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A chap on the BSAC Forum just asked the following question:

"I know that this is an old topic, but I would be very greatfull for any information. I have been told that there may be problems in having your BSAC sports diver qualification accepted in some contries eg the Pacific area. Is this so , and is there anyway around it. Thanks."


So I felt I might offer the 'benefit' of my experience on the topic. Please feel free to discuss or offer your views on where I might be right or wrong.....

I came back with.....


"A question I hoped to never have to answer here on these boards...and some of you may disagree (duty/'opinion' bound and all that)...but I'm talking from 1st-hand experience here, and NOT just from mere opinion. Sorry if it hurts, but here we go....

In Feb 2000, my wife and I were on honeymoon on a 12-day dive gig in Sharm (after a couple of weeks going large in the bazaars, Pyramids and museums of Cairo and visiting the Valley's of the Kings, Queens and Nobles - both on foot and via a hot-air balloon - in Luxor). I hired a dive guide, whilst my wife was put through her PADI Open Water ticket.

On my 1st day in country, I was coupled for my 1st dive (Shark Bay, a shore dive, just out of Naama Bay) with two 'Instructors' - she a German PADI, he a BSAC.... and he lived and instructed in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia - hence the BSAC attachment).

Bizarrely, he was informed, albeit he was a BSAC Instructor and had dived only four days before (as proffered by his cert cards & his log book), that he would have to do a 'Check Dive', to see if he was up to 'muster' - alas a PADI stricture; although, given his provable status and experience I still find this ridiculous and put it down to their all-pervading-paranoia and fear of getting sued. Such is the PADI creed – no acolyte of PADI (even after DM) is I.

Anyway, on the road trip to the site, we were chatting. The German female PADI instructor felt genuinely embarrassed and ill-at-ease at having to put him through this rigmarole, but stated that it had to be done to meet 'coverage' of her dive centre's insurance details: for that read, 'if you're not a PADI Diver carrying a PADI cert card of one descript or another, then you're going to get this treatment'.

He explained that it was truly OK, and he expected it as he'd met it everywhere else he'd dived on his trip travelling up from southern Africa.

He then went in to greater detail. He explained that BSAC in Zimbabwe was all but moribund/dead and that all his diving instructor oppos were/are transferring to PADI or NAUI - depending on the countries in to which they were then emigrating (Ozz, South Africa, UK, Egypt, USA, Maldives etc.) Why? I asked him.

"Because BSAC does not have the traction and attraction (user/customer-base) that PADI and NAUI have in the diving world outside the UK. Oh, you still get stalwart areas like Malta and a few areas in Cyprus; but try and get an instructor job any where in the wider world with a BSAC Instructor ticket and you've no chance – no demand for it" was his reply.

Now I've dived extensively in South Africa and never once found a PADI school - they're virtually all NAUI. I've also dived extensively in Ozz, and found that in certain areas NAUI have the predominance and others PADI have the upper hand. And with the 'cattle-boats' heading out of Cairns and Townsville now, you'll find that PADI have made significant headway in winning the hearts-n-minds of the dive centres there. You can still get BSAC recognition, but you have to look hard. The Zimbabwean Instructor explained to me that his oppos that had gone to Ozz (as most of them had), and had made the transition to PADI; as this way they could find a job and ready customers: ergo, a living; a living reflecting the demand from “world divers' expectance of what they learnt at home and expect in-country when they get there”.

I've got to say here that I'm not a member of BSAC (nor anymore PADI, given their “and the next ‘How to Breath Through a Regulator Course will be &#36150’” approach), and consequently may attract some negative press and responses from some the readers here; all I can offer is the experience of my many travels abroad on missions to dive and found how BSAC diving is accepted.

What I am NOT saying is that you stop being a BSAC diver - the converse of my experiences above is that British divers abroad, in the main, get a whole-hearted 'look of relief' from ANY agency (and BSAC has to learn and understand that it IS just another diver training 'agency' in the eyes of the world and NOT a 'club' - just how parochial does ‘club’ look in the eyes of the world??) that either takes them off a boat or leads them from a shore as having some of the best trained and disciplined divers there is. BSAC's training methods are, on the whole, safety-based and 'place you anywhere and dive safely' centric. What they are not is a 'get us accepted globally as a legitimately recognised alternative to other agencies.........'

