OK, you just finished your open water class and might have a few questions you're a little reluctant to ask. Here's some very good advice from quite a few other experienced divers, most of it taken from an older blog that we had before. Almost all of these divers have over 600 dives.
.....Make sure your first few dives are to places you went in the class, because you probably missed about 90% of what's there. Or, if you're going on a boat, make sure it's going to a destination that's rated as an easy dive. Take the time to get start getting as comfortable in the water as you can.
....Avoid the desire to take an "advanced" class immediately. Although the instructors want you to do this, does it really make any sense at all to be an advanced diver with no real dives under you belt? Get out and get a few dives and find out that you dont need an instructor watching you all the time. Then take the class. You'll have a helluva lot more fun, absorb more info, and really enjoy it.,
....I'm not a world class super diver, but I've got over 600 dives and this is the first time I've ever posted to any blogs.
--Make sure that you get a computer. Learn how to use it! They really are quite simple, and you have to do is ay attention to it.
--Try and perfect your buoyancy so that it becomes almost second nature to you. I've seen so many new divers on the boats that are overweighted and they never seem to worry about it. Buoyancy is something that we have to maintain on every dive, so why not get good at it.
--No matter what depths you go to always spend at least 5 minutes at depths of 20 ft or less at the end of the dive. This is a very good procedure to follow as it builds in a safety factor. Enjoy diving. It's really pretty special to do.
....My comment is this. I go on the dive boats and often see divers who have rented gear, often from different shops, complain that their rental gear had defects, etc., and get upset with the shop.
Then I hear the boat crew ask them if they checked it out at the shop and usually the response is no. Somewhere in their dive class they were told that it was their responsibility to check all of the gear, but in the class the instructor or their assistant usually did this for them. So, here's my point.
It's your responsibility and it can't be passed on to "they didn't check it for me". The "they" is you.
Please make sure you check the gear at the dive shop before you leave. This means putting on the reg, turning the air on, reading the gauge, listening for leaks, checking the power inflator for good operations, check the bc straps, put your weight belt together to see if it fits correctly. If your rental includes mask, boots, and fins, make sure they fit, the straps are in good condition, etc. Dive on.
....When I was a brand new diver, I had a terrible time with buoyancy control. It seemed that I couldn't get the weight right, my feet floated, I always had a bubble in my BCD and felt a little out of control with the whole ascent thing. I recently went on the boat with some new divers and saw them struggling with some of the same issues.
.....Here are my two cents: Watch other divers. Mimic what they are doing and see if it works for you. Never forget to let air out of your BCD when you ascend.... A rock works if you are too buoyant at the end of the dive.... Above all else: Diving is like driving and golfing and cooking...Practice makes perfect. If you need a buddy, ask at the shops, go on the weekend beach dives offered at Piti, or bug your buddies to get certified. Before you know it, you will be the one offering suggestions!!!
WEBMASTER NOTE: the next one is really long, but if you can struggle through it there's very good advise here:
......SLOW IS BETTER! There's nothing more irritating than having to cut-short an awesome dive because your buddy drained his tank faster than a thirsty frat boy drains a six-pack. Having worked hard at air conservation and having had some pretty good outcomes (that's usually me coming up last), I want to offer a couple of thoughts. First and foremost, most air-hogs work way too hard. Work (all work) raises heart rate triggering a need for more oxygen at the working muscles. Slow is better!!!!
Visualize you're swimming in molasses - make every move as slow as possible, concentrate on slowing down your kicks, even the speed with which you turn your head to look at stuff. Remember, we dive because work sucks. Next, you need to drop all that extra weight. Dedicate a dive to "trim" your weighting. Less weight means fewer adjustments at depth, which means less "yo-yo" effect. Divers have to "WORK" against buoyancy issues. Better buoyancy = less work. Less work = more air. Breathing from your diaphragm helps (ask anyone who sings or who plays a wind instrument).
Diaphramic breathing introduces air into the more efficient lower 2/3rds of the lung. More efficient use of air = more air. Yoga has a lot to offer by way of learning to breath via ones diaphragm, plus it's a killer way of meeting really limber chicks.
Next SLOW THE HELL DOWN!!!! Too many divers swim way too fast, possibly thinking that the next "cool" thing to see is just out of sight. Slow really is better. You'll see more if you cover less ground. Less traveling = more air. Being in shape doesn't hurt either. Regular cardiovascular exercise makes your cells process oxygen more efficiently. Regular resistance training increases muscle mass which means you'll need less weight to descend (muscle is heavier than water, fat isn't) Once again, more efficiency = more air.
This one is sort of a no-brainer. You should be as unstressed as you can be and the best way to be free of stress with regards to a dive is to know what the hell you're doing. Get GOOD dive briefs, really PLAN with your dive buddy, get as much bottom TIME as you can, HONESTLY dive within your limits, take good care of your GEAR - all these tactics will lead to reduced stress. Less stress =more air.
Finally, (and this should be obvious) you should concentrate on your air consumption while you're underwater. Breath slowly, make exhalations long and slow, don't skip-breath (it actually increases CO2 which leads to increased breathing rates) THINK about your air consumption, it'll force you into remembering all the stuff in the preceding paragraphs. There's a lot of confidence that comes from knowing you have more than enough air to dive your selected dive-profile. Moreover, I can't count the number of times I've seen the BEST stuff at the very end of a dive.
WEBMASTER NOTE: More on advanced classes
....What defines an advanced diver? Hopefully, it's not a surprise to learn that it's something more than a plastic (or cardboard) card that says "Advanced Open Water Diver" on it, although the cert is a necessary prerequisite to advanced diving. The fact is that most certifying orgs label divers as "advanced" with as few as nine dives. We all know people we would consider advanced divers after 50 dives, and others whom we consider a genuine hazard to themselves and the rest of us at 500+ dives.
Thus, numbers by themselves are a weak criterion. So, back to square one, what defines an advanced diver? I believe the following skill set separates the wheat from the chaff in identifying a competent, even advanced, open water diver: - Peak buoyancy, regardless of whether you take a class by that name or not (though I highly recommend it) - Conservative air consumption...since dive profiles vary greatly,
I will avoid stating a specific amount of bottom time for a specific size cylinder...suffice to say, we all know it and its opposite when we see it - Navigation skills...can the diver get around the dive site and back to the starting point without surfacing for reference? - Some knowledge of what's in the water (besides other divers) with you and an interest in growing this knowledge You can develop these skills in many ways. Continuing education courses are great, but experience, to include dive travel, is equally crucial in honing your skills on the road to being the diver "everyone" labels "advanced."