Other SCUBA Sections
Other SCUBA Training Sections
PADI Open Water SCUBA Diver Certification w/ NITROX
What does it take to get
Watch here and find out.
Sept 05: If you've looked through the site, you'll know that Heather and
I went on a Caribbean cruise back in Sept '05. During that trip, I did a "Discover SCUBA"
excursion in St. Maarten, N.A. I LOVED it and decided to get certified.
I did a lot of research and talked to some certified divers in my family and at
my work. After deciding where to take my training, I started down that
Here's what I need to get my PADI Open Water (O/W) Certification.
1. Home Course Study consisting of a DVD or CD-ROM and 5 Knowledge tests.
(Sold all as one kit called the PADI O/W Crew Pack which also includes your logbook, tables, and a bunch of extra info)
2. Classroom study with Instructor.
3. Four Confined water (pool) dives with Instructor.
4. Four Open Water (ocean, lake, quarry, springs, etc.) dives with Instructor.
November 05: I went to the local dive shop and purchased my PADI O/W "Crew Pack." For the next few weeks, I sat down in front of the computer an hour or so every few days and completed my home study course. I knew I couldn't make my classroom dives until January, so I was in no rush to finish the course. You could easily finish it within 2 weeks if you wanted too, I just wanted to drag it out since I had the time.
December 05: After talking to some folks at the Dive Center, I decided to go ahead and get my Enriched Air (NITROX) certification also. To get NITROX certified, you have to do a home study course, watch a video, take a test and do two dives breathing NITROX. Since I will already be doing 4 dives for my O/W cert, I can do 2 more the same weekend breathing NITROX and kill two birds with one stone. I received the home course for Christmas and am working on that. My Confined Water dives/classes are scheduled for 14-15 Jan 06 so I will finish it sometime around then and be ready to take the NITROX test after my C/W classes are complete but before the O/W dives.
Jan 06: The Confined Water classes have begun. We met at 0800
at the Dive Center. After introductions, the Instructor (Scuba Steve;
Steve Gatlin) got
right into the lesson. Most everything he went over was a big review from
what we learned during the home course, but now he could stress the safety
aspect of it. SCUBA is a blast, but it is also inherently dangerous, so he
was stressing the importance of following procedures to keep us and our buddies
safe. During the morning we took four 10 question quizzes (Made 3 100's
and an 80) and the 50 question Final Exam. (Made a 98 on that one) After
the classroom portion was completed, we broke for lunch and then met back at the
center for an equipment briefing and store tour. After the tour, we headed
to the pool. First thing we did in the pool was the "fitness test." Not
much to it.. 8 laps around the pool with mask, fins and snorkel. It'll
tire you out if you aren't used to it, but I was breathing normal again in just
a few minutes. After that, we had to do a 10 minute water tread/survival
float. Again, no one had any major problems with that either. Then
it was out of the pool to get our equipment. We met our Dive Master
(Donald Holder) and then we got our BC's, tanks, and
regulator/instrument setups. We learned to strap the BC onto the tank,
mount the first stage onto the tank, how to turn on the air and test all the
equipment. Once that was done, it into the water to put it all on.
Once we got it all on, we took baby steps. First was under the water to
just breathe. Breathing underwater is not a natural thing. Once you
get used to it, it's VERY cool, but it is somewhat unnerving doing it for the
first time. Since my first time doing it was actually back in September, I
had no problems doing it this time. (If you read my
St. Maarten write up, you'll see
the problems I did have back then) After everyone was comfortable
breathing, then it was time to learn how to take the regulator out of your mouth
(while under water) replace it, clear the water out (2 ways to do it) and
breathe again. Once that was learned and everyone was comfortable, we
learned two ways to find our regulator if it got yanked out of our mouths or we
dropped it by accident. We practiced that until everyone was good to go
with it. After that, we learned how to clear our masks of water. We did
partial fill, full fill and then we took out masks completely off, replaced them
and cleared them. We also did a "free flow" exercise. In case your
regulator starts to free flow the air, we need to know how to breathe from that
underwater. Breathing was no problem. The problem was all that cold
air blasting your teeth. My teeth were sore for a few hours after that
little exercise. At one point, we also did the "tired diver" tow.
