9 instructor profiles to avoid by all means

We love them, we respect them, we meet them all around the world for our most beautiful trainings and our most fabulous dives and, it must be recognized, they are key to our learnings in scuba diving.

If most dive instructors have experience, sensitivity, know how to listen, ask the right questions, show enough empathy to make our dive trainings and dives enjoyable and rich, some people will unfortunately behave with difficulty and sometimes put the life of trainees and inexperienced divers in danger!

Fortunately, they represent only a small percentage of the truly competent diving instructors we can meet all around the world

Overview of the worst diving instructor profiles

Preliminary remarks:

  • All the cases exposed here are real cases observed and / or experienced by myself
  • In an effort not to identify people (we are not here to “break” people), the examples below will only talk about male instructors, although they involve men as well as women.

1. The distracted

He forgets equipment, students, booking an entry on a dive spot, appointment time, … this dive instructor is of an incredible distraction and this sometimes can cause a real problem

Lived example:

The instructor who completely forgets to do a briefing and who, upon interrogation of one of the divers (and panicked by his oversight), makes a mini briefing in an terrible chaos while sending the divers to the water on the order of the captain for fortunately a dive in a warm sea with mild current.

 

2. The incompetent (and also insecure)

This might be a harsh conclusion but some diving instructors should seriously review the basics of scuba diving. The incompetent dive instructor is the one to whom we would like to offer our theoretical books of the first levels.

Lived example:

The instructor who does a first dive in a pool somewhere in a sunny destination. It starts with a run along the wet edge of the pool with the cylinder on his back. He continues with a giant stride for a first dive of a guy who 2 meters tall in a pool of 1m50.
Because there is more to tell, this same instructor watches (without fins) the candidate while breathing on the octopus of the candidate before allowing him to stay alone the last 10 minutes of his intro dive. During this time, the instructor comes out of the water equip and brief the next candidate to begin a second intro dive !

 

3. The unconscious

Due to lack of experience or unconsciousness, the unconscious diving instructor puts scuba divers, sometimes with little experience or no certification, into problematic situations that could easily turn into drama.

Lived example:

The instructor who realizes just before to jump into the sea, for a dive in a sea with current on a bottom of -27m, that he will have in his group two girls of 12 and 14 years (not yet certified) whose parents are not present on the boat …
In front of my amazed eyes, the instructor will take the responsibility to bring his team of 5 people (the others having a level of autonomy at -20m) under water in these conditions. They will surface all 5 disappointed and telling us that the dive was just a big failure.

 

4. The dangerous (the worst that I may have seen?)

The dangerous dive instructor will give you safety lessons that he will flout without any remorse.

Lived example:

The instructor who takes his group of two people on a famous and well-known wreck whose highest point is about -40 meters. His team is composed of a boy of 14 years old not yet certified and his father having an entry level C-card. We will cross them at -40 m while we are on our ascent and he continues to descend with his group. Nor will he be bothered to hear that the boy felt dizzy during the dive (narcosis exists!).
Small rather incredible detail: for this dive, the instructor was using a 12 liter cylinder and a single outlet on the valve!

 

5. The careless

This one is particularly annoying from the start. In contrast to the distracted dive instructor who will be sincerely sorry for his mistakes, the careless instructor doesn’t care about good service, dive equipment correctly maintained or compliance with rules and procedures. After all, he always did like that … and it shows.

Lived example:

The instructor who divides the divers into two groups, goes diving with the first group, returns and finds that the other group is still docked due to a boat breakdown (with the heat of hot summer sun and without water to rehydrate). He then sends his colleague  with the other boat and take a nap … bad luck, the second boat also breaks down in the middle of the sea. The colleague can not warn the boss (who sleeps) and everyone is worried about not seeing part of the group (including 4 children) who will have totaled 5 hours of waiting under a blazing sun … without water!

 

6. The coward or wimp

The “coward” instructor is really scared of everything while diving: the depth, the inexperienced divers, the current, … everything gets him stressed and hence puts the others in danger

Lived example:

The diving instructor who trains divers for the 60m deep dive certification on a diving cruise and who, after passing their exam (without ever having exceeded -40m during the training), goes down with his group for a “touch and go” dive at -60m. He explained me later very honestly that he is not comfortable when he exceeds -40 meters.
Yet, he gives that kind of certification to divers. I was speechless.

 

7. The jaded

This instructor is just boring. At first contact we understand that he is really is tired of diving (and it would surely be good for him to change jobs)

Lived example:

The dive center instructor who arrives 5 minutes before the start of the dive to open his center, talks on the phone with his friends while you are there waiting and waiting and closes his center, leaving you barely enough time to undress … Thank you, goodbye.

 

8. The arrogant

As much as I am honest, I have no affection for this kind of instructors thinking they are the center of the world who think that their instructor certification puts them above everyone. The arrogant instructor will often have remarks bearly acceptable while he is there to transmit his know-how and his well-being to the divers he is in charge of.

Lived example:

The instructor who, after returning from a deep dive at -55m, finds himself with divers of his group spread between -30 and -10 meters on the ascent. On the boat he publicly and loudly preach and scold his  Divemaster because he would have ascended too quickly … without any instructions was given on this subject before diving. Ah, the utility of the briefing! As autonomus customers on the boat, do we really have to be victims of this kind of public behaviour?

 

9. The one who accumulates

This instructor has the gift of accumulating mistakes: distraction, incompetence, unconsciousness, danger, negligence, fear, boredom and arrogance, nothing stops him.
This is the one that you will identify and go away as soon as possible. Hopefully, his reputation will precede him and he will stop acting quickly.

Lived example:

Although I have a good example in mind, I decided to get you involved on this point. So feel free to write a comment below to explain the lived example of the cumulative instructor you saw?

 

How to avoid them?

No matter the reason of these behaviors of diving instructors, a lack of experience, a strong pressure required by the diving center, too much nonchalance, an excess of confidence, … they can lead to problematic situations if not dangerous and / or dramatic .

Of course, we are all human beings. Also, that a person makes a mistake, it is not good but excusable … ifs this person repeats without questioning is surely unacceptable.

To avoid unpleasant mishaps and/or dangerous dives, here are some simple actions you can do:

  • If you are at the beginning of your dive training and do not have much experience yet, prefer centers that others have recommended.
  • Do not be fooled by certifications and other titles. After all, you too have your areas of expertise in life 😉
  • Do not be afraid to have a frank discussion with your instructor regardless the level of your c-card by reminding him in particular the diving privileges you have (he may not be familiar with your training program), your expectations, your apprehensions, … good communication is also your responsibility
  • Never hesitate to ask a question; rather too much than not enough.
  • Express your feelings so as not to lock yourself into the terrible world of silence
  • Dare to say to an instructor his faults, this will also help him to progress in his role to transmit knowledge and to participate in his continuous training, for the good of all divers

Fortunately, most instructors, whether they are volunteers or not, are competent, attentive and will train you in the respect of the basic diving safety rules with pleasure and passion.

But as the saying goes, “better safe than sorry” …

And what are your experiences with diving instructors?

And most importantly, do not forget to be happy 🙂

Helene

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