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Diving with pros

So you would think that taking instructors or divemasters diving is easy, right? Of course, they should know what they are doing underwater, they understand safety, rules, etc. Well, you would be awfully WRONG.

Because most of the time I found out, taking them underwater is a gigantic pain in the butt. Alright, maybe not most of the times, at least half of the times.

As a diving professional, I am not sure how you can assume that you know better than everyone else, especially when you go to place you have never dived before. When I go somewhere new, I do as told, as in I follow the guide, I come up when I am asked to, I don't go 15 mn into deco when told not to, and I generally behave underwater. True, I might drag a bit at the back to take pictures or drop down a couple of meters more when I feel it's safe to do so, but I don't behave like a know-it-all asshole, because well people working there know better than I do. I might think to myself sometimes that they are not great guides or whatever, but once again I can take care of myself so I don't need anyone to babysit me underwater.

So I innocently assumed that other dive pros would do the same. And once again, I was very wrong.

It turns out that according to my very precise survey, 58% of dive pros are know-it-all assholes, the type who believes that because they have 500/1500/5000 dives, they know everything.

First category: the "Environmental awareness dumbass". So surely, as an instructor, you should be able to control your buoyancy, right? It makes me mad when a student of mine kicks the reef with his fins, but hey, they are learning, it should be for me to make sure they don't do that, to some extend.

But when a supposed dive pro who has at least a few hundred dives just LIES DOWN on the reef to get a good shot of a nudibranch, it makes me want to punch them in the face. (which I don't, unfortunately. I just make very clear underwater signs meaning "lift your fins and fat butt off the reef right now before I punch you in the face").

Second category, probably the most painful one: "I am a superman instructor. I can go deeper, I can go longer, I can do whatever I please underwater because I am such a hotshot". Either they walk in and ask if they can rent tanks and go on their own (generally straight to the most challenging sites around here, cos you know, they are so amazing). Or ask straight away if they can go deeeeep. Or ask if they can do this and that dive site, and then tell you about all the wonderful things they do where they work or go on about hours about their amazing abilities at photography/tec diving/teaching/being generally awesome.

A few weeks ago one of these showed up and I had the luck to take him diving. Let's call him Joe. So Joe works in Thailand, he is amazing, he has done a billion dives and he wants to see a mola. (Which I understand, right, seeing a mola is nice. However Joe after 3 billions dives should know by now that the only boss of the ocean is the ocean). The rest of my group consists of a divemaster who hasn't been in the water for a year and two advanced divers. So here we are at Crystal Bay and after many questions from Joe I tell him that if I have to bring someone up he can stay down, as long as I can see him, and that I will go back down with him.

Crystal Bay is a dive site here with a protected bay and a wall that goes around a corner of the island where the currents can be quite strong. As you can get sucked down or taken in the channel type of strong, not just it's a bit hard to swim.

Crystla bay.jpg

(this is Crystal Bay. See the tiny island down left with the waves forming? This is where the wall is)

So down we go and as often there is a fair bit of current around the corner, where when you are lucky enough you can see molas, so it's a fair bit of a swim to get there. So I fin to stay put for a while hoping a mola might show up, signal everyone to get close to the reef, until I see than one of the other divers is freaking out a bit. Too much current, too much effort, I hold onto her for a while and of course she is running low on air pretty fast. So I make everybody turn around and we make it back in the bay to come up safely. We are about 35mn into our dive so I signal the rest of the group to stay right here while I bring her up. HotShot Joe is hanging at the back, he signals that he is turning back, grabs his buddy the divemaster and paying no attention to whatever I am telling him he just turns around and goes back along the wall in the current. Great.

So I bring the other two up, I go back down along the wall against the current to try to find the idiot, I swim past some of my workmates who haven't seen him, I am starting to sweat in my wetsuit despite the fact the water is bloody cold. Finally I find them swimming along and I make a very clear sign of "go up to your safety stop and get your ass out of the water NOW".


No mola for Joe...Sad.

I go back on the boat while they ascend, when my colleague Made sees my face and gets the short version of the story which goes "the dumbass took off on me and went back on the wall on his own with his buddy", he wisely suggests that I sit down and have a smoke and a coffee before I engage in a conversation with HotShot Joe. So I do, I calm down a bit and then I go over to see him and start a chat along the lines of "I don't think I made myself very clear previously..." which ends up with the following: "I don't care what you do wherever else, but when you dive with me I am the boss underwater and you do what I say or you don't dive". I will skip the amazing reasons HotShot had to do all this (he is so good, he could feel the mola even though it didn't show up, the current was fine, he didn't understand what I said, it was not clear enough, etc).

He proved to be a dick for the rest of the day really. On the boat between the dives HotShot was teaching everyone else how to dive, telling amazing stories, etc, and was generally unimpressed with everything because, hey, he was so much better than everything else.

Usually however, the other 42% are very nice. They are awesome underwater, they don't touch the reef, they enjoy their dives, they are actually grateful and happy when you find them a mola or a manta or whatever, they are nice people and they tell you "come visit us at XXX we'll take you diving!". Bless those ones.

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