Newly Certified? - Keep diving with a Private Scuba Guide/Instructor
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Newly Certified? - Keep diving with a Private Scuba Guide/Instructor
I was open water certified over a year ago and have managed to log in 16 dives in my first year. I have the advantage of living in Vancouver, BC and managed to get out in the water every few months as well as a few trips to San Diego - La Jolla.
I speak to many of my certified buddies who have been diving for years and ironically in the past year alone I have equal or more dives than many of them, some of them advanced divers. I asked them why it is that they havent got into the water lately and I get a bunch of different answers.
For me, I tried the scuba safari's put on by my LDS's and I tried reaching out to certified friends but couldn't get our schedules to work.
I had a good three or four months where I wasnt in the water and then I realized I had to get serious if I wanted to continue this sport.
As a new diver, I breath through a AL80 in 25 mins, I don't know the local sites and I havent invested in my own equipment. It takes a lot of time, energy and money to get in the water for a day and enjoy a couple dives....and who wants to go with a new diver?
Luckily when I was in San Diego for vacation with the family, I met up with a great instructor - Al's Diving San Diego Scuba Diving. Al took me to La Jolla Cove and Shores as a private guide where I felt comfortable being in a one-on-one setting and trusting in the fact that I had a true pro guiding me through the dives. Simply put the private dive was a real treat and renewed my passion to keep diving.
I came back to Vancouver and set out to find a private instructor/buddy who would take me to the local spots and help me gain experience and confidence in diving. If I didn't enjoy the safari's and couldn;t work with my buddies schedules what other option was there? I was lucky to come across a private instructor - Mark Leichnitz - Vancouver Scuba Diving School Profile who I have gone out with on a number of occasions. Mark is a true pro and has allowed me to work on my skills, enjoy my dives and grow my passion for diving.
Sometimes new divers do not have the resources available to get out into the water - for me it was the fact I didn't feel comfortable in large group settings and didnt have any buddies who were readily available to go diving with me.
Working with a private instructor who assists me with my skills, acts as a guide and brings an additional level of comfort has been the difference maker with respect to being able to continue my interest in diving and not allowing a significant amount of time to go by without diving.
If you are a new diver who finds yourself in the same boat, look around for local guides who are willing to go out in private or small group settings with the understanding that you are a new diver and need that extra attention.
All of my LDS's have club dives pretty much every weekend. They send 1 DM per 8 divers, and you all go and do a dive together.. Great way for newer divers to get some dives in the book in a semi guided fashion. It generally costs aroun $80 to join, but they then give 10% discounts on gear. It's a win-win, the store gets lock-in, and you get a whole pool of new people to meet and go diving with.
You're experience is typical for new divers who feel a void once they finish their initial course and many even go on to take additional courses simply to keep diving. While I think it's great that you are diving I think needing to hire an instructor to do so may eventually cause some other social skills to go undeveloped. Yes, it is awkward to approach other divers, yes, it is uncomfortable to be the new person - but that's something we all experience.
Paying someone to dive with you never really allows for an equal relationship because you ultimately control everything with your pocket book.
There are new people who post and are accepted as dive buddies all the time on the board here and there are clubs where new divers are also made to feel welcome. It does require putting oneself out there though.
Good luck either way. Say hello if you see me in the parking lot somewhere.
Paying an instructor to buddy with you as a new diver is an excellent idea--IF you have access to one and money. It is also good IMO, to buddy with someone who just has a fair bit more experience than yourself, especially one with rescue skills. I've often posted that, again IMO, two new divers together can have it's risks. I did that for quite a while and was lucky it was smooth sailing. Of course, in that case you should stick to very benign dive sites, etc. This also touches on the debate about how soon one should take the Rescue course.
I'm really glad you figured out a way to go diving . . . because the only way to become a solid diver is to keep at it!
It's an expensive proposition to hire professional company for any activity, and hopefully you'll eventually find some fellow amateur divers you can connect with. This would be good, because the biggest downside of diving with a pro all the time is becoming a dependent diver -- unless the pro is mindful of that problem, and pushes you to take over responsibility for things like navigation, you may never learn to do them. It's still better than not diving, but it's not the ideal outcome.
At any rate, kudos to you for being willing to invest the time and money in getting in the water, one way or another.
I've been following the class schedules at the LDS where I got certified. I go to the pool and carry gear, answer basic noob questions, jump in the pool and generally help out to the best of my level of knowledge and ability. Then I get to go out on the certification dives, and do the same "helper" chores, such as towing the flag. While it's not advanced diving (I am doing my AOW next weekend) it gets me in the water, I get more familiar with my gear, and I continue to learn from watching and listening to both the students and instructors.
Seems to me that, being in Vancouver, there'd be less expensive resources available. Dive clubs, for example ... down here in the greater Seattle area we have several large ones, most of which have some sort of "Big Buddy" program designed to hook up new divers with experienced divers for the exact purpose you describe ... to gain experience and bottom time. As far as I know, all of those clubs cost less than $50 a year in membership dues. I'd be surprised if Vancouver didn't have similar resources, considering the popularity of diving up there.
But your point is very well taken ... a lot of people coming out of OW do feel more comfortable in a more structured setting, and are cognizant of their need to work on solidifying the basic skills they learned in OW. I've been mentoring such divers for the better part of a decade now ... and have recently been offering a skills workshop that quite a few new divers have found really valuable. The goal, of course, is to get them to the point where they have the competence and confidence to get out on their own with similarly competent dive buddies and take advantage of the easy access to diving that we have around here ... just as you have Whytecliff, Porteau Cove, and other such places that are suitable for the newer diver to go exploring and gaining experience.
I'm glad you found someone who works for you, but be careful not to start relying on the instructor's expertise too much ... it's very easy for a new diver taking that approach to fall into a habit of dependency on a dive professional, and that inhibits your development, ultimately. I'd recommend looking into joining a club, like Pescaderos or UBC in your area, and expanding your pool of potential dive buddies ...
It was just below freezing and snow was falling steadily. As we stepped toward that portal separating a cold and dreary world from the tranquility and wonder of another dimension teeming with life and color a passer-by shook his head and muttered "crazy". Poor fool. If he only knew. (Airsix)
As you live in Vancouver, I would highly recommend "151 Dives" by Betty Pratt-Johnson, which you could find at your LDS. That gives you the outline of all the major sites in your area. That's the book I used when I visited Vancouver. Most of the dives along the Sea to Sky Highway are wall dives, so navigation isn't too difficult.
It's a good idea to have an experienced dive buddy (or even a private divemaster - though a buddy saves you a ton of money). Maybe check local sites and ScubaBoard for buddies. Or check your LDS for info.
Keep diving and getting experience. You should take advantage of your proximity to some great dives (e.g., Kelvin Grove, Whytecliff, etc.) and dive even more.
Something to keep in mind as well about diving with an instructor/DM/etc: Even though you are technically responsible for yourself, it will more than likely be impossible to truly manage yourself, and your dive. There will be a tendency to defer to the paid instructor, and they will tend to take charge - as that is generally the relationship.
This can be detrimental to your development as a diver.
Of course take this with a grain of salt, as I speak from my own experience. Me and the wife really had to get out on our own to develop our skills.