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Author Topic: Any SCUBA divers here? (56K'ers beware)  (Read 836 times)
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Gromit
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« on: March 18, 2010, 11:15:33 PM »

I'm TDY (temporary duty) with the Air Force down in Curacao right now, and have the opportunity to get a PADI certification (Open Water and Advanced).  I signed up today, and will take the course starting at the end of the month.

Any advice for a newbie?  smile  
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PeteRock
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2010, 11:22:39 PM »

My wife got the PADI certification last year, but I unfortunately don't have any helpful advice as I am awful in the water.  I've tried snorkeling and wind up panicking when my face is in the water, so diving is completely out of the question for me.  I know that she's still very intimidated about going on dives by herself (not completely by herself, but with groups where she doesn't know anyone) as she's afraid that she won't have someone there to help her as a novice.  So she hasn't gone on any open water dives.  She'd rather go with someone she knows so that she can be sure she'll have someone by her side.  And I'm just not that guy as I can't handle all you have to be able to do in order to dive (clearing your mask, staying relaxed underwater, etc). 

If you get the certification, I think the biggest obstacle is then going on open water dives without the comfort of a known friend along for the ride.  I understand the certification to be very managable, but once you have the certification it can be intimidating to go diving for the first time in open water with a group of strangers.  That may be the biggest obstacle you'll have to contend with, as I know this has been my wife's biggest issue.  She had no trouble with the certification itself. 

Good luck, and I'm envious as I simply am not capable.  I have done a great number of things, and rarely have the words "I can't" ever passed my lips, but diving is something I can't seem to do. 
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leo8877
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2010, 11:40:47 PM »

Hell yes!!!!!  My wife and I are both PADI open water certified...it's definitely one of the best choices I've ever made.  I tried a couple of dives in Hawaii on vacation and got bitten by the bug (not the Shark!).  I've been hooked ever since.  I absolutely love it, and so does my wife.  We live in Northern CA, so we got certified in the cold, dark waters of Monterey.  Full body suits and everything.  I'm much more inclined to the warm water diving myself, but I just love being underwater.  Everytime we vacation we go on at least 2 days of dives. 

Only advice is to have fun.  You'll be surprised how peaceful and "dialed down" being underwater is.  During training one guy told us that SCUBA diving was easier than snorkeling...and he's right.  Once you're in the water, it's just peaceful, mellow, and amazing!!!

Enjoy, you'll love it!!!

I attached some pics from Hawaii SCUBA fun.  One is a turtle from about 50 ft below.  One is a White Tip Reef Shark that was hanging around just laying on the bottom.  I have a sweet video of the Cathedrals from Lanai, but it's too big to post frown
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Chaz
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2010, 11:50:06 PM »

I certified through a class in college.  We did our open water dives off the North Shore of Boston in November.  I think water temps were around 55.  The water was fine with your 7mm of neoprene, actually it was shocking how well the wet suits worked, but man, that first rush of cold water into the suit was interesting.

Based on my experience, the hardest part will be early on when you have to get used to being able to breathe underwater.  Convincing your body to take that first breath when you're completely submerged for the first time takes a force of will.  The other hard part is when you have to learn to breathe and operate without your mask.  You very likely will accidentally breathe through your nose that first time, and it will not be fun.

If you wear glasses, consider getting disposable contacts.  A prescription mask isn't cheap and you probably won't want to wear it out of the water, so you won't be able to see on land.  I used to wear non-disposable lenses, and was terrified of losing one every time we had to practice going maskless underwater.  One time, they lined us all up and the shallow end, took our masks, scattered them in the deep end, and we had to go get a mask, then find and swap to ours.  I was forced to open my eyes and miraculously didn't lose a lens, but every other time, I was swimming underwater with my eyes shut.  That sucks.  Don't do that.  Get disposables so if you lose one, it's okay.

When they say you need to equalize your pressure every few feet, they're not kidding.  You'll forget to do this at least once, and the intense pain in your ears will remind you.  

Keep telling yourself to breathe deeply and calmly while underwater.  Sharp, panicky breaths are no good and will burn through your air really fast.

Achieving neutral buoyancy is the coolest thing.  In that state, you're able to swim horizontally and control your vertical movement with your breath.  You can be gliding along a foot above the sea floor, see a boulder ahead of you, inhale to rise up over the boulder, then exhale to settle back down.  It's awesome.

