Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How long does it take to lose a skill? Skill retention and degradation...

How long does it take to lose a skill? Skill retention and degradation...

How long does it take to lose a skill?

The benefit of repetitive skills training and frequency of expert feedback in the early acquisition of procedural skills

Skills Fade: A review of the evidence that clinical and professional skills fade during time out of practice, and of how skills fade may be measured or remediated

Skill training, retention, and transfer: The effects of a concurrent secondary task

Degradation of learned skills: A review and annotated bibliography

Prevention of surgical skill decay

Thursday, December 7, 2017

December 2018 JCA Elite Scuba Newsletter is out!

You can read it here if you're not subscribed...

wolf eel give a tour of his digs at sund rock  school of perch hanging out at sund rock
5 inch "Shaggy Mouse" Nudibranchs from a fund dive day with
Chad at Sund Rock, Hoodsport, Washington in the Puget Sound.
(click on the picture above so you can watch the video of them)

JCA Elite Scuba Newsletter

December 7, 2017
Hello fellow divers, students, and everyone thinking about learning how to scuba dive. It has been an amazing year! The weather is resuming its normal ebb and flow of rain and snow and certainly has been interesting including certifying a couple of divers while it was snowing! Check out Audrey...!!! That's dedication.

The end of the year is approaching and I've decided to do another New Year's Eve diving, certification, food, fun, and fireworks spectacular. You can find out more about it by checking out my events pageor watching this video. We'll be staying in the dorm at Sunrise Motel in Hoodsport, Washington. The dorm has a full kitchen and refrigerator, stove and oven, and can sleep up to 14, but 10 would be a good number and give us a little extra room.

I'll be doing lots of cooking between dives or after the day of certification dives so please consider trying some of my specialties. If anyone else would like to cook, we would love to try some of your favorites as well but anyone can make or bring anything. The event is $125 for all three days. Arrive as early as Friday, December 29th at 2:00pm and depart on Monday, January 1st of the new year. I plan to launch some pretty cool fireworks at midnight like you can see in the video linked above. Get away from the big city and spend some time with us at the ocean in a safe and friendly environment.

Three students are set to do their scuba diving open water certification dives and one is on board for their Drysuit Diver Specialty. While the cost of certification, specialties, equipment rentals, air fills, and food are not included, I've priced the event to beat any large city New Year's Eve party and I'll even make you a spectacular offer on certain specialties if you can make it! Save a boatload, add a specialty to your quiver while bringing in the new year in style! I have an outdoor propane heater and fireplace, but you are welcome to bring blankets, too. There is a covered area but I'll also be bringing my outdoor popup canopy to keep everyone dry if by chance the weather is a little cooler than expected.

If you can't make it for all three days, send me an email and I can find out from Frank if a shorter stay is possible. Friends and family, including non-divers and kids are welcome. Everyone can dive as much or as little as you want and there will be others to dive with if I am with students, but I will be doing as much diving as possible. If you're planning to stay with us in the dorm, no pets please. I know that they might not be comfortable at home with fireworks going off where you live, but Hoodsport will probably not be any quieter. I'll be collecting cash for the event in the next week to keep the fees from making the event more expensive for us and at the motel. I can take a credit card if needed, but it will include the service fees that accompany credit card transactions.

Thank you to the many that have signed up for my Newsletter and watched many of my videos on YouTube and I look forward to seeing and diving with everyone at the end of the month.

If you missed any of the previous Newsletters, you can find them all right here.

Happy diving and if I don't see you, have a happy, prosperous, and exciting new year!

JCA Elite Scuba Website
YouTube Videos
If anyone wants to go diving, please feel free to contact me. If I can't go, I can post a note in The Dive Shop(my Invitation Only, Facebook Private Dive Club) and even e-mail others. If you want to join, just send me a note...
Join us in Hoodsport for diving, certification, food, and fireworks to bring in 2018!
Join us in Hoodsport for diving, certification, food, and fireworks to bring in 2018!
Copyright © 2017 JCA Elite Scuba, All rights reserved.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How many questions did you miss on your "INITIAL" Open Water / Scuba Diver "FINAL EXAM"?


How many questions did you miss on your "INITIAL" Open Water / Scuba Diver "FINAL EXAM"?

POLL #1: Test Taking

I'm doing research on some of the outcomes students have on several factors within the scuba diving educational process. Once the statistics are gathered I'll publish the final numbers and see if there are any correlations.

--The polls will all be anonymous
--Please do not choose more than one answer
--Please do not take any one poll more that once
--If it has been a length of time that you can't recall your score within the ranges below, please pass on this poll

Thanks greatly!

100 %
Failed on first attempt

#scuba #scubadiving #scubaeducation #learntoscubadive

Monday, December 4, 2017


The video I made first with my complete argument:


The thread where the conversation takes place:


Google Alerts sent me a notice that 400 divers are going to attempt to hold hands to form a human chain in order to break a world record.

Victorian Scuba Divers to Link Arms for Guinness World Record Attempt

I'm contacting you as it seems that this event goes against the spirit of protecting our oceans.

While it would be amazing to see 400 divers in equipment get together outside of a business conference, these divers are not planning to do this on the sidewalk or on the sandy beach.

If 400 divers are planning to enter the water in the same location, not only will this be unprecedented, but it is surely going to be devastating for the environment. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, and the business opportunities are surely to be significant, but as stewards of the sea, this seems like it's not going to turn out to be as benign as you are planning for.

We know how important good buoyancy is, so it makes me wonder how can a leader in the industry sanction this event if everyone will not be neutrally buoyant and off the ocean floor during this attempt?

How are you going to mitigate any damage to the environment, the refuse of 400 divers gathering in one spot, and what will you do about any damage that is caused? 

Everyone surely wants to be careful about the inevitability of damage, however I fear that some shops or manufacturers that don't participate or even could advocate against participation, might be looked at not being "team players." 

While this would be a great opportunity to run some buoyancy classes, there is not enough time at this point... and as written in your document:

"We acknowledge it is not the best display of buoyancy..."

"You must be correctly weighted to do this. Do not risk the success of this event by being under-weighted."

•When directed to do so, everyone will descend and hold onto the line on the bottom.  Fully deflate your BC and kneel on bottom. You must be negatively buoyant. For this reason we have chosen the sandy sea-floor. We acknowledge it is not the best display of buoyancy but breaking the surface means the attempt becomes null and void. This means everyone is to be on the seafloor. You must be correctly weighted to do this. Do not risk the success of this event by being under-weighted.

Wow! I can only say that this is promoting poor buoyancy and being over-weighted... This doesn't seem like the kind of world record that needs to be broken when it directly goes against athe foundational tenets of scuba diving!

Another consideration is that this stretch of beach cannot be without animal life under the bodies of those divers... While some animals might not be bothered by the effect, what kind of impact study has been done to determine the effect?

I would appreciate your feedback.

-- Carlos Aguilar


A response from Kat Vcelka, Vice President of DIVA.

"Hi Carlos. It’s great to see someone so passionate about the oceans. Im the Vice President Of DIVA that helped put the event together. 

I’m unsure if you are familiar with the location,  or were there on the day as we did this attempt. 

