Articles Comments

Divetalking » Advance your Scuba Skills and rating

Advance your Scuba Skills and rating

Hello, that’s me, Larry Davis, BIO.

I am glad you are here. It means you are at the point where you want or need to advance your scuba skills. Experience in this sport counts a lot and I commend you on your efforts to gain that experience. Please continue to read on to find what I am able to provide you. Feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to help you answer any questions allowing you to make the best decision for your future training and adventures.

Getting your Open Water Certification is certainly an exciting time in your life. You become part of a unique family of individuals that hold a certification that provides a unique benefit. You may now plan on diving when on vacation, rent equipment, get air fills for your tanks and opens many doors of opportunity. You maybe planning a trip where you find the dive operator has requirements you do not posses or worse, there may have been a time when you wanted to dive a site and found the dive operator required an Advanced Certification or some specialty certification. Whatever that certification was, what a bummer you were not able to go. That dive site was something you wanted to do. The advertisement, pictures and description sounded great yet you are not allowed to go. You vowed to not let that happen again and promise yourself to gain more experience and certifications under your belt.

Why get a certification?

Just like driving, you needed to get a permit or a license. You read a book, took a written test, even demonstrated your basic knowledge of driving. Having this, you were legally allowed to get behind the wheel and begin learning how to drive. Comparing your driving skills today to back then would you say you are more experienced and knowledgeable as a driver? I would like to think, yes. You gained that knowledge and experience over time by doing. You did not gain it by reading a book, Lectures, by taking a test alone. Those things only opened the door to begin the adventure. Scuba Diving is the same way. You take a class, read a book, perhaps take a quiz or an exam and earn a certification that provide you with the basic concepts to get you on your way. It provided you with guidance and the tools to grow. It sets a course on how to do things the right way. They planted seeds and experience taught you the rest. The same goes for scuba education. Find a great instructor, drink in their experience, apply it and over time, your experiences makes performing that skill so much better.

Examples of a Few Scenarios

Here are a few common scenarios most new divers experience. During your dives you observe you run low on air before the dive time is up. I know I would want to maximize my dive time. You pay good money to go diving and you want to stay down with the rest of the divers. What can be done to help manage your air consumption? Perhaps it’s the opposite, you find your dive time is running low and yet you still have plenty of air. What can be done to increase dive time? You may ask, why don’t I carry a camera to show others what I have been experiencing. To say, ea, this is what I do! But you don’t know anything about photography, especially how to shoot underwater.

Air Consumption

In the above scenarios there are options that allow you to experience, expand your knowledge and receive certifications that address those challenges. For example, managing your air consumption. What are some thoughts on why you’re coming up short on air, and what may you do to manage that? Some thoughts that come to mind are: Are you weighted correctly? It’s not just the amount of weight but the placement of the weights. Breathing techniques… Can that be improved and how? Diving style, are you darting around, chasing subjects or calmly enjoying the view from where you are? The equipment you use, is it well maintained and tuned for optimal performance? Is it owned or rented? Does it have features that allow you to make adjustments to it? These are just a few reasons why you may be running low on air sooner than others and all these may be addressed in a few courses.

Bottom Time

Another is your bottom time is expiring before your air runs low. Find yourself saying, If I only had more time. You may of course dive shallower but this doesn’t allow me to reach the sites I want to dive. This shortfall on time may be addressed through acquiring your Enriched Air Certification. Enriched air as it is called is due to the gas in your cylinder has been enriched with oxygen. The air we breath contains approx 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen. When the gas in your cylinder is enriched with oxygen, the percentage of oxygen is increase while the percentage of nitrogen is decreased. For example you may have a mix of 32% oxygen and 68% nitrogen. The decrease in nitrogen in the cylinder as well as the increase in oxygen provides for longer bottom times. Let me provide you an example.

Enriched Air

Lets use 60 feet in this example. On air, the Maximum bottom time is 55 minutes. The air we breath is comprised of approximately 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen. When your cylinder is enriched with, for example 32% oxygen and the nitrogen is reduced to 68% the maximum bottom time at 60 feet is now 90 minutes. That is an increase of 35 minutes of additional bottom time. If you were on 36% that time would increase to 115 minutes. You can see one of the added benefits of using Enriched air or what is commonly called, Nitrox. Extended bottom time.

