Scuba-diving is a popular activity found on a superyacht, both for guest enjoyment and for maintenance issues. Yacht Scuba Safety, a division of OndineEscape, aims to ensure the highest level of safety for conducting diving operations on superyachts. The Crew Report spoke to Nick Stael von Holstein, director at Yacht Scuba Safety, about the increasing need for superyacht crew to undertake diving training.

“Most yachts have varying degrees of dive gear on board as well as compressors and refill tanks,” explains Stael von Holstein, referring to the increasing demand for diving training for yacht crews. “If owners are keen divers then a dive operation programme needs to be in place. For a charter yacht to have a dedicated dive team within the crew, it’s a great way to engage the guests especially if they are cruising the Caribbean, Pacific Islands or Barrier Reef and adds another level of service and quality to the yachts activities.”

And this leads to the importance of having yacht crew that are properly trained in the discipline. “Training is paramount for the safety of the crew and guests. A high level of training and experience is required to take people diving as a guide or an instructor, as well as supervise a dive operation,” says Stael von Holstein. “Additionally, when crew are conducting off-charter yacht activities such as hull and prop inspections, recovering a lost object overboard or releasing a tangled anchor chain or anchor a certain level of dive training is required. Imagine a scenario of a yacht in bad weather conditions in the middle of the night, with props snagged in a fishing net. What's the protocol and safety procedure with dealing with this scenario and does the crew have the training for this?”

In light of this, we asked Stael von Holstein whether diving operations needed to be improved in the yachting industry. “In our experience, most yachts don’t have set diving protocol procedures and standards established or a manual of operations in place,” he responded. “Yachts tend to stay away from diving activities with owners and guests and outsource it to a local dive operator. They don’t even use all their fantastic diving gear. In this situation, questions need to be asked: ‘How good is the operator being used?’; ‘How good is their gear?’; ‘Are they safe?’ and; ‘Do they know how to cater to a yacht guest paying a hundred thousand a week for a yacht charter?’”

The main reason for this is that crew are not sufficiently trained to a high enough standard to handle the activity. “It is a specialty activity requiring specific training,” continues Stael von Holstein. “Our Yacht Scuba Safety program is designed precisely to establish a dive program or enhance an existing one. We train the crew up to the right minimum standards and install a working dive operations program, even an on board PADI Dive centre and provide on-going support with annual audits of gear, crew and programmes.”

"Imagine a scenario of a yacht in bad weather conditions in the middle of the night, with props snagged in a fishing net.  What's the protocol and safety procedure with dealing with this scenario and does the crew have the training for this?”

So is there a minimum standard of diving training that a proportion of crew on board a yacht with diving equipment should be undertaking? “We believe any member of the crew that is involved with dive activities of any form should be at least Rescue Diver certified,” answers Stael von Holstein. “To have a working dive operation on board, the dive supervisor should be at the least a Divemaster and preferably an Instructor certificate. Entry level certifications, Openwater and Advanced Openwater teach you the basics of diving, a Rescue Diver certification introduces the first level of being aware and able to care for others should the need arise. A Divemaster learns the first level teaching other people to dive and can act an Instructors Assistant. So anything less than a Rescue Diver is the logical minimum standard.”

The Yacht Scuba Safety team have recently trained the crew of a large yacht client and set up their dive operations over the winter. “They had experienced an almost 10-fold increase in dive activities on charters this season,” Stael von Holstein tells us, “Which is a benefit to all and has enhanced the yachts reputation as a professional dive operator.” By creating a more professional diving reputation on board yachts, the industry will be a able to reach other potential charter guests who are interested in the activity, and expand their future clientele base.

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