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Author Topic: A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving  (Read 15807 times)

DIN

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A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving
« on: 05 Aug 11, 15:39 »
This post is for the benefit of future, soon-to-be or newbie divers. If you have been searching the Internet for many sleepless nights, this is the basic resource you are looking for.

As I am PADI certified, this post tends to gear towards PADI certification. Don't worry if you choose to get certified by other certifying agency, the steps are somewhat similar.

How to Become a Scuba Diver?
The basic certification is the Open Water Diver. This is the basic scuba diving certification that allows you to dive up to 18 meters. Assuming that you are more than 10 years old, be sure to meet the other prerequisite - physically fit to swim 200 meters and thread or float for 10 minutes. If not, what are you waiting for? Get out of that chair now and hit the gym… or pool.

What Do You Learn in the Course?
There are three phases to the Open Water Diver Course. Knownledge Development, Confined Water and Open Water respectively. You have to complete all three to be a certified diver. You can also enroll in PADI eLearning for the Theory part and then choose a dive center to complete the confined water and open water bit.

  • Classroom session (4 to 6 hours) - Most boring part of the course – theory or knowledge development as they called it. You will read the course manual, watch video and complete the quizzes. Lastly, you must sit and pass an easy exam.
  • Confined water session (3 to 6 hours) - You will be taught 20 basic scuba diving skills in a pool and get familiar with Scuba Diving equipment. Its very important you ask your Instructor to practice with you the skills that you are unsure of here.
  • Open water dives– This is the fun part where you get to integrate the principles and demonstrate the skills learned from the confined water sessions in the deep blue sea and of course get certified! The Open water part will typicallly be conducted in Tioman or Dayang over the weekend or Pulau Hantu during off-season.

One last part – once you are done with your course, join this forum and tell us your experience. Don’t just read, please contribute.

Mola-Mola is a Myth

DIN

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How Much is the Course Fee?
« Reply #1 on: 05 Aug 11, 15:42 »
This is what interest most, isn't it? The good thing about Singapore is that it’s probably the cheapest place on earth to learn Scuba Diving. In our competitive market, prices don’t vary much. The differences between the dive centers are probably about $10 to $30 only.

First, you need to get out of that "Cheap & Good" mentality because eventually you'll get what you paid for. It applies not just in Scuba Diving but also in life, as you know. Since you are going to fork-out more than half a thousand dollars for a plastic card (with a picture of a creature you may not even have the chance to see), you want to ensure that its money well-spend. Scuba diving is an expensive sport to begin with, and it’s a drug - extremely addictive! If $20 matters so much to you, I highly suggest you stay away from this addiction. You don’t want to end up pick-pocketing and snatching bags on the street, do you?

If you’re still reading, I know you are already somewhat hooked and financially ready to embark on your new addiction, which is being a scuba junkie – just like most of us here. If you insist on getting hooked, please read on. You have been warned!

I’m not saying expensive is good and cheap is not. What I’m rambling about is not to make cost as your main decisive factor. Quality should come first, experience and then cost. Select your dive centers or instructor based on these criteria, not because they are $10 cheaper. This ensured that you would learn the skills properly and become a safe diver.

Safety is the top priority in diving and the key to having fun underwater. If you do not learn the skills properly during your basic open water course, you’ll end up paying more for your leisure trips to practice what you’re missing. Not just that, you become a sort of “burden” to others and your buddy when you cant fin properly, cant clear your mask and float up unnecessarily to the surface. Also, please remember that, while diving is a safe sport, accidents do happened and most of the times, the victim never get a chance to tell their story, if you get my drift.

If you want to learn, make sure you learn well. If you have friend that recommend you a good dive center or instructor but they are slightly expensive than the one you called two hours ago. I said you should go for it!

Finally, you should be tired of reading by now so here it is, the amount that you should expect to pay based on the two common destinations:

• Pulau Dayang : $570 - $620
• Pulau Tioman : $590 - $630 
• Pulau Hantu   : $480 - $520 

The prices above are based on a typical Open Water Diver course package in 2011, at a basic resort in the two islands. Expect to fork out more if you are staying in a 4-star Berjaya Resort or if you are going on a Liveaboard boat.

