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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

PADI Advanced Open Water Course-What dives should I choose?

The past few days we have been running a PADI Advanced Open Water Course here at Scuba Tech Diving Centre and it got me to thinking about what this course has to offer to Scuba Divers.

The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course

scuba diver hovers in good trim position over a rocky floor under the seaThe Padi Advanced Open Water course comprises five dives at various dive sites where you practice skills related to a range of different diving experiences.

Mandatory dives include a Deep Dive, where you see the effect of increased pressure down to a maximum depth of 30m and an Underwater Navigation Dive with relevant navigational skills practice.

In addition, you can choose another 3 dives to complete. There is a great choice of dives available for the diver including; Boat Diving, Wreck Diving, Fish ID, Underwater Photography or Video and the list goes on.

From our point of view, there are only several of these Adventure dive options that are going to help you to become a better diver. The others can be fun but don't really give much to you in terms of skills that you couldn't pick up from making a regular fun dive. While you are paying for training, you may as well get the most out of it!

Peak Performance Buoyancy

Scuba Diver inside underwater cavern in Protaras, Cyprus hovers with good buoyancy and trimThe first optional Dive I would recommend to all divers is the Peak Performance Buoyancy Adventure Dive.
As I have pointed out several times over previous blogs and articles, buoyancy is the most important skill you can have as a Scuba Diver.

Skills involved on this dive include; correct weighting and positioning of weights to achieve good trim in the water, Controlled Descents, Hovering without finning or sculling (using hands), breath control practice to fine tune buoyancy, safety stops and controlled ascents.

We also allow time for a bit of finning techniques practice on this dive, as good finning will assist divers with good buoyancy control.

Sometimes, these skills can be conducted over 2 or 3 dives to ensure the Student Diver is confident and competent with everything and the extra time and effort is definitely worth it when you have mastered the art of buoyancy.

Search & Recovery

Although you aren't likely to go out scuba diving specifically to search and recover an object from underwater, the skills you learn on this Adventure Dive prove extremely useful to divers in other ways.

You will look at search patterns underwater, which are covered again in the PADI Rescue Diver course, putting you one step ahead when you decide to advance your training to this level. Divers have been known to lose items while diving when they haven't been properly secured and so, these search patterns can be useful for retrieving these things.

Orange Halcyon Lift bagThe training also focuses on the use of lift bags to recover the items that you have found. Under this, you are taught to tie knots that will hold strong under pressure and are easily undone when needed. This proves useful to me in my everyday life not just diving scenarios.

The lift bag itself can prove useful for other diving tasks such as repositioning and recovering a shot line, which is a necessary skill in diving around the world, meaning that the skills you learn in the Search and Recovery Adventure Dive are applicable in other areas and will provide a solid foundation for future diving you may choose to do.

Night Diving

Although, in terms of skills, there is relatively little on the night dive, I have found this Adventure Dive to be the one that greatly improves a Diver's confidence in the water.

Scuba Diver waits to submerge beneath the sea in Protaras, Cyprus for a night dive
Diving into the unknown with a very narrow field of view (what you can see in your own torch beam) can be a bit nerve-wracking for some but all divers I have ever taken on a night dive emerge with a big grin on their faces. You see life you just don't get to see on a day dive and it all seems that much bolder and braver, willing to sit and be admired before taking off into the black.

On an Adventure Night Dive, you learn how to communicate with a buddy using your torches and low-light techniques. Divers acclimatise to the dark and get to put the navigation skills previously learned into practice with, for example, a compass run. It is good experience for scuba diving in darker waters and low visibility, gives confidence and is great fun all combined.

Other Useful Adventure Dives

The other Adventure Dives that will be useful for future diving are not always available everywhere you go, so you will have to ask your instructor if these are dives you fancy doing. These useful experience dives include; Altitude Diving, Drift Diving and Drysuit Diving but their usefulness will depend on where you will continue your diving and other variables.

Divers have fun on land before getting in the water for a scuba diveI enjoy teaching the PADI Advanced Open Water Course and I think most instructors would probably say the same thing. The theory is minimal and so you get to spend more time where it matters... in the water and the range of different diving activities you can conduct are so varied, it is impossible to get bored but before you book on that Advanced Open Water course, just remember there is a serious side to scuba diving and to be prepared for it, you want to build up your skillset as much as possible.

Become a confident, competent diver that other divers want to dive with and the fun will come to you!!