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Is dive certification really necessary?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Eric Sedletzky, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
    2,861
    1,500
    113
    I'm going to take this thread back to the beginning, and answer your question with my own experience. As a 13 year-old, my father took me to the Elsonor Theator, Salem, Oregon to see Cousteau's "The Silent World." (They had a helmet diver manikan on a trailer outside the theator.) I then bought the book of the same name, and the next summer (1959) worked my tail off in the strawberry and bean fields to get the money to buy a scuba unit. I bought a 38 cubic foot tank, and tested several regulators before selecting the Healthways Scuba double hose regulator.

    Now, I had been on the YMCA swim team in Salem, Oregon for several years, in age group swimming. I had gone through the YMCA lifeguard program there, and was becoming a WSI (Water Safety Instructor). I had spent hours in the water, and had been snorkeling with an oval mask, blue AMF Voit fins (modeled off the Churchill fins, but with an adjustable strap) and a snorkel. The snorkel had started out as a "C"-shaped snorkel, with the ping-pong ball in the top to stop it off when underwater. But at the YMCA Camp Silver Creek, where I actually used it in the water of Silver Creek's pond, I found that the ping-pong ball inhibited breathing, and so I cut the tube off to make it a J-shaped snorkel that I could easily clear. So I had several years of snorkeling before getting into SCUBA.

    There were several of us interested is SCUBA, and so we formed a diving club, the Salem Junior Aqua Club, associated closely with the Salem Aqua Club, the only scuba club available at the time in the early 1960s. It was associated with Bob LaBarr's Salem Sporting Goods shop, where he had an air compressor and diving gear for sale along with the other hunting, fishing and camping gear. But, there was no instruction available.

    So after our high school diving club had been diving for several years, we imported a diving instructor to teach us and certify us in diving. The instructor was Roy France, an LA County instructor who drove up to teach us from LA County. In April of 1963, he pool tested us. Our final exam for the pool test was to get out from under a gill net that he placed over me and my diving buddy, my girl friend at the time, Elaine McGinnis. After the net was over us, we as a buddy team had to untangle ourselves and get out from under the net. Our open water test occurred on the north side of Yaquina Bay, where we had to demonstrate to him our competence in the water, and also we had to do a free swimming ascent from about 30 feet of water.

    The point I want to make is that we had three years of recreational diving before becoming certified. But also we were extremely competent in the water, on swim teams, and had lifeguard training as we undertook learning scuba diving. I read Cousteau's The Silent World three times to understand the problems the Cousteau team had gone through, and had picked up a copy of The New Science of Skin and Scuba Diving, which had the tables and the discussions of the physics and physiology of diving that we needed.

    So I started scuba in 1958, in a pool, got into scuba in 1959, and was finally certified as a LA County diver under Roy France in 1963. Yes, properly motivated and water experienced people can become safe divers without being certified (just as J.Y. Cousteau, Frédérick Dumas, and the rest of his team did). But it takes work, it takes desire to learn (I'm still learning), it takes water experience, and snorkeling experience.

    I went on to graduate from the U.S. Navy School for Underwater Swimmers and USAF Pararescue Transition School in 1967, and then in 1973 became a NAUI Instructor (#2710).

    SeaRat

    49887544157_7bc78fa582_k.jpg New Science003 by John Ratliff, on Flickr

    46059371482_09ca0ca3e1_k.jpg Willamette River Float 1-1-1962 by John Ratliff, on Flickr
    The Salem Aqua Club's & Salem Junior Aqua Club's New Year's float from Eola Bend to the bridge over the Willamette River at Salem, Oregon.

    46059371262_30263c66e4_k.jpg John on Willamette River New Year Float 1962 by John Ratliff, on Flickr
    Me and one of the Salem Aqua Club divers coming ashore in 1962, Salem, Oregon at New Year's Day. Note that this was before we were certified, and coming in, we were pretty cold too.
     
  2. Kyle Bourland

    Kyle Bourland Garibaldi

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    5
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    Anyone else here after the latest episode of The Great Dive Podcast? It's about this thread and it's honestly their best episode yet.
     
  3. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
    2,861
    1,500
    113
    How do I get to that podcast?

    SeaRat

    PS, found it. Thanks!
     
  4. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    7,911
    6,496
    113
    That was a good listen.
     
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    26,833
    19,704
    113
    I will have to take you word on it being a good listen. I suffered through 15 minutes that I will never be able to get back, and I'm done.
     
  6. ms76

    ms76 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Austria
    8
    2
    3
    Sorry to hear this boulderjohn. I guess the first 15min is too little to judge an episode of Tgdp, in many of episodes they hit the topic later - and that's OK if you like the humor of James and Brando.
    If not, you really better stop listening because fast forward will not save you from their humor. Btw imho is "cayman cowboys" still their funniest episode to date.
     
  7. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    26,833
    19,704
    113
    Humor? I did not realize there was any. I just hear them talk about Eddie Van Halen and how much people love their podcast. I guess I missed all the hilarity.
     
  8. WeRtheOcean

    WeRtheOcean Barracuda

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location:
    213
    107
    43
    What's next, asking if a driver's license is really necessary? Sure, someone can learn to drive competently and not get a license, but that doesn't change that there are good reasons why driving without a license is illegal.
     
  9. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    14,009
    3,683
    113
    Yes many good reasons. Also the reason of the govt. making $. Many argue that there are good reasons for yearly or bi-yearly vehicle inspections-- though none in Western Canada, nor statistics that I know of proving that driving is safer in the East. Perhaps another money maker?
    Of course I'm not suggesting people dive without certification. But agree that it can and has been done "safely". Especially in the years before there were any certifications. It's been a business for a long time now I guess.
     
    captain likes this.
  10. xurde

    xurde Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Spain
    1
    1
    3
    I do agree with ms76.

    Even when TGDP humor might not be everybody's cup of tea, I think their podcast is a little bit like diving: It requires dedication and the willingness to enjoy the journey. Shortcuts and fastlanes will not work in the long run.

    Adding to the main topic, it would be interesting to discuss when was the last time someone walks out of a training with a shinny card thinking... oh well, I did not learn that much.

    Cheers.
     
    tbone1004 likes this.

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