Divemasters in demand

Oct 4, 2022 by Corey D. Ranslem

Certification and continued training are key to running a safe onboard dive charter program.

Dive charters are becoming more popular as large yachts continue to add attractions for potential clients. Crew members are seeing the benefits of obtaining different dive certifications, including divemaster. 

Mitch Jaeger is a PADI and SSI-certified divemaster and dive instructor. He became interested in diving as a college student and has since then been involved in diving in various parts of the world, including working on dive charters and liveaboards. 

Second stew/divemaster Amy Walton of M/Y Plan B.

“I’m originally from a small town in Nebraska, with endless views of corn fields and cows,” Jaeger said. “I was attending the University of Nebraska in 1993 when I came across a TV show that was featuring scuba diving. From the moment I walked into the shop I was hooked.”

It can be difficult for yacht crew to stay current on developing trends in the dive industry because of their workload and travel schedule. Jaeger says that continuing education and training are important in advancing your skills. 

“I advise all my students to take the Advanced Open Water course. This course introduces the student to different specialties in diving, such as deep, night, navigation, and wreck, to name a few,” he said. “The class goes more in-depth with the specialties and teaches the student how to prevent and handle numerous situations that may occur underwater.”

Most yacht-based dive programs must be fairly self-sufficient and carry all the dive gear and emergency equipment needed to address immediate issues. Jaeger recommends that divemasters and instructors on board yachts understand some of the common issues divers face and how to deal with those issues.

“New divers sometimes try to dive beyond their training and do too much underwater,” he said. 

From left, Waitt Institute Dive Safety Officer Joey Lepore, Amy Walton, and Semisi of The Ministry of Fisheries on Tonga during a scientific expedition.

What’s more, most new divers are not immediately comfortable with their gear and typically don’t try it out before their first dives. This is something Jaeger watches when he has new students and divers in the water. He recommends working with the diver and their equipment before they get in the water so that they have a good fit and are comfortable with how everything works.

“Put the mask and snorkel on and adjust the strap so it’s comfortable. Also, put your fins and booties on and get comfortable wearing them,” Jaeger said.  “Your BC [buoyancy controller] and regulator are basically your life support, so you want to make sure your equipment is in top working order when you use it.”

Mitch Jaeger teaches various dive and continuing education classes through Undersea Sports in Fort Lauderdale. He can be reached directly at mjaeger311@yahoo.com.

For more information on the South Florida diving scene click here, and for tech trends in the diving industry, click here.