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WARNING: Don't Dive with SafetyStopDivers (Green Island) or PioneerDivers (Taipei)

Discussion in 'Taiwan' started by mty, Sep 15, 2015.

  1. mty

    mty Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: CA
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    I've copied my emails arranging everything with the dive shop - I'd genuinely be thrilled to have Craig or the Ken explain this.

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    Aloha Craig!

    At this point I'm just comparing different dive shops and places to stay and I'd love to hear more. We're interested in wreck diving, easy-entry shore dives that we can do on our own, and basically doing whatever the best is that Green Island has to offer!

    How long you been out there?[​IMG]
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    [TD="class: ady"]to Matthew
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    Hi Matthew,

    I have been working in the dive industry here in Taiwan for more then 4 years. We have 3 shops in Taiwan, 2 in the north and our new shop here in Green Island. I have been here almost 5 months, but we have been bringing guests here for years. As for diving here, there are boat dives but we do a lot of shore diving. There are easy access shore dive sites and less easy access sites. The are 3 main “easy" access sites that have pretty good fish life. One of the sites can have some difficult currents the other 2 not so much. There are also many other sites that are shore accessible with various degree of access difficult, currents etc. For wreck diving there are remnants of wrecks here but only one more “complete” wreck. This wreck is boat accessible only, but most boat captains will not go to that site. I have expired all the wrecks you can access by shore, there is even a 200 year dutch wreck here, but iti is mostly covered in coral now. You can check this video out of one wreck that is spread out over quite a large area.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NnoX8x8VZk

    As for different shops here, the quality of service can vary quite a bit, with some shops not so friendly towards foreigners. There are 3 shops that I know are pretty decent and friendly towards, but what they offer can vary with the customers they have at the time you would be here. Also scooter rental here can be tricky for foreigners, if you don’t have a Taiwan license you can only get small electric scooters. It is not really negotiable. We rent scooters.

    Accommodation overall is not cheap here. There are only a couple of “dorm” like options and most (but not all places) charge per person with a minimum per room. They usually charge based on triple occupancy as a starting point. We use a couple of “cheaper” places for some of our bookings that are not based on this model, a room in these places can be $1400 night regards of one or 2 people. Availability can be hard at times as well.

    Let me know if you want more info. Stay safe during the typhoon.

    Cheers,
    Craig
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    [TD="class: ady"]to Craig
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    Sounds good man -

    OK, so we're interested in booking for 2 people, (me and my wife), and we have a fairly narrow window when we'd be there, from Tuesday the 25th to Friday the 28th.

    We'd be getting to Taitung around 1pm on the 25th, and would need a ferry to Green Island, then a place to stay for the next 2 nights.

    We're glad to stay somewhere cheap - we're not high maintenance.

    Questions for you -

    What's the ferry schedule like? (I can't find exact schedules for the different companies that run ferries)
    Similarly, will we be able to get ferry back from Green Island to Taitung pretty early in the morning on Friday?​
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    [TD="class: ady"]to Matthew
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    Hi Matthew,

    Good news that all was ok for you guys in Taichung. Here in Green Island we had no issues, we only lost power very briefly twice Friday night. Green Island has been hit pretty hard over the years at times so they know what to do. Things are fairly solid here. But there are sometimes rockfalls.

    Ok so I will set you guys up for your room at the cheapest place that is available (if there are only expensive places I will let you know first). I will also book the ferry for you, there is a ferry early . I need the names of both passengers and your cel number please.

    You mentioned that you would arrive in Taitung on the 25th and leave on the 28th but you also mentioned you want 2 nights accommodation, and you want a ferry on the 28th. Should I assume you have arrangements for the 3rd and 4th nights sorted out?

    Cheers,
    Craig
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    Oh, doh. No, sorry, I just screwed up in what I typed there. We're looking for a place to stay on the nights of the 25th, 26th, and 27th. We're looking to take off on the 28th. Which stop on the train should we get off on that is closest to the ferry in Taitung?

