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This is the course that is the follow on from open water diver with Padi and gives you your next level of qualification.
Which in essence extends your allowable depth (this is reccomended there is nothing physically stopping you going deeper but you will not be covered by insurance if you do and I doubt you will be in the good books of those with you. )
After completing your advanced course you will be able to makes dives up to 30m. This is almost the limit of recreational diving which only goes to 40m, there is a speciality to get you to that deep but 40m dives are hard to come by. Although interesting to try to see how you react. And if you are thinking of techincal or commercial diving its recommended to see if you get narked easily as if you do at 20m every time you would not realistically be able to go deep.
Anyway im trailing a litte now so ill get back to the point.
During your advanced course you will be required to do 5 dives and some theory work, the theory isnt that bad and there is the usual padi video.
The 5 dives are 2 compulsory which include navigation and deep. And three of your choice, with many to choose from which you peak depends on what you want to learn more about. If your not good with bouyany peak performance bouyancy is a good one, if you want to improve you photos there is underwater photographer, easier dives for a bit of fun diving (often with courses you dont get to look around) are boat and drift, these are useful to get used to these techniques as they are covered a lot in the diving world.
There are many to choose from and you will be given the whole list and tips when doing the course. Any that involve specialist equipment will need generally to be supplied by yourself. Ie camera.
The navigation dive, covers natural nav and compass work. Your instructor will cover it all but you basically learn and demonstrate compass navigation and then natural which uses depth, temp, static life and rock formations, sand ripples etc to find your way around. One thing they may do is take you off for a swim and tell you to get back to the start. Keep your eyes open and youll be ok.
The deep dive introduces you to the 30m depth. It will be shorter than shallower ones as you use more air at depth especially your first time so keep an eye on your air, your instructor will too. You will be taken down and shown a set of colours and how they change at depth (hint red loses its colouring first and blue last) hence why underwater pictures look blue. You may be asked to do some simply tasks.
Overall the course is great fun and well worth doing it gives you those extra valuable skills to boost experience and confidence and introduces you to 5 potential specialities.
The 5 dives can at instructors disgression be counted towards the respective specialities.
THE QUALIFICATION IS ALSO A REQUIREMENT OF CERTAIN DIVE SITES SO THIS OPENS YOU UP TO A LOT MORE AND ALSO MORE DIVE BUDDIES, MANY DIVERS DONT LIKE THE RESTRICTION OF AN 18M LIMIT
After completing my PADI Open Water Diver, and doing my first 12 dives in Malaysia, I had the diving bug. I decided to go ahead and do my Advanced Open Water course here in the UK. First word of caution - when you do your referral course and have only dived in tropical waters diving in the UK will be a shock to your system! First of all, you have to climb into so much neoprene you probably wont be able to move, the benefit of this is that you will be so hot from all of the effort of waddling around with a huge weight belt and tank on you that stepping into 16 degree water will actually be a bit of a relief.
As with your OW you will be given a brick of a manual, don't worry, this time you wont have to read the whole thing! There are various sections for the AOW, but the rest of the chapters cover the various specialty courses you will be taking a dive from on your AOW course. You will need to complete 5 specialty dives when doing AOW, one of these will be deep diver, and one navigation, the remaining three may be your choice but it will depend on what is available with your dive centre. I completed the peak performance buoyancy, wreck diver, and multilevel, so my review will be on this basis.
You will be taken through the theory of each of your dives before you complete them, much as you did with OW, only this time there are no tests or exams, just the knowledge reviews. I would recommend you complete this before attending your course as it will help things move along at a decent pace.
## Deep Diver ##
On this dive you will dive to 18 metres or deeper - remember any dive at 18 metres or deeper is considered to be a deep diive, mine went to around 24 metres, but I know others who have done theirs at 18, and some who have gone to nearer the 30 limit, this decision will be made by your instructor based on a number of factors - my centre happened to have an interesting plane wreck at 24 metres, and this was the basis of why we dived to this depth only.
During this dive you will complete tasks underwater to demonstrate how your cognitive abilities can be affected, you will see the affects of pressure on objects, and see how colours change at depth. You can almost guarantee you will make a slight idiot of yourself when you start to get "narked".