Although I agree that this is a large number of divers to descend on one site at a time, I assure you that all environmental factors were taken into account. Divers walked in over a stretch of sand that would have been no different to the hundreds of people playing on the sand bank in summer. They then had a 50m surface swim to where we had a line. This line was placed in the sand parallel to the shore. It was not placed on top of reefs and specifically placed with the reduction of environmental impact in mind. Divers lowered themselves onto the bottom and onto the sand and were encouraged to be ‘correctly weighted’ not overweighted like you state. Being negatively buoyant does not mean being overweighted. 

For safety of the divers, and to minimise disturbance of the environment, it was important that divers were on the bottom. As divers lowered themselves down to the sand any animals would have been able to move themselves. 

This event was conducted taking into account many factors. We prioritised safety and the environment in all of our workings. I commend all of the organisational committee and the divers who took part in the event for their diligence and taking these two important matters into account. 

Dive adventures and the other sponsors had nothing to do with the organisation of the day. They generously gave their time and donations to help the Victorian Dive industry. For their generosity we cannot thank them enough. 

I thank-you for being an ocean advocate and hope that my message helps elevate your concerns. I am more than happy to discuss this further if needed. I will private message you my number should you want to use this. Yours in Diving. Kat."


My response to her.

I appreciate the response. Your answers are logical and appropriate, but you've missed the crux of the concerns I addressed. 

The first is that kneeling on the ocean floor was necessary. Impact to the environment is minimal during an open water class, but still problematic. Increase that to 400, and it's worse, it's a precedent. Every certifying agency believes in the premise of as little impact as possible. With that said, while it may have been impossible to get 400 divers to be neutral at once, being neutral is the outcome of all programs, among other skills. Even if we conclude that the same amount of impact would occur standing on the beach, we are terrestrial beings and standing on the beach is appropriate. As guests in the ocean, standing, kneeling, and kicking up silt is unacceptable. DIVA acknowledged that this was not the best use of buoyancy in the literature. You know that's an issue but temper it with it being an acceptable price to pay for the success of the event and it justifies it.

Furthermore, proper weighting wasn't as much of a concern as much was kneeling on the ocean floor, but DIVA voiced that if the diver was not properly weighted that the attempt could be jeopardized. This statement would be more likely to sway inexperienced divers towards being heavier than they need to be. But that too is not the greatest of my concerns.

I didn't mention it in my post, but, one particular instruction was. It had to do with divers that might need "assistance."

DIVA's plan stated, "If you have a problem that cannot be immediately rectified without breaking chain, please back away from the line and surface, heading towards the beach." This makes sense, of course, but that's followed by "If you require assistance wave your arms." 

Waving your arms is NOT a call for assistance. It's the call for help! It made me wonder if the event would have continued while safety divers attended to the diver that requested "assistance"? What if it was a real emergency? How would one differentiate between "assistance" and "help" since the same signal is being used?

Think about this for a moment... How would those divers have felt if they later learned that they did nothing while someone needed more than assistance but actual, real help?

While it's obvious that my opinion differs than the ones that participated as well as the organizers, saying that getting 400 divers together to create a chain could only have taken place if the rules and/or guidelines we teach students were changed, diminishes the hard work of the instructors that taught their students that being on the ocean floor is not acceptable. That gives credit to instructors that didn't teach this to their students and only exemplifies a huge problem currently present in today's training. There are numerous videos of divers who's skills are already in critical need remediation or retraining.

Proper skill execution (being naturally buoyant and off the ocean floor) is ALWAYS necessary, and I think that's what's been lost in the final outcome of this new world record. 

I don't believe it should have been necessary for me to have to try to convince the organization that the actions were wrong -- they should know better!

So here we are... what happens now? I continue to train my students the importance of good buoyancy, staying off the ocean floor, and the correct use and meaning of hand signals, while DIVA, Scubapro, SSI, PADI, AUP, Aqualung, Mares, Dive Adventures, Rye Hotel, and Redboats start again (The event is over, NOW, stay off the bottom).

I'd love to continue this conversation, but in my opinion that would mean that everyone would have to start by admitting they didn't quite give enough thought to the bigger picture. 



A response from Kat Vcelka, Vice President of DIVA

"Your opinion is noted Carlos.  I'm not going to get into a message-a-thon.  The event was conducted with dozens of qualified professionals and rescue divers, ensuring that all divers were taken care of.  Safety of all divers was paramount and the event was well executed with this in mind.  400 divers achieving neutral buoyancy together was going to be impossible.  I'm unsure if you were on the beach when the briefing to all divers started.  The first thing that was said that the safety of the divers is paramount.  Not getting the record."


A response from Kat Vcelka, Vice President of DIVA

"I believe that any one with common sense knew our intention and what kind of a logistical challenge it was to ensure all were safe, with minimising impact to the environment.  Not settling the divers on the bottom would have impacted on safety and the environment greatly, so although I understand your intent, what you say would not be possible on this day and would have been greatly detrimental to the environment, as well as the safety of the divers attending.  Common sense and the briefings given stated that settling on the bottom was a once off suggestion purely for this event.  Everyone was placed on sand and well away from the reef.  I have been teaching for over a decade and was a diver on the event.  There was no damage to the environment and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who attended that would now change their diving to 'sit' on the bottom of a normal dive.  As for hand signals, again this is for a situational dive.  Having someone wave their hand in the air if they need assistance when there are 364 divers on the surface is a sensible thing to do as they could potentially get lost in the sea of divers.  You are entitled to your opinion and I would encourage you to give me a call or an email at with any suggestions on how you would conduct such an event so that we can take this into account for future activities."


AND HERE IT IS...!!! SHIFTING THE RESPONSIBILITY AWAY FROM THE ORGANIZERS AND PASSING IT TO THE DIVERS. "I believe that any one with common sense knew our intention..."



I WON'T ASK DIVERS TO BEND THE RULES ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS. END OF DISCUSSION...!!! "...suggestions on how you would conduct such an event..."

Friday, December 1, 2017

COMMENTARY: "Victorian scuba divers to link arms for Guinness World Reco...

COMMENTARY: "Victorian scuba divers to link arms for Guinness World Record attempt"

Victorian scuba divers to link arms for Guinness World Record attempt at Rye Pier. Sponsored by Diving Industry of Victoria Association on December 2, 2017

#guinessbookofworldrecords #ryepier #perfectbuoyancy #overweighted #divingindustryvictoriaassociation #worldrecordevent #diveplanning #stewardsoftheocean

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Year in review for 2017. Lots of great dive, trips, amazing animals, and...

As of November 23, 2017 I've logged 120 dives... deepest dive was 135ft... longest dive was 85 minutes... 33 new certifications issued... 268 videos uploaded... 33,545 unique views...75,580 minutes watched... 145 new subscribers...

NAUI Nitrox Online e-Learning Course Program. #eannitrox #nitroxdiver #n...

If you are interested in taking this online course, I am currently offering it for only $89. This includes the certification card as
well! To sign up for this course, please follow the link in the description.

Thank you!

Click here to sign up for the Nitrox Program:

#eannitrox #nitroxdiver #nitroxdiving #ean32 #ean36

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Top safety tips for your summer scuba adventure by Shine Lawyers -- REAL...

Top safety tips for your summer scuba adventure by Shine Lawyers -- REALLY...!!!



#scuba #scubadiving #legalopinion #ambulancechaser #shinelawyers #scubasafety #commentary #myOPINION

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Who's the barber, here?" Why is this important?

Just because someone has been doing something for 30 years is NOT a reason to follow them blindly just because they are more experienced, a professional, never had an accident, or because of the number of students they have taught.

