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Thread: Not Ready to Dive Without a "Dive Guide"?

 


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    krukster86's Avatar
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    Not Ready to Dive Without a "Dive Guide"?

    I am a recently certified open water diver and I am now always looking to do more trips here and there with my girlfriend as my diving buddy (same experience level). When we dove on an excursion right after certification (Dominican Republic), it was led by one of the dive shop instructors. No navigation skills required, no dive computer needed, the instructor took care of all that.

    Now that I am looking at new adventures around the US (specifically Florida in May), it seems like all of that will be my responsibility, unless I dish out an extra fee for a guide to escort us.

    Am I freaking out too much about this? I just feel like if the boat dumps us at a location, I am bound to be distracted by reefs/wildlife and not pay attention to direction/fin strokes/current and end up far from the boat. I just think that right now, I should be working on breathing control and bouyancy control. Adding navigation into the mix seems like too much for a beginner. Am I right?

    That said, at what point do you feel confident enough to dive without a guide?

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    Why not do some local diving? Is there anywhere near you where you can do some simple shore diving (quarries?) and work on your buoyancy where navigation isn't a big issue?

    In most places where I have dived off a boat, navigation is not that difficult. You usually dive on some kind of structure that helps you get oriented. The dives I've done that were difficult from a navigation standpoint were 1) wreck dives where the shot line didn't hit the wreck, and you had to find it in low viz and in the dark; 2) dives where the structure is just scattered junk, and the bottom has no significant depth contour, and 3) dives where conditions (eg. current) prevented us from getting back to our upline. Other than that, the vast majority of the dives I've done off boats have been in water with reasonable viz, and where there was a well-defined area of structure to follow. (As our briefer in the Red Sea would say, "Reef on the left shoulder going out, coming back, reef on the RIGHT shoulder.")
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    I use a DM at least for the first couple of dives when diving in an area that I am not familiar with so that I can get a better knowledge base of the local diving environment. A guided dive or two should give you some good tips as to where to dive, and more important, where not to dive. Remember, you are recently certified OW diver, and while some on this board think you should be fully self sufficient at that point, you are still just a beginner, and have a lifetime of learning ahead of you. I compare a new OW certified diver to newly licensed private pilots that should be able to do OK as long as they don't put themselves in a position that is beyond their skill or knowledge level. There is no magic number of dives before you feel confident enough to dive without a guide. I have friends that have dived for more than 5 years and still use a DM on every dive. You will know when you are confident enough to dive without a guide.
    farsidefan1 likes this.

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    Thanks all for the reassurance. I have a 2 day dive trip planned in May. I will use a DM guide for the first day for sure and see how I feel the second day.

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    TSandM:
    Actually I was thinking about trying out local diving myself sometime in the near future just to practice essential skills. My roommate has a bit more experience than me and I think he would be up for something like that. My gf likes to dive only in the tropics :P

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    In addition to the above, the next time you're on a DM-led dive, TELL THE DM THAT YOU WANT TO BRUSH UP ON YOUR NAVIGATION.

    He or she will surely assist.
    -- Fisheater

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    You'll know when you are confident. It will likely be a return trip to the same dive spot that you know. Start slow, keep the dives simple. By the way, you commented that "all of it will be your responsibility". Both dive buddies should be monitoring and be self aware what's going on, even if there is a DM. I would encourage you and your girlfriend to approach diving as equals. Each are equally responsible for monitoring depth, time, position etc. If she becomes dependent on you, she doesn't learn. If she somehow gets separated from you on a dive, it could lead to further problems....
    Each of you can take turns leading the dive, with the other monitoring the dive profile.

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    Yes to all of the above. You always want to be responsible for yourself, period. However, I did follow a dive guide (DM) for a week once (just me & him most days) and that added a lot to the dives, as he obviously knew the sites and I didn't. It was interesting when HE strapped on a near empty tank and we found out at depth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vancouverdiver View Post
    By the way, you commented that "all of it will be your responsibility". Both dive buddies should be monitoring and be self aware what's going on, even if there is a DM. I would encourage you and your girlfriend to approach diving as equals. Each are equally responsible for monitoring depth, time, position etc. If she becomes dependent on you, she doesn't learn. If she somehow gets separated from you on a dive, it could lead to further problems....
    Each of you can take turns leading the dive, with the other monitoring the dive profile.
    Very true. I will keep this in mind when planning this trip.

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    Krukster86, welcome to diving, I'm sure you have already started to feel the addiction that comes along with it. Curious where you thinking of going to in Florida? If you go to Key Largo there is a Dive Shop there called Scuba-do and they always provide a guide with their dives. They cater a lot to newer divers and might be a good start to diving around that area. If you start to get more comfortable and decide to venture out on your own then I would just keep in mind to keep it simple. Start out with some pretty basically natural navigation just swimming with one shoulder along the reef, then turn and follow same line back with other shoulder. You'll find that especially around Key Largo a lot of the diving is pretty shallow and you don't have to go far off the anchor line, or venture far from the boat to start finding some cool things.

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