Tag Archives: PADI

All Diving Certifications Are Not Created Equal

I always believed that scuba certifications from the various mainline agencies were basically all the same, just depended on which agencies name you wanted on the card. That is, until today.

I just found out that the Master Scuba Diver certification from NAUI is nowhere near the same level of training and experience as the Master Scuba Diver certification from PADI.

To achieve the PADI certification you have to have Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, and 5 specialty diver certifications which take an additional 1 to 4 dives each to complete, and at least 50 logged dives.

For the NAUI Master Scuba Diver certification qualifications I looked it up on the NAUI website. Their course requirements are shown below, copied directly from their website:

“A minimum of eight open water dives is required. A maximum of three dives per day shall be applied toward course requirements. No more than one skin dive may count toward the eight dive minimum.

Required Dives

  • Emergency procedures and rescue
  • Deep/simulated decompression diving
  • Limited visibility or night diving
  • Underwater navigation
  • Search and recovery – light salvage

Elective Dives

  • Skin diving
  • Review of basic scuba skills
  • Environmental study or survey
  • Air consumption (practical application)
  • Boat diving
  • Shore diving
  • Hunting and collecting
  • Special interest

Prerequisites For Entering This Course

  • Age – Minimum is 15 years.
  • Diver Certification – NAUI advanced certification or the equivalent is required. The instructor is to ensure adequate student knowledge and capability before any open water training and shall use skill or other evaluations to do so.
  • Equipment – Students shall furnish and be responsible for the care and maintenance of their own diving equipment. The instructor shall initially assist the student in checking all student gear to insure it is adequate and in proper working order.”

So in other words, if a NAUI Advanced Open Water Diver wants the MSD rating, he can do it in just 3 days time with only 8 more dives? Thats less than ¼ as many total dives when you add up all the various specialty class dives required by PADI.

That is a HUGE difference in diving experience between NAUI and PADI certification requirements for the Master Scuba Diver rating. I thought the PADI MSD rating was quick to get, I should have just gone for the NAUI one, I could have had it months before I earned the PADI one.

This will make me take a good hard look at the qualifications for all of the other “mainline” certification agencies out there before I choose to dive with someone from another agency again. Apparently their Rescue Diver certification only takes one dive to complete instead of three days and multiple dives.

I clearly see that all certifications are definitely NOT the same.

Confined Water Class Fiasco

Last night was the first night for the Confined Water skills portion of the PADI Open Water certification course that I have been assisting with this week for my Dive Master Candidate course. All in all everything went well. I showed up at the Scofield Barracks dive shop and loaded 20 scuba tanks for the 16 students while the instructors assisted them with getting their wetsuits, BCD’s, and weights, then we went over to the MWR pool a few miles north of the base where we would hold that nights class.

The students started off with their laps and other swimming skills before putting their wetsuits on for the scuba portion of the class. Once all of the swimming skills were completed I demonstrated the correct assembly and disassembly of their equipment and described each piece and what it does. Then the students were required to assemble and disassemble their own equipment three times.

While the students were assembling their equipment we found that an o-ring on one of their submersible pressure gauges had blown and we searched for a replacement for it. Luckily Davie, a female instructor recently added to the dive shop from Australia, had brought a backup regulator assembly and we were able to switch the student over to it.

Just as we got that student’s situation resolved another student found that they had a blown o-ring on their alternate air source. So once again we were scrambling around trying to find a resolution to the problem.

Unfortunately we could not find a replacement o-ring for the student so our only option was for me to disassemble my rig and let the student use my regulator assembly for the class, which meant that I could not be in the pool with them to assist with the class and demonstrate the regulator recovery and mask skills to them so that I could get signed off for my DMC requirements.

At the end of the class Michelle asked me if I would assist the students with disassembling their gear while she worked with one student that would not be able to attend class on Friday night, so while I helped everyone get their gear loaded back up for the trip back to the shop she worked with the last student completing confined water dives 3, 4 & 5 so that she would be ready for the open water dives with the rest of the class this weekend.

I have today off to prepare for the rest of the class starting tomorrow. I need to decide today if I am going to finish assisting with the class even though I won’t be credited for it, or if I will just skip it and wait two weeks for the next class to start. It’s a tough decision.