What's Included in the Cost?

• 4 to 6 hours theory class
• 3 to 6 hours pool lesson
• All equipment for the entire course
• 3 days/2 nights dive trip
• Land & Sea Transfers
• Instructor and Certification Cost
• PADI Open Water Course manual
• PADI RDP table
• PADI certification fees
• PADI certification card
• Dive logbook
• 4 Open water training dive / 1 leisure dive
• Accommodation and Meals on the Islands

There are dive center that provide rental of dive computers and include the new eRDP (electronic dive table as opposed to the conventional ones) at an extra cost. There are also dive center that can provide you with insurance for a fee.
Mola-Mola is a Myth

DIN

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Before You Signed
« Reply #2 on: 05 Aug 11, 15:44 »
Before you part with your hard earned cash, ask what is included in the fee. You must make sure everything mentioned above is inclusive. Some dive centers  practice ala-carte type of fee. Basically, the 3 phases mentioned above will be priced individually. There's nothing wrong with it, except that you eventually need to pay for all the 3 phases to complete your certification.

Also, there are dive centers that priced their course irresistibly cheap. However, once you register, you will be asked to buy the manual to get certified. You need to, because it’s a standard requirement for you to get your scuba diving license. These are just some of the many creative ideas that dive centers use to market their courses. It may look tempting initially but in actual fact; it rounds up to the same amount. Read the fine print carefully and just be extra cautious if you find an offer that is too good to be true because it probably is.

If you happen to come across a good deal that is a fraction of the cost above, say 50% less? I think you should stay away from it. It's likely to be another marketing gimmick. It's next to impossible to get your Open Water Diver certification at less than the amount stated above. If you find one, post it here for everyone to share.
Mola-Mola is a Myth

DIN

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Choosing a Dive Center, Instructor and Certifying Agency
« Reply #3 on: 05 Aug 11, 15:46 »
There a many dive centers in Singapore you can choose from. Just look at the listing in the Scuba Diving Directory. The best way to find a suitable one is by asking your diver's friend, especially those who had experience diving with a few dive centers or if you don't have any friends, no worries, make one here.
 
No matter which certifying agency you chose or preferred - PADI, SSI, NAUI and so forth, most important is finding the right Dive Center and Instructor. While most dive centers in Singapore are teaching the PADI syllabus, teaching standard and style varies. Some are better than others but you wouldn't know anyway, at least until you start diving with others and meet more diver’s friend.

Finding a good instructor is subjective so its better to do a bit of research or ask around to check what is suitable for you. Some like it strict while others like it fun. The choice is yours. If you cant find anyone to recommend, you can always go down for a chat at a few dive centers. Dive centers are generally run by a friendly bunch of people and they more than willing to answer your silly queries. Choose the one you are comfortable with.

Do take note that, enrolling for a dive course is different from queuing for nasi lemak in the hawker center. Don't join the queue just because everyone else is queuing there. What I am saying is, a popular dive centers that has bigger group doesn't necessarily be better than the smaller outfit. They all have their pros and cons. You have more chance meeting people with bigger group but you might learn better in smaller group.

Instructor to Student Ratio
Ask about the Instructor to Student ratio. Most dive centers practice 4 to 6 students per Instructor and more when Divemasters are present. When comes to learning, less is more. Less students means you will get more attention and most probably get to finish your skills faster.

Again, if you prefer to save that $20, you might end up doing your course with 20 other people. Now you definitely don’t want to come back from your course and all that you remember is holding to a rope underwater and struggling with your fins not to touch the bottom. Or perhaps, you might saw someone you know who happened to do the same course with another smaller group, swimming like a fish around you while you wondered what on earth are you doing. That someone might also wondered why are you finning like a constipated seahorse holding a rope or was he missing another skill?

