THE IMPORTANCE OF SCUBA FINS & HOW TO EVALUATE THEM
Vinnie’s Mythical Cressi Master Frogs
Scubapro Seawing Novas
Vinnie’s Mythical Cressi Master Frogs
Scubapro Seawing Novas
Most visitors who come to the Andamans do try an introductory scuba program such Try Scuba / PADI Discover Scuba Diving and find it an amazing experience. But many of them are not aware that there is also the option to become a certified diver, the benefits of doing so or even how easy it is to get certified.
Let’s talk about the 2 basic options for beginners:
Option one to a introductory scuba diving program, be it the very basic Try Scuba or the more immersive/experience-rich PADI Discover Scuba Diving, which is designed to give people a taste of scuba. There is a dive professional in the water with you at all times, who is responsible your safety during the program.
Option two is a certification course, aka the PADI Open Water course or PADI Scuba Diver course: these are designed for people who want to take up this amazing sport in a more in-depth manner, and who want to keep exploring the oceans in different parts of the world. It consists of 3 elements: academic development, skills practice and ocean dives. At the end of this, you get a certificate which is valid for a lifetime, and which lets you dive anywhere in the world.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? I mean, you can dive as is without that certification card, so why go through all the trouble? Why not just do more introductory scuba experiences wherever you go?
Well, yes, you can. Nothing wrong with that and many people do just that.
However, the intro programs are all designed to be just that – intro. While the instructor does handle your safety in such cases, there are several things that the instructor cannot do for you. So all responsible dive centers conduct the Intro to Scuba / Try Scuba / PADI Discover Scuba Diving programs in locations where the conditions are benign, predictable and as much within the instructor’s control as possible.
For first timers, these is still a marvellous experience – virtually everyone who tries scuba for the first time comes out having experienced the “wow” factor.
But… the “wow” becomes “OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT WOWOWOWOW!!!” when you get certified: it is yet another level of amazing when you are able to go deeper: the kind that sinks its claws into you and makes this a passion that you want to indulge in regularly, just like going hiking in the mountains or on safari trips.
It is surprisingly easy to get certified – you complete your theory at home, using online learning. Skills training takes 1-2 days, 2-4 hours per day, leaving the rest of the day free for other sightseeing. Then you do 4 dives over 2 days, again each day’s sessions lasting about half a day. And you are done. You don’t have to be a fantastic athlete or great swimmer either – basic swimming skills are required, average fitness (ability to walk 1-2km) and, in the event of pre-existing medical conditions, a doctor’s clearance. So in 3-4 days, you can earn a license to explore the magic of the underwater world, whereever you go.
If you live in Delhi, Bombay or Bangalore, you can even do your skills training there over a weekend – thereby requiring just 2 days to get certified!
IDC Prep: March 19 – 23, 2018
IDC: March 24 – Apr 5, 2018
IE: April 6 – 7, 2018
MSDT & Internship after the IE
One of the most essential skills in diving is learning to how to clear your mask. Water entering the mask is a fairly common occurrence and learning to clear this efficiently can make the difference between continuing to have an enjoyable diving versus one where you get stressed, with potentially dangerous consequences. If you are nervous about clearing your mask, practice till that nervousness goes away. You only need a couple of things to click – and once they do, they’ll remain with you forever. Spend the time needed to nail this skill, because it really is fundamental to diving safety. Read the complete article on How to Clear your Mask: Steps, Variant, Problems and Prevention
Scuba Diving Courses Andaman: Learn Scuba Diving
For those interested in learning to dive, we offer the Open Water Course.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an expert swimmer, or a daredevil adventurer in order to dive. Recreational diving is one of the safest sports around, and is suitable for everyone from the age of 10 to 65-plus. All you need is basic swimming capabilities, moderate fitness levels (ability to walk a kilometer or two without fatigue) and good health.
The Open Water course consists of 3 sections:
– Academic development: Here, you learn the theory of diving. This is covered in a mix of video, self-study and instructor briefings
– Confined water training: here, you master the essential skills of scuba, starting from the simple (breathing underwater) and working your way up to complex (removing/replacing your equipment underwater)
– Open water dives: now you get a chance to apply everything that you have learned by actually diving. We do 4 dives in the open water, where you repeat some of the skills that you learned earlier, and where you also get a chance to dive, enjoy yourself and soak in the wonders of the underwater world.
