by Sean Harrison:
As divers who catch the “bug” we are always looking for the next reason to go for a dive or to meet up with other divers and start building our list of dive buddies. Building this network is a must so when the urge hits and the conditions are right you can send that text, email or make that call, “weather is perfect for a dive…you in?”. One of the greatest forms of networking is continuing education, hanging out at your local dive shop is not too bad either, and the logical course to take after Open Water is Advanced, or is it?
The first question you need to ask yourself is, am I getting advanced certified so I can show my “advanced card” or so I can truly be a more capable diver? These are two very different things. The commonly referred to advanced certification (by most course requirements) is an introduction to five different types of diving and in most cases, two of the five introductions are core requirements such as deep and navigation. While this course provides you with an introduction, basic knowledge and additional dives, it does not truly provide you with in-depth knowledge on any of the five specialties or an opportunity to apply the knowledge you have learned.
Just like any learning experience, knowledge learned under the guidance of an instructor is only part of the equation. Taking this new knowledge and the skills associated with it, you need to get with that group of dive buddies and apply it. Furthermore, figure out what works and does not work for you, then take that feedback and give it to your instructor or dive center and have them coach you through what will make your diving experience better. All of this takes time and cannot be accomplished in five dives, in the same conditions, with the same instructor and the same dive buddies.
To build your comfort in the water you need a few things: different environments (ocean, fresh water, currents, boats, shore, to name a few); different dive buddies, some with the same diving abilities, some that are better; and most importantly… you need DIVES! Becoming a competent and efficient diver takes time and dives, and isn’t that why you wanted to learn in the first place, so you could dive?
In short let’s go back to the original question – are you taking your advanced diver course for the card or so you can be a better diver? If your answer is so you can be a better diver, and I hope it is, consider this: take your time, take more courses, spend time in the water with your instructor, and more importantly go diving with your dive buddies and log some dives. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll see cool stuff, meet fun like-minded people, and you’ll become a better diver!
SDI’s Advanced Diver Development course starts the minute you finish your Open Water Scuba Diver course and in fact, includes the four dives you did during your course! The philosophy is pretty simple, earning credits for your fun dives mixed with training from an SDI instructor.
Follow this link then go to your local dive center and map out the best path for you to become a better diver and a better dive buddy. Don’t forget to pick-up some marine life identification books too so you can identify all those great things you are going to see.