Hope this helps with your selection. Now you can start your search at this thread and make some calls.
Mola-Mola is a Myth

siaokao

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving
« Reply #4 on: 17 Aug 11, 13:56 »
excellent sticky! ++kama for u! :D
So they call it a 'FACT' coz someone made some statements on a 'FACT SHEET'? hummm...

The Submersibles

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving
« Reply #5 on: 27 Dec 11, 10:17 »
Just a small correction on the part on the number of hours required for pool lessons. 3 to 6 hours is too little, and minimum time spent in pool should be 12 hours. The number of skills is definitely not 20.

For the benefit of those who are going to sign-up for their open water course soon, i have listed the skills to be learnt for PADI Open Water Confined Water (a.k.a Pool Lessons) below. I do not have the list from other agencies, but there should not defer too much.

Confined Water Dive Performance Requirements
Dive Flexible Skills
• Skin Diving
1. Proper hyperventilation when skin diving.
2. A vertical dive from the surface in water too deep in which to stand (without excessive splashing or arm movement).
3. Clearing and breathing from a snorkel upon ascent.

Open Water Diver Course
• Equipment Preparation and Care —
1. Have student divers assemble and disassemble the scuba unit five times during confi ned water training.
•   At least three times by the end of Confined Water Dive 3.
•   At least five times before the end of Confined Water Dive 5.
•   The last three times with little or no assistance.
2. Have divers streamline and secure equipment for confined water dives.
3. Have student divers demonstrate proper post-dive care of scuba equipment by the end of Confined Water Dive 3.

Dive 1 Performance Requirements
At the surface:
1. Put on and adjust mask, fins, snorkel, BCD, scuba and weights with assistance.
2. Inflate/deflate a BCD using the low pressure inflator.
Underwater in shallow water:
3. Breathe compressed air by breathing naturally, without breath-holding.
4. Clear a regulator using both the exhalation and purge button methods, then resume breathing from it.
5. Recover a regulator from behind the shoulder.
6. Clear a partially flooded mask.
7. Breathe from an alternate air source supplied by another diver for at least 30 seconds.
Underwater:
8. Swim with scuba equipment while maintaining control of both direction and depth. Equalize the ears and mask to accommodate depth changes.
9. Locate and read the submersible pressure gauge and signal whether the air supply is adequate or low based on the gauge’s caution zone.
10. Recognize and demonstrate standard hand signals.
11. Ascend using proper technique.

Dive 2 Performance Requirements
At the surface:
1. Perform the buddy predive safety check.
2. Demonstrate appropriate deep-water entry.
3. Clear a snorkel using the blast method, then resume breathing through it without lifting the face from the water.
4. Exchange snorkel for regulator and regulator for snorkel repeatedly without lifting the face from the water.
5. Swim at least 50 metres/yards while wearing scuba and breathing through a snorkel.
6. Adjust for proper weighting — fl oat at eye level at the surface with no or minimal air in the BCD and while holding a normal breath.
7. Orally inflate a BCD to at least half full in water too deep in which to stand, then fully defl ate it.
8. Remove weights using the quick release mechanism with minimal assistance
9. Remove weights, scuba unit and fi ns (if necessary) in water too deep in which to stand and exit using the most appropriate technique. (Buddy assistance allowed.)
Underwater:
10. Descend using the fi ve-point method.
11. Remove, replace and clear a mask.
12. Breathe without a mask for at least one minute.
13. Disconnect the low pressure hose from the inflator in shallow water (either underwater or at the surface.)
14. Respond to air depletion by signaling “out-of-air” in water too deep in which to stand.
15. Ascend using the five-point method.

Dive 3 Performance Requirements
At the surface:
1. Perform a tired diver tow for 25 metres/yards in water too deep in which to stand.
2. Demonstrate the cramp removal technique for self and buddy (at the surface or underwater.)
Underwater:
3. Use both oral and low-pressure BCD inflation to become neutrally buoyant. Gently rise and fall in a controlled manner, during inhalation and exhalation.
4. Swim at least 10 metres/yards while maintaining neutral buoyancy.
5. Respond to air depletion by signaling “out of air,” and securing and breathing from an alternate air source supplied by a buddy. Continue for at least one minute while swimming.
6. Supply air to another diver using an alternate air source.
7. Breathe effectively from a free-fl owing regulator for at least 30 seconds.
8. Simulate a controlled emergency swimming ascent by swimming horizontally for at least 9 metres/30 feet while emitting a continuous sound.

