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Discussion Starter #1
In order that we may keep a track of diving incidents in chronological order, might I suggest that we post them here?

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Hi Troop,

Just got this from Steph M about an incident at Oban:

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"Hi All, (this will ramble on but it is important)

The story is as follows (I will include the name of the Centre as I think it is important to warn any divers who visit this location to watch out for trainees as safety seems to be of little concern to this school),

Saturday 1st March a large number of divers from our club arrive at Puffin Dive School, Port Gallanach, Oban, with the club boat, the place seems deserted. We launch the boat, unload the kit from the van and carry the tanks to the self service compressor which has 4 banks.

2 folk start to use 2 of the banks to fill tanks while I go off in search of someone to provide us with change for the remainder of the tank fills. Finally I notice a woman through the shop window (which is locked), I wave to her, she waves back then opens the shop door, bars the way and pulls the door behind her.

"What do you want?" she growls at me.

"Sorry to bother you, can we have some change for the compressor?" I reply,

"How much?"

"About £58", Give me your money.". The money is duly offered and is snatched from my hand. "Wait hear!" came the response. She re enters the shop, locking the door behind her. A few minutes later she reappears with the change, hands it to me without a word then closes and relocks the shop door. I head off to the compressor feeling like a child who has just had a scolding from my teacher. We hook 2 tanks up to the unused compressor banks and put in the £2 fee to each bank, the sound of money hitting the concrete floor underneath the bank can be heard, then nothing, no air, no charge, in fact diddley squat. I track down the rude woman, tell her of the problem. She shrugs her shoulders and says "Well it was working earlier." and then sods off back to the shop and locks the door. Great way to treat a customer I thought.

The rest of the Saturday/Sunday was pretty much the same. The Puffin staff were unhelpfull, arrogant and down right rude to every member of our group.

What finally capped off their unprofessional approach to visiting customers happened when we were returning from our second dive of the day on Sunday. We had 5 people in the RIB and were approaching the slipway in the bay that they operate from (bare in mind that this slipway is very frequently used by dive RIBS). The sun was low in the sky and was creating a lot of glare off the waters surface, there was also a light breeze causing the surface of the water to ripple. All this meant that we could only really see into the water for a few feet in front of us. Keeping this in mind both myself and Liam stood at the bow and kept watch while Robert (who was skippering the boat) lined up directly onto the slip, slowed down to less than one knot, put the engine in neutral and raised the outboard virtually clear of the water, allowing only enough water to cover the intakes. As we approached the slip we could just make out the cylinders of 2 divers barely 3 feet in front of us (AT THE FOOT OF THE SLIP in 6 feet of water), not wanting to risk putting the boat into reverse and having a diver surface onto a spinning prop I shouted to Robert to cut the engine which he duly did. We coasted to the waters edge and stopped. One of the divers surfaced and shouted "Watch where your f**cking going", I shouted back, "You are diving a heavily used slipway where is your Surface Marker Buoy?" He replies "I don't need one there is an A flag flying" then promptly sinks back down again. The A flag in question flies 24 hours a day 7 days a week, is non rigid and was wrapped round a pole and had been all weekend so couldn't be described as flying. When he finally came out with his trainee I went down and had a word with him. I couldn't believe my ears when I found out he was an instructor from the centre. He said it was our responsibility to act with due caution, I agreed and told him we did and that it was HIS responsibility to provide adequate marking of where he is when diving in a heavily used boating area, ie a slipway. He told me I was talking crap. At the very least they should have shore cover (someone to warn approaching boats that divers are diving the slip), they didn't. At this point the owner came down and started hurling abuse at us all. For the next hour he picked out each member of our team individually, followed them about as they unkitted hurtling abuse and insults at them, one guy with a Stornaway acsent had a speak defect, our BDO was an auld w*nker, I was an unproffessional as*hole. He was trying to goad one of us into hitting him (he knew his centre had thingyed up and was trying to force us into a rash action in an attempt to discredit us) , when the only girl with us tried to calm things down by suggesting we all took it easy he even went as low as saying she had a facial deformity because she had a lip stud (he's not exactly a handsome guy, at least Beth's "deformity" can be removed, he was born with his). He then called everyone who uses his facilities "a bunch of freeloaders" (we had spent upwards of £100 at his site that day), told us to get off site and never to come back. When we attempted to do this he ordered one of his minions to block the slipway with a Landrover preventing us from getting our boat out the water. When we said that was fine and we would retrieve our boat from another slipway another of his minions blocked the exit road to the site with another Landrover and told us the site was now closed. Again this was another serious breach of HSE regulations, if any divers had needed immediate evacuation from that site to hospital or required an ambulance then the only entry/exit road was blocked. When I asked him why his instructors don't use SMB's, in between the strings of abuse he hurtled at me, he told me that they used to use them but his instructors kept getting tangled up in the lines. NOW IT ALL BECAME CLEAR, HE WAS BREACHING HSE REGULATIONS BECAUSE HIS INSTRUCTORS WERE NOT CAPABLE OF USING BASIC DIVER RECOGNITION EQUIPMENT. Funnily enough as soon as I mentioned that I would be contacting the HSE and PADI to see how they viewed the situation there was an amazing tranformation in his personality. He became very friendly, started laughing and joking with us all, ordered his minions to move the Landys and even offered to take our boat out the water for us, which of coarse we declined.
Needless to say I will be taking this further and won't be back to his centre.