Navigation

Have you ever had to navigate on your own? Find your way back or perhaps have a group of divers turn to you looking for direction to say to yourself, “Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.” It would be nice to have under your belt some techniques to help guide you in the right direction as well as distance, wouldn’t it? Do you carry a compass on all your dives? Do you know how to use it? How about identifying natural landmarks, use depth, turbidity, currents as a tool to help guide your way, ever try using those? Navigation is one of the skills I find very important and I highly recommend it be practiced on every dive. Taking a Navigation specialty will help guide you in the right direction towards gaining the knowledge to explore outside your current comfort level, to gain that experience that makes you a much better navigator.

Dive Tables vs. Computer

I teach tables. Computers are nice, and convenient and the good ones are pricey. Though the industry leans toward computers, it is the understanding of the fundamentals that keeps us honest and aware. It tells us how and why a computer calculates and should your computer fail, what will you fall back on? Yes, tables. PADI calls them Recreational Dive Planners or RDP. Here are some articles posted on divetalking on the Recreational Dive Planner, RDP. I encourage you to read each one and take the quiz before reading and after reading to compare your results.

Recreational Dive Planner, RDP

Understanding the Recreational Dive Planner, RDP
RDP Plus, those grey and black boxes
RDP Plus, Calculating Surface Interval

After reading the above articles, take the RDP Quiz
Recreational Dive Planner, RDP Quiz

How may I help?

What ever the reasons you turned towards training, advancing your knowledge and skills can be a good thing. Here is where I come along. I offer you knowledge transfer that will enhance both your knowledge, your skills, and comfort level. The knowledge I posses was gained over many years of working and playing in the diving arena. I will work with you to observe, recommend, observe some more to help you tune your awareness which lead toward tuning your skills. The knowledge and experience you gain will leave you feeling more aware, attentive, and confident and your skills will grow exponentially. Your dives will be much more enjoyable and you may begin focusing on the reason for the dive, than the dive itself.

Expectations

Just like you have expectations of me, I have expectations of you. I have been teaching in one form or another for many years. The basics of how to teach is the same regardless of the subject. Ours happens to be related to diving. First, I commit myself to you. I will match my dedication with yours. I will commit as much of my time as you are willing to commit yours. In other words, if one continually shows up late, has an attitude, resist, display negative or I can’t do attitude, we will not go far together. I can say this because I have seen and experienced it.

Students are expect to come prepared for the day. Any assigned reading, videos, reviews, exercises must be complete prior to engaging in the respected course. It is this work that the foundation is laid for what you are about to experience. The more prepared, eager and dedicated you are, the more you will learn. You will get to practice and display your comprehension and abilities that far exceed the expectations laid out for the course.

I cannot afford to have one student dragging down the rest. Time and money is important to everyone involved. I hope you can respect what I am saying. I am not a hard core, by the book, instructor. I am fairly easy going, explain concepts and terms that convey the meaning of the point being made and I like to do it while having fun and remaining safe.

On the other side of that coin is full commitment. When you show up early and eager, I show up early and eager. When you are willing to stay late, I am willing to stay late. If performing a fun dive after training to further enhance what you learned, I will dive with you at your request.

Certification is earned

This is not a pay and you get a certification. The education you receive is attentive, detailed, textbook academics, discussions, theory as well as in water (for those courses that require dives) which include my over 40 years of diving experiences. My knowledge and time is valuable and I am willing to share my knowledge and experiences with you. You will be spending a proportionate amount of time reading, studying, researching, taking quizzes and perhaps an exam in addition to your dives.

Your training evolution is choreographed to allow the best training to be exercised, in a specific order that allow each of the topics to build upon one other. You may be part of a class, which has other students. That is why it is imperative you stay ahead in your assignments and come well prepared. I strongly recommend you do not wait until the last moment to prepare.

When you complete your training, you will receive a certification for those you have earned, that allow you the opportunity to better enjoy your dives and open up opportunities you have yet to discover.

Who is a candidate?

Anyone at Open Water Level and higher who is committed to putting in the time and effort. This mean that for an open water certified diver, you may earn your Advanced Open Water Certification as well as a few others depending on time and comprehension.

Various courses for your consideration

Advanced Open Water, AOW Certification

If you are working towards earning your Advanced Open Water Certification, you will perform up to 5 dives towards your certification. During the dives, you will spend a little time performing required skills yet most of the time you are enjoying the dive. You may find more information on what specialties you may choose to support your AOW Certification just below.

Specialties and Master Diver Certifications

If earning certifications on specific specialties is your reason for attending, you may choose from the same list of available specialties found just below. Each specialty has it’s own set of training material, required number of dives and skills to perform. If you are AOW certified, hold a Rescue certification and are CPR Certified, you could potentially go home with a Master Diver rating, the Highest Non-Professional Rating a diver may earn.

