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In the discussion "Avoidable Tragedy" the subject of "advanced" qualification has come up. Several folks have expressed a "less than impressed" feeling about the current requirements for the "Advanced" diver rating.
In my opinion SSI, at least, has taken a step in the right direction in requiring 4 "specialty" ratings and 24 open water dives before issuing an "Advanced" C-card.
I agree 100%. So many times I hear of divers that just get their open water done and the instructor says to them, 'since we're here why not do a few more dives and I'll sign off on your advanced dives'. Then they say you can hand in the paper work after the dives!
This just happened to my brother in law. I also know three other divers that are going for their 'advanced dives' with 4 dives logged.
I did my check outs in Coz. The only dive I did that was specifically for the AOW was a navigation dive. Ever try to nav a square pattern in the currents in Coz? Besides, you can see from point to point! Anyway, when we got home, he went through my logbook, signed off on the dives that applied to AOW...drift, boat, night, etc...and I did the knowledge reviews and paperwork after we got home. I came home from that trip with 15 dives and a AOW cert! Thankfully my next 50 dives were in local low vis quarries and lakes so I did learn to navigate...very well!
I commend SSI for the higher standards, but more needs to be done. I relize that the scuba organizations are in it for the money, and if they make the certifications to hard to obtain then not many would pursue it. The truth of it is that simply raising the standards would do little. Ever diver should know there limit and not dive beyond it, regardless of their cert level. But I feel that dive operations that just simply require a certain level of certification before allowing a diver to dive a given location, are going about it all wrong. I know even looking at someone's log book is not definate proof that they made the dives, but it's better than just blindly accepting a cert card. The problem I see with just requiring a paticular card is that it can be misleading to the diver and the op. For instance, a newly certified diver might think that since he has that card and that's all the op requires, then he must be qualified to do the dive. That may not be the case at all. In a perfect world, the diver and the operation would sit down and evaluate the diver's experience to decide wether or not he should do the dive.
The question of labels thrust upon divers from the recreational diving agencies is a complicated one. I don't agree with the amount of B.S. that comes with the cert card, in saying that I mean that the student is given a false sence of reality when they are patted on the back and told they are now advanced. Would a airplane pilot be called advanced after 9 or 10 flights? Would a person just starting Karate be advanced after 9 or 10 classes? Would a boat captain be advanced after 9 or 10 short trips? Would a driver be considered advanced after 9 or 10 trips to the grocery store? The answers to these questions is of course... NO! So why is a diver considered advanced after 9 or 10 dives then? Isn't diving just as if not more hazardous? Doesn't the diver have enough rope to hang themselves with?
The agencies are around to make a buck, that we cannot deny. The fact of the matter is that the motivation of labels also encourages a diver to continue their education. That of course benefits us all. I personally strive to certify everyone around me to at least the Rescue diver level. Only then does the NEW diver begin to leave the (selfish) mentality of me-me-me and begin to look around them, and begin to see what they didn't see. Still then the NEW diver doesn't know what they don't know.
This will most likely be a long ongoing discussion, so I'll stop here and let someone else add their thoughts.
This subject always gets lots of posts, on the AOL boards too.
What warhammer said is also my thoughts. Each diver should know their limits and not exceed them. Yet so many do.
When I take a group diving I always tell them this is not about 'showing off'. I never want anyone to do anything they really can't do.
I am probably the most conservative diver out there. I had a great instructor that taught me the right way.
I can't tell you how many times I have been on a dive boat and the divemaster that was going down with the group, did not ask what each diver their level was and how long ago since they dove. This always burns me up! When I dove last month in St. Thomas, the operators never looked at my C card and never had me sign a form. I quietly waited the whole trip, 2 tanks, and no one asked me a thing. I was going to write them up on the boards when I returned I was so mad. But I didn't. So they will get away with it again and again.
Divers need to not be shy and embarrassed at their levels and speak up before they jump into the wrong dive.
No one starts out as an instructor. It takes lots of time and dives and knowledge, so lets be proud of where we are in 'dive life', and go at our own paces.
The card you carry have has no real meaning as to your experince has a diver. When I dive with someone new I ask how long have you been diving, how many dives do you have, and where have the dives been done.
I was just certified OW 2 months ago, and yes, my instructor concluded the last of the classroom work by mentioning the next weekend AOW class that was getting started and if there was anybody interested....They stressed that most accidents occur in the first 8 dives, so it was in my interest to jump right into the next level class.
Its unfortunate that the "fear factor" is played on still inexperienced divers, especially by someone who is/can be so influential in a diver's progression. Also, the notion of "diving past the first 8 dives" probably fuels a little bit of the "invincibile" attitude that can be so dangerous once a diver gets an advanced rating.
I would like to think that most of the instructors who post/visit here are frank enough with their students to tell them that, yes, the advanced training is great experience, but the greater experience is the lessons on diving within your capability levels, regardless of your cert. level.
I will eventually move to the advanced level, but not after I feel I've gained enough experience and practice with many of the skills taught in the OW class. Hopefully, the majority of new divers share this opinion.
C-Card are just that... CARDS. If you want to know the TRUE gauge of a diver's experience, take a look at their logbook. What different kinds of diving have they done? In what conditions? How many dives? Doing 100 dives in Cayman is nothing like doing 100 dives in The Great Lakes or the UK.
That being said, I'd like to point out that the PADI course is an EXPERIENCE course; it is NOT an "ADVANCED" certification, despite the common mis-labelling of "AOW" or "Advanced Open Water". The proper name for the course has always been "Adventures in Diving".
I agree with you, SubMariner, but the card says "Advanced Open Water Diver" nonetheless. Maybe "Adventure Diver" would be a better name for it. Heven forbid what I'm about to say, but maybe PADI as well as others should add another cert. Make the current requirements for the Advanced cert the "Adventure Diver", then after a diver has completed the 5 full speaciality courses that he got a taste of in the Adventure course, award him the Advanced cert. But I guess that would be basically the "Master Diver" level, less the Rescue course.