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What would you do different, if you had PADI OW certification to do all over again?

Discussion in 'New Divers & Those Considering Diving' started by MeraSonnet, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. MeraSonnet

    MeraSonnet Registered

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Atlanta
    This is a topic I wish I had discussed with experienced divers 3 years ago when I was OW (open water) certifying (this is the first level of PADI dive certification, for those newbies to this board). What would you do different, if you had PADI OW certification to do all over again?

    Here is mine:
    1) I would have spent more time looking for the optimal Dive Instructor and dive shop with which to certify. I would have done this by trying to join local dive club "meet-ups" for dinner, attending local dive shop meet-n-greet events, reading regional info on places like this Board, etc. What I would look for was a Dive Instructor or Dive Shop that behaved and demonstrated that they had their act together as much in the office and on the surface, as they should under water in dive instruction. And I would look for signs of how well they could organize a beginner's OW certification dive trip (you have to do 4 OW dives for your 1st certification). Why? My dive certification took 6 months rather than the typical weekend, streeeeeetching from August pool work -- to a September lake dive -- to a February trip to the Florida Panhandle. And again, why? Because my Dive Instructor was a good diver and teacher under water, but very disorganized at group planning, prioritization, and logistics. And he would try to do too many different agendas in one dive trip. So he would schedule me and my son for beginner's OW certification, and then also schedule 6-10 other people to accomplish their various levels of certification and course work. His attention was very divided and scattered. In a weekend where we traveled with the intention to complete 4 OW certificaton dives, we only got 2 in... not because we struggled with underwater skills, but because he ran out of time to do all gajillion types of dives he had planned for that weekend.
    2) Because my first goal was vacation, ocean, warm water diving, I would have certified at a warm ocean destination. I certified instead in cold fresh water lakes and rivers that required a bulky awkward 7 mil suit, a squeezing uncomfortable heavy hood, and bulky gloves. The 7 mil suit tended to trap air bubbles which seemed to lend to pop-ups during my first dives (pop-ups are bouyancy control challenges that can at times cause a sudden surprise rise toward the surface, and they are to be avoided with careful bouyancy skill application). I had no similar problems whatsoever once diving in only a swmsuit and dive gear off of Cozumel, Mexico.
    3) I would have ensured the certification dives were to involve shore dives, jumping off a pier, and/or a fast boat drift dive (a small boat with up to 6-8 people max). But NOT, and I repeat NOT, a cattle boat with 20+ people and all their gear. I did my final 2 certification dives on cattle boats on Crystal River and Rainbow River in the Florida panhandle. They were nightmarish dives. The crews were rude. There was too much chaos for the newbie divers to get some help or support getting into all the cold water gear and entering the water off a boat for the first time. And my teenage son who was co-certifying with me was actually shoved by a rushed crew member off the deck before he had inflated his BCD, and he landed funny in the water and hit his head on his tank top. Er... I had an out-of-body experience with full head-revolving.

    Now 3 years and 40+ dives later, I love diving. And the reality of the kind of diving I select to do is much less stressful and much more zen than the certifying process we had to move through. Diving has been a life-changing addition, and I cannot imagine not having the dive trips to plan and look forward to. Happy diving! Follow your dreams....
  2. Pullmyfinger

    Pullmyfinger PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Guam.
    I took PADI OW, and upon completion I knew it was lacking a lot. It was just another, all too common, minimum course.

    I educated myself after that experience, and filled in the missing pieces (and then some).
    I found a YMCA instructor and took their Open Water II course.

    There was a night and day difference between the two experiences.

    As an objective comparison, I very recently took a PADI "advanced" class with some friends. I was curious to see how it would compare with the YMCA OW II course I took years ago......it didn't compare at all. :-(

    I hear the usual stuff about "the instructor", and I somewhat agree. But instructors are going to teach the course.
    It's not like they are going to add content to the "advanced" course, and make it more than it is.

    That being said, like you....I would find an instructor that was pretty active, most likely going off of opinions from other divers that took their classes. Even then, it's pretty subjective.

    At the end of the day, your going to pay your money and take your chances (for a person that's looking to take OW). They won't have the experience to draw from, to objectively choose an instructor.

    It's usually after taking OW, and reading through forums, that a new diver starts to figure out what to look for.

