Q. What is the difference between SSI, PADI, NAUI, etc?
These are simply different certification organizations. All of these organizations teach scuba to the same standards developed by the Recreational Scuba Training Council. So, the difference really is in how you get there. As I tell all of my students, you canít beat the laws of physics, so the academics are all the same. When making your choice of agency, the real criteria you should be looking for are how comfortable you are with the store and instructor. After all, they are the people that will be teaching you the important skills necessary to safely explore the underwater world.
Q. Is it hard to learn to Scuba dive?
A. No, it's probably easier than you imagine, especially if you're already comfortable in the water. The Open Water diving course is split into academics, confined water (pool) training, and five scuba training dives in local lakes or rivers. The course is designed to build on skills, so you start with the basics and build on them, with repetition to build competencies.
Q. Do I have to be a great swimmer to Scuba dive?
A. No - all you need to be is a reasonably proficient swimmer who is comfortable and relaxed in the water. The swimming requirement for certification is a 200 yard nonstop swim (with no time limit) and a 10 minute tread/float.
Q. How long does it take to become a certified diver?
A. The course is typically split into two weekends, but custom course schedules can be developed. The first weekend is classroom and pool work, while the second is the open water weekend.
Q. How old do I have to be to become a certified Scuba diver?
A. All agencies require students to be a minimum of 10 years old. At 10, students receive a Junior Open Water Diver certification, which means you can dive with a Scuba certified parent, guardian or dive-leader. When you turn 15, you can upgrade your Junior Open Water Diver certification to a regular Open Water certification with a simple skill review.
Q. I have (inset medical condition here). Can I participate in a Scuba class?
A. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Before the class begins, you will be required to complete a medical questionnaire that lists conditions that may prevent you from participating in class. If you have any of these conditions, you will be required to visit your doctor to have them assess your ability to participate in scuba. You can download the form here, and if you have any of the listed conditions, please see your doctor and get their assessment prior to class.
Q. My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of the pool - wonít they hurt when I Scuba dive, too?
A. Your ears hurt because water pressure presses in on your ear drum. In the Scuba course, you'll learn a several techniques to equalize your ears to the water pressure. If you can clear your ears while flying in an airplane, you should have no problems diving.
Q. I need vision correction. Is that a problem?
A. Not at all. If you wear contact lenses, you shouldnít have problems wearing them when you dive. If you wear hard lenses, you'll need the gas permeable type to dive. Another option is to have prescription lenses put into your mask. Again, this is something you should discuss with your eye doctor to determine the best plan for you. If you decide to use prescription mask lenses, bring your prescription and we can get the lenses for you.
Q. Is Scuba diving expensive?
A. As you will learn in class, Scuba is an equipment intensive sport. However, you donít need to buy everything at once. The good news is, if you take care of your equipment it can last a long time. Most people spend between $500-$600 to get certified and purchase their basic equipment (Mask, fins, snorkel and booties).
Q. What equipment do I need to have before the course?
A. You will need to purchase your mask, fins, snorkel and booties prior to the course. This is your basic equipment that must fit perfectly for your comfort and safety during the class. Everything else (Tanks, Buoyancy Compensator, Regulators, Weights) will be provided for the first weekend and you will rent it for the next weekend.
Q. How long does a tank of oxygen last?
A. First off, we donít use pure oxygen while scuba diving. Breathing pure oxygen underwater would be extremely dangerous and is only used by technical divers during decompression. The tanks we use are filled with compressed air that has been run through special filters to remove impurities and water.
The length of time a tank of air lasts depends on depth and diver fitness, but generally scuba dives last from 20-60 minutes.
Q. Are marine animals really much of a concern? Arenít sharks dangerous to divers?
A. Almost all aquatic animals are passive and timid. There are some animals that can bite or sting defensively, but you can avoid these by watching where you put your hands and feet, and by not touching things that you donít recognize. Most of the injuries to divers that I have seen were caused by divers either kneeling on something dangerous or putting their hands in a hole (i.e. somethingís home). As for sharks, divers aren't on the menu for sharks, so most of the time sharks avoid divers.
Q. Is diving dangerous?
A. Not anymore than most water sports. There are potential hazards - which is why you need training and certification - but, by diving within your personal limits and comfort levels, as long as you follow the rules and use common sense, it's pretty safe.
Q. Iím interested, but not quite ready to commit. Is there a way to try Scuba without signing up for the whole course?
A. Yes, there is. We offer a Try Scuba program, which is an easy introduction to diving conducted in the pool. This is a way for you to experience the fun and excitement of diving before deciding to enroll in the Open Water course