At the successful completion of this course, you receive a certification card from PADI or SSI, two of the largest diver training agencies in the world.
A quick word on these agencies: either of these cards will let you dive anywhere in the world – both are universally accepted (contrary to a popular misconception that one works better than the other). They are also interchangeable (you can start with one and switch to another, and each agency recognises the other’s cards). Regardless of which option you choose, you get a high-quality course. There are some minor differences in curriculum (more so at higher training levels), add-ons and pricing, and these, rather than brand, should form the basis of your decision. Our instructors will be happy to work with you in selecting the course that is just right for you – contact us for more info.
Typically, the Open Water course lasts 4 full days. However, we recognize that different people learn at different speeds – besides, you are on vacation and may want to spread out your training. So, the time to certification can be more or less. Two things are for sure: we will not rush you, and we will not compromise on your training.
The DIVEIndia approach: As with our diving, we believe in small groups and personalized attention for training. With our large staff of instructors, we are able to keep our classes small – usually 4:1 or better student:professional ratio – ensuring that you get all the personal attention that you need. Furthermore, as with all our courses, we go WELL beyond the bare minimum in terms of how skills are integrated, in terms of amount of in-water time you will get and also the degree of comfort and mastery that we impart before certifying someone.
Please keep in mind – just as all coaches, teachers and colleges are not the same, neither are all diving programs the same. We conduct what we consider to be one of the best Open Water training programs you will find in Asia (and even elsewhere): we have one of the most experienced teams of instructors in the region, we go well above the bare minimum in terms of standards and our goal is to actually make you a qualified diver, not just check off a set of skills and let you go. Think of the difference between learning a subject and learning to pass an exam – that sums up the DIVEIndia difference.
If you have any health-related concerns about learning to dive, please download the Medical Statement form which goes over a medical checklist. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions there, please get medical clearance from your doctor prior to reaching Havelock. You will need one separate clearance for every question to which you answer “yes.”
We highly recommend you club the Open Water Course with the Advanced Open Water Course.
The PADI Advanced Open Water course / SSI Advanced Adventurer (same rose, different names) consists of 5 dives: two are mandatory (Deep Dive and Underwater Navigation – Night is highly recommended), and for the remainder, you can choose from 15 options, including Night, Computer, Naturalist, Buoyancy, Wreck, Boat, Underwater Photography and lots more.
This is a practical course (emphasis on in-water training) and is meant to give you experience in diving under different conditions, as well as provide you with a deeper understanding of dive theory, planning and techniques.
And the reason we suggest clubbing the two courses is because it has the following benefits:
– you learn more and become a significantly better diver when you do both the OW and the Advanced
– you retain your skills longer, as you are better able to internalize the diving skills
– you are able to dive to 30m and thereby visit some of the best sites of the Andamans
– our Open + Advanced combo works out to be staggeringly good value
You do not need to commit to this in advance, but if possible, try to keep 2-3 days extra on hand after the course for this. Virtually every one who has done the combo has loved it.
One of the most interesting things about the scuba training agencies is that they actually have 2 fairly contradictory drivers. On one hand, their goal is to set standards that let instructors produce trained, safe divers. On the other hand, since virtually all agencies these days are for-profit, they also want to make money [and that isnt a bad thing for the industry], which means making the training as accessible and modular as possible.
And as I have said for the most part, it works. Think about what actually goes on: every time someone wants to become a diver, a for-profit company somewhere has to sign off on it and gets paid for doing so; it also gets paid by both the dive center & the instructor for the privilege of getting paid to do so. Occam’s Razor says that for this state of affairs to continue, the agencies must provide some value. And that they do. For all the chest-beating that goes on in various forums, statistics show that diving is becoming safer.
At the same time, what is happening is that standards are actually getting reduced and pared to the bare minimum needed in order to dive safely and with some modicum of competency. This also makes sense in the context that it is coming from – the goal of the agencies is to make diving as accessible as possible, and if a particular skill has no real practical value or safety benefit, why keep it in there? And remember what I said about diving becoming safer… these cuts truly do pare out the fat, not the meat.
Beginner instructors typically follow the guidelines prescribed to them by their agency of choice, which lets them teach a competent course, provided they follow the standards both in letter and spirit (which, to their credit, most new instructors do). However, as instructors gain experience, they start to develop their own training philosophies and approach, and their courses take on a unique flavor. Every experienced instructor, consciously or not, ends up with a target “end goal” for his students, and a preferred teaching progression which lets him get the student there [more on this in a later post].