    Thanks so much for the arranging. I'm more than happy to leave very loud raving reviews on TripAdvisor, Scubaboard, or anything else.

    Please let me know when you have a mostly-complete price quote. We're very darn excited!

    Oh... over in Hualien, we had no problem renting a 150cc scooter. I just walked in to a place, asked how much to rent, they took my Hawai`i driver's license, and around $1000NT for 4 days. Is that not common, or how it's supposed to work?
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    Hi Matthew,

    I have confirmed the room for you it is $1500 night (this is the about cheapest you will find here except for a couple of strange dorm like places). The train stop to get off at is Taitung main station.

    As for scooters it is not the same here as on Taiwan. I can rent you a scooter, it is electric (stronger one) for $450 a day. I can guarantee that you will not be able to get a gas or bigger electric scooter without a local license here ( but you can rent from us). Please confirm this if you are ok with it I will reserve one scooter for you.

    I still need a cel number or contact number and your wife’s name to book the ferry tickets. Once you give me these details I will book the ferry for you. On the 25th there are ferries at 13:30 and 15:30 and the 28th at 8:30arrive in Taitung at 9:20. Let me know which one on the 25th you want, remember it takes about 20-30 min to get from the train station to the harbour. It would appear that if you are arriving at 1ish you would have to get the 15:30 ferry.

    And finally for diving what are you thinking? I know you want to do some dives alone. I can advise you where to go. Do you want any guided dives? If so maybe give me an idea of when so I can pencil you on the schedule. Do you need rental gear as well? I can give you basic quote for diving when you give this info.

    I will also meet you at the ferry when you arrive.

    So here is the price for now (no diving prices yet)
    Room $4500 (3 nights)
    Ferry $1840 (2 pax)
    Scooter $1800 (4 days)

    See you guys soon.

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    [TD="class: ady"]to Craig
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    OK - few quick things...

    Room sounds fine - that looks about on par with what I've seen at any other place I can find on Green Island.

    The scooter is... well, it sounds like it's the best darn option available. Is it going to end up maxing out at 10 kph with 2 people w/ gear on it? If you feel confident it can get both of us around the Island well enough, then I'm game. But I don't think we'll need a scooter all 4 days, especially if we're leaving at 9:20AM on the 29th.

    My number is 0970-032-923, and.... we probably should do the 1530 ferry on the 25th. We'll find lunch near the train or the ferry. The 29th at 0920 sounds great.
    -----
    Now on to the good stuff. Honestly, I'm basically just trusting you. We'd love to do a boat one day, shore dives another. Not looking for night dives. That wreck you posted the video of looks great. No one I know personally has ever done any diving on Green Island, so I'm basically winging it. I heard good things about 'The Big Mushroom' and hammerhead dives. So, maybe shore dives first day, don't need to stress having a guide that first day, but then of course we'd have someone when we went out on a boat.

    We need 100% of the gear, including mask and fins. We didn't originally plan on diving in Taiwan, otherwise we'd have brought our own darn gear out.
    -----
    All that sound about right?
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    Matthew

    I didn't count the days that closely so 3 days for the scooter will be ok. The scooter is pretty good. It will easily care 2 people and gear. If you drive around the island you will have no problem. It will go 50km/hr with one person. it will do the job. Plus battery replacement is free so no gas to pay for :)

    I have booked the rooms and the ferry. As for diving I am checking the boat schedule and will let you know when I can book a trip. It can sometimes e a little hard to get a weekday trip. There are 4 possible time slots morning or afternoon on the 26th or 27th. The boat captain will get back to me. If there are no other bookings then the only option is private charter. For 2 people that would be $8400 includes tanks 2 dives weights and Guide (the one benefit for this option is I could pick the sites whereas in the other option the captain will pick the sites which could be less interesting. If the other option is ok it is $2400 for a boat trip per person for 2 dives, includes tanks, guide and weights. As for equipment one day rental for a compete set is $1050. Unless you need a prescription mask add $100.

    I think you will like the diving here. Great visibility, awesome coral and warm water. If you have any diving questions feel free to ask me.
     
