Completing certification dives in Cairns?

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Shasta_man

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A good friend here in California is going to Cairns for vacation. They plan on completing book work and pool work here for certification before completing ocean certification dives in Cairns. They're thinking of going with an op which will take them out, complete the cert dives and then they can do some easy diving on the GBR.

Any suggestions on any particular operations who would be good for this?

As well any places you would avoid?

Thanks for your help.
 

fisheater

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No way to talk them into getting fully certified here and then not wasting valuable vacation time on their knees clearing masks while they could/should be cruising the GBR looking at pretty coral and critters?


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boulderjohn

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No way to talk them into getting fully certified here and then not wasting valuable vacation time on their knees clearing masks while they could/should be cruising the GBR looking at pretty coral and critters?

No way of finding an instructor in Australia who does not put students on their knees during open water dives?
 

fisheater

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Even if they could, they'd still be in class rather than touring the GBR. (Besides, learning in Calif. will make them better divers.)


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fisheater

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It's WAY colder (than Queensland, at least), thus you need more exposure protection and more weight and more buoyancy shift and it's harder to dive here.

Also, Californians who learn to dive on tropical vacations rarely end up diving here and, thus, don't dive enough to get good at it.
 

boulderjohn

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Interestingly enough, two very old and dear friends of mine live in California, and they reached their ripe old age without diving. We have done some vacations together, and they kept talking about going to Australia with my wife and me. I told them that if we went to Australia together, we would have to dive the GBR, and they would have to get certified. California is too cold to get certified, they believed, and so they wanted to do it somewhere warm. This past fall, they flew to Colorado and did their pool work and academics with me, and then we flew to Akumal, Mexico to complete their OW certifications.

Here is roughly what those certification dives looked like. Each dive was in the neighborhood of 45-60 minutes. I won't mention the surface skills, which were not a part of the dive time, and I won't mention the ascent and descent skills that are part of normal diving. (I am doing this off the top of my head and might have the order a little mixed up.)
Dive One: No skills required--just enjoy a 45 minute dive.
Dive Two: While we were swimming around and enjoying the fish and coral, I had them recover regulators and clear masks. We also did two OOA drills. All that took only a small portion of dive time.
Dive Three: We went to a place with a mooring line and did the CESAs right away. While we were exploring the coral reef, I had each one do a compass direction and reciprocal. They had to clear their masks while they were swimming along as well. That dive was especially leisurely and took close to an hour.
Dive Four: Another leisurely dive lasted closer to an hour. Along the way, they had to remove and replace their masks while swimming.

Not so bad, was it? And they never touched the bottom, let alone kneel on it. We spent the rest of the week just diving together as friends. They even did two cenote dives because the cave guide who led them knew they were instructed in horizontal trim and would be better than the average beginning diver. They did great.

I am in Florida now. They flew out last week and we did their AOW certification in the warm waters here. They now have nearly 20 dives and are ready for Australia in April. I have dived the GBR before, and I expect conditions to be well within their skill range.

They are so enthused by their diving experiences that they are thinking California might not be too cold after all.
 
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Shasta_man

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Thanks for the responses. It would be PADI.

I was certified completely here and recognize the benefit that can be when diving in easier conditions. Having completed my own AOW while in Palau, I'm also fully aware of the folly of wasting your time in class while on vacation. I did advise him to complete his cert here so he can just go and enjoy, but he's got serious work commitments and literally doesn't have the weekends to complete the cert here before going. This is the big paid sabbatical from work for him so he's traveling multiple locations in the world and so won't be there long enough to do the whole thing there either. (Obviously not a very dedicated diver yet, otherwise that schedule would have been all different :) ).

I do dive here myself but not very often and it's not a question of being good at it. It's the ROI. It's more like a job than a purely fun thing. :) There are some very cool things to see here and I enjoy it and I wouldn't trade the experience of diving in the kelp forest. I haven't dove the really good spots here but the fact is that besides those places a lot of it is very poor viz and the fish you see are brown and tucked in a rock crevice. There's color on the rocks if you shine your light on them. The seals and otters are definitely cool. I dive wet so it's 85 lbs of gear on me. Even with the best fitting gear, it's pretty cold and even though I like cold, you can only handle so much and still be enjoyable enough to do a lot. I call it swimming around in my icechest. Sometimes a bus could drive by ten feet away and you wouldn't be able to tell. So there is a lot of cool stuff to do here but it's hard to compete with warm water diving for what you could see in the right places and the ease of doing it.

I'd mention that the majority of my diving has been shore diving so the rigors of that have certainly colored my experience. On an insta-buddy dive I did shortly after being certified had me shore diving and the other inexperienced member of the team ran low on air at the halfway point of the dive, and I had to come up as the other lowest member. So we were WAY out there and had to swim back in on the surface, around the kelp etc. I left him far behind but I can assure you that if you quit kicking, you stop moving toward shore. Still a great experience with seals and an otter arms length away but you can blow your heart up doing that. Next dive was from the Monterey Express but my buddy forgot his hood. He actually made one dive before popsicle head prevented anymore.
 
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