Question about tipping on SCUBA trips.

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theduckguru

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I was thinking about: maintaining current cpr certification; taking care of and organizing rental equipment; filling and hauling tanks; completing paperwork (especially if there is an incident - any incident); learning enough about the area to answer specific questions; scouting out & planning dives that will be of interest to the divers, and ensuring that those dives are within the experience level of all divers (which involves sizing people up pretty quickly); helping new divers w/ equipment, weighting, procedures, etc.; checking divers off and back on the boat & then following up later to make sure they don't have symptoms of DCS; cleaning/preparing the boat; tying into the U-bolt if necessary and checking out conditions pre-dive; and generally being responsible for the safety of the divers on the boat (the boat captain's duty is to the boat, as I understand it). The boat trips I've been on, the DMs have done all or some of those things. I've even had DMs fix lunch for us...

I personally have had really good service from DMs all over the world, and that's what I was speaking to. Once or twice, what I was most grateful for was that they helped less experienced divers get in the water reasonably quickly and kept them from drowning. And, even if they didn't do much for me, personally, other than give the briefing and answer any questions I had, I was glad they were there "just in case" (that seems to be more true on boats with a large number of divers, which I now avoid like the plague). Also, I was glad they were there - not sure my dives, in a place I didn't know, would be as good if I didn't get a briefing & was just in a group of strangers of varying levels all told to hop off the boat and go explore.

But that's just me. It sounds like your experience was quite different, and I'm hoping, the exception to the rule.

I maintain a current CPR cert. and likely other divers on board do as well. Skills that can equally be given any diver on board in need including the DM. Not sure I or the DM should be tipped for that.

Taking care of and organizing rental equipment; filling and hauling tanks; completing paperwork (especially if there is an incident - any incident) is a service the DM is providing the dive operator, while I am not so sheltered to believe there are not folks doing this for dive operators free, really this is a dive operator responsibility as the customers have already paid for this service.

The other listed items are certainly tip worthy.
 

Lake Travis Scuba

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I maintain a current CPR cert. and likely other divers on board do as well. Skills that can equally be given any diver on board in need including the DM. Not sure I or the DM should be tipped for that.

Taking care of and organizing rental equipment; filling and hauling tanks; completing paperwork (especially if there is an incident - any incident) is a service the DM is providing the dive operator, while I am not so sheltered to believe there are not folks doing this for dive operators free, really this is a dive operator responsibility as the customers have already paid for this service.

The other listed items are certainly tip worthy.

It seems that you don't have enough real life dive experience to understand the value of a good DM. The points brought out by Joanna are perfect examples of what DM's do behind the scenes. Maybe you should put the money up to become a DM, maintain your liability insurance, do the job of a DM and then you would realize the reason why gratuities are appreciated.

Not every diver is CPR certified, for that matter most people in general are not current with CPR training. Many of the divers on my boat are not CPR certified, many don't know what a AED is. You are making a broad assumption about the number of CPR trained divers.

Clearly you miss the point that many have tried to express in this thread. I recommend that you stick to shore diving so you don't have to worry about the issue of tipping.
 
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carrielsal

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I am a fairly new DM. Because I am a SSI Divecon I am affiliated with an LDS. I have spent a good part of my summer assisting with OW classes - no pay, but tons of experience. I have the opportunity to lead trips to the Flower Gardens - no pay but I get a free trip.

Here have been my expenses this year.
1. Replaced most of my gear, so I am wearing the brands sold by the shop.
2. Took Diving for Science, so I don't have to pay every time I go to Aquarena Springs to assist with classes.
3. Professional Insurance
4. CPR and AED certification training

What a DM does and what their out of pocket expenses are can vary. The bottom line though, is the DM is not a paid position. We do it to gain experience, improve skills, and for the love of diving. It's not always what the DM does that you see, but what they do in the background to organize a trip (taking care of all the little details) and what they are capable of doing when those skills are called upon.

Just my 2 cents,
Carrie
 

Zinc

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This is a great thread & I’m glad to see so many posting their thoughts and comments, so I’ll go ahead and add a few of mine…

As a general rule, I tip DM’s 10% minimum of the trip cost when diving from a boat, but more often 15%-20% depending on their detail and the quality of service they provide.

For example:

On 2 tank dive aboard the Giant Stride with Lake Travis Scuba ($40) I generally tip $5 to Ellen the shuttle driver &/or the DM if there is one aboard (besides me) :cool2:

On a 2 tank dive in Florida ($40-$50) I generally tip $10 for the DM’s who help load & unload gear, jump the wreck (if applicable), give a good dive briefing, watch out for my safety, handle any issues and generally help make the outing pleasant and carefree. When I made a deep tech dive to the Oriskany ($200) I tipped $20 to the DM’s for the above tasks plus the additional handling of stage bottles, etc. If I’d been fed more than cold hot dogs :shakehead: (2 hr tech dives don’t have surface intervals to cook them) I’d have probably tipped more :wink:

On a 2 tank dive in Cozumel, ($60-$80) I usually tip $20 for the DM (and crew) who does all the above plus leads the dive, usually drifting, finding the really cool swim-thrus, pointing out cool stuff, and the captain and crew who diligently follow from above making sure we get picked up promptly and safely from the open water. All this plus the amazingly great grub… I really love the fresh fruit, pico and guacamole my preferred outfitter (Deep Exposure) provides during the surface interval, all prepared by DM & crew.