I need to go diving again.
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leo8877
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2010, 11:54:11 PM »

Chaz's post reminded me.

Good point about descending and clearing your ears...just go at your pace and never push it.  Like he said the pain will be noticeable and you won't be able to drop too fast.

Also, I have a mask with a nose purge, meaning I can exhale through my nose and my mask doesn't push off my face (as a normal mask would).  Both my wife and I have them and loooooove them.  You still can't breath through your nose, but being able to exhale through a valve is sweet.
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ScubaV
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2010, 01:05:53 AM »

Just be glad that you get to get certified in a nice, warm, clear ocean instead of a cold-ass, murky lake.  And if you start to panic or chicken out, consider that I learned to scuba dive when I was 12, so don't be a pussy!  slywink

Seriously though, enjoy it.  There's lots of cool stuff to see and being pseudo-weightless is pretty awesome.
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crumsteel
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2010, 01:09:19 AM »

I have been certified for many years and my current level of PADI certification is dive master. Being underwater is great, when you are under you don't think of anything but the sites you are seeing and keeping yourself and others safe. It is a great activity / hobby.

The best advice I can give is not to get overwhelmed when going through training, go at your own pace, relax, and listen to the instructors on advice they give you specifically. You get to meet great people you dive with, I have meet so many friends I have now on trips from different locations and we still keep in touch. It is very much a gadget activity as there is so much gear involved and different types of diving. My current specialty is underwater video photography. I love shooting film of me and my wife diving so we can watch it later.

I did some diving in curacao about four years ago and it was great. I dont' remember where, sunset something, but it was great diving there and I would take the opportunity if you have it.

If you have specific questions I can try to answer them or point you to a location for answers. Most of my dives are wreck dives off of North Carolina. Another good source is scubaboard.com .

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TK-421
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2010, 02:13:29 AM »

Would like to but likely never will.   My wife desperately wants to dive but she's epilleptic so it will never ever happen and I couldn't bring myself to do something that she would love to do but can't.

So, we'll be snorkeling in St. Martin next year but no SCUBA.
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Biyobi
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2010, 05:01:34 AM »

Been PADI certified for about 10 years now (Advanced Open Water, though my buddy and I just signed up for the Rescue Diver course next month).  All my diving has been done in the cold waters off of Los Angeles, mostly the Catalina Island area.  If you get the bug for it I hope you have deep pockets; the goodies for this hobby ain't cheap. icon_wink

Stay hydrated.  The compressed air you breathe has had all the moisture removed from it so you will get dry mouth/throat.
Crumsteel has it right when he said to go at your own pace and relax.  Rushing causes mistakes and you don't get to make too many of them down there without something really bad happening.
Take the time to really look around you during your first dives.  You'd be surprised on how much you miss out on because you're so focused on the sensation of diving.
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Gromit
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2010, 12:24:15 PM »

Wow...many more responses than I expected.   thumbsup

As an Independent Duty Medical Technician on flying status, I'm well-versed in pressure equalization when going to altitude...just not the opposite way.  From what I understand, you need to valsalva way more often diving than you do flying.  It'll take some getting used too.

I'm quite excited about starting.  I'm a strong swimmer, and don't have any irrational fear of diving.  I need to dig around online though and attempt to find a reasonably priced underwater camera...   icon_biggrin

Good thing my wife back in OKC doesn't read these forums.   icon_lol
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leo8877
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2010, 02:37:30 PM »

Quote from: Gromit on March 19, 2010, 12:24:15 PM

Wow...many more responses than I expected.   thumbsup

As an Independent Duty Medical Technician on flying status, I'm well-versed in pressure equalization when going to altitude...just not the opposite way.  From what I understand, you need to valsalva way more often diving than you do flying.  It'll take some getting used too.

I'm quite excited about starting.  I'm a strong swimmer, and don't have any irrational fear of diving.  I need to dig around online though and attempt to find a reasonably priced underwater camera...   icon_biggrin

Good thing my wife back in OKC doesn't read these forums.   icon_lol

Everyone is different with clearing the pressure, but for me, I have to clear a lot in the first 15 feet, then it's only every 10 feet or so that I have to clear again.  Once you clear at a level you don't have to clear anymore unless you descend (again for me).