CourseMin. AgeRequirements for certificationPreReqAOW MaterialsSpecialty Materials
Master Diver125 PADI Specialty Certifications, Rescue, CPR, 50 logged divesAOW,X

Earn your AOW or Specialty Certification

There are a number of avenues one may take. To help keep things organized, a list of prescribe dives applied towards your Advanced Certification or your specialties are available to choose from. For those looking at acquiring their Advanced Open Water, the dives marked Required are a must do. They are considered ‘core’ dives and are required to be conducted, along with three of your choice to earn an Advanced Diver Certification. In the list below you will choose three (3) distinct dives that will be added to the two (2) Required for a total of 5.
If you are earning specialty certifications, each dive listed below has its own respective specialty material and required number of dives.

CourseMin. AgeRequired DivesPreReqAOW MaterialsSpecialty Materials
AOW125OWX
Boat102OWXX
Shark Conservation122Adventurer
Deep154OWXX
Delayed Surface marker122OW
Digital UW Photography101 or 2OWXX
Drift102OWXX
Dry Suit101 confined, 2 open waterOWXX
Enriched Air122 (Optional)OWX
Fish ID102OWXX
Night123OWXX
Peak Performance102OWXX
Navigation103OWXX
UW Naturalist102OWXX
Search & Recovery124AOWXX
Wreck154AdventurerXX

* Dives marked with an asterisk have additional requirement.
Navigation: diver required to have a compass
Digital Underwater Imaging: diver to supply their own camera (Ie. GoPro)
Dry Suit: diver to supply their own dry suit
Enriched Air: Is a separate course with respective course fee and course material.
Full Face Mask: diver supplies their own full face mask. Must carry an additional dive mask and secondary stage regulator
Shark Conservation: requires an additional fee to cover the extended trip, a minimum of 16 years old, and a full piece black wetsuit
Night: Requires an additional fee. A dive light referred to as a torch is required. A second light highly recommended.
Delayed Surface Marker Buoy: Diver supplies Surface Marker Buoy and reel/finger spool (60′ minimum length)
Search and Recovery: Requires diver to be certified AOW

Subjects to highly consider. The following electives are recommended in order of importance:

Peak Performance Buoyancy
Navigation
Deep
Enriched Air
Drift
Night
Boat
Wreck
Delayed Surface Marker Buoy
Digital Underwater Imaging
Fish Identification

AOW and Specialty dives conducted from a boat

Dive sites will be selected to best suit the dive being conducted. For example, a deep dive will be conducted between the depths of 60′ to 120′. A wreck dive will be on an actual wreck, night dives at night, lionfish at sites known to have lionfish.

Enriched Air Nitrox

The PADI Enriched Air Diver course is PADI’s most popular specialty scuba course because scuba diving with enriched air nitrox reducing nitrogen accumulation, provides longer bottom time and shortens surface intervals. If staying down longer and getting back in the water sooner sounds appealing, don’t hesitate to become an enriched air diver. Must be at least 12 years old.

AWARE-Fish Identification

“What was that fish?” is a common question heard after a dive. If you want to be the scuba diver with the answers, instead of the one asking the questions, then take the AWARE – Fish Identification Specialty course. You’ll enjoy your dives even more when you recognize the creatures that you see and can identify the main fish families and their characteristics.

If you’re at least 10 years old and a PADI (Junior) Open Water Diver or higher, you can enroll in the AWARE – Fish Identification course.

Boat Diver

Much of the world’s best scuba diving is accessible only by boat. Whether you’ve never made a boat dive or you’ve logged dozens, the PADI Boat Diver Specialty course will benefit you because boats in various parts of the world do things differently. Scuba diving from a boat is fun and relatively easy because you usually descend directly onto your dive site.

If you’re a PADI (Junior) Open Water Diver who is at least 10 years old, you can enroll in the Boat Diver course.

AWARE-Coral Reef Conservation Diver

Everyone likes to scuba dive or snorkel in warm, clear water on a vibrant coral reef, yet many people know little about what they’re seeing or the importance of reef ecosystems. The AWARE – Coral Reef Conservation Specialty course helps you appreciate the complexity of these habitats and teaches you how you can help conserve these vital systems.

Anyone who has an interest in the aquatic world can take this course. There are no prerequisites or age restrictions and no water sessions are required to earn this non-diving certification.

