Other SCUBA Sections

Other SCUBA Training Sections


PADI Advanced Open Water Certification

What does it take to get it? 
Watch here and find out.

06 Feb 06:  Advanced Open Water Certification: What's involved?  Doing the "Adventures in Diving" home course and then do 5 "adventure" dives.  They consists of "specialty" dives, not just going underwater. (More on that in a minute) 
  Background: SCUBA Steve had told me back in January that I needed to go ahead and get my Advanced as soon as I could. He said he could already tell I wasn't going to be one of those that just got Open Water certified and would be happy with that.  He said he can do Advanced check dives on the same weekends he did O/W check dives and that I should schedule to go with them during the February class.  After some discussions with "The Boss" (known to everyone as Heather, my wife) and receiving her blessing, I decided to do just that.
    I went to the Dive Shop today and bought my "Adventures in Diving" multimedia pack and started the home course.  The home course consists of chapters and knowledge reviews for the following specialty dive courses:  SCUBA Review, Altitude Diving, AWARE Fish Identification, Boat Diving, Deep Diving, Diver Propulsion Vehicles, Drift Diving, Dry Suit Diving, Multi-level and Computer Diving, Night Diving, Peak Performance Buoyancy Diving, Search and Recovery, Underwater Naturalist, Underwater Navigation, Underwater Photography, Underwater Videography, Wreck Diving, and Rescue Diver Experience.  For the Advanced rating, you must do a minimum of 5 Adventure dives.. Two are mandatory: Deep Dive and Underwater Navigation.  The other three are up to you, your instructor and your dive site.  (ie, you can't do a Wreck Dive if there is no wreck to dive around)  I'm going to work on this and get with Steve to make sure he has room for me in February.

18 Feb 06:  I'm about half way through the home course.  Not as easy to go through this one as the Open Water because it doesn't have the cool videos all through it to watch. It does have 1 hour long video to watch concerning all the specialties, but the rest is just book work.  Oh well, it's still cool to learn about it all.  I did speak to Steve last week via email and he said he had room and to get ready.  He said I would probably be the only one getting my advanced that weekend, but what's new about that?  I've done everything on my own so far anyway. :)  If I can get the home work completed over the weekend, I'm going to head to the Dive Shop on Monday to pay for the trip and get my rental gear.  I'll update more as time passes.

20 Feb 06:  I went to the Dive Shop today to pay my fees for my trip to Florida this weekend.  While I was there, I picked a cheap "Farmer John" wetsuit and a light kit.  The F/J is the same type I rented from them last time, but, if you recall, that one had a hole in the crotch area of the outer suit and it was pretty chilly when water would come up through there. (Open Water Dive #3 entry)  I didn't want to chance that again, so I bought one for myself.  It's cheap, so I didn't spend much money and now I don't have to worry about holes or who peed in it.  As far as the light kit; Steve told me we could be doing a Night Dive for my Advanced. Remember, it calls for a Deep Dive, an Underwater Navigation Dive and three other Adventure Dives. Night diving being one of the dives you or your instructor can choose.  To do a night dive, you must have a light and it's recommended you have a backup.  So, I had to get a light.  Again, I didn't want to spend a bunch of money.  Some of the lights are pretty expensive. I finally found a set (main and backup) with connecting straps for your equipment to your BC for less than some of the main lights alone.  It may not be the best in the world, but it will get the job done and I didn't have to spend a bunch on it.
  I also picked up all my rental gear, signed all the paperwork and paid my fees for this weekend.  My nephew went with me to the shop today.  He thought it was going to be a quick 10 minute trip there, pay some fees and get out.  An hour and half later we were leaving.  We also made a stop by Office Depot to get a printer cartridge and we were in and out of there in 5 minutes. He said he likes going to Office Depot with me much more than he likes going to the Dive Shop. :)
  As far as the home study is going; I've got 11 of my tests completed with only 6 more to go.  They will all be completed over the next few days and I will ready to go come Saturday morning.  This will probably be my last entry until I get back from Florida.