Think about it this way...

Program standards have changed over the last 30 years...

Equipment has changed over the last 30 years...

Educational requirements have changed over the last 30 years...

Students' abilities have changed over the last 30 years...

So, why would you give someone a 30 year old program?

Now, that doesn't mean that one will accumulate experiences and continue to learn over a 30 year period and take that amalgamation of all that knowledge and experience and use it to make scuba today, an amazingly robust program.

But, which is it...

Watch video here:

#whosthebarberhere #QuisnamHicAdTonsorem

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Watch "The Difference Between a PADI Master Scuba Diver and a Divemaster" on YouTube

So... I do 50 dives in 4 months.

However, it took me over 2 and a half years to get my black belt and I had to take 2 classes a week, 2 hours at a time, and had to test at each belt, spar, and practice at home. 

What you're saying is that in another 5 weeks and 10 dives I will have the skills necessary to put people's lives in my hands and deal with emergency situations adequately... 

60 dives will prepare me fully for this, huh?

I have never seen a diver in 5.5 months that would be adequately trained for Divemaster. Impossible. 

My Divemaster program takes a full year to complete if the student worked every weekend on it!

Don't try to cheat yourself out of a good diving education and thorough training.

If you know a scuba diver and you DO NOT dive, then you DO NOT know anyt...

If you know a scuba diver and you DO NOT dive, then you DO NOT know anything about scuba!

If anyone is going to offer you advice about one of the most dangerous sports in the world, DO NOT listen to them...!!!

#mybrotherdives #myfatherdives #mysisterdives #iknowsomeonethatdives

So, I just met with a young man that just moved to the Portland area. He wants to continue his scuba diving education. I told him about my program and what I'd offer him and if he wanted a mentor in diving, and would help find me business, I would compensate him all the while he could learn for free.

He had an appointment at 2pm so had to leave and right after he did, two women started to ask me what I was selling? I told them I wasn't selling anything. Then they proceeded to tell me what I should not talk about when with a customer/student/client! I started to pack up my stuff immediately while telling them they had no idea what they were talking about.

Someone else that was in that area heard what they were saying to me and as he was leaving said to the two that they had no idea what they were talking about, either!

Before I left, the last thing they said was that they have family who dive! Hallelujah! I've finally found out what the secret to scuba diving is that I've been without for the last 11 years and 1,738 dives!

I shouldn't have spent my money on training, experience, travel, and put my life in the hands of students, divers, and dive professionals, rather, I only had to KNOW someone who dives and that would have satisfactorily been all that I needed to know.

Where the hell have those two been all my life? Just imagine all the things I could have done if I had only known more people that did the activities that I've always wanted to do...

Skydiving, flying an airplane, astronaut, Olympic athlete, recording artist, movie star, etc...

Holy shit! Is anyone out there a doctor? I always wanted to be a doctor! Please post in the comments below what you do so that I will instantly know everything you do about what you are an expert in!

It will be a pleasure to meet you!

P.S. my new program will only be an introduction. once someone meets me they are ready to dive. I'm really excited about this new chapter in my life!


Poorly trained divers kicking up silt. Who taught them how to dive?

Poorly trained divers kicking up silt. Who taught them how to dive?

#frogkick #flutterkick #modifiedfrogkick #modifiedflutterkick #perfectbuoyancy

Perfect buoyancy takes time, but this is just unacceptable. While these divers might not be killing any animals, this type of kicking through the water is atrocious! They need to learn how to do the modified frog kick and slow down! Look at how much silt they are kicking up...

I started teaching in 2008 and became totally independent and full-time 4 years ago -- no dive shop, no pressure to push students through the system and NEVER to award certification cards to divers that looks like these guys!

What saddens me the most is that this behavior has a larger consequence. I know that no one masters anything after confined water and definitely not after open water, and with that understanding, to not teach students to not do this is beyond unprofessional. It is bewildering to see divers like this in the water.

There are dive sites in the world that are so fragile and delicate that it is in all likelihood that this kind of impact could damage those sites without the possibility of recovery, forever! For those cave divers that might have seen some of those majestic rooms I'm referring to, you know what I'm talking about.

I can only say that I would be devastated to find out that a student of mine was responsible for this kind of behavior and if I found out, I would write NAUI headquarters and ask for their cert card to be invalidated until their training (or attitude) was re-evaluated -- perhaps even mine! (I know this is likely to not be allowed.)

While the grander scheme of introductory certification would include re-certification, I know that is not going to happen, either.

Last weekend, my last student (just me and him) logged 7 excursions and a final recreational fun dive, #8 to the limits of his training, what I call, "the deep boats." My opinion is that skill competence will eventually come with practice, but there is a point where the instructor has to decide if the student is ready to become an autonomous diver (not solo diver, rather not need the instructor to accompany them).

I regularly joke with the students that if they are not ready, they can take me to their exotic tropical dive destination (all expenses paid, of course) and I would supervise their dives, take care of all their equipment, and give them a tour of a lifetime. Regrettably, I've never been given this opportunity  [ ;) ] rather the students are told they are not ready nor awarded certification.

We arrive at the motel's check-in at 2pm, dive until dusk, dive all day the following day, and up until noon on the third. It is after the first excursion that on the third day that I tell my student that his regular ascents away from me are not acceptable and I will not award certification if the next two dives have uncontrolled ascents.

I explain that while a risk to the student exists (even if minor), the greater risk is to leave one's dive buddy. This would be excursion #7 and dive #8. [I call them excursions as they are supervised dives and while they log them, the quantity and quality of said excursions must in combination be equal to or greater than if fewer dives where conducted demonstrating everything a diver needs  to successfully complete my program. I don't like the 4 dives model nor prescribe to the 20ft, 20 minute cookie cutter program.]

Upon the end of the dive when we stand up at the shore line, I exclaim, "What the fuck was that and like wow, man!" "That was an incredible dive!" He was overjoyed as well. If I had cut him off after 4 excursions, this victory would never had occurred at this time, nor would the fun dive, #8, and he would have had to return for additional dives. If I had awarded him a certification on the 4th excursion, he would have looked like those in that video.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Video request, "How to use less air while scuba diving."

Video request by, "OneWorld"

"Could you please share the knowledge about 'Air Consumption' as me and my other diver friends also love to know the way... how could we save more air (especially with Nitrox) when we're diving. Best Regards."

Before I begin, I want to clarify that this video is about how much gas one uses during the entire dive... There are plenty of videos out there that tell you how to calculate SAC or RMV, or you can even use the calculator from my website. The link is in the description:


Also, gas consumption with air, nitrox, trimix or other combination should not change the volume you consume throughout the dive.

While trimix is a little "colder" when breathing it in cold water, if you are using trimix as an inflation gas during a dive with a drysuit, consider a dedicated pony bottle with air, or if you want to spend the extra money, argon. Be sure to label the bottles appropriately. Argon is poisonous to breathe...

The first thing to do is to slow down! Really. When you are taking your time, you breathe less and that minimizes the fluctuations in those micro ascents and descents due to inhalations and exhalations...

The next thing to do is keep your eyes on the road... What that means is, know where you are going and don't spend a lot of time looking around before you get there. Look where you are going and make sure your dive buddy is still there. The more you move your head, the more the rest of your body will move...

here's the modified frog kick

as you can see, it takes very little effort and expends very little energy

If you're diving with a buddy, be sure that each of you are close. If you're spending part of your dive having to swim to get to each other, most divers usually kick faster than required at that time, and you're wasting gas...!!!

or even better, stop, and look around...

