What constitutes an "Open Water Dive"?
My wife and I are taking a PADI Open Water dive class. We've just been told that our first two open water dives will be to 15-18 feet. The instructor has told us that because we have to swim several hundred yards to get to 18 feet, we will do both dives consecutively with ten minutes of floating in our BCD's between dives to rest. One tank, two dives and 18 feet maximum depth does not seem to me to realistically introduce us to open water diving conditions but I would like to hear from other more experienced divers.
I've seen it done that way quite a bit, but I don't like it. Part of learning to dive means dragging your gear out of the water, breaking it down, debriefing, logging the dive, calculating your SAC rate, and briefing for the next dive. You only get four or five chances to set up your gear in a real dive environment during the openwater portion of the class. Skipping one of them reduces your chances of retaining of the material, and the next thing you know you're on a boat with Bob yelling at you because you put your BC on your tank backwards.
The shallow depth is not unusual, nor is the long surface swim. It's a good time to practice and/or display tired diver tows. For the first couple of dives the instructor's goal is to keep you alive and calm, in that order. However, even on the first two we usually try to burn through a tank on each dive. The stuff you do on the platform is important but not all that difficult or time-consuming if your pool time was well-spent. We spend the rest of the time practicing buoyancy, trim, and basic navigation. To get your money's worth each dive should be at least 30 minutes unless the water is really cold. There's no point in lowering the student's core temperature so much on the first dive that the second one is worthless.
Resting on the surface between dives seems like a lazy-ish cop-out.
During the Night course we just stayed on the surface for the surface interval so it would count as 2 dives, the reason being the 43F water temp. in N. Florida. This is the first I've heard of that in an OW course. I agree that more times putting gear on & off would be good, but it probably won't matter several certified dives down the line.
If you are not happy with the open water dives your LDS is offering you can always opt out and pay to take your open water dives at another location. This is a PADI option and you can choose just about anywhere you'd like to do your open water checkout dives with better depth and conditions. All you need is what is called a "referral", but it will cost you to take the open water checkout dives elsewhere.
It comes down to how much do you want to spend to have a better open water checkout dive. You can go to Mt Storm. You can go to Bonaire. You can do your checkout dives pretty much anywhere you want, but if you opt to do dives other than the scheduled dives with your instructor it will cost you money. That said, if you don't like where your checkout dives are going to be pay more and go somewhere else. That said, your first couple of open water dives are going to have you so cranked up it won't matter where you are.18 ft is fine.
My understanding was that PADI standards require students to exit the water between dives. Anybody know the actual rule or care to check the instructor manual?
Originally Posted by bvdb
We sometimes have students using the same tank for a couple dives during class. If you are not a bad air hog, a single tank can last quite a while at 20'. OTOH this is usually when one student uses much less air than the others or when the water is cold - in which case we limit dive time so that no-one is shivering too badly. Shallow depth is OK as you are simply demonstrating that you have learned the skills. You will need to do a CESA during class, which I believe must be done from at least 25' (might be 20'). Otherwise adding depth only changes a few things: light (in murky water), temperature (our lakes can differ 10-20F from 15' to 30'), air consumption rate, psychological impact (primarily fear of depth) and narcosis which is usually not noticeable to anybody above ~60'. Clearing your mask is the same at 1' or at 150'.
Like a Finn out of water
I don't necessarily have problem with the dive durations, but the 10 min never-leave-the-water surface interval is nonsense. That's 1 dive with an intermission. In a profit-based training environment I think you're getting gypped.
When I was a student and later as an assistant I've had the first couple dives be 18-20 ft and maybe 15 min. *** BUT *** this is frequently the students very first dive, in a wetsuit and something like May 1-May 15 with water temps 40-45F. Some 15 mins are longer than others ;-)
These first couple dives I like that we get back to shore and have plenty of time to talk about both the dive we just had and the dive we're going to have next. I do want the student to have time to think things through, GET WARM, express his enthusiasm/worries/questions and have time to mentally prepare for going back down. Having a chance to visit a WC isn't a bad thing either.
For us time is less a concern though because we're training in a club atmospere: for the price of his class a student can dive with us all year. (CMAS club. We offer Wednesday evening dives w/ experienced buddies as desired June1-Aug30, plus whatever extra trips we might decide to make).
18-20 ft is fine. It scares the student less which lets them think more & better about what they are doing and how it's going. And bouyancy control is in fact much more challeging at that depth. I did maybe 3/4 of my trimix training in a lake about 14' deep & boy, do I still appreciate how shallow depths are no cakewalk.
I think treading water is lousy way to decompress and darn good way to get tired & cold. I'm also very sceptical about a 10 min surface interval. I generally think of a tank as 1 dive, esp. if you don't switch locations.
Last edited by FinnLady; 03-06-2013 at 11:52 AM.