Saturday, 25 Feb 06:  We met at the Dive Shop at 0730.  Little did I know, we were supposed to leave at 0730.  Last time we met at 0730 and left at 0800.. We were picking some folks up on the way, so they decided to leave a bit earlier.  The Dive Shop didn't inform me of this, but luckily, I'm one of those people who likes to show up early for a trip.  So, we left and picked up two others along the way.  The trip was uneventful and I got to know the folks that were in the van with us.  There were 8 of us in the Dive van, 2 others from my class were meeting us down there and 3 others from the last Confined class were also meeting us down there.  That gave a total of 13 students Steve and Donald had to contend with this time.  Out of the 13, there were 2 of us there for our Advanced.  Trey and myself. Trey's wife, Christy was there to get her open water.  Trey would be my buddy when we did our Advanced skills and at other times while he was buddied up with Christy, I had John. John had taken his Confined Water class in April of 05, but never had the time to get the Open Water portion completed.  I found out this weekend that you only have 12 months from the time you take your confined water to be certified or you lose the training currency. Meaning: You'd have to take the Confined Class again.  So, John was almost at his 12 month mark and had to make this weekend work.  Everyone on the bus from those three to Kevin and his wife Monica, Shane and "the class clown" Ben were good people and we had a good time riding down there.
  We arrived at Ginnie Springs right around 1200-1215.  We went in the Dive Shop, looked around signed our waivers and then Steve went about doing all the paperwork to get everyone ready to dive.  After everything was complete and the headcount was full, we headed down to the Spring for our dives.
Day 1 Log Stats: 3mm "Farmer John" wetsuit with jacket, hood, boots, 17 lbs of weight for the first dive and 19 lbs for the second..  73 degree air temp, sunny, 72 degree water temp (surface & bottom) Vis was about 50 feet.
Dive # 1:  This was the water/site orientation dive for all the Open water students.  There is a current that runs through the spring and to the River, so Trey and I made it a "Drift Dive" for one of our 5 Specialty dives we would have to make over the weekend.  Although the current isn't very strong, you have to use what you can with the surrounds you have to get the Specialty Dives completed and to still have fun with it.  Steve gave the O/W class their briefing and then gave Trey and me, ours.  The way out was with the current and easy going.  The way back in was against the current and you had to work it to get back in.  Steve got out a pretty good lead but he would stop, hover and let us catch up if he felt he was getting too far ahead.  We had a nice tour and saw a big school of fish cross right in front of John and I.  That was pretty cool. He said he thought they were "shad." I have no idea.  My weight wasn't quite right due to the fact that I didn't take into consideration the new farmer john.  Mush more buoyant than a used up f/j with a hole in it.  I had trouble staying down.  So, after our dive, I went and traded out a 3 lb bag of weight for a 5 lb. That should work on our next dive.Dive Time This Dive: :30 min
Dive Time to Date: : 2hrs 42 mins
Dive # 2:  After a 1 hour surface interval, We headed back into the water.  The first part of our dive was to buddy up with our O/W buddy.  Trey and I watched them do their mask fill and clears long with the fin pivot.  After all that was done, then we did the alternate air scenario with our Buddy.  I was out of air first when we stayed down, then John was out of air when we went to the surface, which made him have to oral inflate his BC once we surfaced.  He did great and said I was a good help because he never had to struggle to stay up while he was inflating his BC.  After the O/W folks were done, Trey and I had our next specialty dive.  The Peak Performance Buoyancy Dive.  I was actually dreading this because buoyancy was one of my least proficient areas in my O/W portion.  We went down and got neutral and then Steve had us go through an "obstacle course."  He would swim to an object (usually a tree branch) and then we he got to it, he would inhale to go above it, exhale to go below it.  He found a few things for us to go over, under and through and we followed him through the course.  I surprised at how fun it was when you had your buoyancy correct.  We then had to hover, horizontal, just inches off the bottom.  I wasn't very horizontal (had my feet much lower than the rest of me) but I did it well enough to pass that dive.  After we finished the Buoyancy dive, Steve took us into the Ginnie Springs Cavern.  At this one place, Open Water divers are allowed to go into the cavern.  There is only one way in and one way out and only about 50 feet deep, so there is no way to get lost.  So, since Trey and I were already certified, Steve took us in for a tour. It was AWESOME!!  He took us all the way to the back/bottom. As you turn around and look back, you can see the light coming in from the entrance. It was an amazing sight. Here is a shot of it I found on the web.  That trip was the highlight so far of all my trips.  I just bolstered my interest in learning to Cavern Dive.  After exploring the cavern, we surfaced and ended to diving for the day.
Dive Time This Dive: :45 min
Dive Time to Date: 3 hrs 27 min

