Simple Rules To Dive By

by Rob Bradish:

trimmed diver and turtle

photo credit: Ray Bullion

Deep diving is a portion of recreational scuba diving that can present dangers and concerns for any diver. These factors can be avoided through proper technique and training. First, divers must utilize common sense and safe practices prior to getting wet.

So, let’s start off with a level set. I started diving in 1977. I was not a professional until about two years ago, and while I have traveled a fair amount, I am certainly not a once-a-year, off to the islands kind of diver. I am, for the most part, just like most of you; I like to dive. This is just my opinion and I encourage you to think on it and more importantly, develop your own response. That said, with over 35 years of diving, I have never gone into unplanned decompression, never run out of gas, and never had an incident become an accident.

I am constantly shocked at the number of divers on a boat dive that need to spend 8 – 10 minutes on the line at 20 feet during a recreational dive. Even scarier is the frequency with which I will hear someone come up the ladder with their computer beeping. When asked, they seem shocked and say something like, “I wondered what that was.” Moreover, an informal survey among charter professionals seems to indicate many of these divers are younger, some with just a few years or dives under their belt. This worries me because as I review the training and knowledgebase available to divers today, the detail is much greater than what we previously had.

So, it begs the question, why are divers today, who are better trained and have more information available than ever before, experiencing incidents that we all know, for the most part, are avoidable?

So, what are some differences between new divers and those who may have more experience? Well, right off the top, I have a few rules I dive by, many of you may have heard before.

1. Plan your dive, dive your plan. We have all heard this for years, but how many especially in our age of computers, actually do it? Most computers even have a modelling software built in to help you. But this goes way beyond anticipating your depth and runtime. In sports and high risk activities, people are taught visualization as a means of preparation. The point here is to, first, psych yourself up for a positive outcome, but more importantly, try to visually prepare and foresee any incidents before they occur. Sure, you can talk about what you hope to see and your separation plan, but do you talk about your dive time? What happens if you go to deep, or stay to long? You get the idea, sit with your buddy and talk about the dive, the goals, and the contingencies to insure you both have success and a good time.

2. Three strikes, I’m out. This is one that is personal. I have found that if I have three mini-incidents, my head can get out of the game, and the best thing for me to do is call it. This even includes driving to the charter! I have also learned for me specifically, the number one thing that can lead to an incident is new equipment or a new configuration. Not yet familiar with that new computer? Get a phone call from the boss about work on the way to the site? Can’t quite get your kit to feel right? Any of these items can take your mind out of the game, but a couple or more together, and I know I will be distracted.

3. There is no dive today worth all of my diving tomorrow. Seems simple, but I am always shocked at the number of people who are afraid to call a dive. Fifth dive of the day and you suddenly get a booming headache? Long ride out and you notice the boat bobbing more than you are used to? No matter how hard you try, you just can’t wrap your head around the dive? CALL IT! There is no dive that is more important than all my future diving. This also leads to an additional rule that tech divers frequently state. Any diver can call the dive at any time, for any reason, without fear of repercussion. Now don’t get me wrong, there will likely be some good natured razzing, but we have all called one. It makes no sense to harass someone when there mind isn’t 100% in the game! More importantly, this rule does not just apply above the waterline.

A few years ago, I was privileged to complete my cave diving certification, a section of diving which is dedicated to rules that are necessary to have a successful cave penetration dive. Now, years later, nearly every time there is a death in caves, one or more of these rules was broken, frequently by divers with a great deal of experience and practice. It is important to note however, it was likely not the broken rule or rules that lead to tragedy, but complacency that lead them to ignore the rules in the first place.

I won’t tell you that there is never a reason to run out of gas or go into unplanned decompression. I will tell you however, if you refuse to be complacent about the rules taught to you as a new diver, then the likelihood of you experiencing an incident or accident will be greatly reduced.

Rob Bradish – who refers to himself as “a recreational diver with Technical Interests,” has been diving since 1981, and crossed over to “the Dark Side” last year as an instructor with SDI/TDI. He works as an independent contractor through Air Hogs Scuba, of Garner, North Carolina and Blackbeard Scuba of Southport, North Carolina.

Open Water Certified, Now What?

There is so much out there with continuing education, sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming trying to choose what the next steps should be. A lot of it may also depend on the region you live in and what your local dives may entail. The bottom line is… the adventure has just started.


The “Perfect” Trim

Check out these tips and tricks for the ideal trim!