Drop the pretence to being a 'club'; unless, of course, BSAC want to be perceived as a bunch of UK-centric-only divers (CMAS is having the same issues BTW!! Who speaks French anymore and requires that its members adhere to 25 metres as a maximum depth?? And that's not a racist statement, more an issue of market reality over wishful thinking) that might like other places in the world, other than the ever receding former British colonies (and even they are now opting for mostly PADI, NAUI and TDI status and student training) to rally to their ever declining clarion call! Paying divers want (as with their working skills and qualifications) and globally transferable skill – not one that’s going to catch them in the ‘can I please see you cert card’ and ‘I’m sorry, you’re not PADI’ trap. VHS vs. BetaMax?? The irony being that BetaMax was/is recognised as being the better technology – they just lost the marketing/user-base battle…

I have a vested interest here: I have many friends that I dive with that have come up through the BSAC route and are f**king good divers – period: deep, wreck, mix, safety-driven, blue-water and all aspects in between. I do not want to see these levels of commitment to training (and the results it brings) suffer. And I don’t think I’m alone either.

I'll end this treatise here. I'm already interested in the response I might get from those that care about BSAC as I do. I've seen too many friends leave BSAC because of the reasons above; too many barrack-room lawyers in local club meetings offering nothing but their loud voice and nothing of substance to getting people diving; too many folk complaining about too few instructors – i.e. when they want to get trained, and not when the club can 'fit them in'; too few pool nights; too many Ober-leiunant DO's that organise trips to Stoney and the Cape (grand training grounds though they be!) and not enough 'proper dives' in the sea (shore or boat), if they go diving at all - the old adage I hear is 'lots of club meetings - not enough diving!'

No doubt there will be exceptions to the above - for God's sake there has to be, otherwise how would BSAC exist? - and I truly believe there are good clubs out there - but BSAC marketing has to get its act together and its ship in order so that the 'former BSAC divers' I meet stop feeding me this level of insider information.

BSAC claims to be 'the Governing Body of Diving in the UK’...Err.... please!

In terms of getting money, from grants from the Lottery Fund, it may have persuaded someone writing the cheques that this is the case; but does it honestly think that SSI, SSA, PADI, ScotSAC, TDI/SDI (and any of the other numerous SCUBA training agencies) THINK that is the case? Or that regardless of what BSAC might promote that it is going to have a ha'p'th of difference on what they teach in max depth, gas-mix or otherwise??? If BSAC labour under this delusion, then it is only damaging itself and its members. I didn't attend the DOC this year - due to work, I was going to (I was invited to) - but, looking at the agenda, I can only say that the bit I was most interested in is the section of 'BSAC and Inter-agency Co-operation'. There's that word again...’Agency’...

Sorry if this over-reached its mark on your original question, but unless BSAC and its forum (until I get banned from it for writing this) actually accepts the wider diving generality and sees the diving world for what it is (varied, and a many splendoured thing), then it shall be doomed to be reduced - a la BSAC Zimbabwe, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia et al. And before anyone from the 'Council' hits me with figures about BSAC's 'projected growth' in years to come, I'll just say that I'm in business and can read the play and that there are "lies, damned lies...and statistics'. Let's hope, for the larger benefit of BSAC, that some one wakes up and smells what they're shovelling.

Dive safe all.

Bren.
 

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When I was in Sharm I dived with a Welsh guy who was a BSAC instructor but had just completed a PADI instructors course for the reason that BSAC wasn't recognised as such.
There I also met a couple who's diving was very basic to say the least
. Not their fault though, I was surprised to learn that they were BSAC Ocean divers?
Bought and paid for their qualifications here in the UK after a couple of weekends training. They were not allowed to dive without a divemaster or equivalent, however they had been told they were qualified divers
. This proves to me that the term "BSAC diver" means nothing, its the instruction which counts.

On the club note though, I had a deep conversation with a lad who had come over to the SAA, he'd been a BSAC club member and a diver since 1998, he'd never qualified to 'sports diver' equivalent.
Now, he say's it was because the club he used to dive with arranged trips to suit the instructors in the good weather. This meant the students couldn't attend and therefore never gained the experience to move up to the grade required to attend the trips.
The SAA club I dive with have instructors who arrange training very piecemeal but seem to get the students through within 12 months on average


I trained with PADI, I don't know if the instructors were better than usual, but I didn't seem to have any problems. I accepted that I had a certificate to LEARN (note the learn) about diving. I have "shadowed"  (buzzword there) the SAA instructors for my instructors course, and I am sorry, but there was nothing I wasn't taught in the PADI system.
So, in my limited experience you pays your money to PADI, you pay for the instructors time to complete the course at your convenience or you stick with the club system and become qualified within the next 12 months or so.
Costs? £330 to PADI, £60 plus £120 per year to the SAA, not that different eh?
The club structure needs to be revised or it wil fail, all the Dinosaurs who run BSAC and the SAA need to wake up and realise this or they will cease to exist.
 

