When the currents are slack, what do you do? Apparently our divemaster thought finning hard to see the entire reef was a good option.
We were diving with Sand Dollar, and I would not recommend anyone else do the same. The guy we thought was the deck hand (but not dressed to do any in-water rescues) was probably the boat owner, because he was more concerned with my two-band BC damaging his plastic retaining clip that with my gear falling over. I think he came along to make sure the DM didn’t mess up his boat.
As soon as we set our gear down, the deckhand (or assistant captain or whatever he was), M unzipped my husband’s dive bag and started to grab his gear to set it up, and seemed annoyed when asked to stop. They kept wanting to set up my gear too.
The DM’s housekeeping was not good—he was apportioning out weights, dropping a pile of weight belts on the floor as he gave each person weights. My niece asked for 4 pounds and he gave her 6 and seemed reluctant to change it. I was trying to step toward my gear and the DM wandered into my path without noticing me and crowded me so I stepped back. An unsecured tank had rolled out from under a bench into the spot where I had just been standing and I schwacked my ankle on the valve – have a nice souvenir bruise and pain from that. Why was there an unsecured tank there anyway?
The dive briefing was conducted over the roar of the engine as we headed out, with the DM screaming to be heard but not succeeding. At least we got a gist of the bottom time and depth limits for the dive.
The dive platform was quite small with a narrow place to stand and nothing to hold onto as you stepped onto it. As I started my giant stride, my fin caught on the line causing me to twist. I slammed my shin into something hard and face planted into the water. Fortunately I was OK because I don’t think the DM was paying attention.
On descent, my niece--who had rejected the extra weight--was hovering in the water near her husband who was struggling and motioning for an extra weight, which the DM stuck in his BC. Then the DM offered extra weight her – she shook her head and waved him off, but he shoved an extra weight in her pocket anyway. She hadn’t needed the weight but was simply staying close to her buddy; she was then overweighted and struggled a bit during the dive to compensate.
That seemed to be about the last time the DM paid attention to the divers as he took off and kept a steady, fast pace, usually about 20 feet from the top of the reef—or to the side. I’d call it a drive-by dive. We never stopped finning!
After the first dive, the DM insisted on changing my tank and set up my BC incorrectly. He said he would put it right later but for now, he said, M was afraid he would “break the boat” getting the two-band BC into the clip. However, my husband had already shown him how to make it work by putting a weight under the tank to raise it up. Of course, the DM was starting to kit up for the second dive and I had to remind him to reconfigure my gear (I couldn’t get past him to do it myself anyway).
The second dive was similar to the first, with little to no current. In fact, another group passed us going the opposite direction. My buddy and I saw eels, stonefish, and other things we wanted to show the other divers but everyone was finning too hard to keep up with the DM. Finally, toward the end, our companions said screw this and turned around to see an eel and stonefish. Near the end of the dive, the DM found us a splendid toadfish, which was probably the only time he paid any attention to the divers.
Back on the boat, the DM walked past me, trailing signal sausage and hoses which ended up in my lap. That’s the kind of thing I expect from new divers. One of the divers chatted with the DM who said he had once worked for another shop but implied there were too many rules there. Shocker, that. At least he was a pleasant chap.
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