Scuba Diving – How-to-Guide to be a Certified Diver

diver_stingraySo you’ve been dreaming of exploring the peaceful underwater world, drifting weightlessly with the fish and turtles, dancing with dolphins, and gliding effortlessly with the rays.  That dream can easily become a reality and here’s how:

  1. Contact your local SDI dive center and sign up for your Open Water Scuba Diver Course.  You can use Scuba Diving International’s dive center locater found here.
  2. Once you have chosen your dive center, you can start the home study portion to prepare for your course.  This can be done with either the traditional manual, or the more popular online eLearning course.  This will provide all of the basic knowledge you will need to begin your underwater adventure.  This information will then be reviewed with your scuba instructor where they can answer any questions you may have and correct any questions you might have missed.
  3. Your next step in becoming a certified diver is to complete your in-water skill development training with an instructor.  This will take place in a swimming pool or similar body of water.  This confined water session is where you will learn and master the basic skills required for the underwater world.  Skills including equipment set up and use, buoyancy control, proper swimming techniques while wearing SCUBA, regulator and mask clearing, proper ascents/descents, as well as emergency procedures will all be covered and practiced until you are proficient and comfortable in the water.
  4. The final step of your certification process is to test your skills in open water.  Here you will apply what you have learned during your academic and skill-development sessions, while learning practical lessons that can only be gained through real-world experience in open water. This portion of the course will include a minimum of four open water dives, where you will demonstrate your ability to plan and manage dives under the direct supervision of your instructor.  These “check-off” dives can be conducted locally with your dive center, or while you are on vacation in a tropical paradise.
  5. Get out there and DIVE!  Scuba Diving grants you access to a whole new world, what adventure awaits YOU below the surface?

Here is a list of some basic scuba gear to consider for your recreational dives. Talk to your instructor about what tools to consider for your course!

  1. Wetsuit
  2. Cylinder (Scuba Tanks)
  3. Mask
  4. Fins
  5. Snorkel
  6. Dive Computer
  7. Regulator
  8. Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG)
  9. Alternate Air Source
  10. Compass
  11. Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)
  12. Weights
  13. Gear Bag (carry all equipment)

Other Dive Gear Considerations

  1. Dive Knife
  2. Whistle – Signal or attention device
  3. Dive Light
  4. Dive Flag

For more information on becoming a certified Open Water Scuba Diver or to find an SDI instructor near you, visit us at

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201

SDI Scuba Diver Interview

“I have literally packed up my house in Atlanta and moved to the Caribbean so I can dive more often”, Interview with an SDI Diver

SDI sat down with avid diver, Andi Cummings to discuss the effects of becoming a certified scuba diver had on her life. Read below to see how diving could change your life too!


Andi Cummings

Andi – My name is Andi Cummings. I am 43 years old and I am self employed. I am originally from Alabama but I lived in Atlanta for 20 years before moving to the U.S. Virgin Islands which is where I live now.

SDI – How long have you been diving?

Andi – I started diving in October 2011.

SDI – What was the defining moment that made you want to become a scuba diver?

Andi – Well it was kind of funny actually… I was planning a Caribbean getaway and looking for activities to do during my stay. I searched around various travel sites online and found the “number 1 attraction” was scuba diving. I made a social media post asking my friends if I should give it a shot… I received a ton of positive feedback and one of my friends even said it would be “the best investment you ever made.” I have to say it is!

SDI – Tell us about your Open Water Course

Andi – I was really nervous before starting the course. I wasn’t afraid of the water but I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to learn everything before my trip. I feared the course involved too much information but I was able to complete all of the academics online through eLearning at my own pace which helped a lot. The dive shop did a really good job at pairing me up with my instructor who I consider a really great friend to this day. After a few minutes with him in the pool, all of my fears were put to rest and I was ready to dive! By the time we hit the ocean, all I wanted to do was get off the descent line and see as much as I possibly could. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn to dive in the Caribbean on beautiful reefs. We saw turtles, a ton of fish, and on the final day of the course, I was able to dive with dolphins!

SDI – Dolphins? Wow! Tell us about that experience.

Andi – On the final day of the Open Water Scuba Diver course we completed two dives. Towards the end of the first dive, we had four curious dolphins come towards us in the water to check us out and swim around us for easily 30 minutes. After we surfaced from that incredible experience we couldn’t believe it was about to get better… The dolphins actually followed the boat as we made way to the second dive site and greeted us again shortly after we entered the water for our second dive of the day which was my final dive of the Open Water course.  I have been around the world and seen a lot of things but this was the closest to nature experience I have ever encountered and the most memorable dive of my life!

SDI – How did your life change after you became a certified scuba diver?

Andi – My life has done a complete 180! (Laughs) I have made a lot of friends through diving; I have a whole new global network of people I associate and travel with thanks to this sport. I have literally packed up my house in Atlanta and moved to the Caribbean so I can dive more often while working remotely. I consider myself extremely lucky to be at this stage in my life as I am a self employed business consultant with clients all around the world. I can work virtually out of the Caribbean as if I am working back in the states… My office just looks a little different now. I have spent the last 20 years in suits, meetings, and in boardrooms and now I work with an ocean view in board shorts.

