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I finished my check out dives just a few weeks ago and am thrilled to be certified. But like most of you, I'm sure, being inland there is limited opportunity to use my newly stamped skills. So the only thing I can figure on, to expand my practice hours, skill set, and keep my interest (expanding a skill set, being tasked with something, or looking at cool stuff is the only way to really keep my interest) is to move on to Diving 102 (or is it 201?).
My question is: should a diver with only check out dives logged and a temp OW c-card be allowed into an AOW class? PADI (the agency that stamped me) doesn't seem to mind it and I've been reading alot of flak directed at them for it. But dig, I'm perfectly comfortable underwater. Mask clearing, swimming maskless, reg recovery... no worries. I think I'm pretty good with bouyancy for a greenhorn. My open water instructor even suggested a shot at buddy breathing which I eagerly agreed to out of curiosity.
I'm even excited to try these new skills out not in the no wetsuit warm waters off Mexico... but in the freezing, zero-visibily waters of the quarry in a 7mm, gloves, and hood.
So, foolish bravado or sliding criteria for me to move to the next class the end of this month?
but if you did certify in those "no wetsuit warm waters off Mexico" I'd suggest logging some local dives while you adjust to those "freezing, zero-visibily waters of the quarry in a 7mm, gloves, and hood." Then consider an AOW course.
You are still in a steep part of the learning curve, and that will continue on every dive for awhile. You need not be in a class to learn new things with every dive.
I normally suggest about 25 dives after certification before taking an Advanced class. This gives you enough experience to have reference points for the lectures a good Advanced class will have.
OTOH, if you did your check out dives in warm water and you plan to dive locally in cold water, I'd recommend diving your local waters for the first time with an instructor or a very experienced and patient buddy.
It's always a good idea to do initial check out dives locally.
if you are just itching for a class that would fit in well with local cold water diving, you might want to look at a drysuit course. Many shops will provide such training free with the purchase of a drysuit.
People often argue about the pros and cons of various specialty courses, but I think that the drysuit one is worthwhile. It's a good idea to have someone take you through the proper use of a drysuit before you find yourself doing a feet-first rapid ascent to the surface.
That said, I'm still in favor of doing a few dives wet in that 7mm suit first. It will give a greater appreciation of diving dry.
Its not so much that doing your next five dives with an instructor by your side would be a bad thing, Its that you would then be certified as an Advanced diver. And worse yet, you might even believe that.
Please slow down, find a buddy with some experience, and spend some time in the water.
Then when you take that AOW class you will have lots of good questions to ask your instructor.
So you think it would be wise for somebody with no experience diving, at all, outside of the OW class to take a drysuit class?
I think, ultimately, it comes down to your comfort level. I took the AOW class the weekend after I finished up OW. It didn't seem to be too difficult, and I was plenty comfortable with it.
With that said, a little more experience than that would have been nice. I was in a terrible rush to expand my diving knowledge... not sure why exactly. I could have easily waited a month and gotten some dives in. I think at that point, I was eager to dive, and saw classes as the only way to do it. It was hard for me to find a dive buddy. I finally found a whole bunch of them through our local dive club. If you have one, I highly recommend you join up. You'll quickly build up some experience, and be exposed to a larger set of gear configurations and opinions.
HarleyDiver once bubbled... Its not so much that doing your next five dives with an instructor by your side would be a bad thing, Its that you would then be certified as an Advanced diver. And worse yet, you might even believe that.
Harley makes a great point. Although I did go directly from OW to AOW, I wasn't foolish enough to think that just because I had the word "advanced" on my card that my 11 dives were now somehow the equivalent of 50 or 100.
That said, I wouldn't discourage you from going ahead... just caution you not to over estimate your abilities/skill. There is no substitute for experience.
I DID stupidly think that my AOW rating meant that I was somehow qualified to do an 85' solo dive. What was even worse was that I was trying to hit 100'. This was my 41st dive. Of those 41 dives, probably 25 of them were in a class.
The descent was nice and gentle. It was getting really cold, and dark, but I was confident in my "abilities". It wasn't until I was right at the edge of the NDL and faced with doing a free ascent from 85' did I begin to realize how serious the situation was. I had no visual reference and my 15' "safety stop" was more like a constant bounce between 10 and 25 feet. When I finally did surface I was faced with quite a long surface swim. To top this whole adventure off, I realized later that it was an altitude dive, so I spent the rest of the day worrying that I might wind up bent. Luckily I didn't.
While I didn't get into any trouble, I realized later how stupid I had been, and how much could have gone wrong. All of this stemmed from the overconfidence I gained from the 92' deep dive I had done in the AOW class.
Just this past Februrary I took the Intro to Cave class. I have always considered myself a good diver. At the very least, better than average. That class showed me where a lot of my weaknesses are, and a lot of the reading I've done here has shown me even more. I had been neglecting a lot of safety protocols, even when I wasn't doing something completely stupid like the dive I mentioned above.
All of the experience I've gained since that dive has just underscored the danger of what I had done. I am arguably more qualified to do that dive today than I was back then, but now I know I'm smart enough not to.
Of course, you may have more common sense than I do.. er... did.
Where I stated above that I'm comfortable in the water, etc., etc. I didn't mean to say that I think I'd be qualified for the next Raise the Monitor expedition as soon as I got an AOW card... I'm just wondering how best to develop as a diver and how I can have the most fun with my head underwater. I'm one of those learning junkies who has TLC and Discovery programmed into my TV clicker and count the days before my next training sessions at work, so I figured the next class would be the ticket for me.
However, the consensus is "At this stage practice will be more effective than class"?
The shop that runs the quarry has "Fun Dives" every Sunday (I signed up for this coming Sunday last weekend)... this is where, ya'll suppose, I should be concentrating my efforts? As I said, I want to practice mask clearing and such with a hood and gloves, but how many times can I do this with my randomly assigned buddy getting bored? (I have a friend who is thinking about taking classes, but even if she does it will be a while before she gets a chance to... and she's the only person I know who’s even marginally interested. So, no long-term buddy as of yet.) Or do I have this all wrong; i.e. in the murky quarry, is mask removal about the only thing you can do to amuse eachother?
In any case, I'd like to say that I appreciate the advice.