All too often the going mantra is how to get some practice is after your PADI Open Water Diver course. You’ve done all the skills’, completed the study and been scuba diving during your course but how to get there now? It could be time pressures or finding a dive buddy, maybe you’re still a little anxious about going scuba diving without a Dive Instructor?
During your course you get very well looked after, the schedule is arranged and you get a lot of special attention to make sure you are comfortable and perform all the skills correctly. There is a lot of logistical things that are looked after for you also, dive gear hire is mostly included at that level, dive site decisions are made for you and there is a good amount of effort put into helping you. Once you are a certified Open Water Diver you can go scuba diving to a maximum of 18m with a dive buddy but, gear hire is needed often to start with and the diving needs to be organised with safety and the ability of your fellow diver/s in mind. This is a reasonably straight forward task for Divemasters, Instructors or even seasoned scuba divers but at the Open Water level some extra preparation is needed.
You need dive gear.
This was easy during your course because it was all part of the program so make some extra time to get this organised. Stop by NZ Sea Adventures and get some new gear or ask if there will be hire gear available. Having your own dive gear takes an initial investment and time but once you’re set up the maintenance is very little compared to hiring equipment and getting organised each time is half the task.
Check the weather.
Wellington Scuba Diving has a lot to offer the new and experienced diver. There is a great variety of coastal diving allowing almost any weather conditions dive-able with the right dive site selection. Keep an eye on the wind and swell mainly, the rain is not too much trouble unless you’re diving somewhere there is a lot of runoff decreasing visibility etc. A bit or rain here and there will not be much trouble but constant rain and wind days on end can cause problems. Look for sites sheltered from the wind, much more than 15 knot’s can make the surface more difficult to negotiate. Look ahead to the day after and the day before to see what changes could happen to the forecast. It might improve or get worse earlier or later than expected. Even experienced divers might to check in with the local dive shop on their recommendation.
Check through your Safe Diving Practices
These are there to help you enjoy your diving by being comfortable through good practices that enable the best dives to take place.
Make sure you and your dive buddy are up to speed.
Diving habits can vary depending on experience and training levels. New divers can be overzealous while well trained and experienced diver remain conservative and prepared. Come up with a dive plan and plan the dive. Remember your training and follow the procedures. Check on each others hand signals and preferred techniques plus make sure you are familiar with not only your equipment plus theirs too so you can allow for one another.
Still not getting any dives in?
Ironically for some, a lack of confidence is best remedied by further education rather than redoing what you already know. You’ve completed the requirements for the entry level scuba dives but further education often just helps with fine tuning what you already know. Initially early in diver training you had to do 20+ dives with a scuba instructor before getting certified! The Advanced Open Water course starts with a review of diving knowledge plus your Instructor is there to guide and aid in your diving comfort while you practice good diving. They know what is safe and will keep you on track to gain the experience you seek. PADI Rescue Diver starts with a review of Self Rescue skills from the Open Water Diver course so you get to refresh your dive skills at the same time.
Specialty courses really solidify what you understand with a focus on the program’s skills and material. EANx makes diving less tiring, Peak Performance Buoyancy makes buoyancy control easier, with Specialist Underwater Navigation skills you’ll find your way around underwater easier. All these plus others make it easier to get out diving by knowing more and more about executing fun, safe and enjoyable scuba dives.
Continuing education is relatively inexpensive for the extra value you will get. Talk to anybody who has done courses following their PADI Open Water Diver course and they will tell you it was time and money well spent. You’ll get more value out of your diving certification and dive gear with each dive you do.