Not much to that.. Inflate both BC's grab the tired diver by the tank valve and
pull them along as you fin your way to wherever you need to go. The last thing
for today was an exercise that had us swimming from one end of the pool to the
other while switching from regulator to snorkel and back as many times as we
could in one lap. I think I got 4 or 5 swaps in my lap.
My "buddy" this day was an older lady who seems to have either a great fear of drowning or very little confidence in herself to complete the tasks without drowning, so she was having some problems. I believe she is going to come back to do private sessions with the instructor, so I guess I'll have the Steve as my buddy tomorrow. Class starts at 1100 tomorrow and goes until we are done. All day today, my BC was leaking from the back. It wasn't a big leak, but it was annoying to hear the bubbling behind you while in the water. I reported it to Donald and will use another one tomorrow.
Jan 06: Confined Water Day 2. Class was scheduled to run from 1:00
to 5:00 pm, but we wanted to get an early start since we ran late the day before
and met at 11:00. As we got there, the dive center was opening up, so we
went in, purchased a few things and signed up for (and paid for) our upcoming
O/W dive trip. After spending about 5 hours in the pool yesterday, it really
started to get a bit chilly in there. The pool is a nice 90 degrees at the
beginning of the day, but after awhile, the heat wears off and you start to get
a chill. I didn't want to go through that again today, so I purchased a
2mm "shorty." It's an Edge wetsuit and it helped immensely. After most of
the afternoon in the pool, I opened the top of the suit to get a bit of water in
and, boy, was that water cold when it came in!! That was a great 49 bucks I
spent earlier that day. :)
But, back to the class: The first thing we did was put all our equipment together. 3 times!!! Steve had us put it together, take it apart, put our buddy's together, take it apart, and then put our stuff back together the way we liked it. It gave us a chance to see how other units worked and kind of ingraining the steps you take to attach everything. After that, we got in the pool by learning the "giant stride" method of entering the water. We reviewed a few things from the prior day and then we headed to the "deep" end of the pool. (All 11 feet of it).. Once everyone was standing on the bottom, then we kneeled on the bottom. Then, we laid on the bottom. Once everyone was laying on the bottom, we had a torpedo thing we threw around to each other just playing around and getting used to being on the bottom. We did that for about 5 minutes and then headed back up. (The slow, turning, hands up, proper way to returning to the surface) After Steve knew everyone could go to the bottom, it was time start doing some drills there. We did mask and regulator clearing. Then we did "Out of air, alternate air source" with your buddy. We did it in the shallows then went and did it in the deep. Since my "buddy" from the day before wasn't in the class anymore, Steve was my buddy for the day, so he and I did everything first to show the class how to do it. Fortunately, I'm a decent listener and learner, so I didn't mess up his teaching and demonstrating. He even had me act like I was panicking the first time we did the Alternate Air Source drill so he could show people how to calm a diver down that is panicking. I thought I did that pretty crappy, but the others in the class knew was I trying to look like when Steve asked if they saw anything with it. So, we did that in the deep end and then allowed each pair to do it. After that we did buoyancy drills. First, we did the "fin pivot." (Lay on the bottom, put enough air in your BC to just raise the top half of you off the floor and then you top half goes up and down with your breathing. After that, we did "hovering." Stand until you have enough air in your BC to go just off the floor and then you cross your legs and hover, only going up and down with your breathing. I actually screwed that up. I was fine with the fin pivot, but the hovering, I messed up. He had the rest of the class do it and then he kept three of us down. One was an employee of the Dive Center, the other was a partially certified diver and me. He decided to have a contest amongst us three since we were doing pretty good in the class. After I inflated enough to raise up, I thought I had too much air in and went to release some. I hit the wrong button and added more air. I was 9 feet up before I figured it out and totally blew that exercise. I got back down and hovered, but was pretty embarrassed after that. They were even joking with me about it afterwards. Live and learn. There was a lot of drills and exercises in this day. One most people were worried about was turning off the air so you could feel what it was like to run out. It was done in conjunction with other skills. Not at the same time, but once you finished one, you did another. We went down, removed our weight belts and put them back on. Then you took off your BC and put it back on. (I had trouble with that one also. I had an older BC and the straps weren't easy to find amongst the rest of the things.. I kept getting tangled up. I finally got it, but Steve had to help me find my left strap during it. Then after everything was put back on, Steve would turn off the air. We knew he was going to do it and even had us watch our pressure gauge so we would know when we were out, but he wanted us to breathe until there was none to breathe so we could feel it. As soon as we signaled out of air, he cranked it back on. When mine ran out, there was very little restriction and then POOP!! Nothing to breathe. Just a dead regulator. I signaled and he cut it back on. I was expecting more resistance prior to no air, but that wasn't the case. Steve said it's more gradual when you breathe a tank dry, but not so much turning one off.