Remember that after this dive you will be qualified to dive to 30 metres - don't be tempted to do this just because you can, you will use your air faster and the interesting stuff may not be this deep. The first time I hit 30 metres was several months after this course when I was diving in Egypt, by this point I had also done my Deep Diver specialty and was qualified to go to 40 metres - but to date I have still only hit 34 metres - don't go deeper if there is no reason to!
## Navigation ##
You will be asked to complete some compass exercises on land before doing this dive, to give you experience of using a compass and this will help you get the hang of things underwater. I was asked to navigate a square with my buddy, and then a triangle (which is somewhat more challenging). This dive is very useful as if you are planning on doing any diving just with a buddy you will need to be able to navigate yourselves.
## Peak Performance Buoyancy ##
I think most of us think this dive is a bit of a fluffy extra, all of that "visualise your dive" stuff sounds like a load of old tosh, and it seems as though teaching someone to get their buoyancy right is a waste of time because this is more about practice than anything else. I am 50/50 on this one, whilst the visualising your dive method is an iffy area for me, I do find that if you relax underwater and don't concentrate on doing things right but keep thinking positively you will do better - as soon as you start worrying you will start going wrong! This dive is quite fun, you get thrown around a bit and turned upside down - you will also almost certainly lose control of your buoyancy completely at least once!
## Wreck Dive ##
This dive will mostly concentrate on navigating around a wreck, and identifying and avoiding potential hazards. You may also be asked to draw your wreck, and identify on it where potential entrances are. You will use this as part of your post dive de-brief, where you may get made fun of when your version of an armoured truck looks like a piece of lego. An enjoyable dive, but if you want to do any penetration of wrecks you will need to do the specialty course after your AOW.
## Multi-level Diver ##
I'll be honest, I didn't want to do this one as part of my AOW, but I had no choice. It was actually quite a useful dive to do, it helps you to practice drawing up a dive profile and working with your buddy with dive computers and making sure you follow your pre-defined profile. Whilst not the most interesting dive it certainly has value.
Doing this course and gaining your AOW may seem like you have just gained a qualification for bumbling around on 5 dives, however you will be surprised how useful these courses are, and you do seem to get a kind of kudos with some of the dive centres abroad when you turn up with your AOW card.
I would recommend anyone who has done their OW does this course, it allows you to practice some further dive skills in a controlled environment, and to be honest it is a lot of fun. It will also give you an idea of which specialty courses you may wish to go on and complete. I have since completed Deep Diver, Dry Suit Diver, Wreck Diver, and Enriched Air Diver, and will shortly be doing my Navigation course.
Three Divers are on board a boat, One diver is a complete beginner, one is a BSAC diver, and there's one PADI diver.
The boat hits some rocks and rapidly begins to sink, so the three men start to debate the best route out of their situation.
The complete beginner wants to dump all of his gear, and swim to the shore.
The BSAC diver wants to put on all his kit, except his weight belt and amble in inflated safety across the surface, without forfeiting any of his precious, costly equipment.
The PADI diver ask the other two for £20 each and starts a briefing for a Wreck Dive.
Back in the late 1990s, when the Film Titanic was rapidly taking over the world, I qualified as a BSAC Sport Diver, which in English meant I was deemed competent enough to be allowed to dive to a maximum depth of 50 metres, but this came only after I had completed several hours of classroom theory, swimming pool practise sessions, and shallow 6 to 10 metre dives, under the watchful eye of several bearded men with big watches.
I was 16 when I first qualified as a novice and 18 when I turned Sport, and dived fairly regularly for the next 5 years, dutifully paying my annual membership to the British Sub-Aqua Club, annual subscription to the local Dive School, and all the other costs that come with most extreme sports pursuits, like beer and pies and extraneous carabiners.
The costs, and the bitterly cold water that we're blessed with in the U.K. - The River Ouse numbed my gums once - sort of got in the way of the hobby, and I resorted to becoming a "fair-weather" holiday diver - once or twice a year around whichever sea we happen to be staying nearest to.