And this is where sometimes, instructors face an external limitation: market dynamics. I might decide that the best way to teach someone to dive would be to take 3 full classroom days, 3 full days of shallow water training and 5 days / 10 dives. This would cost about Rs 35,000-40,000. How many customers do you think I’d get this way? Not enough to stay in business!
And this isnt a bad thing either – most people really DONT need 8-10 days of training in order to acquire enough skills to meet the industry’s training benchmark: be able to dive safely. As I said earlier, diving is getting a lot safer, even though a bunch of skills from 20 years ago are no longer taught. Some will argue that this is b/c the gear is safer and I say, so what? Safer is safer, doesn’t matter why.
So what instructors end up doing is prioritising and focusing more on the critical skills that they feel get the student to their preferred end goals. For example, when I teach Open Water, my main end goals for the students are:
– They should be comfortable without a mask
– They should be able to hold their depth (it is ok for them to flap their hands occasionally if they need to, for balance, as long as they know how to keep working on improving their buoyancy and how to handle any buoyancy issues quickly and decisively)
– They should be conservative with air/depth/NDLs, and about staying with a buddy
I humbly submit to you that if you stay with your buddy, watch your air/NDLs and are able to maintain your buoyancy, you are going to be diving safely (to head off the obvious: this is not to say that these are the only things you learn; merely that these are most important). I actually think virtually all of my students could go diving with a buddy the very next dive, without a DM, and execute the dive safely. They may not be able to make it back exactly to the starting point, but from the diving point of view, they have the skills to dive safely.
Now, the question is – do divers feel that degree of confidence? I have long felt that there are about 3 “evolutions” in a diver’s abilities:
– Jump 1 happens at around 9-12 dives (not coincidentally, when you finish the Advanced course, if doing the OW + AOW combo) – this is where your average diver starts gaining some confidence in his or her own abilities
– Jump 2 happens at around the 20-25 dive mark, which is when buoyancy starts to become automatic and the diver is able to handle a greater level of task-loading without any problems (again not coincidentally, that is why 25 dives is the requirement to go to some of our deeper sites)
-Jump 3 happens somewhere in the 60-100 dive mark, when the slow and efficient movements become a second nature (this I have seen with Divemaster Candidates, when they start to look like dive pros).
Of course, improvement is a continual thing and there is a big improvement from, say, 100 to 1000 dives: but those are evolutionary in nature. The three marks above are points at which I personally have seen a relatively big and observable jump in abilities and comfort levels. And I am, of course, making a gross generalization. If you do 20 dives in a row vs doing 4 a year for 5 years, there will be a big difference in when the jump happens. Innate ability also matters – if you are, say, a competitive swimmer, your body adapts to the water very easily as it has a much greater K-Factor. But for the most part, I think these marks are fairly accurate.
I ran a poll on our Facebook page asking people at what point they felt confident about diving with a buddy, and without professional supervision. 25% of the divers felt it was at To be honest, the expected number of dives to gain the confidence were higher than I expected. I was expecting more answers to be clustered around the Jump 1 point, but instead, almost 50% of the respondents picked a number around the Jump 2 point.
This tells me something – that while we, as an industry, may do a good job of teaching the actual skills to divers, we do not develop a commensurate level of confidence in those abilities.
To a large extent, that is understandable: confidence should properly come only after the skills have been tested – ie, once people have done a bunch of dives after certification, possibly in a couple of locations, and realised that that what they were taught in such a relatively short amount of time was indeed sufficient to dive safely. Anything else would just be false, untested assumptions.
And again, the goal of the self-policing scuba training industry is not to set the entry-level bar at a very high level, producing perfect divers: I still remember the old club days when it used to take almost a month before a diver got into the water – talk about overkill for the vast majority of people who want to go out, dive a few times and see some nice fish. No, the goal of the scuba industry is to draw more people into the world of diving by giving them the skills to dive safely and competently, and making the sport as accessible as possible to people (and speaking as someone who has certified a bunch of kids and a 71-year old, that is a Good Thing) – anything beyond that is, and should be, the responsibility of the diver. And of course, the agencies do provide all the additional tools needed for continuing to build their skills?