R/g live aboard dive boats: I’ve had the privilege of working as DM on the M/V Fling the last few months this summer & occasionally as galley crew and I can assure you that either job consists of a 12-15 hour work day with perhaps 1-2 dives per day during the passenger’s surface intervals if lucky. Yes the diving is a perk and there’s no way anyone would do that much work without the diving, especially when the tip / hours worked is usually equal to around minimum wage.

I really enjoy working on the M/V Fling, helping the passengers have a safe and enjoyable dive excursion, but I doubt that most really know how much “behind-the-scenes” work really goes into making their trip pleasurable. In addition to the training/insurance expenses paid to be there, the DM’s are up and out on the bow at 5:30am to tie-up the boat, set the sidelines, down lines, ladder lines, flags, briefings, passenger jump, deck watch, passenger board, wellness checks, move the boat, (repeat all this several times) and all the preventative watchfulness that keeps everyone safe. After a long day in the sun and the last dive is over (10:30pm) and all the lines are stowed and dive deck is secure, it’s not difficult to sleep once you hit your bunk and crash hard before starting all over at 5:30am the next morning.

Same goes for the galley crew who are up late till 11:00pm preparing for the next morning’s continental breakfast, up by 5:30am w/ coffee and then non-stop cooking all day with snacks and full blown meals, not to mention all the dishes which must be constantly washed and cleaned all day to keep up with a boat load of hungry passengers. I honestly think that galley is the toughest job on the boat. Those who’ve been on the M/V Fling know that the food is always hot and plentiful and usually really darn good!

Lastly when all is done and everyone has come back to the dock safe, having gained an extra pound or two and a host of memorable dives, the crew stays aboard for another few hours cleaning the boat and re-provisioning for the next run. While it’s a blast and I love doing it, the tips are all the crew is paid, help cover the gas expense driving down, and are greatly appreciated especially when the crew has put forth every effort to make it the kind of live aboard all of us divers want to be on. It’ the golden rule ya’ know, give them the dive trip experience that you’d want have!

Have fun & dive safe - Zinc
 
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theduckguru

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It seems that you don't have enough real life dive experience to understand the value of a good DM. The points brought out by Joanna are perfect examples of what DM's do behind the scenes. Maybe you should put the money up to become a DM, maintain your liability insurance, do the job of a DM and then you would realize the reason why gratuities are appreciated.

Not every diver is CPR certified, for that matter most people in general are not current with CPR training. Many of the divers on my boat are not CPR certified, many don't know what a AED is. You are making a broad assumption about the number of CPR trained divers.

Clearly you miss the point that many have tried to express in this thread. I recommend that you stick to shore diving so you don't have to worry about the issue of tipping.

No, my limited real life experiance has produced some real extremes. DMs that have given service above and beyond anything I could ever have expected that got $20 and one experiance that was very McDonolds like.

I don't live in a coastal area and my dives are vacation type events. What I have learned is the cost of the dive isn't an indicator of the quality of service, that service quality also varies between DM within each operation, and that I as a diver need to do a little research before making selections. I sure when I do this the tipping part wont be difficult to figure out.
 

James R

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What I have learned is the cost of the dive isn't an indicator of the quality of service, that service quality also varies between DM within each operation, and that I as a diver need to do a little research before making selections. I sure when I do this the tipping part wont be difficult to figure out.

The cost and quality of service relationship you mention I agree with. It's true of nearly everything we pay for - restaurants, car service etc etc.

While research will certainly help you find the dive operation that best meets your specific needs, such as load/assemble/clean/etc all your gear (if that is a service you want), still your "luck" can vary from day to day and person to person within the same operation - been there, seen that first hand.
 

freedvr

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I believe a minimum tip on a day boat should be $10. Liveaboards are like restaurants; tip at least 10 - 20%. Those are the absolute minimums!

There are a ton of expenses involved in running a US based dive operation. Boat maintenance alone will eat you alive, but add to that fuel, insurance, equipment maintenance, dock rental, cylinder/compressor up keep, not to mention training and dues. It all adds up very quickly. I am sure Dive operators would love to be able to pay each of their DMs exactly what the are worth, but, with so many other fixed costs to consider there just simply isn't enough left over to have that luxury and still keep the cost of the trips reasonable for the customer.

