At one point or another, a diver has found himself alone during a dive, whether it was intentional or not. Solo diving is the practice of scuba diving alone, without a “dive buddy.”
Solo diving, once considered technical diving and discouraged by most certification agencies, is now seen by many experienced divers and some certification agencies as an acceptable practice for those divers suitably trained and experienced. Rather than relying on the traditional buddy diving safety system, solo divers should be skilled in self-sufficiency and willing to take responsibility for their own safety while diving. The first training agency to offer a Solo Diving certification was Scuba Diving International (SDI) in 1999.
Marketing the SDI Solo Diver Course is not as difficult as one may think. Divers who travel alone, divers highly involved in with photo or video as a hobby, divers who dive with their younger children or with a dive buddy who has considerably less experience than they do, underwater hunters, dive professionals with students, divers who dive in low visibility or are in areas with high currents that may cause the group to separate from their DM or dive buddy…these are all divers who would benefit tremendously from this course. Divers may not always plan to dive alone, but they may find themselves in circumstances where it happens and the added training and additional equipment can be the only elements that get them through a potentially sticky situation.
It is also not unusual for a diver to want to reach the highest levels of training possible, without leaving his or her comfort zone. This means they do not want to invest time and money in tech diving and are not interested in become a dive professional. The Solo Diver program is the one in which they are interested.. As an SDI Dive Center, you can now offer this demographic the ultimate goal in self reliance and confidence as a Solo Diver.
Some divers, such as instructors, are effectively acting as self-sufficient solo divers because they dive with students who may not yet be capable of rescuing them. Others, such as underwater photographers and videographers, dive alone as this allows them a greater opportunity to focus on capturing selected images and not having to rely on buddies to remain close at hand. Even those photographers or videographers who do dive with buddies are often effectively “same ocean” buddies, implying they may be far enough apart physically, or sufficiently focused on their camera-related tasks, to be ineffective as a designated dive buddy—just as if they were diving in the same ocean, but not together. This practice has led to many highly-experienced underwater photographers diving solo, since they don’t commit to providing timely support to a buddy nor do they expect such support from a buddy. Underwater hunters also often elect to dive solo in order to focus on their prey. Many solo divers will happily dive in a buddy pair if diving with a known and trusted buddy, but otherwise dive solo in preference to being paired up with a potentially unreliable or incompetent partner.
Solo diving is not only a great way to add a value to an exercise through training; it is also great for gear sales. They should have a completely redundant set of all life support equipment (e.g. a complete, self-contained backup breathing gas supply). This redundant air supply typically takes the form of a pony bottle for most recreational solo divers, or the use of a twin tank set equipped with the capability of independent operation of each tank, for more demanding or technical diving. Additional pieces of redundant equipment carried include a second dive computer, a dive light and backup dive mask. As with all scuba equipment, the diver must be intimately familiar with this configuration and have the ability to access any of the equipment easily if it should be needed.
Qualifications for formal solo dive training as provided by SDI emphasize the need for experience and maturity in diving. In particular, the student pre-requisites for the solo diving certification course are:
- A minimum age of 21 years
- A minimum certification of SDI Advanced Diver (or equivalent)
- Proof of a minimum of 100 logged open water dives
- Depending on the country – a certificate of medical fitness
If you do not have your Solo Diving Instructor rating yet…what are you waiting for? Find a local Instructor Trainer in your region and get certified at the professional level. Target your customers who are the travelers, the photographers, the thrill seekers, the hunters, or simply, the customers who wish to increase their own training and confidence levels and offer them the SDI Solo Diver course out of your dive center.
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