For a few years, I was a very naughty boy, and dived essentially unqualified - I had lost my log books and qualification book in a house move - this usually involved the first dive of the day being a 'beginner' dive - these are designed for first time-divers, and get pretty tedious after the fourth or fifth time, before I was then allowed to mooch around at slightly better depths where the sea life is generally more varied and the dives more challenging and enjoyable.
Then, in 2006, I paid my first visit to Turkey, where seemingly the rules of Diving Governance are slightly more lapse and I was joyously floating around amongst slightly more experienced divers, and it was marvellous considering I was still without any proper, valid diving badges.
On our last visit, in 2008, all I'd had to do to prove my sub-aquatic prowess was to put my own kit together, heck, if you watch enough films, anyone could do that bit, before we leapt off the back of a boat without a hint of any sort of pre-dive briefing that would have let me know we about to descend to 32 metres - about 100 feet, before swimming through a submerged cave system, and emerging into a 'blue hole' where the light streams through a natural hole in the cliff face or landscape, giving a two-tone appearance to the water which was an amazingly spectacular sight, and precisely the type of dive I had always wanted to experience, but I was also very aware of the situation I was in, and knew I was pushing the limits of my own abilities somewhat. By the time I'd come to this conclusion, however, we were already on our ascent to the surface.
Dive two of the same day was what is known as a 'drift' dive, where essentially you descend to depth in a strong current, and ride the crest, going deeper to slow down and shallower to speed up. Drift dives are ordinarily laid back affairs, as you don't have to do much energy sapping swimming, which means you use less of the air in the tank strapped to your back, resulting in a longer dive, and ergo more fishy visions.
At 9 metres down, and at around 25 minutes, halfway into the dive, the needle on the gauge that told me how much air I had left in the tank made an almighty swoop from 120Bar to 40Bar.
A dive begins with around 200Bar, and you expect to complete a dive with a minimum of 50Bar. I made a calm "Low Air" hand signal to the accompanying Instructor, who looked a touch nonplussed, but it's difficult to then further communicate
"It's not my fault, the gauge must have been faulty"
in a hand signal that would be understood by an underwater Turkish man, without risking some serious offence being taken.
Within a few minutes, in which we were making a somewhat longer ascent than I'd expected considering the diving equivalent of the fuel light was shining brightly on my dash, the needle began to dip with every breath, and this meant only one thing - I was actually running out of actual air, like right there and right then, and we were still at 7 metres.
7 metres may not sound too deep, but the atmospheric changes in pressure in the first ten metres are effectively double those of the surface, so it would have been pretty risky to just 'pop-up' to the surface, and we'd been to 28 metres at the beginning of the dive, which meant a 3 minutes 'safety stop' at 5 metres.
I ended the dive wide-eyed and supping the air from the bright yellow spare regulator attached to the instructors gear. While these regulators are designed and carried for exactly this purpose, I never thought I'd actually have to use one in anger, so to speak.
The whole day's experience didn't put me off diving for life, like it possibly could have done to some, but it was definitely time to go 'official' if only for the insurance benefits, and dive with the confidence of a credit-card sized ID in my wallet, nailing my diving flag firmly to the PADI mast.
PADI are a world-wide diving brand, and armed with one of their cards, you can be accepted into experienced groups of divers of similar abilities to your own across the planet without having to complete 3 metre beginner dives, nor ask around the boats in the harbour for a captain who's willing to take a skinny Brit out for a days diving without any kind of accompanying formal paperwork.
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors http://www.padi.com) offer a thorough range of learn-to-dive courses, including the one which most suited and interested me - namely the Advanced Open Water Diver certificate.
Perversely, having done some 30-odd dives technically completely unqualified, and a further 60 whilst a legally wet teenager, I only had to complete a total of 7 dives, including a brief swim in a swimming pool, along with a 40 question multiple choice quiz, before I was allowed to call myself an "advanced" PADI diver.
One thing that I had learned from my past experiences, was that diving in clear, warm water is far more fun than diving in murky, seaweed-laden beaches off Moelfre in Anglesey. Even when you do run out of that most precious, life giving air.
This is why I chose to take my qualifying dives in the coral-tastic Sharm-El-Sheikh Red Sea region of Egypt - an area often hailed as a Mecca for divers who've never dived in the Caribbean, or Malay.
