PADI OW Passed - What next?

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Des P

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Hi all,

I've completed my PADI OW course last week in the Canaries. I've managed fairly well in my first four open water dives, needless to say it was warm water with great visibility (ideal conditions for a newbie). We went to about 12-4 meters in dives 2,3,4. I've managed to improve my air consumption from 25 mins on the first dive to 50 mins on the last dive. I ended up 1-to-1 with my instructor on all of the dives so I had his full attention and that was reassuring.

I've started looking for my next dive adventure and I'm planning to do another 4 dives in September in similar conditions around the Mediterranean. I've found a dive school with a great rating and contacted them but was a bit shocked by their response so I'm trying to see is it me that's unreasonable or is what I've experienced normal.

Most of the dives they were advertising for OW qualifications were 20+ meters with some of them up to 30+ meters with a caveat that divers will be required to stay at the depth they are certified for during the deep dives. Further, I don't have a buddy so I'll be going there by myself and hoping to get assigned a buddy there. All of this makes very worried. Firstly, I would like a few more dives at the 12-14 mark before venturing down to the 18 meters (I'm trying to keep it very conservative and stay where I feel comfortable and slowly build up). I imagine if the dive is up to 20+ meters (let alone 30), most likely the whole group will be deep down and I'll be hanging at the 13-15 meters range by myself. This means that I'll probably not have a buddy around, nor an instructor to keep an eye on me so if things go wrong I'll be on my own. As a newbie, my buoyancy isn't perfect and still takes conscious effort to slowly ascent/descent, constant depth check and so on. Knowing I can lose control and tank down to 30 meters isn't a very comforting feeling either.

I've also seen a thread in the forum where quite a few people were sharing that not every dive master guided tour does buddy ups and this is another stress factor - in all of my training (and very limited diving) I've been taught to rely on my buddy, keep an eye on them, etc but looks like 'real life' might be slightly different.

I've asked the school if there's any option for me to buddy up with an instructor/dm (ofc happy to pay extra for this) and I didn't even receive a response. I wonder if my request is unreasonable .. If so how do you make this transition from a very green diver, used to being watched by somebody to all of a sudden being more or less independent?

I might be overthinking it but I thought this type of community would be the best place to share my thoughts and get a reality check.

Many thanks,
Des
 

rick00001967

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if you ever find a shop that says "you will be diving on your own today"..... run.

any reputable dive shop will have you dive with someone else. and if it is an odd number of divers, you will either be in a group of 3 or with the guide.

it is very common for people to hire their own guide. if you are not comfortable yet, then by all means hire a private guide. maybe they are just very slow in responding to your emails.

i like that you want to gradually increase your depths. this is what should be done.
 

Marie13

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Strongly suggest you get in contact with a dive club at home in the UK. Even if you choose to not dive locally, some pool practice would be a very good thing, especially since you’re not going to be diving very frequently.
 
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Des P

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Thanks for all replies.

Marie13 - I've done that a few times already and I tend to do it every 3 months or so. I feel very comfortable in the pool and I constantly do drills like no mask swim, regulator recovery, safe ascent, etc. However, I don't feel any pressure there as the pool is just 3 meters deep so it's always at the back of my mind that no matter what happens I can surface safely (never holding breath ofc) but I'm not so used to 15+ meters in open sea.
 

TMHeimer

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Strongly suggest you get in contact with a dive club at home in the UK. Even if you choose to not dive locally, some pool practice would be a very good thing, especially since you’re not going to be diving very frequently.
That was gunna be my response, though I assume you would be mostly looking at pool practise and that won't be deep of course. Or putting on the cold water suit & weights, which you may have no interest in.
Only other thing I can think of is to look around at warm places you may want to visit and see if you can find something that is appropriate. Perhaps a place that has some shore diving.
I wouldn't dive only on tropical trips with a lot of months in between trips, regardless of taking a refresher course, etc. Especially if I were a new diver. But that's just me.
 

Marie13

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Thanks for all replies.

