, IL
# of dives
200 - 499
Trying to do too much too quickly IMHO. I am often guilty of same so I know. It took me literally about 40 dives before I felt really comfortable with sm (now I will not dive any other way). Skills are learned in sm by doing and experiencing ... No YouTube video or lecture can make your regulator swaps second nature, or how to run and stow hoses and inflator on your particular rig and body, or how to deal with bouyancy changes in rental al80s, or doing negative entries on sm, backflipping while holding cylinders with elbows, etc. Lots of new skills to master it takes time and dives in varying conditions. I would not have thought to enter a cave in sm right after learning sm, hell no! Just my 2 cents.

I also have had 3 very different sm instructors over last few years. I learned sm in Mexico with a cenite diver instructor. He set me up perfect with just webbing straps and a small bladder (self made sm!!). Had great 2 hour long dives (shallow ow) and thought I was a sm pro unt I got home and tried to recreate his system. In years since I have never been able to recreate though. My second sm instructor was also great. He taught me some hacks using a third leash (see my older posts this third leash system has been discussed). That worked but I was never happy because I loved the simple bungee I remembered from my Mexico diving. I finally went in for a 2 day class in Bonaire and my instructor stripped down my hacked system so I finally feel I have it right (40 dives later).

There is a lot to learn and I don't mean from reading posts and videos. I mean experiential learning. Please don't go right into caves. Spend some dives and time before you go into a dangerous environment. SM will definitely help you in caves but it can worse than a single tank if you haven't developed skills and experience first.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

Top Bottom