By Dave Moran
I couldnât write an editorial for this issue without commenting on the diving accident in French Pass, Marlborough Sounds, where three divers lost their lives as part of a group of seven students doing a Dive Technicians II programme. This accident raises many questions, too numerous to cover in this magazine. Hopefully the coronerâs report due out in June will address some of the issues raised. Turn to page 30 for my comments regarding the Health and Safety in Employment Act issues that are involved when an accident occurs in the work place.
The accident brings to the fore the responsibility a dive instructor has in making a choice of where to allow his students to dive. Nelson Dive Centreâs management have a policy of listing appropriate dive sites for accomplishing the dives that are required to obtain a particular specialty course certification. The final decision of where to dive is left to the instructor on the day as he will be in a position to evaluate weather and sea conditions that are prevailing at the time. He is also expected to advise a diver who he thinks should not dive to stay out of the water.
The primary goal for some divers is to become certified as diving instructors. Do we need to ask whether people are finding themselves certified as instructors within a very short period of taking up the sport of scuba diving? The honest answer is YES. In my experience it takes a number of years at sea for a person to learn to read the sea conditions and, more importantly, have respect for the sea and for what it can do. Even after many years at sea, people still get it wrong. It is a challenge for the training agencies to train their instructors not to be backward or feel embarrassed to put up their hand for advice when they personally do not have the experience to make a decision involving diving conditions. You canât put an old head on young shoulders, but you can teach wisdom to younger minds that want to listen.
I guess itâs an almost impossible challenge. As we know, the great thing about people is that we are all different. Some find it very difficult to ask the questions they need to ask, especially when surrounded by their peer group. When you first become an instructor you are just starting to learn. Please ask the questions and make the hard calls if you think conditions are not suitable for the group you are responsible for the day to dive safely. Itâs your call. In the back of your mind always remember that one day you may be asked by OSH officers and the Police why you made that call.
For the eighth consecutive year the Dive Adventure Court is an integral part of the New Zealand Boat Show during Queenâs Birthday weekend. The show runs from Thursday 1st to Monday 5th June 2000. This year we have added a Presentation Room to the Dive Adventure Court where various courses, seminars and presentations will be conducted during the five days of the show including technical diving, travel, Supercats, Waitomo Adventures, and Oceans Society photographic presentations. Times for these presentations will be posted at the show.
If youâre looking at getting into technical diving, there will be a very comprehensive presentation by Richard Taylor of Technical Diving International (TDI) on Saturday 3rd from 3-4 pm âTechnical Diving Today and Tomorrowâ; on Sunday 4th June from 12-3 pm âA Nitrox Instructor Programmeâ. Richard is the organiser of the very successful Technical Diving Expo âOz Tekâ which is being held at the Melbourne Expo Centre 8th-9th July this year. So, if you want to plan your winter escape, or check out the latest in dive gear, make time to visit the Dive Adventure Court.
If youâre looking for that special diving book or video, or want to be in to win a Suunto dive computer, call into the Dive New Zealand stand. Itâs a great opportunity for us to meet our readers.
In this issue (pages 9 to 11) I try to bring to you my experience of diving the massive Chinese junk the Tek Sing. After nearly 40 years of diving I find it fantastic that such adventures are still happening. I was diving with treasure hunter Mike Hatcher who is 58 and my New Zealand diving buddy Peter Blunden who is 60 years of age. It was like diving with a couple of teenagers. During our time in the South China Sea we spent three days looking for another wreck. We dived, scootered, magnetometered, drifted and dug our way over kilometres of reef. We came across old Chinese copper ingots, mast fittings, a huge anchor, and pieces of porcelain. Peter just about had a heart attack when he found a complete earthenware urn, possibly over 300 years old.
Mann, one of Mikeâs divers, came up from a dive raving about an elephant … then after the ravings stopped we worked out it was an elephantâs tusk. When its coral encrusted bulk broke the surface Pete and I gazed in absolute amazement – bloody hell, a real elephant tusk in the middle of the South China Sea! Mike laughed, âhey, boats have been using this waterway for thousands of years, you just never know what you will find.â So, why am I raving about all this? I guess what Iâm trying to say is this sport of diving is fantastic. Here I was with a couple of mates who still have the fire in their bellies, the sparkle of adventure in their eyes, the ability to dive all day long and still have the energy for a quiet beer as the sun is setting, while planning their next dayâs diving. I love this sport. To all you young divers I say … there are still heaps of adventures and wrecks to discover and photograph. Boy, oh boy, I wish I could be around in 100 years to see it all unfold.