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New Blacktip Island Certifying Agency To Train Bad Divers

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DADI scuba instructor Casey Piper teaches a student to kick coral Thursday at Blacktip Island’s Hammerhead Reef. The new training agency is dedicated to training students to dive as poorly as possible. (photo courtesy of Alexdiver)

A group of Blacktip Island scuba instructors has formed a new certifying agency focused on training scuba students to dive badly, the group announced Friday.

“Most guests dive like they’ve disconnected their brains,” said Eagle Ray Divers instructor Casey Piper. “They don’t check their air pressure before jumping in, they kick the coral, they crowd the boarding ladders. We thought, ‘if they’re going to dive badly, they should do it well.’”

“The agency’s Dumb Ass Dive Instructors,” Piper said. “Our motto is ‘Deep Down, You Want To Be A Dumbass.’ Basic open water’s a three-day course. It can take less time, obviously, but agency standards call for a full three days.”

Industry professionals hailed the agency.

“It’s brilliant,” said Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner. “If you’re going to dive poorly, don’t half-ass it. Casey’s people are training guests to dive overweighted, to ignore their buddies and to use zero navigation skills.

“DADI divers are required to frog-hop in without a glance at their gauges,” Latner said. “And they’re warned never to read their dive computer’s instruction manual. Or look at the computer during a dive.”

Resort owners said the agency has been a boon to business.

“If we can’t stop guests from diving like yahoos, we can at least make money off it,” said Eagle Ray Cove owner Rich Skerritt. “With DADI, they’re taught to have as much crap as possible dangling off their BCs. Every D-ring chock-a-block full of crap. Then we sell them all the crap.

“The Harassing Wildlife module’s super popular,” Skerritt said. “We’re teaching folks how to properly chase a stingray, turtle or shark. Then we sell them cameras, and give prizes for blurry photos of the critters’ butts.”

Local dive staff were unimpressed.

“We don’t really see any difference,” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel said. “It’s job security for us, I guess, keeping them alive.”

Students raved about the course.

“I always felt so guilty not doing everything they told me to do in my open water class,” Suzy Souccup said. “The Dumbass class was liberating. It simplifies diving and lets me just having fun, guilt free.”

“I mean, instead of figuring out my profile, or listening to a boring briefing, I can just hop in with everyone else, then come up with everyone else,” she added.

DADI officials stressed the class doesn’t neglect safety.

“We require all Dumbass-certified divers to carry dive accident insurance,” Piper said. “It gives them, and us, peace of mind. If nothing else, we accomplished that.”

DADI plans to add more Dumbass courses in the future.

“We have plans for an Advanced Dumbass Diving course, and lots of Dumbass specialties,” Piper said. “We were going to do a Dumbass Rescue course, but didn’t really see the point.

“We’re training all our staff to teach the course, too,” Piper said. “We’ll all be proud to say we’re Dumbass instructors.”

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Reef Rage Sparks Blacktip Island’s New Underwater Police

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Blacktip Island’s tranquil beauty has been marred by recent violence on the Caribbean island’s dive sites. The incidents prompted the creation of a special underwater police unit. (photo courtesy of Ger Latner/Eagle Ray Divers)

A rash of underwater incidents described as ‘reef rage’ has prompted Blacktip Island officials to create an underwater volunteer police unit to safeguard the Caribbean island’s divers.

“The high stakes world of scuba tourism isn’t for the faint of heart,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “There’s more dive boats out there, carrying more divers, each competing for the same amount of space on the reef. You pay a bunch of money to dive here, you want to see everything. Trouble is, so does everyone else.

“We’ve had everything from divers bumping other divers out of the way to pulling dive knives on each other,” Latner said. “The final straw was the guy who surfaced with a cut regulator hose. The bubbles were beautiful from the surface, but somebody could’ve been hurt.”

The island’s police constable formed the ad hoc Special Underwater Police Auxiliary to deal with the attacks.

“There’s only one of me, and I barely know how to swim,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “I can put on a snorkel vest and watch from the surface, but I can’t stop anything from happening, and I can’t be at every site all day.

“I ran local divers through a quick Special Constable course, then turned them loose,” Marquette said. “We stress de-escalating confrontations and non-violent intervention. The volunteers do carry underwater Tasers, though. Just in case.”

S.U.P.A. officers say their experience often lets them stop trouble before it starts.

“Most confrontations start with someone inadvertently getting kicked, or not letting other divers see an interesting sea creature,” said S.U.P.A. member Frank Maples. “Photographers are especially bad. If we can nudge them along, we’ve nipped the problem in the bud.”

One overzealous scuba diver has been arrested so far.

“The jerk with the big-ass camera started it,” Blacktip Haven guest Maxie Fondé said. “Planted that sucker in front of an eel hole and camped there 10, 15 minutes. Wouldn’t let me or my husband see.

“He ignored a polite tap on the shoulder, then flipped my off when I pulled him away,” Fondé said. “Shooting my spear into the sand next to his head sure got him to move, though. Then he had the audacity to file charges.”

Other dive guests applauded the new special constables.

“It’s nice not having to confront bad divers anymore,” said Club Scuba Doo guest Olive Beaugregory. “If someone’s being an ass, I just motion to the reef patrol and they take care of things. Just this morning, when a man was lying on the reef, the constable squeezed his inflator vale and WHOOSH! sent him to the surface. Problem solved!”

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