  2. Makhno

    Makhno Divemaster

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    Yes, actually, maybe you're missing something here, and maybe this behavior isn't as repulsive as it seems to you.



    Did you bother to ask Craig (or anyone else) about what you think you saw before posting? If so: what did he say about this matter? Providing us with his statements about this seems like a very, very good idea if you want to be fair. If you didn't ask: why not?! and why would you post this online before trying to get a statement from him?! That wouldn't be fair, would it?



    First: I don't work for Craig or Ken; I also don't work with Craig or Ken.



    Second: I have no interest—financial or otherwise—in either Pioneer or Safety Stop. In fact, when I'm diving the Northeast Coast, I almost never use Pioneer for gas fills, kit rental etc., and when I've dived Green Island I've never used Safety Stop. As an instructor and as a technical diver, I can get better prices and better service elsewhere. (That doesn't mean that Pioneer and Safety Stop offer bad deals to ordinary sport diving customers; it's just that they aren't right for me.)



    Third: in the interest of full disclosure, I know Craig and I also have met Ken a few times. I have always enjoyed their company, but I am not very close friends with either of them, and I have no reason to lie for either of them or to otherwise sacrifice my integrity for either of them. They both seem like pretty good guys to me, but I barely know them, and anyway that's irrelevant for present purposes.



    For present purposes, what matters is whether or not someone saw an instructor putting his and his students' hands on living coral, and whether or not someone saw an instructor otherwise encouraging people to harm the reef.



    I can't determine that, just based upon the video provided.



    In Taiwan (like many other places), much of the reef is covered with algae or is covered with encrusting sponge. The video does not clearly show anyone touching living coral polyps. It appears that the divers could be touching algae-covered and/or encrusting sponge-covered reef. If so: that is not a big problem, and is fairly common practice -- especially among photographers. The diver in the lower left corner of the video has her hand very close to a living colony of corals (which is not cool), but the video does not clearly show her touching living corals. Similarly, the video shows someone (presumably Craig) placing divers' hands on the reef. I could be mistaken, but until I see other evidence I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he is placing their hands on parts of the reef which are covered in algae or encrusting sponge, and thus are not really susceptible to damage from mere contact.



    A diver putting a couple of fingers on an algae-covered rock doesn't damage the coral reef ecosystem.



    A diver putting a couple of fingers on an encrusting sponge-covered rock doesn't damage the coral reef ecosystem.



    I teach all of my AOW students to learn and to visually identify the differences between living communities of coral polyps on the one hand, and all of other parts of the reef on the other hand. Do you know the differences enough to really be sure that you saw Craig and his students killing corals? Or did you simply see them touching the reef, and assume that they were touching living communities of corals? Your video fails as evidence, as do your statements.



    Your scubaboard post seems well-intentioned, but perhaps too quick to judge.



    I do, however, really appreciate your commitment to marine conservation. I wish there were more folks with a similar commitment.
     
    Wantonmien and Jai Bar like this.
  3. currier

    currier Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Taipei, Taiwan
    224
    59
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    I echo Makhno‘s sentiments concerning your commitment to the conservation of the ocean environment. Each of us should keep in mind that our actions have longlasting effects on the health and beauty of the reefs and subsequent fish populations.

    As a diver living permanently in Taiwan, I‘ve often been dismayed by the manners in which some divers disrespect our waters. Some of the interactions I‘ve witnessed between divers and marine organisms here have been mind boggling.

    As a longtime friend and diving buddy of the instructor you‘ve chosen to instigate a smear campaign against, I feel obligated to defend his diving practices and thoughts towards marine conservation. Craig has always been the first to chastise divers who display conduct that threatens the reef. I‘ve personally seen him correct student finning techniques to lessen impact on the environment. I‘ve always been impressed by the buoyancy control of his OW students, and dive with a few of them regularly.

    Can I defend the practices I see in the video? Well, no, but I‘m neither priviledged to all the details concerning the dive and divers in question. I would need to know specifics such as environment, conditions, diver experience, etc. before I‘d go online with a defamatory thread like this.