Dive 70

Date: May 5, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 3 of 3

Time In:  13:28  Time Out:  14:13    Time:   :45

Dive Location: Sea Cave,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii

Purpose: DMC Practicals – Con Ed.

Dive Type:  Boat / Drift  Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  Mild Current    Wt:  16lbs

Visibility: 100′ +

Air Temp:  80° F  Btm. Temp:  77° F

Max Depth:  77′    Average Depth: 46′

Safety / Decompression Stops: 3 Min @ 15′

Start PSI: 2,840    End PSI: 472      Air/EANx:  35%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, 2 Dive Lights, Scuba Pro Jet Fins


After switching over the students scuba tanks and eating lunch we decided on doing a drift dive at Sea Cave. For a drift dive from the boat we would use a “negative entry” meaning that we would empty all the air out of our BCD’s and descend from the surface as quickly as possible so that the group is able to stay together.

After a site briefing on the boat and quickly checking the students to make sure their equipment was ready the captain maneuvered the boat into position for our entry. Once in position, everyone quickly entered the water one after another similar to paratroopers jumping out of a plane.

As we descended I looked around and counted that we had everyone in the group together then Nate headed toward the Sea Cave leading the group as I followed along behind. We reached the entrance of the Sea Cave at about 50′ and stopped for a moment to check the current patterns, then proceeded inside up to about 20′ depth at the back of the cave. Frequently we find the highly endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals playing around inside the cave and I was hoping we would find some on this trip, but unfortunately there were none to be found today.

We were able to find one of the area inhabitants that are rarely seen in the area though, a Dragon Moray Eel. Because people can sell them for a lot of money we don’t often see them so it was a treat to be able to see one today. I will try to check in on him on future dives here.

After checking out the Sea Cave for a few minutes we headed back out to continue our drift dive of the area.

Normally when I have dove this site as we leave the Sea Cave we always drift to the West along the wall, but todays currents were backwards so we drifted to the East along the wall at about 70′ deep for about another 20 minutes before we deployed a delayed surface marker buoy and started to slowly ascend and make our 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet.

Once surfaced we realized that the seas had changed over the last 45 minutes that we were down and it had become quite choppy on the surface. Once the boat had maneuvered back into position we all swam for the current line trailing behind the boat and made our way back up the ladder.

Unfortunately the only injury of the dive came while floating on the surface waiting to get back aboard the boat when I was stung on the back of my hand by a jelly fish because I had forgotten my gloves onboard when I was assisting the students and reading them for their entry. I am severely allergic to jelly fish and insect stings/bites so I was very concerned. I had no idea how good he got me so as soon as I was back on the boat I readied my EpiPen just in case I started having an anaphylactic reaction to the sting. My chest started tightening making it difficult to breath easily but it was still manageable so I held off on administering the shot and applied a hot compress to my hand which was temporarily partly paralyzed from the sting and continued to monitor my breathing and pulse rate.

About half an hour later my breathing improved as we headed back into shore and I started to be able to move my hand again. Since the feeling was coming back into my hand, unfortunately so was the searing pain which subsided after I kept applying hot compresses to it for the rest of the night along with taking a Vicodin for the pain and 10 Benadryl tablets to help stop the rest of the reaction from the sting.

If anyone was to get stung on the dive I am glad it was me and not one of the students or other customers that we had on the boat today, so all in all it was a good day.

Dive 69

Date: May 5, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 2 of 3

Time In:  11:38  Time Out:  12:07    Time:   :29

Dive Location: YO-257 Wreck,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii

Purpose: DMC Practicals – Con Ed.

Dive Type:  Boat   Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  Mild Current    Wt:  16lbs

Visibility: 70-80′

Air Temp:  80° F  Btm. Temp:  77° F

Max Depth:  95′    Average Depth: 56′

Safety / Decompression Stops: 3 Min @ 15′

Start PSI: 2,800    End PSI: 730      Air/EANx:  34%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, 2 Dive Lights, Scuba Pro Jet Fins


On this dive I would be assisting Nate with the Wreck Adventure Dive for the Advanced Open Water certification class. While on our surface interval I switched over the students scuba tanks so they would be ready for the next dive. Again my job was to follow behind the group observing the students making sure they did not have any difficulties.