As for a camera, I have an underwater case for my Canon Powershot, so I basically use the same camera above and below the water.  The case was about $130 and it's been a great purchase.  Even without the special underwater strobe lights, I get great images and video with plenty of light.   Of course this has been in tropical waters with good sunlight, down to about 100 ft.  IMO, it's worth looking at for a first purchase before you get a super fancy camera.
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Gromit
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2010, 11:18:52 PM »

Had my first open water dive today...went to a depth of 40' for 41 minutes.

The scenery was simply phenomenal.  I was blown away by the colors, the variety of underwater plants, and the myriad of fish.  Most of them could've cared less that we were there.  I had expected all of them to give us a very wide berth.  We did have a videographer film our dive which was very cool.  The DVD will be ready on Monday.  I can't wait to see it!

Finish up the open water cert tomorrow, and then will press on to the advanced diver course in two weeks.

Thanks again for all the tips!

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leo8877
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2010, 11:52:31 PM »

Quote from: Gromit on March 27, 2010, 11:18:52 PM

Had my first open water dive today...went to a depth of 40' for 41 minutes.

The scenery was simply phenomenal.  I was blown away by the colors, the variety of underwater plants, and the myriad of fish.  Most of them could've cared less that we were there.  I had expected all of them to give us a very wide berth.  We did have a videographer film our dive which was very cool.  The DVD will be ready on Monday.  I can't wait to see it!

Finish up the open water cert tomorrow, and then will press on to the advanced diver course in two weeks.

Thanks again for all the tips!


thumbsup thumbsup
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crumsteel
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2010, 01:50:42 AM »

Quote from: Gromit on March 27, 2010, 11:18:52 PM

Had my first open water dive today...went to a depth of 40' for 41 minutes.

The scenery was simply phenomenal.  I was blown away by the colors, the variety of underwater plants, and the myriad of fish.  Most of them could've cared less that we were there.  I had expected all of them to give us a very wide berth.  We did have a videographer film our dive which was very cool.  The DVD will be ready on Monday.  I can't wait to see it!

Finish up the open water cert tomorrow, and then will press on to the advanced diver course in two weeks.

Thanks again for all the tips!



This is great to hear. You think you see colors now, wait till you do your first night dive - that really brings out some colors underwater.
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Biyobi
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2010, 06:22:00 AM »

Quote from: crumsteel on March 28, 2010, 01:50:42 AM

Quote from: Gromit on March 27, 2010, 11:18:52 PM

Had my first open water dive today...went to a depth of 40' for 41 minutes.

The scenery was simply phenomenal.  I was blown away by the colors, the variety of underwater plants, and the myriad of fish.  Most of them could've cared less that we were there.  I had expected all of them to give us a very wide berth.  We did have a videographer film our dive which was very cool.  The DVD will be ready on Monday.  I can't wait to see it!

Finish up the open water cert tomorrow, and then will press on to the advanced diver course in two weeks.

Thanks again for all the tips!



This is great to hear. You think you see colors now, wait till you do your first night dive - that really brings out some colors underwater.

+1.  All the critters that come out only at night are pretty damn cool.  The only annoying thing will be the continual "Jaws theme" soundtrack running continuously through your head. nod
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leo8877
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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2010, 06:24:58 AM »

Quote from: Biyobi on March 28, 2010, 06:22:00 AM

Quote from: crumsteel on March 28, 2010, 01:50:42 AM

Quote from: Gromit on March 27, 2010, 11:18:52 PM

Had my first open water dive today...went to a depth of 40' for 41 minutes.

The scenery was simply phenomenal.  I was blown away by the colors, the variety of underwater plants, and the myriad of fish.  Most of them could've cared less that we were there.  I had expected all of them to give us a very wide berth.  We did have a videographer film our dive which was very cool.  The DVD will be ready on Monday.  I can't wait to see it!

Finish up the open water cert tomorrow, and then will press on to the advanced diver course in two weeks.

Thanks again for all the tips!



This is great to hear. You think you see colors now, wait till you do your first night dive - that really brings out some colors underwater.

+1.  All the critters that come out only at night are pretty damn cool.  The only annoying thing will be the continual "Jaws theme" soundtrack running continuously through your head. nod

Haha, it's that same theme that has prevented me from doing a night dive!
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Gromit
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« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2010, 09:42:37 AM »

Quote from: Biyobi on March 28, 2010, 06:22:00 AM

Quote from: crumsteel on March 28, 2010, 01:50:42 AM

Quote from: Gromit on March 27, 2010, 11:18:52 PM

Had my first open water dive today...went to a depth of 40' for 41 minutes.

