On PADI Open Water Diving course you will learn fundamentals of scuba diving, including dive equipment and techniques. You will also earn a PADI Open Water Diver certification that is recognized worldwide. You earn this rating by completing five pool dives and knowledge development sessions and by making four open water (ocean or lake) dives.
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I completed my Padi open water diver course with Red Sea Diving College about 2 years ago now. And couldnt be more pleased that I did.
The course is available worldwide and through many different options, I went for the online theory which meant I studied through padis website before I left the UK so when I could spend all my time away diving and not in the classroom this was a great choice for this course. There are also other options such as a straight course from start to end with your centre, or a refferal which means you do all the theory and the pool work in the UK then just the seawork abroad. The course takes around 5 days but obvisouly varies depending on where you do it and via what method.
The course itself is great fun and very informative. There are a lot of skills involved but these are obvisouly important and should not be thought of as scary. everything is done in confined water first and you are only ever taken out of this when the instructors are happy. Sometimes this is a pool sometime a safe part in the sea.
My course with RSDC was good, the instructor very helpful and relaxed and would not let you proceed to the next step until he was happy, this might sound like a hassle but it means you are safe when out in open/deep water.
Now I started in the red sea which is clear warm water and was lovely because of that but there is no reason not to start in the uk. I would advice beginning in the summer simply because it eases you in the the temperatures and visibilities, best to start when it is good and then let your body get used to the declining temps etc over time as winter comes in rather than jumping in the 8 degrees and finding it such a shock you never do it again.
The course is well worth a go, if you like adventure, challenge, the underwater world. Do it.
And once you have started there is so much choice to carry on with and so many places to go.
The open water entitles you upon completion to dive without an instrutor or guide up to 18metres deep. although there is nothing saying you cant have a guide etc.
The next level is the advanced, which is also worth doing as it opens you up to many more dive sites are some are either too deep for open water or a little more tricky and need more experience.
A wonderful course, worth doing 100 times over. Padi is a worldwide company that is recognised anywhere and they have good standards and are a good company to go with.
Also very flexible for those not 100% able. I have known a disabled man who cant walk learn to dive, a blind women who did it for the feeling of floating underwater and many more, it can be worked around almost any problem.
I decided to do my PADI Open Water Diver course before going on a holiday to Borneo, so that I could take advantage of some of the fantastic diving around Malaysia whilst I was there. I opted to do the Open Water Referral course in the UK, this is where you cover your theory and pool sessions along with the exam with one school, and I completed my Open Water dives out in Malaysia. Before deciding which option is best for you consider what type of dive school you will have available to you on holiday, and how nervous you are when in the UK. I would recommend splitting the course out where you know you will have access to a good teaching dive centre, and if you feel fine when diving in the pool - it can be nerve wracking completing your first qualified dives with those more experienced so take this into consideration before making your decision.
Before deciding to take up diving as a hobby please consider the cost - this is a very expensive sport!! Your OW course will cost around £375-400 depending on how you do it and with whom, further courses are around £200 for AOW, and anything between £75-200 for specialty courses. Recreational diving is not that cheap either, expect to pay around £50 for a day of diving in the UK, including entry fee, dive gear rental and two tanks of air, abroad you will find it differs significantly depending on where you dive, so always check this out before you book a holiday!
You will be given a hefty divers manual when starting your course, along with an ERDP dive calculator/dive tables, a DVD, PADI dive log, and whatever other bits your dive school may choose to include. All this comes in a waterproof zipped folder - hang on to this as it will be extremely useful for carrying your log book and other diving items around in that you dont wish to get wet.
You will probably cover each theory section in the book prior to each of your pool sessions, as this will go over the skills that you will practice in the pool, and you will have knowledge reviews to complete at the end of each section. You will also have to complete a short test at the beginning of each of your theory sessions to ensure that you have learned the material sufficiently.
Your pool sessions will cover all of the dive skills that you will need to practice, the order in which these are practice can vary between dive schools and may be dependant on individual student learning rates, but as a basic guide you will probably begin your first session by practicing how to descend and ascend, and using the appropriate gestures. You may then go onto 'mask clearing' where you flood your mask with water and expel it using the water pressure, and you will practice some finning and perhaps even an underwater roly poly or two! As you progress you will go on to practice other skills such as complete mask flooding and mask removal, breathing from your buddy's alternative regulator, fin pivots, relieving leg cramps, towing your buddy, and alternative water entry methods.