Most good DMs I know, love what they do and if they could, most would do it for free anyway. However, I have yet to meet a living soul that can survive on handshakes and pats on the back. I know a lot of divers that have a DM rating, but very few that make their living as DMs. I believe everyone benefits from having full time staffed DMs working for a dive operation. Their knowledge and skill are invaluable. Without our tips, they simply would not be there for us.
 

k-valve

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I kind of skipped over this thread because I've been busy, but after getting a quick run down of it last night from another member I decided to read it. Granted I haven't had a lot of sleep, but your ignorance of what it costs to be a DM as well as what they/we do on and behind the scene is clear. It's disappointing that members of this forum in particular don't know better. I don't want to rehash what has already been said, but I want to give you a little more insight. My apolgies in advance for the list and any repetition...

1. Nobody sprinkles fairy dust on a diver and they automatically become a DM. It is a long process that costs a substantial amount of dedication, time and money. Divemaster is an actual certification, not something you are annointed with. Technical DMs not only require additional DM certification, they have to be certified and skilled in the classes they assist in. For example, if I DM for a Trimix class I have to be (and am) Trimix certified. Anyone who has taken a technical class knows that is not cheap. I will add that conscientious instructors, such as the one I assist, will help as they can and offer discounts, sometimes deep discounts to DMs for these classes, but that is not always the case.

2. DMs not only have to maintain CPR and 1st Aide cards they actually carry insurance...and for good reason. If you've ever been around an arrogant or just plain stupid diver you know where I'm going with this. I am thankful that they are few and far between. However, accidents and failures happen to even the best divers. My insurance coverage alone is almost $400/year and it is not optional. It is required by shops, instructors and facilities. If you don't have it you don't participate at a professional level. Yes, I said professional...that is what a DM is considered.

3. A good DM is your insurance policy they are not only there to help you, they are there to save you in the case of an emergency. Do they need to do that on a regular basis? Thankfully, no, but they are there for you. They are not there for pleasure as was alluded to in another post.

4. Behind the scenes DMs are prepping for classes and dives hours and days in advance of the divers ever showing up, and wrapping things up after the divers are gone. They consult with their instructors, fill tanks, carry gear, teach, plan dives, put safety gear in place, etc, etc, etc.

Like me, the vast majority of DMs don't get into it for the money. They do it because diving is their passion and they want to help others learn and improve their skills. Some only do it because it is a stepping stone to being an instructor, but generally those aren't the ones you see on boats and not everyone DMing a course is trying to be an instructor. I, personally, have no desire to be an instructor on any level. I don't have the desire and don't want to spend my time doing it.

I have been a DM for only a few years. I think most people who know me would tell you I am at the very least competent, experienced and well-trained. I don't DM on liveaboards or daily dive boats in vacation spots. These are the places DMs are typically tipped to some degree. In the years I have DMed my reward from the divers I've supported has been an occasional "Thank you," and maybe $5-$10 in tips...total. I have taught, supervised, and even saved a diver or two. I've had to keep track of everyone from the most conscientious, good people to the most self-absorbed idiots you can imagine. Some listen and follow direction others couldn't care less what you tell them. Some are entertaining, others are very competent, some are just plain out of their comfort zone and out of their league.

I hope this doesn't sound like whining, it's not. DMing is something I enjoy because of my passion for diving, and an ocassional entertaining moment, but there have been times that the lack of appreciation has been frustrating. I don't usually offer to DM on boats anymore, for example, unless the operator makes a personal request. No loss to me, just leaves divers with one less competent DM on the boat and one less experienced eye to keep track of the divers in the water.

Like you, most don't consider why DMs are there, what they have done to prep the dive, or what it takes to gain and maintain certification. I know diving isn't a cheap past time, believe me. I have thousands upon thousands of dollars invested in my gear and training. However, tipping your DMs is an associated cost. Your choice whether you do it or not, but to compare it to a fast food drive thru is insulting to any working DM.

Next time you take a class, pay for a boat dive on a lake, step on a liveaboard in the Caribbean, or whatever dive you do that is supported by a DM think a little more about why they are there and what they really do. Tip them if you want to, but at the very least shake their hand, look them in the eye and give them a sincere "Thank you." One of those guys or gals may save your life someday or teach you how to save your own.

...and don't refer to DMs as fast food employees again. :shakehead: Otherwise, I might take one of your ducks and do something not very pretty with it...just kidding, of course...really. LOL! :wink:

No, my limited real life experiance has produced some real extremes. DMs that have given service above and beyond anything I could ever have expected that got $20 and one experiance that was very McDonolds like.

I don't live in a coastal area and my dives are vacation type events. What I have learned is the cost of the dive isn't an indicator of the quality of service, that service quality also varies between DM within each operation, and that I as a diver need to do a little research before making selections. I sure when I do this the tipping part wont be difficult to figure out.
 
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