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Frontier Divers

Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:44 pm
by DebbieC
My Tobago site has stated on the Frontier Divers page that due to a recent serious accident in Sept 2011, they have safety concerns with this dive company. Does anyone know anything about this incident?

Re: Frontier Divers

Posted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:23 pm
by Steve Wooler
Hello Debbie

To be honest, I have had great difficulty in establishing any facts in this case. In my experience, whenever there is a safety incident the Tobago dive industry kick into self-preservation mode, plunge their heads into the sand and pretend to look the other way knowing nothing about it.

I was alerted to this situation by a visiting diver who was more than a little concerned, having viewed the rescue operation. I had hoped that the report was exaggerated or erroneous, but when I tried to investigate the matter I was told to mind my own business, with the added comment that I'd already done enough damage to the Tobago dive industry. That sadly is the mentality I have to deal with and which visiting divers must bear in mind when asking questions or considering dive services on Tobago.

All I know is that in early September, Alvin Douglas, the owner of Frontier Divers, was involved in an incident during which the dive boat became separated from the divers. The boat eventually found four of the divers but failed to find the other three, including Alvin Douglas, who eventually swam for shore and were picked up off Store Bay.
Alvin accepts that failures in judgement contributed towards the incident and reports indicate that his SMB was inadequate for the conditions. The visitor reports I’ve received claim that the incident seemed to bear alarming comparisons to the John Procope/Scuba Adventure Safari incident reported on this forum.

In fairness, I have to say that Alvin Douglas appears to have had an excellent record in the past. However, there is no room for complacency when diving.

Re: Frontier Divers

Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 5:55 pm
by Sharon Keeler
Steve, thanks for the update on this. Being in public relations, my advice to Frontier Divers would be to address this incident head-on, explain what happened, and then what measures are being taken to make sure it doesn't happen again. I learned to dive with Big Dougie, have done several dives with his company over the years, and had great experiences every time. I have always felt safe and well cared for. Accidents do happen, but I would hate to see their reputation damaged by an inability to communicate with the public.

Re: Frontier Divers

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:10 am
by Deborah.G
I can comment on this dive operation and the incident in question. I strongly believe that the downgrade of Frontier Divers safety rating on this site is unfair and unwarranted. The safety standards maintained by Frontier Divers is consistently first rate. My husband and I are experienced divers with approximately 550 dives each in various locations in the Caribbean and Mexico. I am certified as a Dive Master and my husband is certified as a Rescue Diver. Diving is our passion, and no destination more satisfies that passion than Tobago with its challenging drifts, spectacular reefs and diverse sea life. We have vacationed in Tobago each year for 14 years for periods of 4 to 7 weeks each visit. Of our 550 dives, about 350 have been with Frontier divers. Several of our family have also enjoyed many dives with Frontier Divers. I was shocked to see this lowered rating and vague references of a "serious dive incident" on My Tobago when I arrived in this year in January for a 7 weeks of vacation, much of it spent diving with Alvin Douglas "Big Dougie" and his crew. I asked Dougie what had happened. He provided me with the report he had written of the incident which I understand he provided several months ago to My Tobago although I see no reference of the report being received by this forum. I strongly believe that at no time was any diver in any jeopardy. In this case, two of the divers in this group of 6 failed to follow instruction and descended prior to being given the signal to do so and were seperated from the group. This caused a series of issues that Dougie had to manage. The conditions changed after the start of the dive causing additional complications. The dive site was Flying Reef which I have personally dived several dozen times (rated as an easy to moderate dive) that is often used with novice divers to initiate them to Tobago's drift diving. Part of the reason it is so often used by local diver operators with new divers in Tobago is that the normally easy drift is close to shore and always takes divers in the same direction, ending in the same general location. All the divers returned safely and afterwards did several more dives with Frontier Divers. I hope that MyTobago will return Frontier Divers to its well deserved excellent rating for safety on this site. It is well deserved.

Re: Frontier Divers

Posted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:45 pm
by SteveGB
I am a PADI and BSAC instructor and am also President of a dive organisation in the Uk. I have dived around the world from the Pacific to the Noth Atlantic. Tobago rates as one of my favourite dive destinatination and I have logged over 1000 dives around the Island over the course of more than 20 years and have dived with more than 50% of the dive shops listed by MyTobago. My last visit to the island was in January this year when I dived with Frontier Divers. Whilst there I reviewed the incident in question. It is my objective opinion that the incidents prime cause was divers not following the dive briefing given to them by Frontier Divers and that Dougies actions post the seperation helped to further mitigate risk and led to the eventual positive outcome.
It has been my pleasure to have dived with Frontier Divers many times over many years and have always found them to be both very safety conscious and very professional.