Various skills may panic learner divers, and this is very normal, for example I found the mask removal skill very challenging as I usually breathe through my nose, and when you remove your mask your nose is free to then inhale water - which I did on my first go! Do not panic, and do all of your skills calmly and you will be fine. The instructors are always there to help and everyone I know has only had positive experiences.
Bear in mind there are swimming and treading water tests you must complete when learning to dive, you must be able to swim 400 metres and tread water for 8 minutes - if you are unable to do this your dive school will usually be able to arrange an instructor to help teach you these skills.
Once you have completed all of the pool sessions it is time to get out into the sea/lake/quarry! This feels completely different to your pool diving, however it is very liberating after being stuck in a small swimming pool for weeks! You will practice all of your previous skills again, only this time you have currents, and alternative buoyancy considerations to take into account, further to this your buoyancy is more important than ever as if you are a few metres down shooting to the surface can be dangerous, whereas in the pool this does not matter. If you dive in the UK you may also have to deal with very poor visibility, and very cold temperatures!
As a rough guide for your first dive you will be acclimatising to the open water, and may go down as deep as 12 metres, getting used to your buoyancy, and possibly practicing basic skills such as regulator removal and mask clearing. The second dive will progress to some of the more complicated skills, and the third one will probably involve the mask removal exercise, as well as 'running out of air' drills, and navigation practice. This dive may go down to the 18 metres, and in fact mine went down to 18 metres exactly, and I was balanced precariously on a steep sandbank whilst doing my dreaded mask removal! The final dive will probably just be for fun, letting you get the feel of your fins, and relaxing a bit.
The exam will basically be a combination of all of the tests you completed in the theory sessions, and will be a mix of question formats you have used previously. You will also be required to use dive tables or your EDRp dive calculator for a number of the questions. If you have paid attention throughout your course this will be no problem whatsoever.
Now you're done with the course there is nothing left to do but get out there and do some diving! You are now qualified to dive to 18 metres, so my advice would be to get as much practice as possible, as this will help you to get your weighting right, get used to controlling your buoyancy, and the more comfortable you are in the water the calmer you will be if any situation arises which calls for you to execute any of the skills you have learned during your course.
So good luck, and have fun!
The Open Water Diver course is the course set up by PADI for those who are new to diving and are looking to qualify to dive to a maximum of 18m.
The course consists of five pool sessions and four open water sessions with several skills that need to be learnt and practised.
For anyone new to diving, it's probably best to book yourself in for a try dive first. The sensation of breathing underwater and carrying all your dive equipment can be more than a little strange on your first try! People come to the Open Water Diver course from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences. Some people have only experienced a try dive in a local pool where as others have done a try dive whilst on holiday somewhere warm! This was me, having done a try dive on the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns; I knew it was something I wanted to continue and I finally got around to it earlier this year.
The pool sessions consisted of many skills involving the mask, the regulator and the BCD (buoyancy control device), as well as learning how to ascend, descend and swim with your buddy. Some of these skills can seem a little overwhelming, especially removing your regulator and swimming without your mask. I would just advise anyone to try and stay calm and that the skills are easily completed if you break them down into steps. Take breath, take out regulator, let it fall, blow out bubbles, lean over, collect regulator etc. I found that it was easier to tackle each little bit at a time rather than panic about the whole thing!
In addition to the practical sessions in the pool and open water, there are several class room sessions which are guided by the accompanying manual and DVDs. The book is fairly straight forward and introduces you to the basic science behind diving as well as the equipment and scenarios that you are likely to encounter in your diving career. The book is well set out and each mini section includes a few pointers on the bits of information you want to look out for. A small test at the end of each mini section helps drum in this information for the Knowledge Review at the end of each section. This all leads to a multiple choice test taken under the supervision of your dive instructor. This is nothing to worry about, if you pay attention to the book and the Knowledge Reviews, it's really no trouble at all.