NO flailing...!!!

When you are ready to look at your instruments, be sure to only look at what you need... if you need to check your SPG, just check the SPG... for those that dive on air-inregrated / compass only integrated computers, pick only one detail to confirm

here's checking your SPG...

here's checking dive computer...

Notice how I didn't hold my breath when I looked. Many divers hold their breath when looking at their instruments

here I am dumping air from drysuit

slow, smooth, and with very little effort...

If you are going to wander around, you'll use more air. When doing your dive plan, plan for air consumption. If you used more, ask yourself why?

When approaching something you want to show others (the size of the Sunflower Starfish to my hand), get neutrally buoyant first, then approach the object, and then use your breath to adjust ascending or descending.

Breathing is important, but is should be smooth and regular... Look at the bubbles and how regular they are and the sizes they are.

When I'm diving, I'm in the zone...!!! Always the most relaxed and never in a hurry for the dive to end. If your dive is going to end too soon, plan for another dive...

18 seconds... 3 breaths...
1 breath every six seconds
10 breaths per minute = super relaxed
12-20 breaths per minute is usually normal

here's the other side...

If you have to or want to turn, learn to use your fins and perform the helicopter technique...

Lastly, be sure to get your weight right... you only need enough weight or ballast to decend at the beginning of your dive.

If you're in a drysuit, a couple extra pounds is okay, but if you're adding extra weight so you can add extra air, it will add up.

While some may disagree, if you're in a drysuit, only use your drysuit for buoyancy. When you have too much squeeze, it's not comfortable, and if you don't have any squeeze and still sinking, you're overweighted... After all, "Who's the barber, here!"

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My response to NAUI Dive Team Report 10/26/2017 Podcast...

I'm not sure if "Culture" is the correct way to define what's the issue at hand and what needs to be changed. You mentioned that "the educator is up against cheap and quick." I think that's the real problem. It's not that the industry necessarily wants it that way, but somewhere, someone thought that's what the consumer wanted, and did everything to convince them of it. Now, everyone thinks it's this way -- the industry promotes it that way. I believe that it doesn't have to be done like this. The reason NAUI excels in the marketplace is specifically because, the other agencies can't compete with us. They won't do work, they won't put in the time, and they often believe that a dive shop or dive equipment is the gateway to diving that all divers need. As we all know, certification cards and fancy gear doesn't create divers... Diving and dive education does. Alex Byrlske said it best, "Certification alone does not guarantee competence." NAUI's educational process and giving the instructor the flexibility to meet the needs of each student is how we will always come out on top. But, there is a piece of the existing ideology that must be changed, and that is that the student should be lead to believe that by the end of their initial course that they are better than they are. Some students are even lead to believe that they have mastered their skills after their initial certification dives. Because of this, continuing education is minimal and refresher courses allow the card holder to not practice with regularity because two hours in the pool is what they are being allowed to pay for after years away from diving. That doesn't mean that I'll never cut the proverbial "umbilical cord" from my students and set them off on their own, rather it means that I have to give them a better set of tools to use by the time that happens. I allude to this by something I hear instructors in the Pacific Northwest tell their students. "If you can dive here, you can dive anywhere." Not only is that not true, but often those students that enter the warm, clear, tropical waters are worse off than prior to their first pool session. The statement is only true when the diver takes the skills they learned in the Pacific Northwest and applies them at and during their tropical dive destination, not because of their arrival. I've seen a lot of instructors that swim the swim, but don't dive the dive -- and they're very often not NAUI instructors. Training isn't about performing a skill, it's understanding why we do the skill the way we do... Training is knowing (among several other things) that a diver's instruments doesn't tell them how long, how deep, how much, and how not to, but confirms the actions and information that they should already know. The best instrument the diver should always take with them over all others is that grey matter between their ears. Their instructors are teaching that, right? One definition of "Culture" I found is "the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts." This would be synonymous with a stating and believing that graduating from law school and medical school creates lawyers and doctors all the while never conceding that some people are terrible orators (able to tell a convincing story) and others have terrible interpersonal relationship skills (have a good bedside manner). What I believe has to change are the agency's "just culture." It's time to hold organizations accountable for poorly designed systems. We need to create a "Brand." Be what the student thinks of when they tell others about scuba. If we don't build relationships, scuba will fail. We need to rethink scuba because for every educator, scuba is not a sport, but a lifestyle, way of life, catharsis, and connection to a bigger and greater world. "The Brand" is the student's perception of their instructor and what they learned. Someone that gets them, didn't pressure them, that coached them, that motivated them to build the confidence they always had, to express the competence we believe they're capable of. When the customer becomes the student, then the student becomes the diver, and the diver manages the intangible, anything is possible. "Brand” is not just an offer for service or just running a business, but showing them how to do something they've never done before and helping them to learn to trust themselves over that internal voice telling them to bolt to the surface. A diver, stops, breathes, thinks, then acts... a c-card holder does not. In all, some of this may sound beyond the scope of teaching someone how to scuba dive, but...

"The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership."
--Harvey S. Firestone

Monday, October 23, 2017

My Octopus Project... Octo on top of an empty Moon Snail shell.

The medium is an air drying porcelain like material that doesn't need to be baked. White clay, basically...

Haven't decided if I'll paint it or not yet.

#scuba #octopus #GiantPacificOctopus #modelingclay #octonation #sculpture #artisticimpression

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Scuba Diving featuring "I'm An Albatraoz" by AronChupa

Pumpkin Spice Scuba Diving featuring "I'm An Albatraoz" by AronChupa

be sure to listen with the volume all the way up and the bass kickin' !!!

#dancemix #pumpkinspice #albatraoz #aronchupa #timeoftheseason

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Where do you wear your snorkel?

Where do you wear your snorkel?

Do you even wear one?

#snorkel #doyouwearasnorkel

Why you should learn how to scuba dive... Life is too short...

"Every dive is a dream come true."

#learntoscubadive #whydive #learntodive #lifeistooshort #dreamdive #bucketlist #dreamsdocometrue #life0001

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A video collage of recent creatures I dove with and an UNIDENTIFIED spec...

A video collage of recent creatures I dove with and an UNIDENTIFIED species of crab

I added some stills of the unknown crab species... maybe someone will know what it is. That footage starts at 04:16:00

#videocollage #unknownspecies #lingcod #diamondbacknudibranch #newspeciesofcrab #hoodsportwa #pugetsound #sunrisemotel

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sea Cucumbers engaging in things sea cucumbers do...

...and why are they called cucumbers of the sea? if anything looked so different from a cucumber, these guys would be it!


Painted Greenling

I love seeing these little fish. They don't have a swim bladder so they jump from spot to spot...


Alabaster nudibranch with a touch of golden hues...

aka Golden Dirona
#goldendirona #nudibranch

Sea anemone eating jellyfish... Mmmmm...!!! That's good eatin'

A short video of an anemone eating a jellyfish that I recorded during the week at Sunrise Motel & Dive Resort with students...

#jellyfish #seaanemone #anemoneeatingjellyfish

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Sailfin Sculpins are out in force! #pugetsound #sailfinsculpin #hood...

my favorite fish in the puget sound... i love seeing them swimming along and their dorsal fin waving in the water!

Tina and Mai begin their scuba diving certification...