    Like me, they'll have to fill the gaps with follow on training. I really had no idea what to look for when I signed up for my OW class.

    In my case...I knew exactly what to look for when shopping for Open Water 2 training.....or "advanced", or whatever else people choose to call their classes.

    To answer your question on what I would do different if I could go back.
    I would read the posts from Instructors on this forum. It would only take a day or two to see the differences in opinion on the very short courses (now spun as "evolved" courses:wink:) vs. the longer courses. If I had known about those varied opinions beforehand, I could have made a better decision on which instructor to choose.

  3. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    I wouldn't have done anything differently. I had a fine instructor and recently DMd with her class. That was Deja Vu. I now know that the OW (PADI anyway) is a very "minimum" course, as mentioned above. Our 4 shore checkout dives early Nov. locally went fine. I got the manual that August and the class started in Oct. That was enough time beforehand to study it thoroughly--even for me. It was a 6 session (3 week) night course, which I found great for me--not a rushed weekend course. For the courses I've taken since then I tried to get the manual/materials even well before that. Then you can concentrate on the extra stuff an instructor presents.
  4. DivemasterDennis

    DivemasterDennis DivemasterDennis ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, Colorado
    I can truthfully say that I would change nothing. What makes that amazing is my initial certification was a gift- I did not select the dive shop or instructor (Derek Prosser, who now owns the dive center) , but it worked out great. I did book and pool here with Underwater Phantaseas of Lakewood, Colorado, and they hooked me up with course director Bill Hannan of Maui who did my open water dives 1 on 1. I probably had the best of all possible instructors and experiences. It was an important factor in creating and nurturing my love for diving.
    Pullmyfinger likes this.
  5. Hawkwood

    Hawkwood MSDT ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: NA

    Did you really want the discussion limited to PADI instruction?
  6. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    I'd have found a NAUI or YMCA instructor and saved a bunch of money by getting much of what I needed in one course as opposed to several.
    Doppler and Pullmyfinger like this.
  7. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    Hindsight is always 20-20, but being realistic, I don't know what I would have done differently.

    I did no research or comparison shopping for classes, but ended up at the shop with the best class schedule that's offered locally, I think (and still think, after 7 years and getting into teaching myself). I took pot luck on instructors, but on the spectrum of what's out there, mine were okay. I wouldn't have had any idea that there was a different model for teaching than the one they were using, and seven years ago here, I'm not sure at all that there actually was. I certified in Puget Sound, which was very difficult for me, and I had to deal with ill-fitting equipment and a leaking dry suit -- but again, I've learned those problems aren't uncommon in classes here, if you are given the option of a dry suit at all. I am VERY glad I certified here, which was not my original intention, because I'm not sure that if I had certified in warm water, I would ever have given Puget Sound diving a try, and it turns out I love it. I've also said that I don't think I should have passed my original OW class when I did (still not sure I'd certify someone like me, if I were an instructor) but it has all turned out rather well in the end.

    With a couple of exceptions, I don't think agency makes a difference. And I know we say very often here that it isn't the agency, it's the instructor . . . and there is some truth to that. And the shop, and the program the shop offers, makes a difference, as I have learned. But the student makes a difference, too. I am proof that someone who wants to learn to dive well can do it, even with all the kinds of issues that the OP lists as having occurred in his class.
  8. farsidefan1

    farsidefan1 Contributor Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah USA
    Note, I live in Salt Lake City, Utah and am in no way affiliated with the person about whom I'm about to reference. I've just observed his posts over several years. Honestly I would board a plane for Pennsyvania and take my classes from Jim Lapenta. I would do it in the summer because I like warm water :) or I would try to talk him into doing the course in some warm tropical locale. There are several instructors here that I would be VERY happy to learn from, Jim just jumps out in my mind.
    CindyMac likes this.
  9. fnfalman

    fnfalman Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California, USA
    I wouldn't do anything different. I had a great shop owner who didn't try to "sell" me any of those silly specialty training courses or junk gears. He gave me his opinions on trainings and gears then let me make up my own mind.

    My instructor was pretty good and used a BPW while training us in our poodle jackets. He explained to us the differences between the poodle jacket and BPW.
  10. Bellaco

    Bellaco Contributor

    No real issues with PADI, but I would have signed up with GUE from day 1 if I knew then what I know now.
    Pullmyfinger likes this.

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