A Practical Guide for New Diver
A few months ago I was given the opportunity to join this site as a writer. I have been writing on and off since high school. Short stories, technical reports, and the like. It wasn’t until I started diving and more specifically instructing that I really got serious about it. It began during my Divemaster crossover training from PADI to the YMCA where I was required to prepare and present several lectures for classroom training as well as a paper on Safe Diving Practices. Shortly after, I began to write more lectures and after getting my Instructor rating with Scuba Educators International Diving I wrote a new Underwater Navigation Course. Following that I developed my own Advanced Open Water Course with the blessing of SEI Diving.
In that time an event occurred that was to change many things in my life. A diver fresh out of Open Water class was on a guided dive in Grand Cayman. This was his second dive after certification. Without going into all the details here the dive ended with that man reaching a maximum depth of 342 feet and reaching the surface from 302 feet in about 2 minutes. Obviously he did not survive. How this changed my life happened in a very unusual way. Two of the other divers on that dive were a married couple from North Carolina. The wife posted an account of that dive on a message board I frequent and led to the composition of my essay on diver responsibility titled “Who is Responsible?” This article generated a great deal of interest and is now posted on many websites, in dive club meeting rooms, and in the personal files on divers around the world. I use this article as a handout to every student I certify
This article led to more essays, handouts, and course supplements I use in my classes. I also began to develop presentations for various reasons including one on “The Failure of the Buddy System” as well as on one dealing with the benefits of Underwater Navigation training on the diver’s skills as a whole. At some point I began to get the idea that just trying to keep my students safe was not enough. The idea of putting my essays into one volume and getting that into more hands started taking shape.
What started out as a compilation of essays turned into much more than that. During the development of this compilation I began to realize that there was much that was missing from OW courses due to shortened classes and the desire to separate students from their money. So what began as a simple collection of essays turned into a book. One dealing with the issues I feel are so often overlooked, omitted, minimized, or in some cases deliberately kept from new divers in order to keep them in the dark and force them to keep spending money on what was once basic information.
SCUBA: A Practical Guide for New Divers is what resulted from a desire to shed some light on the process of learning to dive. The first chapter is that first article I wrote titled Safe Diving Practices. It seemed only fitting to do that. From there the book goes into the Basic Skills I feel ever OW diver should have, Buddy Skills, and Dive Planning. Along with Basic Gas management and the phenomenon of divers turning their safety and in some cases their lives over to others to do “Trust Me” Dives. Then the discussion turns to training. Looking at when to get more training and why, how to choose and interview an instructor, and what type of training is best. It is not all the same no matter what anyone tells you. From OW on there are major differences.
The next items I cover are how to choose a local dive shop, why shops do carry certain lines and not others and how pricing is determined. There then follows an overall look at equipment from masks to BC’s and computers as well as those extras that are useful but do not force you into buying gimmicks that are pretty much useless. The final chapter deals with a subject close to my heart. Local diving is the corner stone of recreational scuba as far as I’m concerned. It is where divers hone skills, where they polish their technique, and where they use the gear they bought at the LDS and supported their local economy.