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Simple Phil,

I care about maintaining the 'usually' high quality of the divers they produce - whereas I disagree widly on its rediculous and overly sometimes school-boy approach to running things.

* BSAC Cert card (regardless of level attained) only valid as long as you're a member!? So the moment any currently pissed-off member decides to bug-out he's no long a qualified diver? How does that work?

* 'Club' structure: maybe I've been my own boss and independent for too long, but I know that it would go noisy if I met one these barrack-room lawyers at a 'club meeting'. If he/she's talking mince, then I am obliged to say so - I just feel sorry for the other divers who might not have the same fortitude as me and who might feel  obliged to just sit there and listen.

* BSAC is a subscription driven organsation: sorry, but I've heard too many stories about not getting value for those subs; too many dives either cancelled or binned coz the almighty 'DO' or some other subaltern makes the call to do so when others on the trip would quite happily get...err... 'wet' in the rain before ...err...getting wet in the sea.

* "We'll teach you when we can round to it" mentality. I've heard horror stories about new divers taking a year or more to be taught to dive!! Why? Because that was the length of time it took a 'club' to sort its shit out and crack on. Ditto "when we've got kit available".

* 'Permission Culture': If I read another bone question from an otherwise perfecetly sentient human being along the lines of "Am I allowed to do XY&Z.........??" only for them to get either the response "As long as your DO gives you the nod" or "as long it's an alternate Thursday and if Saturn is in Leo and Taurus is on the wane...." or some other such arse!!

* BSAC assuming the mantle of 'UK Governing Body of SCUBA'. Yeah, right. Are there three 'l's in bollocks?


With the above said, I know a goodly number of BSAC trained divers and they are very safe, very 'buddiable' divers - it's just that they are no longer members of BSAC due largely to the above reasons and others not mentioned here.

Don't get me wrong, Phil, I'm no fan of PADI either - their sins are too legion to list here! - and this is not a BSAC Vs PADI ruck. I just call it as I see/experience it. You only have to read any independent diving forum to bubble the fact that any number of free-thinking individuals are constantly looking for a new 'club' that actually goes diving, regularly and somewhere other than Stoney or the Cape.

I truly believe that there are some very good and active BSAC clubs out there - just I don't come across them.

Dive safe mate,
 

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Funny how anything to do with BSAC always seems to raise the temperature.

I`m PADI trained but as a dive slut I will dive with anyone provided they can demonstrate some experience and safety. Whether the badge is bought or sweated for its the person that is important.

Its not always BSAC who get a `raw` deal abroad - as a DM I had to demonstrate basic skills before I was allowed to join in the fun in the maldives. Yes I was pissed but on reflection(apart from the legal stuff) its a good idea - at least you know that the outfit has some safety values as well as financial
 

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Bren, a lot of what you have said seems to be the view I have heard from a lot of people. If you are not BSAC and obviously dislike PADI with a vengeance then who do or did you train with?
I didnt realise that if you let your BSAC membership lapse you are no longer recognised as a certified diver, I would argue that one with them, but then I am an argumentative sod, at times!!
 

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I don't like diving organisations such as BSAC, SAA and ScotSAC, for the same reasons as Bren, i.e. we have to ask for permission to dive a certain depth or site from a DO, who might not have the same experience/knowledge as your self. That is one of the reasons I left ScotSAC, who seem to be run by egotistical tossers for the past few years.  However, there are some good guy's in all the organisations.  I now have the freedom to dive with who I like, irrespective of where they were trained.
 

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This is a problem SSAC has even more than BSAC. My Aunt and Uncle went to Oz with over a thousand dives between them, mostly in the 25-50 range, yet the PADI guy was not willing to let them go for a swim on there own. This was 2mins before a AOW with probably 10 dives asked the same question. "No problem" was the reply. As soon as they went into the water the instructor looked at my Aunt and Uncle, then looked at Mr AOW, told them to go and do what they wanted, then went swimming off to take care of Mr AOW.
  The strange thing is that our 2nd class diver, with 3rd class being the absolute basic, is on a level somewhere between PADI Rescue and Divemaster. Can there not be some kind of international crossover list/card where the intructor/guide can see exactly where your level of qualification lies?
Peter  
 

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I imagine most of the people who write on this forum are in the water regularly, with experience that would be on a par with the instructors and DM's at holday dive consessions.  If some outfit abroad starts giving you uphill saying your not qualified ask about advanced/instructor training and what level you should start at for a crossover.  You are surely going to be accepted at a level where they can't refuse to rent you equipment.  A word of caution there are many card qualified club divers who hardly dive from one year to the next, IMO they often don't belong diving below 20m, or diving without an experienced minder.  This goes double for overseas where they have no experience in those conditions and there may not be the safety infrastructure.  Regards dive club branches we have all had our problems, maybe it would be better if the voting power was biased in favour of those who are active instead of social or politic.  It would cetainly be different.    