And now on to the exciting bit! Open Water diving! This can be a bit intimidating; I will readily admit that I was nervous about being unleashed into the water that was deeper than two meters and crystal clear! However, my dive instructor and divemasters put me at ease and the briefings help you prepare yourself for what is ahead of you. Many of skills you have learnt in the pool are repeated here, along with a few more, including tired diver tow and a navigation exercise using a compass. The visibility the day I did my compass exercise was terrible and I was so proud that I ended up where I was supposed to!
I can easily sum up my experience of the Open Water Diver course. I was excited and nervous about learning so many new things, but never felt out of my depth (figuratively) and was reassured at all times by my instructors. There's no shame in not getting something right the first time. With a bit of practice and encouragement, you'll get there in the end.
I suppose that your experience on the course will be mainly dependent on the club that you learn with. My dive club has been formed less than a year but contains many experienced teachers and divers. They don't do this because they get well paid for it (I don't think they get paid at all), they do it because they LOVE it, and this shows through in their enthusiasm and encouragement. There are other ways out there to learn of course, for example, you can learn with BSAC. Not having done any courses with BSAC, I can't really comment or compare, but I can't say that PADI were lacking in anyway that I can think of. I haven't been given any reason to defect to BSAC!
I've often heard learning to dive compared to learning to drive, and I can see why. Your buoyancy is your clutch control, something that you can't quite get the hang of, but it just clicks one day. Your equipment are all the controls in your car, at first you give a lot of thought as to what you should be using and when, but eventually, it just becomes second nature. You learn the basics and the principles of diving in the Open Water Diver course, and then you've got to go out there and learn to be the best diver you can. Luckily, there's always another course to do with PADI and a good dive club will have plenty of trips for you to participate in. It's just the start of your diving journey!
I've just completed my open water certificate in the gloriously warm waters of the Dominicna Republic and all I can say is WOW!!!
I have wanted to do this for a while but never had the guts or the money. It cost $411 USD that was switched from my account. I expected £300 when I got home so I was dleighted when it was £265. That was for everything. The book, the instruction, the dives and also a free dive at the end of the course. I booked via a group called PRO DIVERS and my instructor was PADI registered. Most beach resorts have huts where you can book the course and they give you a taster for free before you go where they show you basic techniques like mask clearing. If you can't do it they won't book you up.
This cost also inclued the manual and the theory assessment.
Day one is a taster to see how you manage and if you decide to boko up you are picked early the next day, or whenever suits. I had a three day gap that let me read most of the book and it was a good choice as I found I had picked up loads more than if I had been under the sea learning.
I got picked up at 8.15 and sorted for fins then taken to the dive site for a 1/2 hour fun dive. I then resurface and get given a brief run doen on what tasks need to be done. Evreything is shown first and then you repeat. If you don't do it right you keep going. I was sick after both my dives as I could not get used to the sea but this was only on day one. Anti sickness tablets help immensly.
Day two was a similar set up with the fund dive and then resurface for instruction. At this point I was still panicing about clearing my mask but my instructor was excellent and when I had a panic under water he held my hand, literally, and I calmed down really quick. Not once was I judged or laughed at. After surfacing a second time I had to show I could navigate and swim int he surface strongly with some pretty big waves. The boat then pulle din to pick us up.
At the end of day two i had to sit a multiple choice paper. No serious time limit and I have to say i did well. And I had passed. I felt a bit of a fraud as I was still unsure about some things, or so I thought.
I then had my free dive a few days later and lets just say it all fitted into place perfectly. I had a great 45minutes under the water, still with supervision but the underwater world really opened up. If you think you have seen some amazing sights above the water under is equally if not more amazing. It felt like the set of Finding Nemo with the volume of tropical fish.
All in the diving course was worth the money, less than you would pay back home and all of the equipment was provided so no costly outlay. yes, I will need to get it over time but I only paid $6 for wet suit hire. The rest was provided. I have all my paperwork ready to send away for my full licence and am looking forward to many more dives to come.
If you go to Sosua Bay in the Dominican look for Eugene, excellent instructor. If you wind up at Blue Bay Villas Doradas go find Javiert at the towel hut. They will look after you.
