It is an age old question: What do you do when your dive buddy is a donkey? First of all don’t panic, grab your towel and follow these simple steps.
Let’s back up a minute and identify a donkey diver. You may even know one. Donkeys are the type of diver who just can’t seem to follow scuba rule number two (see my earlier post for a complete set of scuba rules). These are the guys who jump into the water with both feet, not giant striding, but jumping often without key pieces of gear. Their hoses are often unsecured and left dangling. Their hands and feet, and sometimes other limbs, are flailing in both the water and air, never providing propulsion in the desired direction.
When dealing with a donkey buddy, it is important to remember that the diver is not intentionally being terrible, he just received poor training. Donkey divers can often be retrained by their friends and taught appropriate scuba habits. Using some basic techniques you can help your donkey buddies out. Emphasize the whys of diving not just the how, why one should not put their mask on his forehead can be far more useful than just “don’t do that” and certainly better than just letting him walk around with a mask on his forehead. If that fails or just isn’t enough, gentle teasing of your friends can get them to change their behavior. “I can’t believe they let you be a divemaster when you flail so much underwater” and “your navigation is so bad, how did you find pants this morning” are some good examples; just remember, they are your friends so don’t insult them, just their bad habits.
The hardest time you will have with donkey divers is on a day boat. You probably will not know the person who is acting like a donkey and he probably won’t appreciate you trying to retrain him. Best to sit back, try to set a good example, and let the donkey be a donkey. Be careful he doesn’t put you into unsafe situations and that you and he are both respectful of the reef; otherwise people will know that your buddy is not a representation of your abilities underwater.
Always remember that a donkey does not know that he is a donkey, nor that it is his fault. Donkeys are a result of poor training by sloppy instructors. Anytime you are looking for a new instructor or diving outfit, look at the people they trained. If their students are sloppy and poorly trained, so are their instructors; and anytime you have a donkey friend, encourage them to seek additional training through your instructor or dive center. Often advanced or specialty training will address some remedial problems. And as always, Dive Safe My Friends