But at the same time, a part of me wonders – what if this lack of confidence leads to additional stress if something goes wrong? In other words, instead of (in my best Obi Wan voice), trusting their instincts and their training, divers hit the panic button if something goes wrong simply because they lack the confidence in their skills?
I dont know the answer to that. I do know genuine confidence comes from in-water time. We’ve taken some steps to boost that, by maximising the amount of time divers get in the water (long open water dives, trying to fit in a 5th dive or even a 6th dive sometimes if time allows, adding another day of diving past the course to the Learn to Dive package, discounting the Advanced course to the point that we make less money on it than on 5 dives, and that is before factoring instructor time and certification costs).
But really, if people are saying 20-25 dives, then despite these measures, there is still a gap: one that cannot realistically be filled within the price/time constraints of an Open Water course. This is where additional training comes in – more courses (Advanced or Specialties, for example) always help accelerate learning. However, even just getting out there and diving is a good way to keep testing and improving your skills.
So the main message to all new divers should be: congrats, you have learned to dive and acquired the skills. But you still need to test these skills out, continue to refine them and convince yourself of your mastery of these skills. That part of the journey is yours, and yours alone to make: as a certified diver, you are now in charge of honestly assessing and improving your skills.
And on a side note, I will say this – trust what you’ve learned in the Open Water. A few days may not seem like a lot, but when you drill down to it, diving is not that complicated either. You’d be surprised at what you are capable of doing after a well-taught Open Water course.
Because of the ridiculous amount of spams blogs attract, comments have been disabled, but please post your thoughts on our Facebook group, if you would like to discuss. Also edited to avoid confusion.
One of the downsides of being an instructor for a very long time is the tendency to get set in your ways and become resistant to change. To an extent, that is understandable: I’ve been teaching for 12 years now, and have, through continuous refinement, developed a method that works for me. While this refinement is an always-ongoing process, radical change can often be more disruptive than not. I do try to keep an open mind, but generally speaking, implementing a big change in my teaching process/philosophy only happens if there is an equally big impetus for this change: either I come across a new situation with a student (very rare, these days), or something changes in diving sciences (also not that common), etc.
One area where I have decided to embrace change is Online Learning – where you complete your dive theory online, via the website of dive agencies like PADI and SSI.
Online Learning has been around for a few years now, and I have to admit, I have been a little less-than-enthusiastic in how we’ve embraced this new technology. My rationale has been that the more contact time I have with a student – be it in the water or in the “classroom” (if our beachside tables can be called that!) – the more time I have to get to know them (how they think, are they nervous, what sort of instruction method will be best for them, etc). And the more customised I can make my course for my students, the more effective and efficient their training.
With that in mind, I have always felt that online learning removes an element of this instructor-student contact. In addition, there may also be a greater cost to the students (in terms of registration fees). So while we certainly have pointed people out to the Online Learning sections of the PADI and SSI websites when they inquire, we haven’t been actively pushing it.
However, recently we’ve had a stream of students who’ve completed their dive theory online and it has been a bit of a revelation for us.
When the student comes to the dive center having already completed Online Learning, we – as instructors – do not have to spend as much time with them covering the basics (and let’s face it – the basics of scuba, at least at the Open Water are indeed very simple and do not require extended training to master). What has happened is that suddenly, freed from the time demands of teaching the basics, we have a lot more time to build upon the basics. This allows us to use the instructor-student contact time to expand upon the minimum knowledge requirements and get into more detail on refining buoyancy concepts, teaching about marine life, decompression theory, etc.
So as it turns out, online learning has not resulted in reduced student contact – the student contact time remains the same, but we are able to use it to add more concepts to the student’s learning.
Consider us converts!
Online learning can be done here:
While all agencies do a very competent job of training divers, some agencies stand out for taking a slightly different approach. NAUI, which has been a non-profit agency for most of its existence and which even today follows those standards, is one such agency.
With the highest standards for virtually all levels of recreational diver training, NAUI has always been associated with excellence in diver training.
And so it is with great pride that we announce that as of February 2009, DIVEIndia is now offering NAUI certification courses, all the way from basic Open Water (the NAUI Scuba Diver course) up to Instructor.
We are very excited about the added flexibility this gives us in meeting the needs of our customers. Whether you are a beginner who want the best entry level training, a certified divers who want to improve his/her diving skills or an experienced divers who want to master the theoretical and practical aspects of diving, we now have a program that will meet your needs.
Please contact us for more information on our NAUI courses!