    Hope you enjoyed your stay in Taiwan.
     
    Wantonmien likes this.
  4. 3DzeroG

    3DzeroG Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Taiwan/Philippines (and all over the place)
    4
    3
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    Doesn't SB have a policy against personal attacks? Publishing people's name, PADI no., contact details and even photo seems a little excessive. Especially when their only crime on record is to wave into a camera when it is pointed at their face.

    Full disclosure: I know Craig personally. I have worked with him on a conservation project in northern Taiwan and can confirm that his dive habits are excellent.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
    Wantonmien and Jai Bar like this.
  5. mty

    mty Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: CA
    7
    3
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    Heh. I never wanted to make any personal attacks - I've specifically pointed out possible reasons that explain why Craig is in a rough situation.

    I put the PADI numbers up, which are on their websites - and I published the videos Craig gave me. When people didn't believe me that it was actually Craig and Ken - I pulled a picture of him that he put up online on another website.

    He's not just "waving into a camera that is pointed as his face" and you know that. He's behind the camera in most of the videos. If you think it's totally defensible for a divemaster to take students down and encourage them to grab onto coral and tie ropes around it... then you're not really the kind of diver I want to dive with either.

    Sorry if that sounds preachy or bitchy. I just don't want to dive with people who do that kind of thing, and I don't want to support shops that do.
     
  6. 3DzeroG

    3DzeroG Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Taiwan/Philippines (and all over the place)
    4
    3
    3
    Hmm, guilt by association. I see a pattern here. Is that what you call not making personal attacks?

    I bet you are. Let's take this back to Makhno's excellent question:

     
  7. Centrals

    Centrals Barangay Pasaway

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    6,174
    1,519
    113
    1. The divers in the video are pretty bad technically. The alternative air source, spg etc etc were not securely attached.
    2. The finning technique is awful.
    3. They would rather look at the video than what was surrounding them.
    4. They looked pretty young and could be a high school outing.
    5. There was current.
    6. I would put my hand on the coral if the current is too strong for me

    The dm etc could have done a better job eg. securing the octopus or spg.

    The OP should have talked it over with the person concern in the first place.
     
    3DzeroG likes this.
  8. nimoh

    nimoh Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Rochester, MN
    3,455
    1,689
    113
    I wouldn't dive with such a diver either. It's not a personal attack, just personal preference.
    why are you trying to pick a fight with such snarky remarks? mty stated his/her opinion, and is entitled to do that. The trend of the thread is to take the statements with a grain of salt and mty has not been overly emphatic trying to push an agenda.
     
  9. currier

    currier Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Taipei, Taiwan
    224
    59
    28
    Discover Scuba Diving participants, not students, and definitely not ‘divers‘.

    We can see in the 5th video you posted that Craig is bringing one girl back down to depth against a current. Now I‘m not a professional diver, but if I were, I‘d not like to be in the unfortunate position of customers popping up and drifting away.
     
    Wantonmien likes this.
  10. mty

    mty Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: CA
    7
    3
    3
    Seems like most people entered the conversation with their minds already made up. I've gotten a few private message about it - and I can respond to the questions here.

    (1) Why would you post this? - I posted this because there are thousands of dive companies out there and millions of divers. Some of them actively try to prevent damage to the sensitive ecosystems we enjoy, and some of them talk about it, but don't walk the walk.

    (2) What do I want to happen? - Honestly, I don't really have any goals from this. Some people look at a video like this and think, "Gosh, I wouldn't want to dive with that company." Some people don't care. I imagine the people who aren't comfortable with this won't dive with that company, and the people who don't care will do whatever they were going to do anyways.

    Sorry to the posters who seem greatly offended on behalf of SSD that I posted this. Craig and everyone at SSD: Feel free to reach out to me if I'm getting something wrong or you'd like to set the record straight. Ya'll have my contact info from my visit.

    Anyways, this has exceeded my weekly quotient for pot-stirring. Best of luck and good dives to everyone!
     

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