After those drills, we did some surface drills. Again with the weight belt and BC. I was able to do those with only minor hiccups. But, I did do them. Then we had to do our "CESA." (Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent) Basically, it's when you run out of air and you have no buddy to breathe off of. You take your last breath, swim to the surface (while saying AHHHHHHHHHHHHH so you're not holding your breath and not going more than the 60' per minute ascension rate) and then when you surface, kick with your fins to stay above water while orally inflating your BC. It's actually much easier than it sounds. Once we completed that satisfactorily, we were done with our Confined Water Classroom. There may have actually been more drills, but I didn't take any notes (since they would be all wet) and this is what I remember off the top of my head.
Now that the C/W portion is over, I need to finish my NITROX home study, which I have one more chapter to go, and then take the written test for it at the Dive Center. Then, all I have to do is my O/W and NITROX dives. The weekend of Jan 28-29, I will be headed to North Florida to do those. If all goes well that weekend, I will come back to GA a newly certified PADI Open Water, NITROX qualified, SCUBA Diver. That, to me, is just a cool thought.
25 Jan 06: Just got back from the Dive Shop. I picked up my rental gear (tanks, BC, reg/octo/gauges and wetsuit) for this coming weekend. I also took my NITROX test while I was there. I passed with an "official" 96. The reason I say that is; There were 25 questions, I missed two. 4 points per question, 2 missed questions equal 8 points, hence a 92. The guy grading my test and transcribing my scores in my records messed up and wrote a 96. I didn't notice until it was too late, so I have a 96 in my record. Although, truthfully, it was a 92. The good thing, a 90-something is still a great score and now I'm qualified to take my NITROX dives for my certification. We leave this coming Saturday morning at 0800. 2 dives on Saturday and then two on Sunday. Of course, I'll have that write up here when I get back Sunday night. Stay tuned!!
06: Met at the Dive shop about 0730.
Come to find out, it was only Steve, Donald (who paid his own way to go) and myself going from the Macon
Store to the Dives this weekend on the Dive Center's Bus. So, instead of
taking the big bus, Steve drove us all in the owner's truck. The rest of
the folks were driving themselves and meeting us down there. We loaded
everything up and headed out right around 0800. We stopped by a Shoney's
buffet around Tifton, GA, gassed up and headed down to Florida. Today's
dives were being held at
Springs, just outside High Springs, FL. We pulled up to Ginnie Springs
right at 1200. The rest of the folks were already there and waiting.
The 4 from Ft. Valley, GA (Connie, Amber, Nathan and ?) and the 4 from
Charlotte, NC (Frank, Walt, Michael and Scott.) We met up with everyone, watched
the Ginnie Springs video (mandatory to watch) and then made sure everyone had
the proper paperwork filled, and if not, filled it out. After all that was
done, it was done to the Spring to start our dives. This time around, I
was more worried about getting my certification than I was documenting the trip,
so there aren't any pictures and some details may be left out. All this is
from my head. Next trip will be some pictures. (Actually, there were
a few taken and I'm supposed to get some emailed me to me.. If I get them, I'll
post them) We unloaded the truck and started putting together our gear.
The first thing I noticed when we pulled up was the amount of people. Here
we are, in the 4th weekend of January, 68 degrees outside and there are probably
60-80 other people out here, besides us, scuba diving. That was amazing.
We got everything together and met on the "dock." Steve split us into two
groups, Group 1 (the NC folks and me) and Group 2, the Ft. Valley folks.
