Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

Signs Your Dive Charter/Shop is BAD
markingrassia - 5/16/2016 12:51 PM
Category: Health & Safety
Replies: 7

I recently went for a morning/afternoon dive in a ’certain’ Florida Pan Handle beach town this weekend and experienced the following from a fairly popular dive shop/charter. This all happened in one dive trip...tell me what you think.

1. Shop never checked my OW or Nitrox Cert nor, did I see them ask anyone else for them. Nor, did they ask me when the last time I dove or, what experience level I was. I signed a one page waiver, paid my fee and then asked if they wanted to see my dive cards. ’Nope, just head on over to the boat." They also failed to check my certs on my first trip a few months before...I thought it was just an oversight. Now, I know it’s just carelessness.

2. At the boat, none of my Nitrox tanks were marked with FO2 and MOD settings from the shop. The Captain said, "they’re all 32." When we asked to test the tanks, he said we should have done it at the shop, and by the way, they don’t carry Nitrox testers on-board. He also said the shop tests aren’t worth a lick because its up tot he divers to test the tanks themselves.....true, but this was the first dive jaunt where the nitrox tanks weren’t marked and there was no available Nitrox Tester on board. Luckily I brought one. And in case you’r wondering they were not all 32 FO2 the others were 34 and 30.

3. On our second dive a distress signal came from a nearby private boat. One of their divers ran out of air at 100 foot and came up in an emergency ascent and was now unconscious on the deck. The boat captain was on the radio calling for help as he did not have O2 or any medical equipment. We aborted our dive and would have headed to them but the boat crew forget to pull up the anchor line and well, let’s just say after the prop chewed threw a a lot of rope and a plastic buoy before it got fouled up. We were not going anywhere fast. By the time the prop was cleared, there was a Fish and Game and Coast Guard ship on the scene. Too bad for the injured diver we couldn’t make it as we had two doctors, three trained rescue divers an O2 kit and defibrillator.

4. The last dive of the day was on a Florida Historical The Dive Master ’tied off’ on the superstructure and proceeded to collect weights and lures from ship.
LatitudeAdjustment - 5/16/2016 2:02 PM
1. I haven’t been asked for a c-card on repeat visits, have you dove with them before?

2. Never been to a shop that didn’t make you check and sign for your nitrox mix

4. Unless you paid for a guided tour the DM just gives the site brief and may not even enter the water. If they do he/she is just another diver and free to do whatever like collect weights. The DM and crew at Looe Reef Resort won’t even help you back onto the boat, they’re primary job is selling chicken dogs and snacks.
markingrassia - 5/16/2016 2:28 PM
1. The first time I chartered with this shop they never asked me for my certs either, on the phone or in person. When I showed up and asked them, they still did told me there was no need. And asking other divers, they weren’t asked for their certs either. Every other reputable shop asks you on each dive.

2. The communication between the shop and the charter wasn’t there. Ultimately, it’s the diver’s responsibility to test his/her tanks but again, a reputable shop will have the FO2/MOD on the tank and a clip board for the diver to sign off on his tanks. No instructions were given at the shop to test the tanks out back before heading to the boat. Bad communication.

4. There was a senior PADI Instructor who told the captain and the DM that since the wreck was a historical artifact, we were not to tie lines to it or retrieve anything from it.....they did anyway. Yes, I’ve been on boats where they fiddle their thumbs while you get back on board — if you can’t lift yourself out of water and aren’t a special needs diver, you shouldn’t be going out anyway.
kelemvor - 5/17/2016 9:33 PM
There’s no law that requires someone to have a c-card to dive; although it’s certainly "standard practice" in the dive industry. I’m not sure how it affects your safety since you are responsible for your safety and not the other divers. There are lots of divers in the world who have been doing it for decades and predate the scuba "industry" selling c-cards. Usually you find boats that are involved in selling training being the ones who check more for cards.

I wouldn’t expect the boat to have a nitrox tester for you onboard. The fill station probably has one, and if you’re diving nitrox you should have one (and it sounds like you did). The boat may or may not.

Are you sure they tied to the wreck? Most historical wrecks off the FL coast (at least the ones that I’ve dived) have mooring buoys that are maintained by NOAA. The boat would tie off to the buoy. That’s how it has been on every wreck dive I’ve done. The weights and lures sure sound like pollution from people fishing on the wreck to me. I’ve seen that on dives as well. Many fishermen leave a real mess behind. Ever done a cleanup dive? If not, you’d probably be surprised just how much junk there is. If you’re concerned about them taking historical artifacts you can definitely report it. I doubt weights and lures are considered historical artifacts.
markingrassia - 5/18/2016 8:22 AM
Correct, there are no laws about showing certs; but, this is a sign of due diligence on the shop’s part for their protection and the diver’s. Good shops ask— bad shops just want to collect the money.

Per the Nitrox tester on the boat. No one at the shop directed us to the back to test the tanks. They took the money and sent us to the boat. The Captain of the boat thought we’d had tested the tanks at the shop. My point was the poor communication between the captain and shop to dive the divers a chance to test their tanks. But again, good shops test their tanks, direct divers to do the same and have a sign off sheet for divers to assume responsibility for their Nitrox tanks — bad shops don’t give a flip. No laws broken, but when you ignore good practices you wonder what other details have they’ve left out

Yes, the DM tied off on the wreck. There was a mooring block available but he tied off on the infrastructure. I don’t know if he didn’t see it or not. There was a senior Dive instructor with me who lived in FL and mentioned the various violations visiting a historical wreck.
Smithsgold - 5/31/2016 3:46 PM
Best advice find another Charter. There out there you just have to look and talk to other divers who they dive with !!!