Sunrise Motel & Dive Resort
Hoodsport, Washington
Puget Sound
Open Water Weekend...
to be continued...

#oww #openwaterweekend #pugetsound #sunrisemotel #newstudents #scubacertification

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Private Scuba Instruction vs Group Classes / Read by Computer Generated ...

If you don't like the narration, you can read it here

"Who's the Barber, here?"

The questions and a discussion...

What’s the difference between private instruction and group classes?

How much are group classes versus independent instruction?
Are there any costs not included with this payment?
Do you have a student agreement?

Group classes aren't always less expensive and private instruction is not always more expensive...

Who's going to be your instructor?

Will my instructor be female or male?

Does it matter which certification agency the dive shop or the instructor teaches through?

How deep will the certification be good to?

Are my skill transferable to another agency?

Are there any skills not taught by this agency?

Will my certification require certification dives?

How many certification dives are required?

Will I be certified to dive autonomously or only under direct supervision from a dive professional?

Is any equipment required to be purchased?

What is the transfer process from junior diver to autonomous diver?

Ask the instructor if they are affiliated with a dive shop or are independent...

Does the instructor pay their own insurance or does the shop?

Do you get an hourly wage, commission, or salary?

Will anyone be assisting in the training and what are their qualifications?

How long has the instructor been diving?

How many dives have they logged?

Where have they done most of your diving?

What other qualifications do they have?

If the dive shop offers training from various training agencies, what standards are followed?

Does everyone pass?

If a student doesn't pass, what happens?

Learn to dive for yourself, not be pressured into learning for another...

Who's the Barber, here?

Will the student get an opportunity to do a dive with just their dive buddy after completion of the last cert dive?

Are you building a dive community that I can be a part of?

What is different between the Junior Diver and Autonomous Diver programs?

How many children will be in the water at any one time when teaching Junior Divers?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Dive guide repeatedly punches shark and drags other by its tail in front...

I will do everything I can to regularly tell people, divers, and tourists interested in the Bahamas to avoid Stuart Cove until that man is put in prison...!!!

VIDEO: Angry diving guide repeatedly PUNCHES shark and drags another by its tail in front of horrified tourists in Bahamas

A witness claimed the guide told onlookers he was demanding 'fucking respect' from the gentle sharks after the incident was captured on underwater footage



Feed this guy to the sharks...!!!

Scuba diving allows divers to connect with marine ecosystems in a peaceful and respectful manner. Those who engage in underwater diving are guests in the homes of various marine life. And if you were visiting someone’s home, you wouldn’t punch them in the face, right? Apparently, this dive guide in the Bahamas would.

In the video above, the hostile guide notices a group of nurse sharks trying to eat from a bait box that he’d failed to close properly. He approaches the fish and can be seen viciously punching one shark multiple times. Later on, he appears to throw a different shark out of the way and pull another by the tail. Dive participants look on in horror as he continues to punish the gentle sharks for his own mistake.

The horrifying incident was caught on camera by Nicholas Jones, one of the dive participants. According to one witness, the guide later said that “he was demanding ‘fucking respect’ from the gentle sharks,” although onlookers seemed unimpressed. Jones told the Daily Mirror that “the guide did not lock the bait box properly twice and proceeded to punish the sharks for their innate ability and natural reaction to accessible food on a shark-feeding dive.”

#sharks #stuartcove #diveguidepunchesshark #sharkdive #scuba #scubadiving #bahamas

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Private Scuba Instruction vs. Group Classes: Some insights, questions, and considerations... Which one do you choose?

Private Instruction vs. Group Classes

The questions...

  • What’s the difference between private instruction and group classes?
  • How much are group classes versus independent instruction?
  • Are there any costs not included with this payment?
  • Do you have a student agreement?
  • Group classes aren't always less expensive and private instruction is not always more expensive...
  • Who's going to be your instructor?
  • Will my instructor be female or male?
  • Does it matter which certification agency the dive shop or the instructor teaches through?
  • How deep will the certification be good to?
  • Are my skill transferable to another agency?
  • Are there any skills not taught by this agency?
  • Will my certification require certification dives?
  • How many certification dives are required?
  • Will I be certified to dive autonomously or only under direct supervision from a dive professional?
  • Is any equipment required to be purchased?
  • What is the transfer process from junior diver to autonomous diver?
  • Ask the instructor if they are affiliated with a dive shop or are independent...
  • Does the instructor pay their own insurance or does the shop?
  • Do you get an hourly wage, commission, or salary?
  • Will anyone be assisting in the training and what are their qualifications?
  • How long has the instructor been diving?
  • How many dives have they logged?
  • Where have they done most of your diving?
  • What other qualifications do they have?
  • If the dive shop offers training from various training agencies, what standards are followed?
  • Does everyone pass?
  • If a student doesn't pass, what happens?
  • Learn to dive for yourself, not be pressured into learning for another...
  • Who's the Barber, here?
  • Will the student get an opportunity to do a dive with just their dive buddy after completion of the last cert dive?
  • Are you building a dive community that I can be a part of?
  • What is different between the Junior Diver and Autonomous Diver programs?
  • How many children will be in the water at any one time when teaching Junior Divers?


As I write this outline first, and as always happens, trying to create a 5 or 10 minute video ends up having a life of it's own. I could always limit what I want to deliver to those that might read or watch this later but I think of the videos like I do my education. Quality always comes first! Content will never be taken out in order to fit in more people.

I understand that many reading or watching feel they are pressed for time. However, please consider that you don't know what you don't know and when it comes to breathing underwater, sometimes that extra time one didn't invest could be the wrong decision. Scuba after all is inherently dangerous... Learn to be a great diver from the beginning!

I received my certification from a dive instructor that owned a little shop in Las Vegas. When I walked in and told him that I wanted to learn how to dive, I actually believe he was surprised. I've found that many dive shop owners are retired from lengthy careers in other walks of life and are sometimes looking for a quiet place to hang out and occasionally do something to bring in a little cash or at the very least, burn a few hours.

I knew that I was going to into it with an all or nothing attitude, so I even decided to buy equipment. I think that was the biggest surprise to him. So, after I had to convince him to take my money, I got fitted for all the equipment and began my life of scuba! It turned out that there was one other student in my class, but after we finished the program, I never heard from him again.

I didn't seem to get the enthusiasm from him about scuba I wanted so I wandered to another shop and their attitude wasn't much better. They too seemed preoccupied with the things they needed to work on rather than getting to know the customer, the student, build relationships, and didn't really even want to sell me anything.

I ended up only taking one class from them, and moved again. It's at this time that I really started to wonder if scuba divers, dive shops, or instructors actually liked to dive or they were crazy. I think it's no exaggeration to say that dive shop owners are quite an eccentric bunch. Compared to all other businesses, at this point it didn't seem that awkward that I wasn't happy with their business models. This was Las Vegas, after all. Vegas has it's own eccentricities to say the least.

The next shop I went to wasn't PADI. It was SSI (Scuba Schools International) and things started to get better. SSI focused on diving and I got to dive a lot. It was at this shop that I got to do my first 100 dives, earned the rank of Master Diver, went on my first live-aboard in a foreign country, and was introduced to SDI/TDI. I received my SDI Solo Diver certification there which opened up my eyes to the greater world I had yet to explore.

Everyone I met up to this point were all recreational divers and this "technical" arena was interesting. Regrettably, this shop closed as he was really out of the way and I think the general public just didn't want to drive an hour out of town for their scuba needs. The traffic in Vegas was so bad at this point that even this 25 mile trip took over an hour.