I recently completed an Open Water Course with Maidstone Scuba and found them to be brilliant!
I did call a few of the others locally, including Blue Ocean, but overall found Maidstone Scuba were the best price. Others including Blue Ocean DO add extra bits on like another £150 or so for mask and fins making the course VERY much more expensive!
Maidstone Scuba DO HAVE a classroom at Maidstone Leisure Centre (at least they did have when I did my course) so don't know what the other reviewer is talking about!
Personally I didn't join their dive club as I don't intend diving in UK but if I had the cost of the course would have been even cheaper.
I found them to be VERY VERY good and apparently they trained the bloke that set up Blue Ocean... so possibly there are some bad feelings at Blue Ocean me thinks!!!
First things first, SCUBA is not any more dangerous than any other activity you might care to do on your time off work, as long as you have been trained and take care to follow the things you learn training there is no reason you should suffer any injury greater than the odd broken toe (dont drop weightbelts on your toes!) or bruises (try not to fall over the rocks when hopping around on one foot having just dropped a weightbelt on your toe).
For many people the lure of the ocean is great and a large number of people will take those first steps abroad somewhere nice and warm, others will choose to learn back home, where they can take their time and not spend their holidays learning. As with anything thats personal choice.
Once you know you want to learn to dive there seems a myriad of options towards how you learn, which of the training organisations do you go with, PADI, and BSAC are the more common ones in the UK - yes there are others but these are the two I know best. BSAC employs a club system which to be frank I dont really understand, so I can only describe the PADI method of training the newbie to recieve their first Certifiation which is Open Water.
On your first tentative visit to the dive shop there will seem a frightening array of platic and metallic 'things' ignore them, we keep them there to put off the unwary (honest - there are things in my local divestore I dont understand the purpose of after 9 years of diving). Concentrate on that slightly unfit looking guy behind the counter, you'll come to revere him as the 'dive god' he so cleary is, like a walrus what looks ungainly and ugly on the surface will be sleek and streamlined in the water, you'll see.
The Open water course is likely to set you back around £300, most good dive schools will tell you this includes everything from kit hire to air fills, but not any site fees (and if a school wants to charge you extra that divegods smile really is comparable to that of a dogey carsales man not the zeal of one who knows he is about to convert another unbeliever).
Obviously you need to be able to swim and be comfortable in the water, you shouldnt suffer from any serious heart or lung complaints - if there is any doubt about this then you'll be asked to get your GP to fill assess you before you can train.
As it is 9 years since I qualified it is worth mentioning that the age limits for training are anyone over the age of 10, with no upper age limit, though many UK dive sites will not allow divers under the age of 12 in to the water under any circustances so for me Id be happy to quote 12 in the UK, and 10 anywhere warm (as long as you go to a repuatable centre). If you are under the age of 10 then there is an entirely pool based course you can do but wont allow you to dive out of a pool environment.
After handing over your course fees you will be given a pack of training materials, a book and/or CDrom, your initial log book pages (youll need to buy the binder separately), and a plastic slate with a complicated looking table printed on to it (sometimes there'll be other stuff in there but these are the essentials).
The book is broken down in to short chapters these correspond to the 'tests' you will be asked to do after the 'lectures' at the dive school, these are really quite simple, more often than not they are taught in a couple of mornings with the video presentation and a chance to ask your instructor to explain better anything you didnt get the first time around. Throughout the book are 'knowledge reviews' some are multiple choice questions which are on or near the page on which youll find the answer, others wanting a line or two writing at to explain the answer - these are usually at the end of the chapters. The theory sections at this point are nothing to worry about, if you read the book and understand it then you should have no problem with the tests which simply serve as a longer lasting record that you do 'get it'.
Different dive schools structure things different ways when I learned we did the theory in the mornings then went to the pool to do the practical session now, the same school teaches all the theory before you go anywhere near the water, but any good school will explain the course format and time constraints before asking you to part with your cash.
The 'practical' sessions are 9 sessions/dives, five are done in a pool or other safe confined water which is generally no deeper than 3m, the other four are done in 'open water' the sea or a quarry are favourite options.