We descended onto to the YO-257 and briefly toured its deck. Since the Atlantis Submarine was not around right now, the current was mild, and the visibility was good we decided to venture over to the wreck of the San Pedro which lays next to the YO-257.

As Nate lead the group across the ocean bottom to the San Pedro I remained behind to make sure that all divers made it across between the ships safely . The Atlantis submarine tours back and forth between the shipwrecks so basically I acted like a crossing guard making sure the way was clear for the divers.

We toured the wreck of the San Pedro which is much more deteriorated than the YO-257 is and then swam back over to the YO-257. I could hear the Atlantis submarine in the area but could not see where it was at yet, so as we were crossing back over I kept looking for the Atlantis and making sure that no divers were left behind on the San Pedro.

Upon returning to the Yo-257 we began touring the openings that have been cut into its hull allowing the divers to swim through it for their first experience of penetrating a wreck. Since my penetration experiences during the Night Diver Specialty dives and the Wreck Diver Specialty dives I was able to do the penetrations without a problem. It also helped that I was able to keep my concentration on the students instead of what I was doing.

As we reached the mooring line and started our ascent the Atlantis submarine came into view  just off the starboard side of the YO-257. As it got closer to the side of the YO 2 advanced divers that were not staying with our group were coming out of the holes in the side of the YO and were surprised by the Atlantis which was about 20 feet from them. They stayed close to the ships side and ascended up to the rest of us on the mooring line.

We ascended up the mooring line and made a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet before climbing back onto the boat for our surface interval and lunch before our third dive.

Dive 68

Date: May 5, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 1 of 3

Time In:  09:53  Time Out:  10:20    Time:   :27

Dive Location: Sea Tiger Wreck,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii

Purpose: DMC Practicals – Con Ed.

Dive Type:  Boat   Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  Very Slight Current    Wt:  20lbs

Visibility: 50-60′

Air Temp:  80° F  Btm. Temp:  77° F

Max Depth:  97′    Average Depth: 63′

Safety / Decompression Stops: 3 Min @ 15′

Start PSI: 2,790    End PSI: 747      Air/EANx:  32%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, 2 Dive Lights, Scuba Pro Jet Fins


This was my first dive for the practicals portion of my Dive Master course. Today I assisted Nate Jonson with the Deep, Wreck, and Drift Adventure Dives of an Advanced Open Water course for 2 students.

My job today started off with preparing and loading scuba tanks on the boat for a total of 15 divers, then selecting the wetsuits, BCD’s, regulators, computers, fins, and masks for the divers who did not bring their own with them. Actually this was the hardest part and most stressful of the day. I am so bad at guessing peoples equipment sizes based on their height and weight, especially with the females. I have been slapped too many times by females for guessing their weight incorrectly while growing up that I suppose I am “scarred” from the experiences.

With assistance from Nate I was able to get all of the divers gear ready for them before they arrived at the Island Divers Hawaii dive shop in Hawaii Kai, and all of the gear was the correct size for them.

Our first dive would be the Sea Tiger which was highly requested by several of the divers (not just me). I have been waiting since starting to dive in January for a chance to dive the Sea Tiger. We normally only do this dive location with our three tank dives on Sundays, so I have never had an opportunity to do this dive yet and I was excited for the chance. After an initial weight check at the surface and assisting a PADI Course Director who was visiting from the mainland with adding additional weights to her BCD we started our descent down to the Sea Tiger.

Since I was diving Nitrox today I could not descend all the way to the bottom which was about 120′ with Nate and the students. Instead I hovered above them at the deck of the Sea Tiger at 97′ while observing them go through their skills. Once they had completed the required skills for the deep dive they joined me on the deck for a tour of the ship. My job then was to follow along behind the group which was lead by Nate observing the students for possible hazards and making sure they did not have any problems on the dive.

After taking a tour around the Sea Tiger we started our ascent back up to the boat. At the mooring line I reminded the students to deflate their BCD’s for the ascent so that they would not be too buoyant while coming back up. At 15 feet we made a 3 minute safety stop and then surfaced and climbed back onto the boat without incident.

