For about the past month I have been interested in Solo Diving and attempting to find more information on it. Every PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) instructor that I have spoken with about my interest in it say the same things, “solo diving is dangerous and should never be done” or “PADI does not allow solo diving“, or my favorite “as a certified PADI professional I will pretend I did not hear that“, yet PADI themselves offers a Distinctive Specialty for this exact same thing. They just named theirs the PADI Self-Reliant Diver Distinctive Specialty which is taught at many PADI dive shops around the world.
So that makes me start thinking, if solo diving is so taboo and dangerous and you should never do it, then why does PADI have a Distinctive Specialty teaching you to do what they say you should never so in the first place?
There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy concerning solo diving when it comes to PADI. So I started looking outside of PADI for information on solo diving and I discovered that Scuba Diving International (SDI) teaches a course on solo diving, and guess what, they were even bold enough to name it a Solo Diving Course.
Solo diving is no more dangerous than any other form of recreational diving. It needs to be done correctly, and with the proper equipment and training, just as any other form of recreational diving needs to be. Even diving incident statistics for the past decade do not show that solo diving is more dangerous than any other form of recreational diving.
I am not saying that “Buddy Diving” is bad, or that there is anything wrong with it, but I have been paired up with a “dive buddy” on a boat dive that I have never met before, have no idea what kind of a diver he or she is, and have no idea of how competent they would be in an emergency situation.
I do know that from past experiences I do not allow myself to rely on my “dive buddy” in an emergency. I rely on myself, my training, and the equipment that I carry with me on every single dive, including a completely redundant air supply. If I am going on shallow dives I always carry a 3cf Spare Air system, and if I am going on deep dives I carry a 30cf pony bottle with separate regulator and gauge. I also always dive with a spare mask in my BCD pocket, just in case something happens to mine on a dive.
As soon as I am able to I plan on taking the SDI Solo Diver Course. One of the prerequisites for the course are a minimum of 100 logged dives, which I will be able to complete in about a month or so, I am already at 72 logged dives.
Below is a very good video that was recorded at the London International Dive Show in April of 2012.
I believe that instead of making everyone believe that solo diving is taboo and dangerous, we should teach the correct ways to solo dive, and the proper equipment that needs to be used for a solo dive. Its like a police officer giving you a ticket for speeding, then the same officer speeds when not on an emergency call. Its complete hypocrisy, and that is one thing that could make new divers leery and untrusting of diving associations and what they say and teach, and question other things that are taught to them for safety.
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.
Today I attained the highest recreational level diver rating available from PADI, the Master Scuba Diver rating.
To receive the Master Scuba Diver rating you must be an Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver, have attained at least 5 PADI Specialties, and logged a minimum of 50 verifiable dives, all of which I completed tonight with my first ever night dives.
Diving at night is a whole different experience than diving in the daytime, especially for someone that is claustrophobic like I am. It was a challenge, but one that I was able to meet. I will begin working on my Night Diver Specialty soon as well as some other specialties.
I am also starting the Dive Master Candidate course to become a PADI Dive Master.This is the first step in moving from recreational diving over into professional diving, which is my next logical choice since I have now attained the highest level in the recreational side of diving.
Here in Hawaii we do a lot of Drift Diving because the currents are so strong in many areas that it is the best option for seeing a large area underwater quickly. You just enjoy the view as you float along with the current.
Since we do so much drift diving here I decided to make Drift Diver my next PADI specialty, which I completed today.
I decided to become certified in SCUBA diving through PADI and after confined water training and 4 open water dives obtained my Open Water Diver certification today.
It was difficult working through my fears of not being able to breath throughout the course, butI trusted the instructors and set my mind to it that I was going to complete this course and overcome my fears.
I havent quite overcome them yet, but I am not allowing them to control me any longer.