(Edited by budgy at 2:06 pm on Dec. 30, 2002)
 

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Good idea about an International crossover Pete. I have not had many problems with my qualifications when diving abroad.  If they ask questions I show them my card and log books as well as the dives logged in the computer.  As for club qualifications, I remember years back that a Scotsac diver could sign a BSAC divers book no problems, but ScotSAC would not allow BSAC divers to sign books. Talk about snobbery. We shared a pool at the time with BSAC and we all helped each other out.
 

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On the subject of checkout dives I was in the Red Sea earlier in the year on a Brothers charter.When I arrived I found that a group of PADI instructors that worked in Sharm had found themselves with a week off and booked onto the same boat as myself.Which meant we had a total of eleven instructors on board,We were all made to do a check out dive before travelling out to the main sites.
Personally I dont have a problem completing checkout dives as it gives me chance to check out potential buddies/disaster dodgers.
Also I have never had probs with my BSAC qualifications being accepted.
 

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as long as you aren't charged for a check out dive and it doesn't eat into your itinerary, I don't see a problem.
When I dived under NOAA regs in Florida I had to do pool work, sit a theory exam and do a check out dive - even though I had BSAC entry level instructor qualifications!!
The exam was in imperial measures, which was a bit of an adventure at 8am with a hangover...

No problem with my or my girlfriend's BSAC quals at Sharm last month, even though she's a bsac Club Diver (now Ocean diver equivalent)there was no check-out dive required as she had dived recently
Chee-az
Steve
 

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Guys

Looking at the comments about DO's and their rule's i think people need to bear in mind that it is people conflicts in most cases.

I am DO for a BSAC branch, i will dive with just about anyone, and will take out just about anyone as a guest diver. They will proberably dive with me unless they are a suitable buddy pair.

I ask them to abide by our club (not my)standard procedures, which have been formulated by over 30 years of diving in the Channel experience.

I was elected unopposed to the post at an AGM where the newer members far outnumbered the old timers. I was elected because i want to dive everyweekend, and to do this i organise it for all who want to go.

I don't make extra rules 'cos i think there are too many already. We have a committee meeting every month where every member is welcome and will be asked their oppinion. If we have something contreversial to discuss we will let members know so thay can attend and put accross their opinion.

When i step down, if my replacement or his succesor starts impinging on my diving i will go elsewhere. The only time i have had to say 'This is what we will do' is when we cannot reach agreement on a diving matter and the club chairman has asked me to make it as DO.

I do get annoyed at all BSAC branches and DO's getting tared with the same brush, but understand how many who have had bad experiences feel very strongly.

Regards

Paul

PS: Not had a problem abroad as we check in advance they cater for BSAC qualifications.
 

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  The strange thing is that our 2nd class diver, with 3rd class being the absolute basic, is on a level somewhere between PADI Rescue and Divemaster. Can there not be some kind of international crossover list/card where the intructor/guide can see exactly where your level of qualification lies?

I think you will find that most good instructors/dive centers will have heard about most agencys BSAC/SSAC/YMCA/SSI the list goes on.

Also most agenceys  do have xover agreements, if you find that your cert is having problems, i think that is a job for the people running it, as far as i am aware all agenceys have web pages and contact info so no excuse not to sort it out. I for one would leave a dive center if it hadn't heard of my cert

DM
 

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Have to agree with DM on the dive centre awareness.

BSAC divers can again get the cards with CMAS level shown. It has been arranged through the SAA. A members gets it from BSAC HQ. 1 side has the BSAC and SAA badges with their level etc, the other the CMAS equivilent.

Happy Diving

Paul
 

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I didnt realise that if you let your BSAC membership lapse you are no longer recognised as a certified diver, I would argue that one with them, but then I am an argumentative sod, at times!!


**** PHIL ****   I did with HQ 3 years ago, had a right slanging match with some dickh**D...
If you have been trained and passed the exams, then you are a qualified diver.
The chap i spoke to couldn't answer that because i left school in 1980 and no longer in the education circuit,does this mean that my CSE's are no longer vaild...that shut him up straight away ...


Andy
 

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Nice one Andy,
Sometimes you just have to get snotty before people listen. What was his final answer though? Did he stick to the you are not qualified routine or consider you could be right?
 

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If you are not a paid up member your cert is not valid according to club rules.
 
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