The first one I can guarantee will be the one that you get scared on if at all, the theory will have gone through the basics of the kit and how it all works and I dont know of any instructor who doesnt let students handle the kit during theory lectures. So while your on the poolside you'll find that you have the building of your kit demonstated usually by a divemaster(or mistress but for simplicity from now on I'll call them a DM) and your instructor. After that in you get, the shallow end that is. Putting your facew under water for the first time using scuba gear feels odd, and is quite a scary moment but as long as you have done the things youve been asked to you will be fine!
Throughout the course you'll be given chances to do various skills, some are fun and seem somewhat silly but have serious reasons (hovering in the pool is one, you might feel daft trying to make like a genie but bouyancy control is a hard skill to master but an important one), others like dropping a regulator and retrieving it are both frightening the first time you do them yet it is clear why you have to learn to do it.
Once your instructor is happy that you are comfortable proforming the basic skills you will be introduced to the world of outdoor diving, in the UK this usually involves at the very least a semi dry suit or dry suit, as the water is too cold for a wet suit, whereas those of you choosing to learn on holiday are more likely to be diving in a wetsuit (or if you are somewhere really warm just your cossie). In the open water dives you will repeat the same skills you did in the pool but in water which is generally colder, and deeper (take warm clothes for after you get out).
At any time if you arent happy or think you want more time to practise a skill ask the instructor or DM, they'll be happy to let you do so. Be it at another time or on the same day if you arent happy they shouldnt be happy.
Dive schools are not allowed to do all four open water dives in one day, nor are they allowed to to all five confined water/pool dives on the same day so expect the course to take a minimum of 4 days, most UK schools will do the training at weekends so around 4 consecutive weeks is to be expected.
Things you need to learn to dive are; an ability to swim - you will be asked to swim a short distance (around 200m is common) in the pool and to tread water for a few minutes.
A swimming costume - we dont much like people trying to learn to dive in the nude, and the kit might chafe.
I recommend wearing a t-shirt in the pool, not for warmth but I found the kit was a bit uncomfortable without it.
A big flask for tea/coffee/hot chocolate if you are doing open water dives where there are no facilities.
GSOH, most divers are good fun to be around but if you cant take a joke, then after you qualify you might struggle on trips.
There are recommended limits set by PADI for depths an Open Water diver should stick to, for a Junior OW diver (anyone between 10 and 15) it is 12m and you should be diving with either a parent or a PADI professional (DM or above) who is willing to take responsibility for you, any one who is over the age of 15 the recommended depth is 18m. Obviously the sea doesnt just stop at these points which is why further training is recommended though not mandatory.
There are two main ways of doing the OW course, the first is to do it all with one dive school, the second and a common option is to do the theory and confined/pool dives with one school then complete it with another school usually when you dont have the time to do the full course before a holiday, paying the first school for the theory and pool sessions and a second for the rest, so the cost of this option should be investigated.
Personally I look at the Open Water course as being very much like passing a driving test, you learn the skills and have the knowledge but it doesnt make you a diver, what makes a diver is how you use what you learn. I know divers who have never bothered to do further training people I look up to and respect for their abilities as divers, and others who have done all the qualifications in the world and yet in the water I wouldnt want anything to do with them. It really is up to you what you do with it.
I became a Padi Open Water diver at 58yrs old. I took the course with The Scuba Trust. This is a charitable organisation that teaches or retrains disabled people to Scuba dive. It always needs volunteers to assist or teach. It has trydives on the second sunday of every month at The Lord Mayor Treloars College, Alton, Hamps. Check out their website.
The course can take as long as you like with them. There is no hassle. They are very patient and everything is explained but they do like you to help out wherever possible. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Finally getting to swim in beautiful blue water and view the fish as you have never seen them before is the most wonderful experience. Tv programmes and aquariums are just not in the same league. I have now been to the Red Sea 3 times and have always been amazed at the diversity of sealife.
If I can do it so can you!
Last year I and my fiancé booked a PADI Open Water Diver Course with a diving centre in Maidstone (Blue Ocean Diving). On the phone they were quite pleasant and I went ahead and booked up at a cost of over £600 for the two of us. The pleasantness however stopped as soon as we had paid out our cash!