Because of my luck with SSI, I found another SSI dive shop and scoped them out for a while. Not only did they love to sell equipment (and take my money), but the instructor was a younger guy like me, in his early 30's and love to dive. He ALSO taught students through "Dive Control Specialist" (Divemaster) AND he taught technical diving.

With the combination of diving, wanting to keep learning, money to burn and a place that was willing to take it, I worked through Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures (my first technical diving courses) and then worked on becoming an instructor. By 2008, I was able to teach and found students on my own here and there. SSI requires their instructors to be associated with a dive shop and they were happy to have me on board.

Being associated with a dive shop wasn't as an employee, rather an opportunity to offer students equipment, education, and a community. The owner of the shop left everything in the hands of his instructor, so our commonalities kept me there for a couple more years.

At this point, Las Vegas had grown to over one million people and was just too big for me. When I first went to Vegas in 1987, it really was a quiet little desert town. I kept the association with that store until it closed and kept my credentials as "inactive" as I knew I had the intention of returning to SSI as some point in the future.

Moving out of Las Vegas, I found myself in Lake Havasu where I spent about a year and a half. The owner of this shop wasn't SSI, and I worked on a cross-over to SDI while I was there. The store owner was the one who continued my technical diving training so I was in good hands and doing what I loved. It was then that I finally got to see the business side of scuba.

Ironically, while I treat scuba as a business today, this was the first time I actually saw what it took to run a successful dive shop. He also did it with an internet presence, an online store, lots of travel to technical dive locations, and ventured into the movie industry support and training for filming that was done underwater. I got to be there and help out on the first project, "Piranha 3D." Yep, that's the one!

My father's health was declining at that point so I made my way to New Mexico to spend time with him during his last year. A little over a year later I was itching for being part of a diving community again so I found Portland, Oregon. I had never thought about the Pacific Northwest, but the cooler weather, cold water, and lower visibility waters was the kind of diving that I was used to.

I had to reactivate my SSI certifications and upon doing so, I was thrust head first into deep water. It's at this point that something seemed contrary to all the training, experiences, and personal insights of my first four years of diving and education. Rather than go into the story and account of what it was like to work full-time in a dive shop and what I liked and disliked about it, I'll present the rest of this commentary as questions to and insight into training, education, certification, and what lead me to being an independent scuba diving instructor only after two years.

Building a business from the ground up, teaching divers to dive, and helping to build a community has been a lot of work, but it has been the greatest undertaking I've ever began and know it will continue forever.

So, lets start in the beginning...

What’s the difference between private instruction and group classes? Let me qualify each first. For the most part, I teach the individual or maybe a couple on their schedule and according to their timeline. The student will expect that I will be with them from beginning to end, but I think the true delineation ends up being that in private instruction, everyone knows each other while in group classes, it is possible that everyone does not.

While one could say that those taking group classes will probably be friendly or amicable and continue their associations with those they learned with, the reality is that a majority of students that finish group classes will never see each other again.

As for what it does for the community, I really think this is a disservice. To this point, even when I incorporate two independent students on an open water weekend that didn't know each other, a large portion end up keeping in touch, becoming good friends and regular dive buddies, but I even have two that became a couple.

The educational process ends up only being the beginning of what the student needs, so I regularly encourage previous students to come to dive excursions, open water weekends, and activities that I bring my students to. This has been particularly easy with social media that I had little to no connection to before going independent.

Very often, private instruction will cost more than group classes. In my experience, private instruction at the dive shop ends up costing the student twice as much. If that instructor is an employee of the dive shop, taking them away from the sales floor can be an inconvenience, so the higher cost is expected.

As an independent instructor, I don't have the overhead that a dive shop does. So in this regard, I can actually charge the rates that most dive shops charge for group classes as I don't have floor space, rental equipment, and employees to pay for. With that said, anyone that thinks I don't have access to everything a dive shop has would be incorrect.

Not only do I have access to everything the dive shop does, but I don't have to store it, maintain it, keep an inventory on hand, maintain a pool, pay for employees, and the like... I've developed relationships with dive shops that appreciate that I bring students there to buy equipment that a student might want (mask, snorkel, boots, and fins), but even equipment that they just need to rent.

With the ability to choose any dive shop, I truly believe that this is a resource that the independent instructor has not been utilized fully in. With cheap equipment available on the internet, the dive shop could be skipped all together. There are even dive destinations that have their own air compressors and teaching only one or two at a time means that I could provide all the equipment and keep the rental fees for myself. There is a reason I don't do this that I'll address below.

Additionally, group classes aren't always less expensive. That's right. I try to teach 3-4 students a month. When I only get one or two, I can offer a discount for a reluctant or perspective student to sign up right now and join my existing class. Not only do they still get great education and individual attention, but they saved a few dollars and I made more than I would have if I hadn't made the offer.

Group classes from dive shops typically will never reduce the price of group classes as their margins are already pretty low if non-existent. A dive shop can't afford to pay the student to learn especially if that student doesn't buy any equipment. Think of the private instructor like the gas station you just pulled into and then notice that the gas station across the street is 25 cents less per gallon.

Are you going to drive over? Perhaps... There are limits that I too can't drop my rates below, but as an independent instructor, being flexible has its rewards. Perhaps I'll make it up on the referral from a friend and the hopes are always that the diver thinks of me when they are ready to continue their diving education.

Developing a relationship with a dive shop has advantages for a new diver as well. If you want to buy equipment, the internet is not always the best deal. Ironically, even after showing students and divers new equipment in a dive shop, many still buy online because they have the expectation that the internet is always less expensive.

For what it's worth, the major manufacturers often set minimum prices that dealers cannot sell equipment below. This minimum advertised prices helps to create a level playing field between all merchants. But in reality, one usually never gets what they paid for when buying online.

If you are replacing a hard to find item that fits you perfectly and you can't find locally, the internet is a viable and practical option. However, the dive shop has a person to help you with sizing, features, benefits, and options. The internet can only give you all the information. While some websites have filters that help to clarify options side by side, if you walked into a dive shop that had hundreds of options, making the best choice for your needs doesn't come easily.

The dive shop employee sells equipment because it keeps the doors open, but most are divers and want you to be in equipment that is best for you, the diving you want to do, works at your current experience level, AND if by chance you have any problems with it, you can get local feedback and assistance with it. While some internet merchants have better customer service than others, you are anonymous and if they lose you, someone will be right behind you to take your place.

One other thing, I strongly discourage anyone from going into a dive shop, trying on equipment, getting that advice and then going online to buy it. The time that was spent on you wasn't free. In fact, it was a service that cost that shop time and money. Their time is just as valuable as yours and while it's included when you buy something, when you go elsewhere just to try to save a couple dollars, that local business struggles to survive.

Additionally, once you have an issue with that equipment you bought online, going into that shop and asking for help rather than contacting the place you bought isn't free either.

There are dive shops out there that will encourage you to buy equipment that is beyond your needs or abilities. No one likes getting the "used car salesman" runaround or feel like they have sucker written across their forehead. Perhaps some of the insights I'll continue to talk about below will help with a continued differentiation between going to a dive shop or not.

Who's going to be your instructor? Interestingly enough, I've had people that want to meet me before signing up. In part, it could be that buyers are worried about turning over money to an individual they don't know, but having a store front doesn't guarantee you won't get ripped off.