Marie13 - I've done that a few times already and I tend to do it every 3 months or so. I feel very comfortable in the pool and I constantly do drills like no mask swim, regulator recovery, safe ascent, etc. However, I don't feel any pressure there as the pool is just 3 meters deep so it's always at the back of my mind that no matter what happens I can surface safely (never holding breath ofc) but I'm not so used to 15+ meters in open sea.

Why no local diving?
 

Curious_George

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Not explaining away the slow responses from the dive shop, but I just got back from diving in the Mediterranean so may have some relevant experience. Had a terrible time getting any info from the dive shop prior to arriving. The only way to discuss anything was to call. What I found out (which they didn’t want to just come out and say) is that the pandemic has been a crushing blow and they are struggling to recover even yet. The only employees they had left are directly participating in the dive ops and they didn’t have time/energy to answer the email and rarely answer the phone.

I ended up walking up to the shop a couple days before I wanted to dive and they got me scheduled in just fine.

My advice to you is follow this same path and most importantly, be very transparent about your skills, experiences and interests. Sounds like your are comfortable being new and not one of those blow hands who is instantly good at everything. Continuing and extending your already great attitude around openly being new will serve you well. I would bet they will greatly appreciate a little extra income that comes with a private guide and will also help ensure you stay within your clearly communicated depth goals.

Also echo what others said, do as much real diving as you can. Pools are slightly better than nothing. Diving local for some (myself included) is a way to gain experience and "get by" until we get to the warm water. Also, because it’s tougher (low vis/dark/cold), you will gain experience faster than those who just dive where it’s easy.
 

drrich2

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Hi:

My perspective is U.S.A./Caribbean region-focused, and you're in the U.K. and even your travel destinations are likely to be different than mine, so you may find some things I tell you work a little differently where you are. Perhaps I can at least suggest a 'starting out' perspective.

1.) In our region, some operators don't care to take divers on some of their dives with 'just' an OW cert., rather wanting an AOW cert. (some will consider your log book experience). So, at some point, you'll probably want to get that cert.

2.) Nitrox is handy in some places, especially diving rather deep but not to extremes (let's say 80-100 feet for much of the dive, or 4 or 5 dives per day), to get more bottom time. It's a pretty easy certification to pick up and may come in handy.

3.) IIRC, U.K. area diving tends to be cold? I wonder if learning to use a dry suit would make local diving more appealing for you? Might be worth finding out...

4.) Down the road, Rescue Diver and a Solo Diver course can encourage more thoughtful assessment of dive planning and better autonomy, but those are for later on, not now.

5.) You are right that 'real world' attitudes toward the buddy system sometimes differ from what you may've been taught in a course. Some people are diligent about the buddy system (e.g.: about arms length from each other, visually check each other's position often, some wander 20 feet from each other, some just get in the water together than dive with the group, and some go their separate ways). I disagree that 'any reputable dive shop will have you dive with someone else.' You'll see on Scuba Board that some divers prefer diving solo, and some who dive with the group don't like boat staff trying to 'buddy them up' or make them buddy up with a specific individual. I agree hiring your own guide to start out can be helpful.

6.) I've read elsewhere that the Red Sea is a popular warm water dive destination from people in your part of the world. It's often dove by live-aboard boat (that's what I tend to see trip reports of). I'm not saying go there, but you may want to read up on what's involved, maybe read some trip reports from it, and find out if it's something you'd like.

I'm glad you're trying to anticipate and strategize for what could go wrong, so here are 2 more points:

7.) Get a cutting tool. Doesn't need to be a big knife. A little line cutter, Trilobyte or similar. The kind of line used to reel in Marlin isn't likely to be easy to snap by hand if you run into any.

8.) Get an SMB and a finger spool. Little diver heads sticking up in the water are hard to see from the boat. A big yellow or orange vertical tube is your friend if you drift away from the boat.
 

NothingClever

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Get Nitrox certified, complete an advanced course and you’ll be able to keep up (err, down) with the others.

Might consider checking out BSAC. I think they produce good divers.

Red Sea is great. I haven’t dived the Med but Red Sea is splendid. Egypt opened back up for UK citizens six (?) months back.
 
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