On the first day of our course we were told to attend their class rooms for our theory training. This turned out to be a full day of just hard (VERY HARD) sell! We were captive in their class room in the worst time share type nightmare you could imagine! We were told we should buy this or that or had to buy something else. We were the only two in the group that didnt buy anything on the first day and when it became time to go to the pool to do the practical side of the course didnt they let us know it! We were practically ignored. My fiancée had problems with her ears and had to descend very slowly, this seemed to aggravate the instructors to such an extent that she ended up in floods of tears. On the third day, before attending to do the Open Water dives at the local lake, we were told that unless we purchased at least a mask, snorkel and pair of flippers we would not be allowed to finish the course, despite the course supposedly being fully inclusive! In the end we simply gave up needless to say we did not get a refund!
However, all was not lost Having related this story many times to various friends, and also having booked a honeymoon in the Maldives, I was recommended to give scuba another go particularly as we were going to the Maldives). We were recommended to try a small family run dive school (also in Maidstone Kent) Maidstone Scuba School. What a difference! Kind, friendly, totally professional and with them EVERYTHING was not only included but the price was almost £100 cheaper each! There was no rush and no hard sell! We both completed our course which turned out to be fun instead of a slog. It just goes to show that its worth going by recommendation! Maidstone Scuba School were brilliant and we could not recommend them more highly!
I have just completed my PADI Open Water certificate and have to say WOW what a feeling you get when you experience the sensation of weightlessness (is that a word) under water. Hanging there watching the fish go by as you breathe underwater is like nothing I have ever experienced before it is totally amazing. This is to introduce you to the PADI Open Water qualification that allows you to travel the world and scuba dive to a recommended maximum depth of 18 metres using compressed air with a buddy (friend or partner) of the same standard or higher. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) PADI is the worlds largest diving organisation, although the others such as BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) are just as professional and train to a similar standard. I chose PADI just because the certification is so internationally recognised and anywhere in the world, even if the guys at a dive centre cannot speak very good English, they understand the word PADI. Although I learnt through a dive school based in London they are registered by PADI and all the training and course materials are supplied by PADI. The best thing to do is ensure the centre you are planning to learn to dive through is a 5 star, registered centre. This means that not only are the instructors trained and regularly examined by a PADI professional but all the kit and facilities are inspected as well. PADI OPEN WATER This is the first major instructional level for scuba diving. Before embarking on a full course if you have never tried the sport, and I thoroughly recommend it, you should go for the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience that gives you a chance to wear the kit and go for an accompanied dive to 12 metres just to give you a taste for diving. Sorry enough of me waffling lets get on with how the training works. The open water course is divided into five modules and combines course work, confined dives, and open water dive
s to put into practise the theory and a final exam (don’t panic more later) Course Work If on holiday and learning to dive you will probably cover the theory in a classroom environment. At the end of each module you will almost certainly take a confined water dive to put into practise that module. Learning as I did I studied the book and educational video at home in the evenings before attending my confined water practise sessions. Don’t worry you don’t need to be an academic to understand dive theory this is the man who hasn’t taken an exam since he passed his driving test 14 years ago and even I managed to pass. Each model covers the basic diving principles to be applied and introduces you to the kit you will be wearing. There are some facts and figures to remember as you work through, such as the pre-dive buddy check (you always check your buddies equipment and then they check yours before a dive) : BCD (Buoyancy control Device) Weights (to help you descend) Releases (to get rid of the kit in an emergency) Air (to breathe!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Final Check So how do you remember that order for the test ?…how about Bruce Willis Ruins All Films or Blonde Women Really Are Fun (apologies to Bruce Willis fans and Blonde Women who are not fun) As you can see pretty simple stuff so far! At the end of each module is a knowledge review, a kind of self-test with questions that prepare you for your final exam. The book and video (typical cheesy American training type video) take you from an introduction to the sport through to planning your dive, calculating your dive plan, looking after your equipment, reading the currents, and most important of all how to ensure that you and your buddy remain safe at all times Exam The exam is in the form of 100 multiple choice questions broken down into 5 sets of ten questions that are basically to test your knowledg
