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Here's my story.. took a resort dive after being yelled at too many times from my wife for skin diving while she's busy snorkeling... I've always wanted to " swim with the fishes" in a non godfather kind of way, so Now, here I am, on the edge ready to get my open water dives out of the way and trying to coax my wife in... I keep telling her the water's fine, but she's not so sure...
Anyway, I'm getting my open water dives done in April, and am off to a vacation for golf and Diving, while down there, I'll be getting my advanced open water dives done.. yes, i'm probably jumping the gun more than a bit, but I'm an Ex Marine and dont take anything slow...
so, question number 1. any suggestions on different types of Regulators and BCD's? I've already picked the mask, fins, and snorkel...
welcome to the board! It's highly recommended by everyone (other than your local dive shop) that you stick with mask, snorkel, fins until after you are certified. Rent for a while so you can test out different brands, styles (BCD vs BP/W), etc. It also depends if you need a cold water reg vs a reg for just Tropical locations. Everyone has a different opinion on brands and styles so test out ones for yourself and spend lots of time reading people's reviews here on SB.
DivingPrincessE has good advice - don't rush to buy your equipment. I bought my computer right away after being certified (believing I couldn't rent one since our dive shop didn't rent them - wrong!) and I don't like it. I would have made a different decision even after only a few dives but since it wasn't cheap I'm stuck with it for a while.
Welcome to the site. Lots of great info on here. Look around in the various threads and use the search button and you should find any info you are looking for.
Don't worry about going from your Open Water right into your Advanced Open Water. I am sure that some might not approve of it but there should be no harm and it seems I have seen lots of dive shops/instructors that have packages for both together. If you have a good instructor they will not let you go beyond your limits and will tell you that you are not ready. Tell the wife how much better diving is over snorkeling... Enjoy!