  After we loaded up all the equipment and got our tanks filled, we headed to Lake City, FL and the hotel.  Not the greatest hotel experience we've ever had.  They put us in a smoking room, which smelled like 2 week old cigarettes. (All my clothes and everything have that faint odor to it now)  Then, we had a leak in the bathroom.  The room above us was leaking in and coming through the light fixture.  I just made sure I knew where everything was, so in case the place went up in flames, I'd have all my shit.  Then, our 0630 wake up call never came.  Luckily, neither John or I sleep well in a strange place, so we were both up already anyway.  We all met up and headed to Sonny's BBQ and had a great meal.  Afterwards, we were going to do paperwork, but everyone was dead-dog tired, so we pushed it off until the morning.  The reason the dinner sticks in my head is I got number one of two of the best compliments from Steve I think I could have gotten during that meal. (Number two came the next day)  Steve told me he wouldn't normally allow his students to get their advanced rating just three weeks after being certified because he wanted them to more comfortable and proficient in the water.  But, he said when we were in the pool and then doing our check dives last month, he said to himself about me, "That guy is a diver."  Now that was one GREAT compliment coming from an accomplished Instructor and Diver like Steve and it meant the world to me.  I will always remember that conversation.  Thanks Steve..

Sunday, 26 Feb 06:  We started the day out by not getting our wake up call.  Whatever.  We headed out to breakfast and meet up with everyone else so we could do our paperwork and take pictures, etc.  After all that was done, we headed out to Orange Grove Sink at Peacock Springs State Park.  Same place we went for our O/W check dives.  We got to Orange Grove and issued out all the tanks and everyone started getting their equipment together.  After all the equipment was set up and placed on the dock, Steve went over the compass portion with the O/W folks.  After that was done, Donald, Steve, Trey and I all went to suit up.  Steve and Donald were going to set up the float ball and, after that was done, they were going to do our deep dive portion.
Day 1 Log Stats: 3mm "Farmer John" wetsuit with jacket, hood, boots, 19 lbs of weight..  72-74 degree air temp, sunny, 70 degree water temp at the surface & about 60 at the bottom. Vis was about 40 feet for the first dive and dwindled to about 15 for the last dive due to all the kicking up of crap.
  Dive # 1:  Basically, it went like this: On the surface, Steve gave us a problem to work out on our Dive Tables.  He timed how long it took for us to do the problem.  Then, we were to go to 70 feet and he would give us another problem to do and time that.  That was to show us that even if we weren't feeling the effects of nitrogen narcosis, it would still slow things down.  I did my surface problem in 40 seconds.  We start going down.  It was wild being down there that deep.  We passed a cold layer. I'm not sure it was thermocline or what, but there was a significant temperature drop when we got to about 50-60 feet.  All at once, my wetsuit compressed and I lost all buoyancy. I started to drop like a rock.  I tried to offset by using short bursts of air to my BC, but it was enough. Luckily, I landed on a tree branch and hung there for a second until I could get enough air in my BC to go neutral again.  After I got neutral, only short bursts keep it that way.  That was my first experience with that and I'll be ready for it next time. Once we settled on the bottom at 66 feet, we did our problems.  As soon as Steve gave me mine, I reached for my tables and started working it out.  Here's something you don't think about. In O/W class, they teach you, all things under water look 33% larger and 33% closer.  Well, if your close up vision has taken a slight change for the worse because you are over forty and your tables are clipped to your BC pretty close, you aren't going to be able read JACK when it comes time to do it.  I couldn't read my tables to save my life.  I motioned to Steve that my eyes couldn't read the tables because they were too close and he motioned for me to unhook them from my BC. DUH!!!!!!  Ok, blame it on the narcosis. (Although I felt nothing)  1 minute and 20 seconds later, I had finished the problem.  3 times longer at depth than it took at the surface.  Lesson learned.  After Trey finished his problem, which, by the way, he did just as fast as he did on the surface, we were given a tour around the cavern in that area.  We only hit a total depth of 68 feet, but it was amazing.  There were openings all over that place.  Very easy to see how someone could get lost in there.  We saw a monument about 15 feet below us, but didn't get to go down there. Steve still 11 O/W students that two more dives they need to do.  So, we ascended to 15 feet and did our safety stop.  After three minutes, we surface and Trey and I went for our surface interval.