All you have to do is check out yelp, google, or trip adviser for reviews and you'll find plenty of brick and mortars that are untrustworthy. Turnover is a consideration as well. When a dive shop is only ran by the owner, it's likely you see them through the educational and certification process. Dive shops with employees are all together a whole another animal. I know of a local dive shop that has had 20 employees over the last 10 years and I'm NOT exaggerating.

Sometimes students will have an instructor that teaches the educational portion, a different that teaches the pool work, and still a third that takes you to open water. It's difficult to build a report with someone you just met. Report is built when you've spent time with that same instructor during the entire process.

One of the most frustrating parts of a dive shop with employees is when you get different answers from different people. While each case is unique, I don't know anyone that doesn't get frustrated when getting more than one answer or different information from within the same business. That definitely breaks down one's confidence in a business that doesn't stay consistent.

I think their are some valid considerations about meeting an instructor before hand, but it is amazing how quickly one's general opinion about someone's commitment can change in an instant. A full-time instructor that has to keep getting up to answer the phone or dealing with new customers walking through the front door is frustrating.

Americans are notoriously impatient. While we know that waiting occurs everywhere and in every business, when we are not the center of attention, it is disconcerting. It does beg the question if that instructor could be as easy distracted with a group of eight in open water. Being able to deal with changing conditions is a trait of a good instructor. Changing conditions in the water is a given. How was it handled? You decide...

Will you get a female or male instructor, can you choose, and does it matter? Teaching styles aside, people learn as differently as differently as people teach. I can only go from my personal educational experiences coming from all male instructors, but there are some personality traits that are unique to men and women.

I have been privileged to dive with women that for all intents and purposes were far better divers than men. One could generalize and say that women are less likely to take risks and men are likely to approach risk but again, that is only a generalization. I've seen women engage in dangerous dive practices as I've also had a women ask me to change the standards for them (skip a particular skill).

I don't change my standard for anyone, even junior divers. Kids do the same program I offer the adults, outside of depth constraints. I can't really help one decide if they should choose a male or female instructor, but definitely try to choose someone with as much experience as you can afford. In any activity with inherent risks, experience should take precedence over gender. If all things are equal, flip a coin.

As of today, there are over 150 different certifying agencies around the world encompassing "cave diving, commercial diving, recreational diving, technical diving and freediving." For the most part, a solid 25 of them that issue certifications on a regular and ongoing basis. Does it matter which certification agency the dive shop or the instructor teach through? That's a tough one to answer.

Anyone certified in a particularly agency is invested in them with time, money, effort, and sometimes a little pain. This COULD matter as the resulting certification will be issued BY that agency. Often, one will only end up seeing differences upon going to another agency. Many say that it's not the agency, it's the instructor that matters, but that is not totally or completely accurate, either.

As an new diver, most take that new certification and focuses on diving to build skills and confidence. Different agency's certifications hold different qualifications, depth limits, skill requirements, and some even require more dives or even re-certification -- yes, it will expire. When it comes to any particular agency, it's important to plan ahead and ask yourself if you think you will continue with additional scuba diving education and training.  

Here are some questions to ask:
How deep will the certification be good to?
PADI Open Water is 60ft... NAUI, SSI, and SDI is 100ft...
Are my skill transferable to another agency?
A PADI Open Water diver is not ready for a "Deep Diver" specialty...
Are there any skills not taught by this agency?
NAUI teaches diver recovery at the Open Water level...
Will my certification require certification dives?
NAUI requires dives for Nitrox Diver certification...
How many certification dives are required?
I require 5 dives, the 5th being independent of the instructor, and GUE requires 6. Junior divers often require more. My experience is between 5 and 8 dives to satisfactorily meet my standards, complete all the skills, but everyone is unique...
Will I be certified to dive autonomously or only under direct supervision from a dive professional?
Almost all agencies issue "Passport Diver" cards that allow the diver to dive with an instructor but not with a dive buddy...
Is any equipment required to be purchased?
My course require the student to own some things, some shops will rent everything and some shops require purchases as well...
What is the transfer process from junior diver to autonomous diver?
Every agency is different, some not being skills based -- they just order a new card. In my opinion, skills should be reevaluated and more training provided prior to receiving a new certification...

If the dive shop offers training from various training agencies, what standards are followed? If the student is having problems with skills in one, will they be allowed to change to the other agency to pass? Is the student only getting the minimum standards needed to pass or are they required to go above and beyond the course work?

It is only a matter of time before the necessity for advanced skills are required by the novice diver. Cutting corners only makes the outcomes worse. These questions are important because it is very often the case that the student believes that once they pay, they get certified. Many often believe that once you pay, if you want to quit, you are entitled to a refund since you didn't finish.

Some shouldn't dive. It has to be a given that everyone cannot get the gold medal and there has been a precedence of sports for children giving awards and recognition to everyone that participated. This expectation of entitlement is not only dangerous, but it fails to account for the confidence, competence, motivation and physical ability of the one that wants to go scuba diving.

Ask the instructor if they are affiliated with a dive shop or are independent? Why does this matter? Several reasons, but a major concern is who pays for their professional liability insurance and is the insurance only valid while they are employed or associated?

While many states protect employee's rights, right to work states or contract employees (those that receive a 1099), losing one's professional liability insurance coverage can be devastating in the event of a claim against an instructor. If an instructor is terminated from their position within a dive business, when does their insurance lapse?

What if they are laid off? While insurance is often there to protect the business and instructor, without insurance, a fatality may cause a financial hardship to the diver's family if they were the sole bread winner. While most cases revolve around negligence, many cases settle out of court prior to any finding or conclusion.

What happens if that association is terminated, changes, or if they go out of business? The YMCA used to teach and certify divers but YMCA Scuba no longer exists... Before electronic records were kept, paper records and the subsequent database of associated certifications was the only way to confirm the completion of a program if a diver lost their certification card.

Where does the paperwork go when the business closes? Independent instructors keep their own paperwork until which a length of time has passed and it can be destroyed. Is a business an entity or non-living person be required to do the same?

If that instructor is an employee of a dive shop, ask them if they are on commission or have a sales goal? While commission and sales goals are not a reflection of one's integrity, a negative connotation still exists when one will financially gain above and beyond an hourly wage or salary. I've known people who's limits of integrity changed when it came to paying their bills or putting food on the table.

How many people do you know that put integrity before family or paycheck? Unscrupulous behaviors exist in all professions and everyone deserves to get paid for the work they do. I make it a point to let every student know that I do not work for a dive shop, I am not compensated by them if I bring them customers, and I do not expect favors in any capacity for doing so.

I do tell them that I would love a referral or for them to tell others, friends, and family and that I would love to teach them (and collect payment from them for those services). Nepotism and favoritism within businesses happen. However, big business has a reputation that small business often doesn't. The nuances of business relationships between businesses is complex, but when nefarious practices occur, the customer is often the one that loses.

"Who's the Barber, here?" Will the shop owner ask their instructor to do things, cut corners, or get everyone certified or they'll jump in and do it for them. When this occurs, very often new instructors place employment over common sense but more to the fact, instructors think that there is a hierarchy where skills continue to improve and that past experience is always indicative of future performance or worse yet, outcome. "This is the way I've done it for 30 years," "this is the way it's always been done," and statements like, "it's my way or the highway" only put the student in harms way and only for one reason -- money.