The scenery was simply phenomenal.  I was blown away by the colors, the variety of underwater plants, and the myriad of fish.  Most of them could've cared less that we were there.  I had expected all of them to give us a very wide berth.  We did have a videographer film our dive which was very cool.  The DVD will be ready on Monday.  I can't wait to see it!

Finish up the open water cert tomorrow, and then will press on to the advanced diver course in two weeks.

Thanks again for all the tips!



This is great to hear. You think you see colors now, wait till you do your first night dive - that really brings out some colors underwater.

+1.  All the critters that come out only at night are pretty damn cool.  The only annoying thing will be the continual "Jaws theme" soundtrack running continuously through your head. nod

Great.  Thanks, jerk.   icon_biggrin icon_lol
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Gromit
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2010, 12:01:29 PM »

Well, I'm open water certified.  smile

On our last dive, we saw a large school (60+) of tarpon about 20' below us.  What an impressive sight! 

Up next is advanced open water, which will occur in about two weeks.  We'll get to dive a wreck called Superior Producer, and a night dive among other things.  Can't wait!  smile
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leo8877
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« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2010, 02:28:05 PM »

Quote from: Gromit on March 29, 2010, 12:01:29 PM

Well, I'm open water certified.  smile

On our last dive, we saw a large school (60+) of tarpon about 20' below us.  What an impressive sight! 

Up next is advanced open water, which will occur in about two weeks.  We'll get to dive a wreck called Superior Producer, and a night dive among other things.  Can't wait!  smile

Congrats man!  Welcome to a wonderful, new hobby!
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Gromit
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« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2010, 02:21:39 PM »

Finished up the advanced open water certification yesterday...discovered during the Peak Performance Buoyancy dive that I suck at peak performance buoyancy.   icon_lol

Likely will complete the wreck diver specialty next...maybe even rescue diver.

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Gromit
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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2010, 03:30:46 PM »

Here are some pictures of the Superior Producer wreck...





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Gromit
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« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2010, 03:32:37 PM »

Three more...






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leo8877
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« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2010, 03:35:52 PM »

Great shots man, wreck dives are my favorite!
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Gromit
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« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2010, 03:47:15 PM »

Superior Producer in better days...




Superior Producer sinking in December 1977...

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Gromit
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« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2010, 04:13:28 PM »

Pics from the tugboat dive at Caracasbaii...







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msduncan
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« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2010, 04:59:26 PM »

I am PADI certified as well.   I've been diving in the keys and other places in the Gulf.

The most interesting (and dangerous) dive I've done was in the Cooper River in South Carolina.    Here's how it goes:

-- You anchor in the river ( any place works, but just up or down from bends is the best).    
-- You get into the water and pull yourself along the boat to the anchor line.
-- You pull yourself down the anchor line.   About 12 to 15 feet down, it goes from murky to pitch black.   You then turn your cave light on which gives you about 2 feet of visibility.
-- You continue to the bottom where the anchor, and then you hook onto it with your cave reel.   This is so that you can find your way back to the anchor.
-- Now you use your screw driver to stab into the bottom and pull yourself along (there is a pretty strong current usually, unless you are between tides)
-- Scattered along the bottom of the river are bones, pottery shards, whale bones, antlers, prehistoric shark teeth and fragments, and the elusive and highly prized Megalodon teeth that can be as big as your hand.

So then when you are done you reel up the cave line until you are back to the anchor and pull yourself back up the anchor line.   It's tiring to say the least.    Some of the divers there just jump in and swim down, but the guys I went with have been doing it for years and they wonder how people avoid accidents that don't attach themselves to the anchor (a trick they figured out themselves).    What got them started attaching themselves is that the current carried them on one of their early dives and two of them found themselves under an overhang in the river bend.    They didn't panic and found their way out, but you can imagine that the soft banks of these rivers get undercut by the current and create sort of pseudo-caves.    Not good in zero visibility.

Edit:   To give you an idea of how much stuff there is to find down there:   I went twice and have a case full of bones, pottery, and ancient shark teeth.    Couple of whale bones too.     I didn't find a full Megalodon tooth, but I did find half-teeth and many fragments of Megalodon teeth.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2010, 05:00:58 PM by msduncan » Logged
msduncan
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« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2010, 05:02:28 PM »

Here is what my whale bones look like:


They are ear bones.
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