Day 1 Log Stats: 3mm "Farmer John" wetsuit with jacket, boots, 17 lbs of weight. 68 degree air temp, sunny and breezy, 72 degree water temp (surface & bottom) Vis was about 30-45 feet.
Open Water Dive # 1: We got in the 72 degree water and got used to the chill. Once the wetsuit started doing it's job, Steve took us for a tour around Ginnie Spring. We down to the bowl, around and out towards the Santa Fe river. He showed us how the water changes color from the Spring to the River (along with temp) and then we headed back to the starting point. Going out, I didn't notice much. I was just trying to breathe and keep up with everyone. On the way back, I was more relaxed and was able to take in some sites. The fish, the rocks, the bubbling floor of the Springs. All very cool. We got out and group 2 went for their orientation dive. During my dive, I noticed two things with my equipment. I had the same dang BC I used during day 1 of the confined class because the leak was still there. And, my mask leaked. I had bought a hood for my wetsuit earlier this week and was going to use it. I didn't use it the first day and I had set my mask strap bigger to allow for it, so my mask was leaking. Nothing I can do about the BC, it 's not a huge leak anyway, so I'll just live with it for the weekend. My mask however, as soon as I got out of the water, I tightened it up. Not really cold enough to warrant the hood today. (Famous Last Words)
Dive Time This Dive: :22 min
Dive Time to Date: :22 min (Only count Open Water time in log)
Open Water Dive #
2: After about a 50 minute surface
interval, we head back into the water for our second dive. We headed down
to an open area of the bowl and stood in about 15 feet of water. We did
partial and full fill mask clearing, regulator retrieval, and alternate air with
our Buddy. I'm actually trying to remember if we did fin pivot on this
dive or not. I think we did the low pressure inflate fin pivot, but I'm
not sure. For the alternate air, the first time, we stayed underwater for
A/A and then second time, we actually went to the surface breathing our Buddy's
A/A. At the surface, we did the tired diver two and our regulator/snorkel
exchange. After we completed those to satisfaction, dive 2 was complete.
Dive Time This Dive: :25 min
Dive Time to Date: :47 min
Open Water Dive #
3: After some discussion, and the fact that the
NC guys were going to have to get on the road as early as possible the next day,
we voted to go ahead and do Dive # 3 today instead of waiting until Sunday.
Then, we could do our 4th dive on Sunday and maybe squeeze in a "fun" dive or
two before we had to head out. So, after about 35 minutes or so at the
surface, we headed back in. The sun wasn't out like it was earlier today
and the water started to have a pretty good chill associated with it. I
wished I had my hood, but I didn't want to take the time to resize my mask, so
I'd go with out it this last dive. Donald and Amber were smart and put theirs
on. They said it made a great deal of difference. Not to mention
that my rental wetsuit had a hole in the crotch of the outside portion, so I was
getting a pretty good chill there anyway. I'll be wearing my own suit
tomorrow. The Dive:
Back down into the bowl at about 15 feet. Full fill mask clear. Then we
did the oral inflation fin pivot (which is why I want to say we did the low
pressure inflator on the 2nd dive) and then we did our CESA. (Controlled
Emergency Swimming Ascent) We also got to go to the entrance of the cavern
and look in. Cavern and Cave diving are completely different animals and
you need serious training before attempted either of them. After we surfaced, we did
the weight belt removal and replacement and the SCUBA removal and replacement.
Dive # 3 Complete.
Dive Time This Dive: :20 min
Dive Time to Date: 1hr 07 min
After we finished with the dives, we dried off, decided on a meet time for the next morning and headed out to check into the motel and eat. Steve, Donald and I met up with 2 of the NC guys (Walt and Frank) and we went to a Japanese restaurant just down the street from the motel. We ate and worked on some paperwork. We went back to the motel and finished the paperwork and then headed off to our rooms. In the room, I got to take a BADLY needed shower and then Steve quizzed me over my NITROX tables and procedures. After that, it was TV time and crashed until about 0700 the next morning. One note on the dangers of SCUBA without proper training, fitness and planning: Ginnie Springs had 1, possibly two deaths the day we were there. One was an older gentleman who had prior heart conditions, bypass surgery, etc. He was the Instructor of a group that was down from Cincinnati, OH. He had chest pains, aborted his dive, took off his gear, and collapsed on the deck. He died. Another person may have possibly died while swimming. We didn't hear if it was cave diving, open water or just swimming. Still waiting on details from that one. Always get proper training, keep your fitness level up and dive within your and your equipment's limitations. You do that, you'll be safe and still have a blast!!