As the dive season kicks off a large number of clubs will visit Puffin Dive Centre and as a "bunch of freeloaders" will needless use his slipway and facilities. Please be aware when boating in this bay that his instructors do not follow HSE guidelines or the recommendations of every dive organisation on this planet (including PADI who they trade under) concerning diving in heavily used waterways and SMB's. This centre are putting the lives of their trainees at risk and trying to blame other for there own failings. The man said it himself, his instructors are incapable of using SMB's.
I feel it necessary to place this warning here as I feel it is the duty of everyone who participates in this sport to try to promote diving in a safe and friendly manner and to highlight the 'Cowboys' out there. After all where would we be if our instructors were as lax as this lot.
PLEASE BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!!!!
 

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I'm no lawyer but I reckon that had a diver/boat collision occurred on an actively used slipway the courts may consider that a lack of "duty of care" by the Instructor in question.

Of course there are two sides to every story but it certainly looks bad for PD on a first read

Steve
 

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DUE CEO, Booking agent, Coffee maker & Dogsbody...
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Steph

Sounds very much like a complete shower running this site, how could anyone even contemplate diving with no marker in such an active boating area.

There was never much chance of me going to this place, but even less now.

Regards

Paul
 

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C-in-C the Amphibious Contingent
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I'll know to avoid that place now.  I'll go to Alchemy Andy's instead.  Or stay with Dave Tye at Glenshalloch/Oban Divers.  They sound a right set of clowns.
 

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What a worry.  Gav and I have used Puffin a couple of times and I have to say that on each occasion I couldn't really find fault with them - and in fact, had a particularly good experience with one of the RIB skippers.  However, we are off to Oban/Mull this w/e and are not diving with them.

I trust the HSE will investigate and take any action necessary.

Fi
 

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Hi Fiona,
            I/We avoid Puffin like the plague now. I have dived from their RIB a few times and had nothing but hassle or bad diving practices from them. We went for a day to do the Hispania/Shuna combination and they drove us straight across the Sound and expected us to jump right in again. The distance for those that don't know is probably about 500yrds. Needless to say we refused and sat on the RIB for a couple of hours in the pi**ing rain and cold. The only thing that they have got is a slip(IMHO) and even this is becoming useless now. If you want to dive the Breda, launch at Fishermens and if you want to dive the Sound, launch at Lochaline. This way your transit times are more than cut in half.

Peter
 

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The scariest thing about all this is that they are *such* a well-known, well-publicised outfit that if you were going to the area without any local knowledge you would be very tempted to pick them.  Their list of quals etc on their website, and the way they describe their business all seems of high standard.

For them to then do such a stupid thing and subsequently react in what seems an almost psychotic manner is so worrying.

I really hope that PADI and the HSE take some action.
 

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Im surprised by this.  As Lou said I thought they were a more professional outfit.  I recall Sport Diver mag using them to qualify a young kiddie for the Master Scuba Diver qual which would seem to give them some degree of credibility.  

Be interesting to see their reaction to all this.
 

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We used Puffing Divers last time in Oban and found them OK.
We dived from their RIB and their Hardboat the Urchin, which is a great boat.

However I always thought next time we would use someone else.

So Peter I`m pleased you booked with another dive boat.

We stayed in Puffins house up the hill in Oban, left pub about 1pm and couldn`t remember where the house was, called a taxi, the driver happened to be Russian.
He said` you divers`
Us `yes but we don`t know where we`re staying`
He said `You Puffin`
Us`Yes`
He said `I know` and took us to our house.

Which we thought was handy because we hadn`t a clue.
We arrived at about 10pm dumped bags and one of the non drinkers drove the minibus to the pub and then went back.
 

