It was 2017 I was in Panama City beach Florida and my in-laws we’re coming to town to spend a few days in the sunshine and enjoy the beaches. As an experienced diver I insisted them to get certified and we could all go on a diving trip together. After all even though the Gulf of Mexico is mostly a barren desert it does have some great wrecks/man made reefs. They ended up getting certified even my little nephew who was 12 at the time and very inexperienced when it came to salt water. I loved a local dive shop (who will remain nameless for now) to schedule some dives. They seemed professional and had been a long established dive shop in the area so I felt comfortable.
The day of the dive came and most of my in-laws needed to rent gear. This was my first red flag when they were piecing gear together they were extremely unorganized and scattered. They almost left without giving my nephew a bcd. I understood that I needed to pay closer attention to everyone’s gear and make sure everything was operating properly. After packing up all the gear in our own vehicles and driving to the boat we packed everything in and found out that we were just 4 of 12 going on this dive. I took account of everything we had and was a little astounded that no one was keeping track of gear or op testing any of the customers. Most looked in experienced and had just threw stuff around the boat. This was my second red flag.
We continue on by pushing off and in transit for the next few hours. 10 min out they warned us that we were about to hit the dive spot and to get ready. At this time usually a guide or dive supervisor of some sort sits everyone down and gives them parameters and almost all of the time there are multiple guides that watch 3 to 6 guests. We had not talked about anything or to anyone. Being experienced and diving this wreck before in my own I sat them down and told them to stay with me and that we are going to be at 60fsw for about 30 minutes. And then ascend back up together. I was flirting with possibly not letting the lesser experienced people dive. After all they let every customer go down and not one guide was with anyone. The decent line ran up the hull of the boat in 2-3 foot seas. This is not rough by any means but it is if a boat is coming down on you head. I was saddened by the lack of respect for safety and the lack of organization.
The second dive went pretty much same as the first. Except on this one it was only myself and my sister in law that hopped in. I was amazed at how this dive boat was ran. I am surprised that they still to the day have not killed anyone. After that trip I decided to try and build a guide to preparing yourself for dive and to be aware of what it is going on around you. Just because you are diving I the states doesn’t mean that you are safe. I have been diving in third world countries that operate so much more safe and professionally that this company. It is only knowledge that can keep you safe. This blog is dedicated to that. Talking about organization, safety, diving with or without guides. All of this is based off of navy diving practices and is by far some of the safest procedures for diving in general.