For USD$400, I was booked for a total of 1 day shore diving - 2 dives - to complete a SCUBA review to refresh my basic skills (again) and then 2 full days on a boat to complete the 5 dives necessary to call myself advanced, the price including the course fees, although the PADI manual was a further USD$25, the Diving Equipment USD$20 a day, and then USD$5 to have my photo taken on a digital camera - £20 each was clearly a special offer-price for a PADI wreck dive.
Payment aside, I was here for the diving.
First up, the SCUBA Review - this is compulsory for divers who are already qualified, but haven't dived for over a year, or for those who are wanting to transfer their skills from one recognised diving qualification to a PADI certificate. During a SCUBA review, you are required to refresh your skills including:
Safe diving practices
Dive planning fundamentals
Breathing air at depth (this is particularly helpful)
Recreational diving and dive tables. (basic knowledge and dive planning)
This manifests itself in the aforementioned quiz, and going up and down a pool in amongst the discarded plasters and thonged Russian women whilst showing no signs of panic or PTSD; followed, for us, by a 16 metre dive off the shore and a swim along the coral where the spiny and predator-less Lion Fish lurk, and the Anemonefish, or 'Nemo' as they're now known are fair prey.
I was joined on my SCUBA Review by two French men - a father and son team - which meant I had to wait for the instructor to explain our skills tests in French, before he'd tell me in English afterwards.
Papa was a competent and confident diver, but Nicole (I've changed their names to protect their modesty) was, at one point, totally out of his depth, and we were still in the pool. During the actual shore dive, Nicole was floundering like a mutated, man-sized kipper. Even some of the fish were looking on bemused. Thankfully for me, he safely completed the dive, and wasn't due to be joining us on the boat for the following day's activities.
The Advanced Open Water course is made up from 5 "skills" to practise, with 2 of the 5 being compulsory, and the remaining 3 being left up to me to choose from a list of 16 all together. Before you are allowed to partake in the diving, there are several Knowledge Tests to complete in the Manual, a lot like getting homework from school really, except sunnier.
The compulsory Adventure Dives are Underwater Navigator and Deep Diver.
For the former, I had to use a compass and a rudimentary knowledge of cub-scouting to swim in a big-ish square or a triangle, before paying attention to where my route was taking me, rather than being distracted by the fish. At some point during the dive, the instructor will ask you, through making a "cupped hand" hand-gesture and an inquisitive shrug of shoulder and tilt of head, to find your way back to the boat.
I've been lost in Kings Cross enough times to know the "left, left and left again" foolproof routine way of getting unlost from even the most lost of lostness. The most challenging part of this Dive was when, on returning to where we thought our boat was anchored, we were looking up at the hulls of four identical diving boats.
Nick, Nack, Paddywhack. Middle One.
Deep Diver takes you to 30 metres, the maximum depth that this level of qualification allows, and you do a couple of science-inspired experiments, like filling an empty water bottle with air at an underwater atmospheric pressure 4 times greater than the surface, and also looking at a tomato at 30 metres, followed by exercises to demonstrate that being at this depth hasn't made you lose your marbles, or co-ordination.
Tomato Observation may not sound exactly awe inspiring, but it is.
Honestly. They change colour and everything.
Well, they change colour. The light refraction through the water makes them look green. Woop.
Other than safely ascending from the dive, and taking in the sights like shoals of Tuna and the truly massive and lumpy headed Napoleon Fish, the Deep Dive is pretty straight forward. If you ignore the increased chances of suffering Nitrogen Narcosis.
For my remaining 3 dives, I chose Boat Diver (point out the bits of a boat - where's the 'Head' anyone?), Drift Diver (as explained earlier, only this time without the near-drowning) and Underwater Naturalist (point out 3 types of fish and show you recognised them at the end of the dive)
Other choices included Nitrox or 'Enriched' Air diving, Night Diver (no post-dive sun-bathing opportunity), Underwater Photographer (underwater camera required), Wreck Diving and Multilevel Diving amongst the list of 16.