Digital Underwater Photographer

Underwater photography is one of the most popular diving specialties, and with so many underwater cameras to choose from, it has become easier and more fun than ever to capture images of your underwater scuba adventures. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course gets you going quickly, whether you use a point-and-shoot camera or a sophisticated dSLR like the pros.

PADI (Junior) Open Water Divers who are at least 10 years old are eligible to take the Digital Underwater Photographer course.

Deep Diver

The lure of the deep. There’s something exciting and mysterious about exploring deeper dive sites while scuba diving. Sometimes it’s a wreck that attracts you below 18 metres/60 feet, and on wall dives it may be a giant fan or sponge. Whatever it is, to scuba dive with confidence at depths down to 40 metres/130 feet, you should take the PADI Deep Diver Specialty course.

If you’ve earned the PADI Adventure Diver rating or higher, and you’re at least 15 years old, you can enroll in the Deep Diver course.

Drift Diver

The PADI Drift Diver Specialty course teaches you how to enjoy going with the flow as you scuba dive down rivers and use ocean currents to glide along. It feels like flying – except that you’re underwater using scuba equipment. Drift diving can be relaxing and exhilarating at the same time. If this sound like fun, then the Drift Diver course is for you.

If you’re a PADI (Junior) Open Water Diver who is at least 12 years old, you can enroll in the Drift Diver specialty course.

Drysuit Diver

Want to stay warm? Want to extend your scuba diving season? Then dive dry. A dry suit seals you off from the water and keeps you comfortable, even in surprisingly cold water. There is incredible diving in the world’s cooler regions and in some areas, conditions are even better in colder months. Becoming a dry suit diver allows you to expand your boundaries and dive more places, more often.If you’re at least 10 years old and certified as a PADI (Junior) Open Water Diver or higher, you can enroll in the Dry Suit Diver course.

Night Diver

The thought of dipping below the surface at night seems mysterious, yet so alluring. Although you’ve been scuba diving at a site many times before, at night you drop into a whole new world and watch it come to life under the glow of your dive light. The scene changes as day creatures retire and nocturnal organisms emerge. If you’ve wondered what happens underwater after the sun goes down, sign up for the PADI Night Diver Specialty course.

PADI (Junior) Open Water Divers or higher, who are at least 12 years old, can enroll in the Night Diver specialty course.

Peak Performance Buoyancy

Excellent buoyancy control is what defines skilled scuba divers. You’ve seen them underwater. They glide effortlessly, use less air and ascend, descend or hover almost as if by thought. They more easily observe aquatic life without disturbing their surroundings. You can achieve this, too. The PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course improves the buoyancy skills you learned as a new diver and elevates them to the next level.

PADI (Junior) Open Water Divers or higher, who are at least 10 years old, are eligible to take the Peak Performance Buoyancy course.

Search and Recovery

It happens: People accidentally drop things from docks, off boats or even while scuba diving. If you’ve ever lost something in the water and wanted to go find it, then the PADI Search and Recovery Diver Specialty course is for you. There are effective ways to search for objects underwater that increase your chances of success. And there are good and better methods to bring up small, large or just awkward items. Search and recovery can be challenging, but a whole lot of fun.

PADI (Junior) Advanced Open Water Divers who are at least 12 years old can enroll in the Search and Recover Diver course. PADI (Junior) Open Water Divers with a PADI Underwater Navigator certification also qualify.

Wreck Diver

Whether purpose-sunk as an artificial reef for scuba divers, or lost as the result of an accident, wrecks are fascinating windows to the past. Ships, airplanes and even cars are fascinating to explore and usually teem with aquatic life. Each wreck dive offers a chance for discovery, potentially unlocking a mystery or spying something others have missed. The PADI Wreck Diver Specialty course is popular because it offers rewarding adventures while observing responsible wreck diving practices.

If you’re at least 15 years old and have earned a PADI Adventure Diver certification or higher, you can enroll in the Wreck Diver Specialty course.

Underwater Navigator

Be the scuba diver everyone wants to follow because you know where you are and where you’re going. The PADI Underwater Navigator course fine-tunes your observation skills and teaches you to more accurately use your compass underwater. If you like challenges with big rewards, take this course and have fun finding your way.

If you’re a PADI (Junior) Open Water Diver who is at least 10 years old, you can enroll in the PADI Underwater Navigator Specialty course.

Underwater Videographer

Video is the best way to share the sights, sounds, motion and dynamics of the underwater world. If you want to get the best clips and also learn to edit your scuba diving stories to share with friends through ScubaEarth® and other social media, then the PADI Underwater Videographer Specialty course is for you. Learn to create underwater videos that are interesting, entertaining and worth watching again and again.