06: Had breakfast at the Motel and then
met up with all the rest at 0900 for our trip to
Peacock Springs State Park. We
got to Peacock Springs and unloaded some of our gear at Orange Grove Sink.
We went through our quick compass reading class and then Steve and Donald went
to check out the area (underwater) and tie off the dive ball. While they
were doing that, we were moving our gear down to the dock and getting suited up.
After they were done, it was time for our final open water dive for our
Day 2 Log Stats: 2mm shorty under a 3mm full wetsuit, boots, hood and 17 lbs of weight. 68 degree air temp, overcast, chance of rain, 70 degree water temp (surface & bottom) Vis was only about 25 feet. I am also diving EAN32 today for my NITROX certification.
Open Water Dive # 4: First off, the water was pretty dang chilly first getting in. I'm glad I decided to go with the hood today. After the wetsuit did it's thing, we were fine. We dropped down the rope tied to the ball and stood on a ledge about 25 feet down. The first thing we did was the mask removal and replacement. That was easy. Although, it did take me two breaths to clear my mask. After that, the moment I was dreading. The HOVER. If you remember correctly, I blew this exercise in the pool. (pushed the inflate instead of the release on my BC) Steve came up and gave me the "hover" signal. I was dreading it so bad, I didn't even know what he meant when he gave me the sign. LOL.. I finally figured it out and started it. It took me awhile, but I did manage a 30 second hover without sculling my hands or fins. I really need to practice my hover/buoyancy skills. But, I did do it. After that, we did a surface compass route (straight out, straight back) and then we did one at 25 feet. I rose up quite a bit on mine, but I came back down on my trip back. After we completed that, group one were "PADI Certified Open Water Divers." Whoo-hoo!!! That was such a relief and a very cool thing!!!
Dive Time This Dive: :35 min
Dive Time to Date: 1hr 42 min
Dive # 5: (First dive as a Certified Open Water Diver!!) After we got out for a few minutes, the other half of the class were getting ready to go down for their final dive. Frank, Walt and I went back in for another dive. I needed one more anyway for my NITROX certification. So, the three of us went down and swam around a bit deeper than we had been before. Frank wanted to see if he could make 40 feet (60 feet is our limit for O/W certification) We got down to 42 feet and everything was fine. We took a few pictures from down there and just kinda hung out. They surfaced and then I went to 25 feet to watch the other class do their thing sine I couldn't go off on my own. I just hung out there until they started to surface and I surfaced with them. That gave me about another 30 minutes in the water and gave me my second NITROX dive.
Dive Time This Dive: :30 min
Dive Time to Date: 2hr 12 min
After all the dives were
complete, Steve handed out everyone's temporary certification cards (c-cards)..
Handshakes all around and a big sigh of relief from most of us. :) You get
a separate card for each discipline you qualify for, so, I actually got two
cards; my Open Water card and my NITROX card.
After most people had headed out, we decided to go to another part of the Springs and do a quick dive there. Most of us still had about 1200 psi left in our tanks, so we could go use up some of that and get another dive in before heading home. We drove over there and the first thing we notice is a sign :"Open Water Divers Prohibited." After talking to the Ranger, only Orange Grove allows Open Water folks. The rest are for Cavern and Cave divers only. Oh well, rules is rules. We got dried off, changed clothes into the dry clothes and loaded the truck up for the trip home. We got back to Macon around 1800 and I was back home by 1830-1845.
This trip was a BLAST!!! I really want to thank Scuba Steve and Dive Master Donald for helping us out and teaching us the RIGHT way. All I can say is, if the training classes were this much fun, I can't wait to go on a real dive trip!! My training won't stop here either. I will be going for my Advanced Rating along with some specialties up to and including the Rescue Class. They will be written up here for anyone interested. Not sure when they will happen as I have things going on, but they will happen!!!