The highlight of the three days, amongst a collection of highlights, would have to have been during the Drift Dive to 30 metres alongside a wall of Coral - imagine floating alongside a flowery cliff face with nothing but deep blue beneath you - and then seeing a Turtle.
I've always wanted to see a turtle in a dive - I've seen them from boats and harbours before, but never in underwater motion, and it still gives me a warm feeling that is not at all related to having a wee in my wetsuit.
My dives and course completed, an online form was filled out, and I received confirmation of my qualification through Email from PADI, and can expect my card to be delivered to my home within 90 days.
I have to dive at least once every six months to avoid having to repeat the SCUBA Review, but otherwise I'm now qualified for life, which can only be a good thing.
Luckily, I'm not due to be in warmer climbs for another 94 days, so even if it comes late, I'm still armed and ready, Like a proper Turtle.
Looking for adventure I dived (excuse the pun) into Sport Diver magazine and Diver Monthly to see where I could go to practise my new found diving skills. Imagine my disappointment on finding the wreck of my choice was 8 metres deeper than I was qualified to dive. Not a very happy bunny but all that changed when I discovered that I could complete an Advanced Open Water Course and then dive to see my wreck! The PADI Advanced Open Water course is designed to further enhance your diving skills to allow you to dive deeper and in a variety of scenarios by providing you with the theory and practical experience necessary. The only requirement for completing this course is that you have achieved the PADI Open Water qualification or equivalent. Dive Types The course itself is made up of five dives, two of which are compulsory dives and three of which you can pick from a number of different specialities. Each speciality dive is part of a course in itself and your dive for the advanced qualification counts as the first of the four dives that make up that speciality course. The compulsory dives are: Deep Dive, and Underwater Navigation The list for the optional dives is as follows: Altitude Diver For diving in lakes above 1000 feet Drift Diver For utilising currents to pull you along Dry Suit Diver Does what it says on the can… Multilevel Diver For planning dives that will encompass time at different depths Underwater Naturalist Introduces the underwater ecosystem Underwater Photography Guess what you learn here AWARE Fish Identification How to identify and report fish species as part of the PADI global commitment nature preservation Boat Diver Takes you through the differing procedures when using boat based diving Dive Propulsion Vehicle You learn to use those hand held James bond style mini submarines Night Diver Will give the chance to experience the totally different feeling encountered when diving at night Underwater Videograher Make movies of your dive And then there are the three we completed: Peak Performance buoyancy Search and Recovery Wreck Diver We were somewhat limited in our choice of optional dives by the dive site we were attending, as Stoney Cove (a purpose built inland dive site and totally separate op) does not have currents to allow drift dives nor the exotic varieties of fish to allow AWARE fish Identification so you need to check with your Dive School for the dives on offer. The Course After completing our required reading from the supplied Adventures in Diving book and logging the answers to the questions set in the knowledge reviews we were ready for our dives. We completed our course over one weekend starting with three dives on the Saturday and two on the Sunday. Although after taking four hours to drive to Stoney Cove (normally a journey of half that time) on Saturday there was some urgency to get all our gear on and get in the water Saturday Dive 1: Peak Performance Buoyancy Entering the water for this 40minute dive we start by ensuring we are correctly weighted to assist descent. We then descend and practise maintaining neutral buoyancy (remaining weightless so as to be able to hang suspended in the water). We complete a number of exercises then have all sorts of fun hanging upside down performing head over heels without touching ground well you get the idea. We spent a lot of time just hanging around!!! Oh god sorry for the puns. Saturday Dive 2: Underwater Navigation This dives teaches you how to use a compass and navigate underwater. Why do you want to navigate I hear you ask, well the sea is an awfully big place and imagine diving from a boat, swimming for an hour, then popping up anywhere….the odds on being back
at the boat are remote. So navigation teaches you a number of tricks for finding your way back to your point of entry from using a compass to navigate a square, to counting your kick cycles to calculate how far you have travelled, to using landmarks (I was going to put bottom marks there but sounded a little rude!) on the bottom to follow a path. It obviously worked as we then managed to swim off and after about 20 minutes arrive back at our exit point. Saturday Dive 3: Search and Recovery Be near water long enough and you are going to drop something in it, and as we know, what with currents, uneven bottoms, (no rude comments) and different bottom types, (look stop it I am talking about rock silt or sand) the odds on the object being directly below where we dropped it are remote. So this dive taught us how to find stuff, and it is really cool. Our instructor swam off and deposited a little blue rubber duck attached to 30 pounds of weight and we had to find it and bring it to the surface. Using our theory knowledge we commenced a circular sweep pattern and on the third sweep located the object. As it was too heavy to lift ourselves we had to attach a lift bag, inflate it and float the object to the surface. I am no good at knots on the surface try tying them 7 metres down in cold water! This has to be the most satisfying dive of the day. It was such a good feeling finding an object the size of a mobile phone in an area of about 100 square feet. So at the end of day one we packed up the gear and headed home tired but quietly satisfied and looking forward to the next day, and the “Big One”. Sunday Dive 1: Deep Dive (The Big One) Following the Open Water qualification I was authorised to dive to 18 metres but I wanted more. The Advanced Qualification allows diving to a maximum depth of 30 metres and this was it. Stoney Cove has a maximum depth of 36 metres so we had
to be careful to stay within the laid down recreational dive limit of 30 metres. As Stoney was a quarry there are a number of shelves that drop off to the next depth, but the big advantage is that the old road for the lorries to get to the bottom is still there so we decided to follow this slope down to our required depth. The other big issue to keep in mind is an effect called Nitrogen Narcosis. I will not go into a full explanation of the gases that make up air but suffice to say at a depth of around 24 metres some divers suffer narcosis caused by the narcotic effect of breathing the nitrogen component of air at greater than normal pressures leading to loss of judgment and motor skills. To assess this we had a simple task: on the surface we were given a number in hand signals, we repeated this number then added one and gave the total as a hand signal. This we would do on the bottom and see the reaction time difference! Descending down the road we passed 6 metres, no problem, water temperature still ok visibility still about 5 metres. At 20 metres the water is really cold, my hands started to hurt and visibility was only 3 metres. 29 metres, our final stop the water was freezing my fingers were going numb and I could only see about a metre. Still I managed to give the hand signals and watch as one of the guys obviously suffering narcosis took about 45 seconds to add 7 and 1 to make 8. Turning we began our ascent stopping and remaining neutrally buoyant at 5 metres for 3 minutes to allow any nitrogen build up to in our bodies to dispel to a level where we could safely surface. What a feeling! Diving that deep is totally amazing and I cannot wait to dive in clear waters with lots of wildlife and good visibility to enjoy the full effect. Sunday Dive 2: Wreck Dive After a good surface interval to ensure our nitrogen levels are safe we plan our final dive of the course. We are to descend to 20 metres to expl
ore the wreck of a tugboat sunk specifically for this purpose. We descend from the marker buoy using the line as our guide to drop us directly onto the stern. Descending to 26 metres we enjoy the view of fish swimming through the propeller before we make our way to the bows. Popping up over the bow we can put our heads into the old wheelhouse and watch the bubbles caused by our exhalations ripple on the underside of the roof as the pressure creates a surface 20 metres down. Moving back to the stern we peer into hatches and watch the escaping bubbles from qualified divers inside the wreck. Alas the instructors insurance does not allow unqualified divers to enter the wreck so we have to make do with swimming round and over it. Time as usual flies past and 37 minutes later we are again ascending to complete our safety stop and exit the water. Qualified I am now an Advanced Open Water diver and can dive to 30 metres with a buddy of equivalent or higher qualification. If I want to take an adventure course specialising in say wreck diving I have already completed the first of my required dives to complete that certification. Information Once again I completed this course with the guys at Scuba Zone, thanks go to Barry and Sam for another excellent weekend of diving. Their web site is shown below. The course itself cost approximately 200 pounds and includes all training materials, and equipment, except mask fins and snorkel. Stoney Cove is rated as the best inland European dive site and well worth a visit. It costs 9 pounds to dive for a day there. I hope this had given you a taste for the options available to you in diving. There are so many courses to choose from that there is something to suit everyone. www.scuba-zone.co.uk Stoney Cove, Stoney Stanton, Leicestershire, LE9 4DW Tel: 01455 273089 www.padi.com