Dive 4 Performance Requirements
Underwater:
1. Swim without a mask for at least 15 metres/50 feet, then replace and clear the mask.
2. Hover using buoyancy control for at least 30 seconds, without kicking or sculling.

Dive 5 Performance Requirements:
At the surface:
1. Remove, replace, adjust and secure the scuba unit and weight system in water too deep in which to stand, with minimal assistance.
Underwater:
2. Remove, replace, adjust and secure the scuba unit on the bottom in water too deep in which to stand, with minimal assistance.
3. Remove, replace, adjust and secure weight system.
• With weight belt – on the bottom in water too deep in which to stand.
• With weight integrated BCDs (or weight harness systems that require reassembly after weights are removed) – in shallow water.

If my maths dun fail me, it should add up to 42 skills, excluding equipment preparation and care and nope, we are not allowed to merge any skills into one skill to teach and have to teach the skills as it is.

wukong

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving
« Reply #6 on: 17 Jan 12, 02:16 »
Just a small correction on the part on the number of hours required for pool lessons. 3 to 6 hours is too little, and minimum time spent in pool should be 12 hours. The number of skills is definitely not 20.

For the benefit of those who are going to sign-up for their open water course soon, i have listed the skills to be learnt for PADI Open Water Confined Water (a.k.a Pool Lessons) below. I do not have the list from other agencies, but there should not defer too much.

Confined Water Dive Performance Requirements
Dive Flexible Skills
• Skin Diving
1. Proper hyperventilation when skin diving.
2. A vertical dive from the surface in water too deep in which to stand (without excessive splashing or arm movement).
3. Clearing and breathing from a snorkel upon ascent.

Open Water Diver Course
• Equipment Preparation and Care —
1. Have student divers assemble and disassemble the scuba unit five times during confi ned water training.
•   At least three times by the end of Confined Water Dive 3.
•   At least five times before the end of Confined Water Dive 5.
•   The last three times with little or no assistance.
2. Have divers streamline and secure equipment for confined water dives.
3. Have student divers demonstrate proper post-dive care of scuba equipment by the end of Confined Water Dive 3.

Dive 1 Performance Requirements
At the surface:
1. Put on and adjust mask, fins, snorkel, BCD, scuba and weights with assistance.
2. Inflate/deflate a BCD using the low pressure inflator.
Underwater in shallow water:
3. Breathe compressed air by breathing naturally, without breath-holding.
4. Clear a regulator using both the exhalation and purge button methods, then resume breathing from it.
5. Recover a regulator from behind the shoulder.
6. Clear a partially flooded mask.
7. Breathe from an alternate air source supplied by another diver for at least 30 seconds.
Underwater:
8. Swim with scuba equipment while maintaining control of both direction and depth. Equalize the ears and mask to accommodate depth changes.
9. Locate and read the submersible pressure gauge and signal whether the air supply is adequate or low based on the gauge’s caution zone.
10. Recognize and demonstrate standard hand signals.
11. Ascend using proper technique.

Dive 2 Performance Requirements
At the surface:
1. Perform the buddy predive safety check.
2. Demonstrate appropriate deep-water entry.
3. Clear a snorkel using the blast method, then resume breathing through it without lifting the face from the water.
4. Exchange snorkel for regulator and regulator for snorkel repeatedly without lifting the face from the water.
5. Swim at least 50 metres/yards while wearing scuba and breathing through a snorkel.
6. Adjust for proper weighting — fl oat at eye level at the surface with no or minimal air in the BCD and while holding a normal breath.
7. Orally inflate a BCD to at least half full in water too deep in which to stand, then fully defl ate it.
8. Remove weights using the quick release mechanism with minimal assistance
9. Remove weights, scuba unit and fi ns (if necessary) in water too deep in which to stand and exit using the most appropriate technique. (Buddy assistance allowed.)
Underwater:
10. Descend using the fi ve-point method.
11. Remove, replace and clear a mask.
12. Breathe without a mask for at least one minute.
13. Disconnect the low pressure hose from the inflator in shallow water (either underwater or at the surface.)
14. Respond to air depletion by signaling “out-of-air” in water too deep in which to stand.
15. Ascend using the five-point method.