Standards change, equipment changes, technology changes, scientific discoveries emerge, teaching modalities change (online education) and one has to change with the times. That doesn't mean that one can't incorporate the aspects of an earlier time that worked well and modify it to help the student become a better diver.

One thing that I seen in group classes that doesn't occur in private instruction is the fact that, "Nobody ever falls asleep at Starbucks!" Classrooms are not the best place to learn as its has been said that the office is the worst place to work. I once asked a shop owner what to do if a student falls asleep, and his response was, do nothing -- don't wake them up.

I love to teach at Starbucks. Starbucks isn't about coffee, and while they serve it, they serve a brand. One goes to Starbucks to work, commune, take a break, focus, and get things done. Hence, why I tell my students that all of our educational review is done at a Starbucks. The workplace, one's home, and even classrooms are full of distractions that take away from the learning experience.

Because there is a level of background noise already at Starbucks, the student has to focus on the tasks at hand and what they learn. It also gives everyone an opportunity to take a break, get something to eat, go to the bathroom, all without feeling that the education process is being interrupted.

Group classes also have the additional issue of the lack of cohesion. I've seen how students in a group course sit together, fail to interact, follow the instructor around and fail to become part of the diving community. Not only have I seen students that were alone during their training, but they felt alone.

Instruction that is not inclusive means that even though your body is there, your mind is not. With this fact, I prefer private instruction, I keep the diver engaged the whole day in the pool and at open water weekend. I tell students that this time is the only opportunity I have to teach you what you need to know.

I even offer every student the option to just take me with them to all their tropical dive destinations (all expenses paid, of course), where I'll do all the work for them, set up all their gear, show them all the best dives sites and all the cool critters, but to this day, no one has ever taken me up on this offer. It's also why I make it mandatory that we do a deep dive (60ft-100ft, the "deep boats") or that the students go out on their own as a buddy team after the certifications dives are complete.

When the instructor is there, we are a crutch to them. An autonomous certified diver is such because they are ready to dive without the instructor! If any instructor thinks that a diver needs more time or should seek out a dive guide on their trip, they shouldn't award that certification card!

Children are a parent's pride and joy -- most of the them; most of the time! LOL... With that said, why would anyone allow their children to get mediocre training or just the required amount? Does any parent tell their kids to grow up and go out there and just be adequate or average?

While there are other factors that apply here, children deserve the best education possible. They deserve all the attention when in the water, and not because they need attention (most are better divers than their parents) but I have an obligation to bring them back to their parents just as much as I have an obligation to bring their parents back to them!

I don't consider teaching divers how to use this equipment about just checking off boxes on the student's training record. It is because of this that I want students to truly understand the value of what they are buying from me, but what they are getting for their investment.

When you finally get to in-water activities, who is going to help out during the course? Will it be an assistant instructor or Divemaster that teaches you and the instructor will supervise or will you learn from the instructor directly? There are a lot of differences between assistants, helpers, associates, Divemasters, and even how long they've been teaching.

If you are in a group course and it's filled to capacity, what is that capacity that standards allow for? What happens if someone in the group needs help? Who goes to help them or does the instructor have to pass and move to the next student in order to keep everyone moving along?

It is inevitable that differences in ability will occur and does that mean when one in a group has issues, the group then is taught to the lowest common denominator rather than to the highest? When a group consists of family members or people that know each other, it is very likely that taking extra time to get everyone to the same place is not met with frustration or ambivalence. If one with issues within the group needs extra help, will they have to pay for the extra attention or is it included?

When it comes to teaching, I have a personal bias to being an independent instructor, because I am one, but it's not just because that's how I make my money. I've seen first hand that teaching groups in the Pacific Northwest is NOT the same as teaching groups elsewhere.

It's inevitable that if one has to split their time between others, each diver gets less time with the professional. There are some activities that individual attention is not necessary, but in a diver's early experiences in the water, giving them less time is not one of them. Similarly, if you ask other dive professionals if group classes produce the same quality of diver as does private instruction, there can only be one answer -- it doesn't -- and if they say that it is how do they quantify it?

In all fairness, I will teach a full group, 8 students in a classroom, but only up to 4 in the pool at any one time, and I only take 2 divers out in open water at any one time until additional groups of buddy teams skills are sufficient to meet my standards and the needs of that group. Most of the time, it just does not work.

At first, I offer students the opportunity to go out together but when I tell them what is required to make larger dive groups a success, when it doesn't happen, no one has an issue sitting out until we return. The easiest way to decide that more than two divers is practical is if you can see them and how long it takes to get to them if they need help. When visibility can be 1 foot in the Puget Sound, just seeing the person on each side of myself is hard enough; forget about seeing the students on outside of each student next to me... Impossible!

So, if you have the opportunity to talk to each instructor, here are some questions to ask them, personally:

How long has the instructor been diving?
Everyone has to start somewhere, but since some agencies allow instructors to enter instructor training with as little as 40 dives, how experienced are they really?
How many dives have they logged?
It's not just about doing dives, but documenting dives that anyone can see! Diving often and regularly builds confidence through competence!
Where have they done most of their diving?
Those that teach in warm, tropical, and calm waters are not the same as learning in the Puget Sound. The students that come out of each are not the same IF they don't use the skills they learned and bring them to the new dive site...
What other qualifications do they have?
Rounded experiences help to teach one to deal with situations that may not occur in an average recreational setting...

There may come a point in time where the student is uncomfortable with what the in the instructor is asking them to do? It's not that they are asking them to do skills outside of the scope of the training they are taking, but one sometimes the student just can't build up the momentum to do the required skill when asked.

Running out of air doesn't slowly present itself and requires one to be ready for it. Being ready to do a skill and performing it, even with difficulty, is different than building up the courage or "psyching" oneself up to do a skill. Inexperienced instructors often fail to require the student to step up to what is required in an autonomous diver.

Sometimes, divers just want to just try it and see if they like it? It is understandable that there are always a group that wants to cross off something on their "bucket list" but when the student has no intention of continuing their training, what is the student's goal for completing the course?

Everyone should push their limits a little bit everyday but limits must be tempered by knowing when too much, too far, and too fast is at hand. If the trained instructor can't see that diving is not right for them, the student definitely won't. Many also learn to scuba dive so they can do it with a partner, spouse, or friends. Those are admirable goals, but very often people push others into areas that they are truly not capable of doing, should be doing, or just don't want to do.

The last thing you need to do is get everything in writing. Make sure you get a copy of the student agreement / instructor agreement and a breakdown of all the fees and charges one can, will be, or is responsible for.

"Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten." 
                                                    --Aldo Gucci

#privatelessons #grouplessons #privateclasses #groupclasses #scubadivinglessons #privateinstructor #differences #privateorgroup #scuba #jcaelitescuba #questionstoaskinstructors #padi #naui #sdi #ssi #padivs"

"How to choose a scuba diving instructor?"
"How to choose a dive shop?"
"What is the difference between private lessons and group lessons?"
"What is the difference between scuba diving agencies?"
"Which scuba diving agency should I choose?"
"Should I go to a dive shop or find a private scuba instructor?"
"Should you trust your scuba diving instructor?"
"Do I need to buy scuba diving equipment?"
"How much should scuba diving lessons cost?"

Sailfin Sculpin are one of my favorite fish in the Puget Sound...

#scuba #sailfinsculpin #sculpin #pugetsound #nightdive #sunrisemotel