Because I was assisting with the class today as a DMC (Dive Master Candidate) I carried extra weights in my BCD pockets in case the students needed additional weights. I only carried 2 additional 2 pound weights, but I could really feel the difference as I was very overweighted.

Dive Master Candidate Course

Becoming a Dive Master is the first step towards transitioning from recreational diving to professional diving and becoming an instructor. I have been working on the online training portion of the course and the bookwork for the PADI Dive Master Candidate course for the past month or so and I will be starting on the practical training this weekend.

On Sunday I will be assisting Nate Jonson in teaching an Advanced Open Water certification class as part of the “Continuing Ed” portion of my DMC practical training. The following week I will be assisting Michelle Martus with teaching an Open Water certification class with the pool sessions and open water dives.

When I spoke with Michelle on the phone to get this training set up I did not realize that I already knew her until she asked me if I remembered her. She was also in the Emergency First Response Instructor class that I took back in January of this year. She was already a Dive Master with Deep Ecology on the North Shore and was in the process of becoming a scuba instructor then. I kinda went backwards by becoming an EFR Instructor before becoming a scuba instructor.

I had talked to Michelle about going diving together during the EFRI class, but I forgot to get her contact information and I changed dive shops from Deep Ecology over to Island Divers Hawaii so we were never able to plan a dive together. It just goes to show you that even though Oahu has a population of over one million people on it, it is still a very small island and you never know who you may run into.

I am nervous about assisting in my first classes this week, but at least knowing both of the instructors that I will be working with will make it a little easier.

Over the next few weeks I will have a very hectic schedule while I try to get all of the practicals checked off as well as the required “demonstration quality” skills and pool work that has to be completed. On the pool work, the two parts that are concerning me are the timed 400 meter and 800 meter lap swims and the 15 minute water tread.

Until learning to dive in January, I have not had an opportunity to learn how to swim. I did not swim as a child before all of my fears took hold of my life, and after they were in place I had no desire to go near the water. I can swim now, but not very fast, and for short distances before I start to panic. This will be a huge obstacle for me to overcome to be able to complete the Dive Master Candidate course.

Dive 67

Date: May 2, 2013

Time In:  10:53  Time Out:  11:27    Time:   :34

Dive Location: YO-257,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii

Purpose: Wreck Diver Specialty #4

Dive Type:  Boat   Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  STRONG CURRENT    Wt:  16lbs

Visibility: 40-50′

Air Temp:  88° F  Btm. Temp:  77° F    .

Max Depth:  98′    Average Depth:

Safety / Decompression Stops: 3 Min @ 15′

Start PSI: 2,926    End PSI: 275      Air/EANx:  32%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, 2 Dive Lights, Scuba Pro Jet Fins


This was the fourth and last dive for the Wreck Diver Specialty course.

Since the current was so strong today and I had not mapped this wreck we decided not to have me deploy a penetration line on the YO-257 and opted for just a “fun dive” to explore the wreck. I had dove this wreck once back in early March for my Advanced Open Water certification, but we stayed on the outside of it and did not venture inside. This dive we would penetrate the wreck to help me overcome my claustrophobia.

As we descended on the YO-257 the visibility had dropped from our previous dive and I was not able to see the wreck until we descended past the buoy and were approaching it. The first thing I was able to see was the Nautilus submarine which takes tourist on a tour of the YO-257 and the San Pedro which is sunk beside it. On my last dive here you could see the San Pedro from the YO-257

I saw several large jelly fish which concerned me because of my allergy to their stings. I always keep an Epi Pen in my dive bag just incase I have an anaphylactic reaction to them. This is also why I dive with a full wetsuit, hood, boots, and gloves to cover up and protect everything that I possibly can cover.

On this dive Nate my instructor played tour guide as I followed him inside the wreckage of the YO-257. We swam through several areas of the ship seeing the sea life that call the YO home including a very large Moray Eel that was hanging out above a rusted pipe inside. There was also another Moray Eel that found a nice home in a round port hatch on the ships starboard hull that did not seem very happy to be disturbed from his sleep.

Dive 66

Date: May 2, 2013

Time In:  09:29  Time Out:  09:57    Time:   :28

Dive Location: Kahala Barge,  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii

Purpose: Wreck Diver Specialty #3

Dive Type:  Boat   Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  STRONG CURRENT    Wt:  16lbs

Visibility: 60-80′

Air Temp:  82° F  Btm. Temp:  76° F    .