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I've seen Steph post on a number of occassions and he's well qualified in diving, so he's no newbie, not that it makes too much difference. There are always 2 sides to any incident and whilst not wishing to detract from what Steph has written has anybody asked Puffin to comment on the incident. They seem a big outfit, as has been acknowledged by a number of people, so I am surprised by this incident. I think it only fair they give their side - perhaps YD could approach them, as we have a large and very vocal membership that needs clarification on this else I'm sure we will ALL avoid them, chances cannot be taken if there is any doubt.
Matt
 

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<font color='#000F22'>I've used Puffin a few times.

No problems - the diving practices were up to standard. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and I really can't complain.

This seems like a bad incident and I'd like to hear their side of the story but if - as I suspect - Puffin don't won't other people's rib's on their slip they should do something about it.

Either charge a launching fee or allow full access with grace.

Would I use them again after hearing this? - I'll wait and see what else emerges.
 

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I've dived oban a lot and have nothing good to say about puffin. It's all about your money with them - if you're not doing a (massively overpriced) course with them you're not welcome. Their attitude stinks. Their repare guys will tell you anything to sell you a part or a fix. I did one course with them (an instructor level one) which I thought was laughable - I learned nothing. And they have a neo-fascist no smoking policy which is quite funny considering what the above post says about their regard for diver safety.

I feel better now.
 

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I have to admit reading the alleged saga with Puffin I could easily visualise it. I think someones perhaps already hit the nail on the head, in that as far as they are concerned it is there own slip ( perhaps it is is it?). If they don't want people to launch and recover boats there then fine they should make it plain and be prepared to accept the loss of custom from the arriving and departing divers and divers will vote with their feet, theres other places in Oban to get a fill established well before puffin.

Puffin advertise a great deal and indeed it seems to be one of PADI's show piece Dive Centres, featuring quite regularly whenever their Journal decides to feature the UK.  I've visited the dive shop half a dozen times in the past and found the staff then friendly and helpful enough I've not been there recently so maybe theres been a change of staff or maybe someone had an off day.  As outlined in the other posts I've also had less than encouraging reports from collegues reqarding their boat diving services.

Lets remember that these people who run the place are "Proffesionals" the "alleged" slanging match as portrayed doesn't foster the image. Quite simply If a was a owner of the business supposedly behaving like that that I wouldn't deserve the custom.  The A flag mentioned on my visits in the past is always up taken literally its telling you theres always someone in the water!!!!!!! Diving around the slipway with shore cover or the with a smb can't be in the students best interests, playing havoc with a risk assesment


I'd in common with others would love to hear Puffins version.
 

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Hi all and thanks for your comments,
In fairness to Puffin, I have visited here before and was treated to a guided tour of the site by a very friendly member of staff.  Their facilities are fantastic (second to none).  Perhaps we got them on a bad weekend.  We may have angered the owner (Mike) as I beleive the instructor who was diving was his son.  With regards to their slipway, they do have signs up stating that divers using the shop, getting air fills etc are free to use the slipway, moorings etc.  The incident culminated in a fairly light hearted laugh about it all.  I feel if Mike had approached us in this manner from the start then we wouldn't have been so riled ourselves and it would have been settled more amicably.  At the end of the day it is up to the individual to make their own minds up.  Some will like them some won't, but that life.

Cheers

Steph M.
 

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Steph M, a mate of mine was there that weekend and I am surprised that he is not up on a gbh charge.  I have also had dealings with the same owner in the past and almost got into a fight with the arrogant halfwit, but he appologised and he invited us back as well which we did a couple of months later.  He likes a bit of slagging, a 'Faulty Towers' dive outfit if you like.

PS, I forgot to mention that he has in fact been warned before by the HSE regarding his divers not using SMB's
 

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a good read

lol
if i was there his goading would of worked, and he would of got a smack it the mouth, 10 out of 10 for your resraint,

i have used puffin on a few occasions, and have nothing but praise for them, we telephoned pri to our trips to ask about launching and moring, they have allways bean helpfull, had a trip cancled due to bad weather (on there ribs)  they whare fair with the money side, when we was diving on our boats i spoke to them about tides and dive times/windows and they went out of the way to help us
money is an issue, they took us out in bad weather when it should of bean cancled, but most commercial div centres do the same

i was supprised to read of your unpleasent incedent, and you should not have to put up with such people, its not much concallation, but the staff i have net at puffin where all well manered and verry helpull,
 

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Frog said:
I'll know to avoid that place now.  I'll go to Alchemy Andy's instead.  Or stay with Dave Tye at Glenshalloch/Oban Divers.  They sound a right set of clowns.
Is Andy still about?? I couldn't find Alchemy when I was up there last summer!!

I use to dive with him when he first started up there....
 
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