e of each individual module in the course. The remaining 50 questions ask a general mixture of questions across the entire 5 modules. Not too hard even I scored 98% at the end of the day. Confined Water Dives So now we move onto the fun part getting wet. Please note that you only have to complete the first module of the manual in order to start your confined water diving it was just easy for the purposes of this review to put the course details in this order. This part of the course normally takes place in a swimming pool or a very sheltered piece of water. You will be accompanied at all times by an instructor and a dive master and usually with PADI there are no more than 6 people to a group. In our case we took over the swimming pool at a girls school in Baker Street which was fine for the ladies in the group but us guys and the instructors had one gents toilet cubicle between us to change in believe me it makes you very good friends! The instructors will get you to take a swimming test to ensure you can swim 200 metres and float / tread water for 10 minutes. Obviously if you cannot swim there is no point diving, as swimming like a brick will always take you to the bottom but never up again! During these sessions you will practise assembling the kit, wearing it, and most importantly moving through the water in it. Other skills taught are emergency procedures such as mask removal and refitting underwater, sharing air, emergency ascents, and getting another diver to the surface. The 2 most important skills you learn to achieve at this stage are the never hold your breath underwater rule and how to achieve neutral buoyancy with the aid of your buoyancy control device. Getting this right means you can hang weightless with no effort whatsoever the most amazing feeling ever. So you have mastered all the skills and now you only have the final task to complete, this is it from now on it’s real.
Open Water Dives To gain your PADI Open Water Certificate you now need to make 4 open water dives in lakes, quarries, or the sea. This is still under the supervision of an instructor and is fantastic. You can either do these dives in England with your existing school or after completing the modules and confined water dives receive a referral certificate and finish your diving in a nice warm sea at a holiday resort. Now being the foolhardy sort and not being able to afford a holiday just yet I decided on diving in good old Blighty. So off we set to Leicestershire, of all places to Stoney Cove a purpose built quarry for diving (ooh another op there methinks). My thanks here go to Scuba Zone my dive school for providing very thick semi dry suits to keep us warm. The dark murky waters were not only freezing cold but visibility was about 6 metres meaning basically you could see nothing! The open water part of the course again gets you to practise all the skills you learnt in the pool but in a much harsher environment especially in England. At the end of all this you are a Diver, congratulations. Now one word of warning on exiting the water be very careful as a small slip by me ended with a dislocated thumb fractured in two places!! Cost Most dive schools will provide you with a wet suit or a semi dry suit, buoyancy control device, air tank, and regulator. You will need a mask, snorkel, and fins, how much you spend on these is entirely up to you. I bought my mask for about £5 a few years back just to do some snorkelling and have since found it is a proper dive mask, so a great cost saving there. The best thing to do is consult your dive instructor and take his / her advice on kit. The Open water course itself costs approximately £200 this includes all your diving fees, the equipment (supplied as listed above), course workbook, manual, video (refund of cost on return of video), divers
log book, and dive charts and manual. The time taken to do the actual dives for me was 2 evenings for about 3 hours each, the studying I did in my own time took about 5 hours, and the open water dives were conducted over one weekend. Conclusion All of this seems exceedingly like hard work and believe me when the cold water in England hit I did wonder what the hell I was doing, but thoughts of swimming in the red sea in crystal clear waters with an abundance of wildlife (her indoors heehee) and beautiful coral made it all worth it. The instructors are all very professional and make the learning easy and most of all great fun. I learnt with Scuba Zone in the Kings Road but that is a whole different review. I am off to do the advanced course in July that means I can dive to 40 metres and dive wrecks so I will tell you all about once I have completed that course. So it’s now off to get the brochures and head off to see friends who run a dive club in Dahab at the end of the year for some warm diving. Then next year South Africa to see some friends who run a dive club, and then after that Australia to my brothers old dive club honestly this sport is not addictive!! A cautionary note If you do learn to dive abroad in warm waters then decide to venture in to colder waters please talk to a local dive master and learn the kind of adjustments you need to make to dive in colder waters with less visibility and remain safe. Info PADI information can be found at www.padi.com Scuba Zone can be found at www.scuba-zone.co.uk