Max Depth:  83′    Average Depth:

Safety / Decompression Stops: 3 Min @ 15′

Start PSI: 2,835    End PSI: 347      Air/EANx:  32%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, 2 Dive Lights, Reel, Scuba Pro Jet Fins


This was the third dive for the Wreck Diver Specialty course.

On this dive we practiced laying a penetration line on the outside of the Kahala Barge wreck. The current was very strong today which made it difficult to concentrate on laying the penetration line, keeping it tight and securely anchoring it along our route across the wreck.

Once the line was laid out we practiced the correct way to follow the line back to the “entrance”, working as a buddy team with Nate, the instructor from Island Divers Hawaii. This teaches you how to follow a penetration line out of a wreck incase you get lost or you have impaired visibility due to silt. We then followed the line back to the reel and practiced retrieving the line.

Because of the strong current today, it took more air than normal to accomplish the task. As the air pressure continued to drop I watched my pressure gauge very closely as we ascended to do our 3 minute safety stop and reached back a couple times to assure myself that my Spare Air was still attached to my side just in case. Fortunately I did not need to deploy it, but It was close.

Unfortunately my iGills came up missing just before the dive so I do not have the dive profile snapshot to attach to this dive. I am ordering a replacement for it, but it will be about a week before it arrives.

Wreck Diver Specialty

Since there are so many wrecks to dive in Hawaii I decided to add the Wreck Diver Specialty to my list of certifications. Diving on a wreck and diving on a wreck properly without damaging it or injuring yourself are two different things so I wanted to learn the proper way of diving on a wreck so that I could make sure that I did not do anything to harm it for future divers.

The course required four wreck dives, each with various skills that need to be performed. The first wreck dive I completed in my Advanced Open Water certification course, so this left me with just 3 more dives that needed to be performed.

On the second wreck dive I had to map out the wreck so that i would have a map showing my penetration points for the last wreck dive when I will actually penetrate the wreck. I have no idea why, but this seemed difficult for me because I can not draw. I just was not able to easily draw it as I saw it. It took me a while to get it right, but the finished map was good according to Nate the instructor from Island Divers Hawaii.

On dive 3 we learn how to deploy and retrieve penetration lines by practicing on the outside of a wreck. We also need to show that we can swim along a penetration line without kicking up silt while holding a dive light.

On Dive 4, the final dive of the Wreck Diver Specialty we actually penetrate the wreck using a penetration line that I deploy to be able to relocate the entrance once we are inside. We also need to be able to swim through the wreck maintaining contact with the penetration line using a dive light without disturbing silt which would hinder visibility.

Unfortunately I was not able to complete dives 3 and 4 this past Friday when I had them scheduled because on Thursday I went to test out my new Trident 4.7 kayak and got sunburned very badly on my legs, so I had to reschedule the dives. On Friday morning the pain was so bad in my legs when I tried to stand, I am glad that I rescheduled the dives instead of trying to “grin and bear it”.

I will be completing dives 3 and 4 of this specialty on Thursday morning.

Underwater Navigator Specialty

Getting lost underwater and running out of air is a major concern of mine, so I decided to do the Underwater Navigation Specialty course to make me better at navigating and finding my way underwater.

For this course my instructor was Tara with Island Divers Hawaii who also did part of my Advanced Open Water Diver course back at the beginning of March.

There was a mild current, which I had to keep in mind while trying to navigate the courses that Tara gave me to follow. I had a minor “brain fart” at the beginning when I was reading my compass incorrectly, but as soon as I realized what I had done wrong I was able to correct it and complete the pre-determined course patterns correctly.

What made it difficult was for the last part of the course, not only did I have to follow bearing headings that were given to me, making course adjustments due to the current, but I had to draw a map of the area at the same time. I can barely draw “stick figures” so I was impressed when I was able to draw a map that actually resembled our dive location somewhat. I’m not sure if anyone else would be able to follow my map and find their destination, but at least I could use it to find our way back to the boat so thats all that mattered.

Hopefully what I learned in this course will keep me from becoming lost at sea.

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