Wednesday 12 June 2013

The Value of a Check Dive

diver on check dive in cyprus with scuba techI want to go Diving! Great, let's do a Check Dive.

A Diver contacted Scuba Tech Diving Centre a couple days ago by email with a request to Dive the Zenobia with us.

I wrote back, as we always do, with the information about the dives, timings and prices and of course, the fact that, we always complete at least one shore dive as a check dive prior to Diving the Wreck. A prompt response quickly came back stating that this Diver was a very experienced Diver with 50 Dives under his belt, a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and dived 6 months ago in Thailand, so why did he have to do a check dive before the Zenobia?

Immediately for a Dive Professional, this is when alarm bells begin to ring!

Since I have been involved in resort Diving, I have come to the realisation that, the best Divers, who have lots of experience and are fantastic in the water, are usually the ones who will expect to do a check dive and do not quibble over it.

Diver trims out on check dive in cyprusWhenever I go diving somewhere new, I always expect the first dive to be a check dive, on the house reef normally to sort everything out before moving on to the better dives and I am an instructor with 20+ years experience and literally thousands of dives under my belt.

Now, when I talk about a check dive, I am talking about a proper Dive. I am aware that there are some Dive Centres in the world who do "take the Mick" and dump divers into 5m of water (or a swimming pool), go through some basic skills and pronounce them fit to dive, while rubbing their hands together and collecting the price of a full local dive. This is nothing short of an abuse of power and these centres should be named and shamed.

However, most Dive Centres around the world will give you a proper Dive as your Check Dive. Here at Scuba Tech, we go to a local Cyprus Dive Site with a depth of around 18metres, with swimthroughs and tunnels.  We have a good, long dive until Divers get cold or start to get low on air. Sometimes our check dives have been up to 90minutes in the water.

What is the point of the Check Dive?

The check Dive has a number of benefits to both the Dive Centre and the Diver.

From the point of view of the Dive Centre, it gives our instructors and Divemasters a chance to see you in the water on an easy bimble around a local dive site, that isn't too deep and get used to your diving style. We can get a feel for your air consumption so that on the Zenobia Dive, we know what air you will need to make an ascent and not bring you up too early or too late.

Also, it means that we have a chance to pre-empt any problems you may have Diving the Zenobia or the deeper Dives. If we spot anything that could cause problems or an equipment malfunction or leak, it is a chance to sort it in shallower water close to the dive centre, where we have all the tools required availble to us and not 1500 metres out to sea, on a boat with a limited spares and tool kit.

Remember, if something does happen on these deeper dives, it is your guide who has a duty of care to sort it out. It is imperative that we make these dives as safe as possible for you, the diver and all our members of the Scuba Tech Team.

For the Diver, a check Dive gives you the opportunity to get comfortable in a new environment. Everywhere is different, so you will need to perform a weight check and adjust accordingly. Many Divers who come Diving in resort think they need a lot more weight than they actually do, so this is an opportunity to get weight sorted and optimised before moving on to the bigger dives. Weighting is an issue very close to my heart and you can read more about my opinions on this in an earlier blog, "A weighty Issue".

Another good reson for a check Dive is Equipment.

foggy mask should have been fixed before zenobia
If you are hiring equipment from your Dive Centre, it will likely be different to that which you have dived before and a check dive gives you the opportunity to get used to the controls, so on the more adventurous dives, everything is second nature to you. Also, if you find items such as the mask doesn't quite fit correctly and it is leaking, or maybe it needs a spot of toothpaste to stop it from fogging up, this can be remedied before the bigger dives. You don't want to miss seeing the Zenobia because of a fogged up mask!!!

Equally, if you have ever seen the baggage handlers at an airport, you will know that the bags get thrown about a bit. So, if you bring your own diving equipment with you, there will always be the possibility that some bits of your diving equipment could get damaged in transit  unless you are going to bubble wrap each item before you travel. Again, the check dive will allow you to ensure that everything works in tip top condition at a site that is close enough to the dive centre to be able to pop back and fix any problems.

Once we are on the transport boat to the Zenobia, there is no turning back and if the equipment doesn't work and cannot be fixed with the tools available, you lose a lot more than than the 20/30 euros you would have spent on a check dive.

So, for me, the Value of a check dive is the peace of mind that comes with knowing the bigger, more expensive dives will be that much more enjoyable and comfortable.  I will have the correct weights, properly working diving equipment that I have personally been able to verify and a dive guide who is comfortable diving with me, who has an idea of my diving styles and preferences and can tailor the dives I am going to do to my ability and preferences.

The Value of a Check Dive?... Invaluable!!

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