Confessions of a Divemaster: Your Scuba Instructor Wants to Drown You


Your divemaster may secretly hate you (Photo: Thinkstock)

By Bill Fink

Want to know what a resort staff really thinks after they’ve been asked the same dumb question for the 100th time? Or what they say when a tourist ignores key safety advice? On one tropical island, a popular beachfront resort we’ll call “Aqualand” has hosted thousands of snorkelers and scuba divers over the years. Unfortunately not all of these visitors have been very bright or polite. Behind the counter at the “Aqualand” dive shop, they kept a secret book where they wrote down the worst customer questions, the most cringeworthy requests, and some of the staff’s snarkiest, most smart-ass responses. Only after swearing me to secrecy did they let me page through the book. And now, years later, released to the public for the first time, the staff confessions from the Aqualand Dive Shop.


“Aqualand’s” secret book (Photo: Bill Fink)

Dumbest Dive Questions


You know that phrase, “There are no dumb questions?” Yeah… that’s not true for scuba diving (Photo: Thinkstock)

- “Is the ocean always this salty?”

- “So when it’s low tide on one side of the island, that means it’s high tide on the other side, right?”

- “With night dives, do we get a light, or do we make our way ‘round by feel?”

- “What island is that?” [Pointing to the shore they had just departed from one minute before]

- “Can I scuba on the surface?”

- “Do you get your saltwater from there?” [Pointing to the ocean]

Watch: Scuba Diving Cat

On Fitting a Wetsuit


Attractive divers: Beware of leering scuba instructors (Photo: Getty Images)

- Women take note: “We always try to put good-looking women in a wetsuit that was one, maybe two sizes too small. The front zip would NEVER stay up once it was wet, but we always assured them it would be more comfortable after it had been used a couple of times.”

- Staffers take note: “We gave one particularly attractive woman a suit that needed re-stitching, and it fell apart under pressure on the boat. Unfortunately for us, she was a travel reviewer, who was also married to the resort General Manager.”

Related: Stalk the Reefs With Google Maps for Under the Sea

- Customer: “You need to tell me everything to do to get ready.”

Staffer: “OK. Start by putting on the wetsuit.”

Customer: [Struggles to get it on]

Staffer: “Could you pass me that coat hanger?”

Customer: “I have to take it out of the wetsuit?”

Staffer: “Yes, I think it would be more comfortable that way.”

Customer: [Angry] “I told you to tell me EVERYTHING!”

Staff Responding to Guests


Here’s a new scuba term to know: “dilligaf” (Photo: Thinkstock)

- “Some guests pester and pester the whole trip on the tiniest things: ‘There’s a smudge on my mask! There’s a smudge on my mask! What do I do?’ I just tell them ‘Dilligaf,’ like it’s a dive term, but it really means ‘Do I look like I give a f—-?’”

- Guest: “Can’t you remove the birds? They’re too noisy in the morning.”

Staffer: “We sent them all off the island yesterday, but they flew back.”

- Guest in dive shop: “Is this where I get snorkeling gear?”

Staffer: “No, you have to go to the restaurant for that.”

Guest: “Oh right, thanks.”

- Guest: “Did you have a big storm here recently?”

Staffer: “No, the trees are just getting tired and having a little lie-down all over the island.”

Related: Master Scuba Trainer Reveals the Most Dangerous Dives in the World

- Dealing with difficult customers: Away from the antics of the dive-shop guys, I asked a sweet, smiling Swedish instructor if she ever had problems with guests. “No, it is all fine,” she said. She hesitated and then added in a soft voice, “But sometimes I must leave the dive boat, walk along the beach, and count 1…2…3…4…5… This is efficient way to deal with stress.”

-Safety first:One divemaster told me: “I became known for my catchphrase ‘Get the f—- off my boat.’ This was aimed at people who decided safety and listening to instructions were optional. Standing on coral, not following the guide on dives, touching the wildlife, surfacing with zero air in the tank, all valid reasons for getting my catchphrase.”

Resort Responding to Staff: The ‘NBO’


Getting amorous with an attractive scuba student is a great way for an instructor to get NBO-ed (Photo: Thinkstock)

If dive guides or any staff members misbehaved too much, they’d be “NBO-ed” — i.e., fired and sent away on the Next Boat Off the island. NBO-level activities included ignoring safety protocol, being excessively and repeatedly rude, getting sloppy drunk, or getting caught hooking up with a guest in the guest’s room or in staff quarters. “But the beach is fair game,” said one staffer with a wink.

Mind the Jewelry


You’ll never wear jewelry on a scuba dive after reading this (Photo: Getty Images)

“One time we were on the snorkeling boat, and a guest was getting ready to get in. She was holding the side of the boat, and as she leapt in, her wedding ring jammed in the door, but she kept going. She de-gloved her left ring finger to the bone, and both her wedding ring and engagement ring fell into 30 feet of water. She was helicoptered to hospital. We returned to the area on a day off and found both rings, which we returned to her. Dunno where she wears them now, though.”

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