Dive Time This Dive: :20 min
Dive Time to Date: 3 hrs 47 min
Dive # 2: After an hour and 16 minutes surface interval, Trey and I went in for our Underwater Navigation dive.  Steve gave us our briefing on how it should be done and then had us measure our kick cycles for a distance so we could measure distance under water.  After we measured, then he had us going in opposite directions, about 15-20 feet down and do a square pattern.  If it worked the way it should, we do one directions for so many kick cycles. Stop, turn 90 degrees and do the same amount of kick cycles. Do that two more times and if you get your kick cycles and directions right, you should in up exactly where you started.  Viz was done to about 15 feet, so there was very little chance of cheating on this one.  I was amazed, after doing my three turns and was headed to what I thought was "home", I looked ahead and saw the yellow of Steve's fins right in front of me.  I was shocked.  I even kept my right depth all the way around.  I had a bit of help on the backside with a could of divers that were looking at something on the cliff, so I used them as a reference for my "altitude."  All in all, it worked out great and I finished where I started.  4 specialty dives complete, one more to go for my Advanced rating.
Dive Time This Dive: :29 min
Dive Time to Date: 4 hrs 16 min
Dive # 3:  This was going to be an easy one.  Steve had brought his underwater camera and had us do Underwater Photography as our last dive. Now, he wasn't going to just BS us through it. He wanted specific tasks completed.  He gave us the briefing on what to look for, how to take the pictures, how to maintain buoyancy but not hold your breath, etc, etc.  There was more to it than just dropping down and taking a few quick pictures.  He wanted to have fish in the pictures.  Not only did he want fish, he wanted them centered and not blurry.  So, again, no cheating in this one.  Trey and got down and looked for some fish. It was pretty easy to find them.  After struggling a bit with getting neutral, I was able to snap a few quick ones of a coupld fish near me and one eating some floating moss.  And, of course had to snap one of Trey.  After my time was done, I gave Trey the camera and he did the same.  As we surfaced the O/W class was doing their "Final Exams" so we watched them for a bit.  One of the students had jettisoned a weight and could find it. Trey and I went on a Search and Recovery dive and found it.  We both grabbed for it at the same time and I was the unlucky one to get it.  As soon as I grabbed it, it weighed more than I was compensated for and it started dragging me down.  I grabbed my inflator and started getting the air in BC. I finally got enough but not before I lost about 15 feet in depth.  Again, lesson learned.  I brought the weight up and handed it to the kid. I was done for the day.
Dive Time This Dive: :30 min
Dive Time to Date: 4 hrs 46 min

  With all the dives done, there was nothing to do but hand out the C-cards, the handshakes and load up the equipment for the long ride home.  During Graduation is when Steve gave me the second compliment that meant so much:  He told everyone how I had gone from O/W to Advanced in just three weeks and then told me two things: 1: That he knew I could do it and he never had any doubt about my diving abilities. And 2, that I now held a record that would stand for long time with him as an instructor. The 3 week thing being the record.  That was VERY cool to hear.
  Again, as with the last class, I would like to say a VERY hearty Thank You to Scuba Steve and Dive Master Donald for their patience, their attitudes and their professionalism they displayed over the course of the weekend.  Although some PADI instructors seem to give others a bad rap for pushing people too quickly through training, these two take their profession very seriously and I would feel comfortable putting my family through any class they teach.

As of today, Monday, 27 Feb 2006, I am now a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver.