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'Maximum' dive depth based on certification

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by ggunn, Jul 27, 2019.

  1. rsingler

    rsingler Scuba Instructor, Tinkerer in Brass Staff Member ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Napa, California
    Hey, guys! This is the Basic Forum. Let's stay cool before the Mods feel they have to slice and dice. This is a good thread!
    Snoweman likes this.
  2. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    Goodl old @Scuba Lawyer
    "My students back in the 70's (when I was assisting with classes) and in the 80's (when I was teaching classes), would invariably ask how deep is too deep for their level of training and experience. My standard response would be that anything over the feeling of having two martinis or two shots of 1800 tequila would mean you are too deep so plan your dives accordingly. I guess I wasn't that great of a teacher, but we had a ton of fun. :)"
    So true !
    I have been laughing so much at your very accurate post that I think my pants will never dry !

    As one who was on the SoCal dive lecture circuit almost since its inception, and a very early UW instructor I, and you, recognize that you need to know your audience before speaking, in our case posting..….

    I suspect the majority who read your post and now mine were trained post RSTC. which was a PADI dominated national organization therefore created "step marketing " training for the diving community . The modern diver is trained to dive but not to be a diver... a few baby steps at a time, each requiring substantial out lay of cash and a time commitment to rise to the next level.

    Some stop at the very basic level with enough training to travel to a distant land were a "dive master: assembles their rented equipment, holds their hands on a dive,. so they can safely return home and loudly discuss their diving adventures at the next cocktail party.

    Others drink the Cool Aid and continue on through the labyrinth of training courses until the reach a level of absolute authority in all diving activities and receive a title they can proudly proclaim. the divining equitant of Lawrence Peters Second principle of management

    My wife and I visited the famed NM Blue Hole while on a vacation several years ago. We became interested tourist and met a modern SCUBA instructor and were treated to a diving education...we were informed there was no recreational diving , no dive books, no dive magazines, no dive clubs ,no organizations and no dive instruction until PADI was created.. I am certain he not only drank the Cool Aid but he has it injected intravenously. It is a sad comment that he was and is possibly a more typical than atypical modern instructor from the hinterlands.

    The "130 foot rule" predates ALL organized dive programs and was first published with the arrival of the Aqua Lung in the US. It was a depth that a diver using the then standard 70, not the later 72 Cubic foot tank, could dive safely without the fear of DCS. Now many current organizations have also established 130 as a maximum depth. It is assumed like Topsy in the historical book
    Uncle Tom's Cabin Ah Jes Grew dat way"

    My soap box is crumbling -- I will relinquish it to all you who have been diving so very few years on your annual family vacation but some how have experienced 1000, 1500 or more dives ...

    Sam Miller, 111
    LA Co UW instrnmctor #11uicc
    NAUI # 27
    PADI 241
    etc, etc

    @The Chairman -- just in case you need to delete post

    @Marie13 CE
    Eric Sedletzky, KWS and Scuba Lawyer like this.
  3. michael-fisch

    michael-fisch Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Germany
    Thankfully CMAS *** standards are much less restrictive. Air limits for a *** (Gold) CMAS diver are 57M or 190', which makes sense since at or below that depth you are impaired. If you don't want to dive that deep, that's ok too, but your CMAS club affiliated dive insurance will cover you to a depth of 57M.

    Wingy and KWS like this.
  4. caydiver

    caydiver Manta Ray

    Here in Cayman many OW divers are confused when the first dive usually is 80 to 100 feet. The difference is that it is guided and they are with a DM. Buddy dives are different. Then you would be limited to the depth of the diver with the lowest certification. We don’t have depth police but we don’t want something going wrong on our watch. It’s not always just about the money and I would rather have a solid reputation as an op going forward rather than one who lets divers do whatever they please as long as we see the credit card. More importantly not putting staff at risk either. There are five ops and destinations that check boxes for everyone.
    KWS likes this.
  5. rsingler

    rsingler Scuba Instructor, Tinkerer in Brass Staff Member ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Napa, California
    And that's what happened to me. It didn't matter that I had 20 years' experience. It didn't matter that the rec limit is 130'. All I had was an OW card, and the boat wouldn't let me dive 80'.
    I don't know if @caydiver 's op interprets OWD to mean a hard limit of 60', but the point is again as it has been made before: there are no scuba police, but if you're not shore diving, you dive by the rules of the folks taking you out.

    @caydiver , what did you really mean when you said "Buddy dives are different..."?
    AfterDark and yle like this.
  6. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    I'm going to guess that he means there's a difference between two OW divers diving together as an independent pair, and an OW diver diving with a pro guide. He implies that his shop interprets the PADI depth limit recommendations as applicable to two OW divers making an independent dive together, but that a pro guide is allowed to take divers deeper. This interpretation seems to be pretty common around the Caribbean, in my experience.
    caydiver likes this.
  7. ScubaBunga

    ScubaBunga Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: wright city, mo
    I've enjoyed reading this thread as all discussions on this topic are always good. The limits it seems are there for "while training" and as Barbosa says "...the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules." I consider myself a decent and well aware diver... I say this based on what I've seen other people do and my own comfort level. A 60' limit is good as I've seen many a diver have no clue (maybe too harsh) about where they are, how much air they are using and if they were not following the DM would be lost and out of air. The one comment about personal depth referencing a feeling a drink or two - if you're not paying attention many would not even notice their reduced capabilities - which adds additional risk at further depth - most people won't get narc'd above 60'. So having these limits allows the masses of divers to survive to dive another day.

    Another topic is the scientific research. As mentioned on this and other threads (and in the classes I've taken), many of the guidelines are based on empirical history (how long an old tank would last, how fast you can come up because the navy showed if you hauled someone up faster they got bent). Science has added details to this, but hard facts have too many variables. When does someone get narc'd...well depends on the person, the day, their current state, how hard they worked, etc. There is no "at 131' you die" science. Even the jr limits are (as I understand it) based on assumed safety of not knowing what pressure does to growing bodies and I assume the generality of a 10-12yr old doesn't understand their own safety or the life skils to handle a deeper emergency.

    So basically if you are a true recreational diver, stay within your cert. If you are comfortable beyond that and are paying attention to what your gear and your body are constantly telling you, stay within your comfort. The AOW is also just an intro to deep, if you are going to be diving beyond 100' (or 80 or again whatever your comfort is), take the deep dive class - understand the additional nuances. Air supply does go much faster, working harder can quickly lead to issues, etc. I personally love the difference below 100'.. I had an instructor that at 85' her head would start to spin so deep dives were always out for her.

    So - hard limits are for training. Guidelines should be followed unless you are prepared, knowledgeable, and comfortable to go beyond them. Well, you really should be all that before you get in the water in any case.

    And ENJOY your dive!
  8. Manatee Diver

    Manatee Diver Manta Ray

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Tampa Bay, FL
    I think he means that operators treat guided dive different from unguided dives. For example in the Keys if you don't have an AOW or proof of recent deep diving experience, in order to dive a deeper wreck like the Speigel you have to pay for a guide or go with an operator that includes guides.

    Of course the idea that a dive professional can take you beyond your certification level is normal. As an instructor takes non-divers and turns them into divers, and then takes divers and turns them into "advanced" divers. And finally takes "advanced" divers and turns them into tech divers.
    Seaweed Doc likes this.
  9. Scuba Lawyer

    Scuba Lawyer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Laguna Beach, California
    Hi @Sam Miller III ,

    Hope your pants dry soon. :)

    Gone are the days of most every potential diver being an accomplished waterman (or waterwoman) at the outset before ever slinging a tank on and plunging beneath the waves (whether learning by reading the manual that came with the tank, having a friend "teach" you, or taking the one formal scuba training class you will ever have). I've relayed the story many times of teaching ourselves deep air diving and decompression diving (pre dive computer) by reading the NAVY manuals, cobbling together sets of twin 72's, attaching 15 cu ft poly bottles, and then going out and just doing it, deliberately putting ourselves into decompression profiles so we could put our theory to the practical test. * Same with penetration wreck diving. There were no readily available classes for a civilian to take in these "specialties" so we read as much as we could, talked to as many people with knowledge that we could, thought about it a lot, and then went out and just did it. Can't say I'd recommend that approach for the majority of new divers today. I think it's a good thing to develop diving skills in stages and to take advantage of the various classes that are out there - if for nothing else than to keep getting wet and building up experience and confidence. My rant is over, see below for a fun story. Mark

    * In 1978, my dive buddy Gary and I spent a lot of time putting together twin 72's, pony bottle, etc... and planning for a deep air dive to 150 feet off California's Northern Channel Islands. We took a charter boat out to Santa Rosa Island. We had our plastic dive tables. We had slates with our planned dive profile and deco stops written down. We each had a 50 lb lift bag with 20 feet of line (marked at 10 feet as well) to release as we neared the surface so we could have some accuracy in our deco stops. The rest of the "normal" divers on board thought we were crazy as we lumbered to the bow gate and stepped off. We dropped straight down. I recall looking at my depth gauge as we were passing 50 feet. All of the sudden we came to a sudden stop on a flat sand bottom at 60 feet. We looked at each other with incomprehension and then it dawned on us that while we were dead set on a 150 foot dive, we never thought to ask anyone what the depth was at that location. :) Felt kinda stupid. Now it's just funny! M
    Marie13, Wingy, Seaweed Doc and 7 others like this.
  10. AfterDark

    AfterDark Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Rhode Island, USA
    I can understand the 130' "limit" it is somewhat of an "air limit" as it is a depth where most divers will at least begin to feel nark'd. That constitutes an unsafe condition, no organization wants to advocate that. Operators ditto.

    So unless a experienced diver sans the required certs has the resources to get themselves out to the dive site of their choice they are SOL. There are exceptions, I dove with an op that knowingly allowed me to dive solo sans cert. after 2 days into a 7 day trip. Since I was diving ID's he figured it wasn't my 1st time. There wasn't any depth issue as no dives where more than 130'.

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