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I'm somewhat curious as to why PADI has never offered a certified Solo diving course. I understand PADI is a strong supporter and believer in the Buddy system, but wouldn't a Solo diver course teach and encourage better diving skills in the way of self sufficiency, self mastery, and self evaluation. These attributes would not only make for a better diver, but also a better dive buddy.
Done - there is PADI Distinctive Specialty available - Self-Reliant Diver. It was put together by Scubaboard member AndyNZ from New Zealand.
Quote from the Guide:
There are two reasons for an experienced diver to take the Self-Reliant diver course:
• To develop the skills of planning and carrying out dives without a partner when preferred or necessary.
• To sharpen skills of diving self-reliance, making the diver a stronger partner in a dive pair or team.
An indivdual instructor could create a destinctive specialty that could allow them to teach such a course. In fact one member here on SB did just that. Long story short, PADI now has a 'solo' diver course available. While not titled PADI Solo Diver it is designed for divers to be self reliant. Hense the course name, PADI Self Reliant Diver.
Considering padi is only interested in market dominance it seems
counter productive that it is the most vocal, against adopting any
complete education, certainly regarding changes, in diver trends
or adopted science, vigorously embraced for a substantial period
by others, leading the belief that their dragged screaming ideals
and lack of training innovation will continue to be always lacking.
Or perhaps to their credit they know that it is impossible to teach
the Psychology of Solo, is only to be self experienced, and learnt
In starting the self reliant course, PADI has "conceded" that many divers (including probably a huge % of PADI pros) do in fact dive solo (not just talking about instructors being solo because their students aren't certified, or DMs soloing down ahead of time to check the anchor and the site). What doesn't make sense is the lack of it being mentioned in the OW, or any other manual. They put forth the idea that in general buddy diving is safer ("Insta-buddy" or not), NOT less safe than solo, as many will claim. Still, they say there is no real data proving this one way or the other. But the fact that many divers dive solo should at least be mentioned. I know some instructors do mention it, but that's not coming directly from PADI.
A quick google search ("padi solo diving") will reveal:
Solo Diving: PADI Worldwide's Position
Written by Drew Richardson
Why PADI advocates the use of the buddy system:
The buddy system in use today for scuba diving came from a decades old water safety concept found in swimming and lifeguard training. It was adopted because it applied to diving and because it made good safety sense. Early support of buddy diving safety procedures was referenced by Jacques Cousteau and the crew of the Calypso in the book "The Silent World". The goals of training divers include developing the skills to take responsibility for themselves and to be self-reliant. The buddy system provides divers in training with a safety redundancy to this skill base that diving alone simply cannot provide. PADI has, and will continue to, train divers using the buddy system based on its proven benefit to diving, divers and diving safety.
Practicality & Convenience:
The buddy system has provided tangible contributions to millions of dives. Buddies provide an extra set of eyes and hands for each other. Providing assistance in putting on equipment, adjusting straps, assisting with weights and tanks, entering the water, helping to load and unload gear are but a few practical arguments that support the buddy system.
The roots of the buddy system arise from diving and water safety. Early days of diver training heralded the buddy system as an important safety procedure because only through the buddy system could a diver reasonably expect to escape from entanglement, entrapment, out of air situations, disorientation, a head injury, chest pains, cramping and dozens more. Diver training and diving equipment have improved, yet these same values apply today. Like all safety-based systems, the buddy system is not perfect. However, the simple fact is that without a buddy in the water, the distressed diver has little or no chance of assistance.
The buddy system is the most basic form of scuba diving fail-safe. Buddies have helped each other in subtle and profound ways for decades. Often the smallest buddy intervention averts a string of error chains occurred and negative outcomes or tragedy. The safety record of scuba diving has improved dramatically over the past few decades, while the number of certified divers has increased. During this time, buddy system training techniques have been an integral component of this training. While there is no way to quantify the accidents that were prevented or did not happen because of one buddy looking after another, empirical outcomes support the relevancy and integrity of this training.
Diving is a social activity, so the buddy system is more than a safety rule. Diving with someone you know and are comfortable with adds to the fun. Most divers actually enjoy companionship in and out of the water. It is fun to share exciting adventures and experiences with others. Fundamentally, the buddy system is about dive companionship, something that won't appeal to misanthropic personality types.
Can Solo Diving be done responsibly?
Yes, but let's be clear about what responsible solo diving is and what it is not. It requires experienced scuba divers willing to make the necessary commitment to train and equip themselves to accept the added risks involved. That is to say, a person with the required attitude and aptitude to pursue responsible solo diving. This is true in other adventure sport activities such as solo rock climbing.
It is important to clarify what responsible solo scuba diving is. PADI views it as a form of technical diving and not for everybody. To responsibly engage in solo scuba diving, a diver must first be highly experienced, have a hundred or so buddy accompanied scuba dives, be absolutely self-reliant and apply the specialized procedures and equipment needed to engage in the activity. This includes, but is not limited to redundant air sources, specialized equipment configurations, specific dive planning, and management of solo diving problems and emergencies. When solo diving is performed within this description, we see a place for it. Responsible solo diving is not diving alone without the mental discipline, attitude or equipment. That said, no amount of redundant equipment can effectively back up a diver's brain better than another individual.
What concerns does PADI have with regard to solo diving:
When a problem occurs on a solo dive, or when the diver is alone in the water, there is little or no chance of assistance for the distressed diver. This decreases the chances of a diver surviving the problem or having a favorable outcome. Diving alone reduces the chance of survival regardless of the problem. Since 1989, there were at least 538 fatalities where it was clear divers were either intentionally diving solo, or became separated from a buddy and were de facto alone.
PADI is concerned by certain proponents of solo diving within the dive industry, including a major diving publication, who attempt to promote solo diving by bashing both PADI and the buddy system with headlines touting " Why the Buddy System is dangerous". This is both irresponsible and reckless. To suggest that the buddy system fosters a false sense of security and increases the likelihood of panic is outrageous and contrary to the empirical evidence. To claim that divers shouldn't use the buddy system for fear of being sued by a diving companion is ridiculous. The unfortunate reality in the litigious U.S. is that folks have sued one another for nearly anything. It is no surprise that there have been a handful of cases where one buddy has brought suit against another. Outside of the U.S., this argument doesn't hold up and smacks of the fear mongering to sell magazines. Besides, how long will it be before a solo death results in a suit against a magazine or other forum endorsing solo diving, a practice that is contrary to community practice. There is nothing to prevent such lawsuits from arising.
PADI's position is clear; solo diving proponents should advocate responsible solo diving on its own unique merits, requisite training, and equipment needs and not through sensationalized attempts to disparage a proven safety system, that has served the majority of recreational scuba divers well.