If you’re a PADI (Junior) Open Water Diver who is at least 10 years old, you can enroll in the PADI Underwater Videographer Specialty course.

Lionfish

The Lionfish Course, educates divers about invasive Lionfish, including the essential Lionfish facts and their progressive invasion of the North-western Atlantic and the Caribbean. The course explains why action is required now to control the population and describes a practical way to safely and humanely capture and euthanize these fish, along with behavioral characteristics. Two dives are included in the course for practical application of the knowledge. Upon completion, students will be issued a new PADI c-card.

Training Material

There are two forms of study material for you to select from.

  • Digital
    • Tablet or Mobile Device
    • Desktop or Laptop
    • Available Digital Courses, Material: (As of 09/2020)
      • PADI Open Water Diver
      • PADI Advanced Open Water Diver
      • PADI Rescue Diver
      • PADI Divemaster
      • PADI Enriched Air Diver
      • PADI Digital Underwater Photographer – web version only
      • PADI ReActivate
      • Dive Theory
      • PADI Instructor Development
  • Manual
    • The complete course curriculum

The Digital version provides the training material online. It is administered through and by PADI. You read, answer, review questions, take quizzes, and exams online. Material is available for one year starting the day of activation. The Average investment for Digital is approx. $180/material. Once you complete the online course, your next step is to perform water skills.

The Manual is a physical book. Quizzes and Exams are conducted through your Dive Instructor. Materials are yours to keep and reference for a lifetime. Investment for Manual ranges between $40 – $95/material.

Which ever method you choose, when you are ready to begin your training, contact me to discuss your options and help you decide which and acquire your material, travel, accommodations, diving and training needs and find what your training investments will cost. I will do my best to make this as convenient and pleasing for all involved.

How do I get my training material ?

Good question. There are three options available.

  1. Buy the Digital material online, direct from PADI.
  2. Buy the Digital material through me. The advantage here is I will be able to monitor your progress. I will see which subject you excel in and which require more attention. We will work together during this portion of the training benefiting both for when we reach the open water portion.
  3. Buy the Manual(s) through me or through your local dive shop.

If you choose the local dive shop for any reason to assist you through your Digital or Manual portion, you will work with them. When you are ready for the in-water portion with me, you may need to get a referral from them to continue training with me. A referral comes in the form of a document they sign-off statinng that both you and they have gotten you to the point you are ready for the in-water portion of the training. For most of the courses listed above, no referral is needed.

How much of an investment will I need for my training?

The specific number can not be determined here. Many factors go into determining your investment in continued education. It can be from a few hundred or thousands.There will be at a minimum training material cost, and Instructor fees. Depending on how and where, you may have travel, lodging, etc.. What ever the cost, you are investing in you. Let me give you an example of what I invested in acquiring my Master Diver rating. I performed my Master Diver training in Belize on the island of Ambergris. I paid the instructor $75/dive plus the dive charter another $75/2 tank trip back in 2002,, 4 dives a day, $375/day for 6 days of training. Along with the training investment, I invested in Training materials, travel, lodging, food, etc. I could not have received the experiences from where I lived of boat diving, reef, sharks, ocean, breaking a fin strap just before a back roll night dive to have another diver offer the string from their gear bag as a replacement, The Blue Hole, Lighthouse reef and much more. I can still see images of the diving, the people that I have met, the evening chats sitting outside of the diveshop with the staff, the dock, the boats, the break in the reef still resonate in my mind almost 20 years later. That is what my Master Diver Certification was worth to me. Click here to see my personal ratings.

Where does my training take place?

You ask very good questions. This page being posted on the Internet, you may be located anywhere in the world. That means training may be conducted almost anywhere in the world. Primarily, training is conducted in Florida for the diverse diving opportunities. Of course, continued education may be conducted in conjunction with a trip you are planning, almost anywhere in the world. Indonesia, Philippines, Central America, Caribbean for example. We may discuss your options if planning on conducting your training outside of Florida.

Summary

I sure hope I provided you with more than enough information to feed your appetite. To summarize what is available for you to choose is Advanced Open Water, Specialties and if the PreReq are in place, a Master Diver Rating which would be the ultimate certification. Training take place in Florida yet it could take place almost anywhere in the world.

I look forward to hearing from you. We will walk through your wants and needs, lay out your course options, we will decide on a location(s) and dates and we’ll go diving. Go out and start encouraging your dive buddies to join you on your adventures.

Resources:

General Travel Resources

Contact me

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!