SDI – How often do you dive?

Andi – I typically dive 2-3 times a week when I am busy with work. When I am in between projects, I dive every day.

SDI – Have you been able to do any dive traveling?

Andi – Oh yes! I have been to Thailand, Fiji, Bali, Florida, and several islands in the Caribbean; all within the past 2 years! I took a whole month off to travel the Pacific and made some fantastic friends along the way. When I meet people in other parts of the world, we stay connected through social media and when I see someone planning a trip somewhere, I try to jump in or I invite people to stay with me and dive. I am currently planning a trip to Bora Bora with people I met during my Pacific run.

SDI – How do you get ready for a dive trip?

Andi – My trip prep revolves around researching the areas I am going to be diving. I ask myself questions like; what is the water temperature? Do I have adequate exposure protection for the environment I am going to be diving? I try to find reviews and talk to people who have been to those locations to see if they have any suggestions. Finally, I have my go to dive bag. Every pocket has designated items. If a pocket is empty, I must be missing something!

SDI – Who is your go-to dive buddy? – My number one man, my son.

SDI – What was it like to see your son become a scuba diver?

Andi – It was such a pleasurable experience. I was so proud of him. It was literally like seeing him take his first steps all over again. I was nervous as a mother but seeing him take to the water like I did made me so proud. He’s at the same place I was two years ago with diving; all he wants to do is take more classes and keep diving. He recently went through an experience that sparked his interest and inspired him… He was able to witness some technical divers prep for their dive. He was so fascinated with their equipment and thought they were total rock stars. Now he is extremely inquisitive about technical diving and what is involved in that area of the sport.

SDI – What do you think about technical diving?

Andi – I am really lucky to have a few technical / rebreather instructor friends. Seeing them dive that kind of equipment just sparks a whole new interest in me, especially when I see them silently gliding through the water. I think diving a rebreather would just highlight my overall experience in the ocean. I am currently looking at course specific locations around the world to start technical training. For example – I would like to learn how to Cavern Dive in the Cenotes in Mexico and eventually progress on to cave diving.  Technical diving has opened up a whole new way for me to look at diving and dive travel.

SDI – Have you taken any additional courses after you got certified 2 years ago?

Andi – Well I got so hooked on diving when I started… I studied the whole course flow path and mapped out a continuing education schedule. Each month I was coming back to the islands to take the next course on the list. I am very thrilled at the idea of using learning as a tool so I can do and see more in the water. Continuing my diving education after my Open Water Scuba Diver course became something I felt like I needed to do; there is just so much I don’t know and so much to learn!

SDI – What advice would you like to share with people who are considering getting certified?

Andi – You can do it! Study, take the course seriously and pay attention to your instructor. Do your research before choosing a dive center or instructor and ask questions! Diving is an investment of time and money but the rewards can be life changing, literally.

For more information on becoming a certified Open Water Scuba Diver or to find an SDI instructor near you, visit us at

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201

Scuba Diver, a Day in the Life

scuba_diver-blue-heron-bridgeIt’s a late Friday morning in the office and I should be wrapping up some projects for the week but what am I really doing? Thinking about diving… As I scan through diving images and scroll through the latest and greatest equipment catalogs, I can’t help but count down the hours until my next dive.  What can I say? I am a scuba diver.

The change my lifestyle would take after becoming a certified diver was not part of the lesson plan in my Open Water Scuba Diver course. I find myself noticing red and white dive flags more than ever and striking up conversations with people in the grocery store who are wearing scuba related T-shirts. I didn’t realize I would be welcomed into a global community of some of the friendliest people on the planet who want nothing more than to share their passion of diving.

My social circle expanded dramatically after becoming a scuba diver with people who don’t even mind seeing snot on my face after surfacing from a dive. Fortunately my new scuba friends are kind enough to tell me to wipe my nose, most of the time… It’s not out of the ordinary to find us at the local hangout after a day of diving talking about just that, diving! Whether we’re discussing what we saw that day, new gear, different techniques, hints tips and suggestions for one another, we all seem to have one thing in mind; dive more and see more in the water.

The world seemed so much bigger after I became a scuba diver when I realized there are so many dive destinations to visit. I found myself asking challenging and fairly bizarre new questions; do I want to plan a trip nonstop shore diving in the Caribbean or spend a week nonstop diving on a live-aboard in the Pacific? I never imaged asking myself these kinds of questions until my life changed when I became a diver.

As I sit in my office thinking about diving, I have to smile when I consider the positive effects becoming a certified scuba diver had on my lifestyle. My social network increased and expanded all around the world, I’ve been able to see and experience things few have before and the financial investment is seemingly small compared to the enormous return. My overall happiness has increased due to the fact that I am a scuba diver.

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201