Dive 3 Performance Requirements
At the surface:
1. Perform a tired diver tow for 25 metres/yards in water too deep in which to stand.
2. Demonstrate the cramp removal technique for self and buddy (at the surface or underwater.)
Underwater:
3. Use both oral and low-pressure BCD inflation to become neutrally buoyant. Gently rise and fall in a controlled manner, during inhalation and exhalation.
4. Swim at least 10 metres/yards while maintaining neutral buoyancy.
5. Respond to air depletion by signaling “out of air,” and securing and breathing from an alternate air source supplied by a buddy. Continue for at least one minute while swimming.
6. Supply air to another diver using an alternate air source.
7. Breathe effectively from a free-fl owing regulator for at least 30 seconds.
8. Simulate a controlled emergency swimming ascent by swimming horizontally for at least 9 metres/30 feet while emitting a continuous sound.

Dive 4 Performance Requirements
Underwater:
1. Swim without a mask for at least 15 metres/50 feet, then replace and clear the mask.
2. Hover using buoyancy control for at least 30 seconds, without kicking or sculling.

Dive 5 Performance Requirements:
At the surface:
1. Remove, replace, adjust and secure the scuba unit and weight system in water too deep in which to stand, with minimal assistance.
Underwater:
2. Remove, replace, adjust and secure the scuba unit on the bottom in water too deep in which to stand, with minimal assistance.
3. Remove, replace, adjust and secure weight system.
• With weight belt – on the bottom in water too deep in which to stand.
• With weight integrated BCDs (or weight harness systems that require reassembly after weights are removed) – in shallow water.

If my maths dun fail me, it should add up to 42 skills, excluding equipment preparation and care and nope, we are not allowed to merge any skills into one skill to teach and have to teach the skills as it is.

I agree that 3-6 hours in a pool is too short. But i would like to point out that what you have listed are the tasks performance requirements. In any case, the number of basic skills listed by PADI are still 20 (+4 skin diving skills).

They are:
1. Equipment Assembly, Adjustment, preparation, donning and disassembly.
2. Predive Safety Check
3. Deep-water entry
4. Bouyancy check at surface
5. Snorkel-requlator/regulator-snorkel exchange
6. Five-point descent
7. Requlator recovery and clearing
8. Mask removal, replacement and clearing
9. Air depletion exercise and alternate air source use (Stationary)
10. Alternate air source-assisted ascent
11. Free-flow regulator breathing
12. Neutral bouyancy
13. Five-point ascent
14. Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent
15. Hover Motionless for 30 seconds
16. Underwater swim without mask
17. Remove and replace weight system underwater
18. Remove and replace scuba unit underwater
19. Remove and replace weight system on surface
20. Remove and replace scuba unit on surface

4 additional skin diving skills:
21. Vertical, head first skin dive
22. Swim at least 15m underwater on a single breath while skin diving
23. Snorkel clear using the blast method after ascending from skin diving
24. Snorkel clear using the displacement method after ascending from skin diving

Source from PADI DM Manual, Instructor Manual and Guide to teaching.

=)

jamesseo

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving
« Reply #7 on: 31 May 12, 14:02 »
Very informative and useful tips for scuba beginners, excellent work....

darwinbaisa

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving
« Reply #8 on: 31 Aug 12, 14:50 »
Wow! Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.

christi

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Re: A Beginner's Guide to Scuba Diving
« Reply #9 on: 07 Feb 14, 12:42 »
Hi DIN, thank you for the excellent article. I have a few questions to ask before converting to an addict. ;D ;D Can I contact you directly?