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Avoiding "new diver" mistakes: from training, to gear, to edict, to... everything

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by filmguy123, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. filmguy123

    filmguy123 Professional Photographer

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    Ok, so a common thing I hear around here is "one of the most common mistakes new divers make..." and there seems to be a bunch of those.

    As a new diver, yet to purchase any gear, yet to purchase any additional training beyond Basic Open Water, and completely new to the scene...

    Help me navigate these waters. What are the most common new diver mistakes (anything), and what can I do to avoid them?

    (Request: try to keep it on topic by discussing where needed, but hoping to avoid long tangential arguments over topics such as BP/W. etc. Hoping to see this more as a resource thread that could be a great guide to not only myself, but any new divers. 2016 edition).
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  2. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    Based on your threads already, you need to pump the brakes and slooooooow dooooooown. Nothing in scuba should be quick.

    I understand that you've done a ton of reading and are blasting through your course work and as such don't have such a great opinion of your open water training, but remember, you actually have very little experience in any of this. So slow down, take each situation as it comes, and don't try to get so far ahead of the curve that you never bother to embrace the basics of what you're doing. (Your mask situation is a prime example of this)

    At this point you don't know what you don't know. There's a great article on that exact topic somewhere around here actually. Take it easy, don't try and become an expert before you've even gotten in open water. You've had one pool session, don't try and condense the sum total of scuba knowledge into a pill you can swallow right now, you don't have the experience to take it all in yet, let alone separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a very frequent issue where new divers do a little reading, do a couple dives, don't have any issues, and all of a sudden they think they are experts. Don't turn in to that guy. Get rid of your preconceived notions of how it should be and go through the process.

    You wanna be the guy that just "gets it." I can tell you right now that you're not gonna be that guy by trying to figure it all out beforehand. The guy that just "gets it" really does just "get it," they're not reading forums and posting threads trying to force it. And there's nothing wrong with not being that guy.

    Even if your OW class sucks, you're not doing yourself any favors by trying to be the expert right now. You'll shut down and won't glean any information. Trust me, I see it all the time. Even if you ace your final exam and don't have any problems with the skill circuit, you're still not an expert, you know the minimum amount of information to keep you alive underwater. You'll have plenty of opportunity to gather knowledge, form your own opinion, work on skills with excellent divers, but slow down and let that come.

    This is not necessarily specific to you in all regards, but it's a trend I've noticed among new divers, especially those who are right around the 50-100 dive threshold that tend to jump into courses as soon as they hit the minimum requirement and think they're some sort of expert worthy of dispensing advice. SLOW DOWN. It's just like progressive penetration while diving in a cave or a wreck, it's way too easy to get yourself in over your head because of overconfidence.

    That's my advice to new divers. No gear advice, no training advice, just slow down and do the process, don't get so excited to move on to the next thing, don't go chasing c-cards. You'll learn what you like through experience and exposure, you can't get that from a forum or a PADI book.
    Silty Sam, NYCNaiad, Wingy and 10 others like this.
  3. Tippytoes12

    Tippytoes12 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: UK
    Just try and chill out and enjoy it !
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
    Lorenzoid and chillyinCanada like this.
  4. KevinNM

    KevinNM DIR Practitioner

    I'll give you one. Don't go buying expensive gear for a while. I have a lot of scuba gear I shouldn't have bought. eBay is full of people selling very nice very lightly used gear at a tremendous loss when they decided maybe they really weren't in love with diving after all. Don't be them.

    Go out and dive. Try different gear, different places, different conditions, and with different people. But listen if something tells you today is not the day to dive or that you don't want to follow the DM into that wreck, it's a lot better to be on the boat wishing you were diving then diving and wishing you had stayed on the boat.
  5. KWS

    KWS ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SE TEXAS
    When it comes to gear I would say get your own mask and fins. I like quatros because they are somewhat neutral and work well. that may not apply to you. you have to try things and decide where to go from there rent some fins and decide are they heavy or are they making your feet light. Just because a group praises jet fins, they may be doing so with dry suits or heavy wet suits in mind. If you are doing a shorty jets will probably not be optimal. what works for a 5'5 person may not for a 6'2. The leverages are not the same. It is trial and error to varying degrees. get a mentor to dive with so you can get some experience at your side. There are things that are safe to get like a computer. Don't just try one. you have to be able to use it with nitrox in mind and that calls for navigating the menu's with out a book. My self a 3-4 button puter is too difficult and the buttons are too small with gloves on I use a petrel for that reason. It is intuitive. Again my intuition may not be yours. Do the same for wet suits. rent a few or try them at a shop with a pool. You will know when it fits right for you. This process may take 6 months or a year to get your self rigged correctly. Seriously look at and try both jacket bcd's and bp/w's. I think the choice you make after you aquire experience will be predictable.

    Johnny C's comments are spot on.
    chillyinCanada and filmguy123 like this.
  6. RainPilot

    RainPilot OC/CCR Instructor Trainer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: UAE
    Agree with everything so far. Speaking from my own experience, Kevin's post rings very true. Its easy when you start to get severe GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and convince yourself that every gadget and shiny toy is essential life-support equipment when you start and most of it ends up gathering dust or sold at a loss later.


    Unless you get very lucky with choices and the advice of total internet strangers doesn't derail you.

    From a training front, its worth repeating: You don't know what you don't know. SB and the other forums are awesome resources but it is REALLY hard to figure out the weight of experience behind an opinion on here, especially for new guys like us. Take time to learn, have an open mind and remember even a broken watch is right twice a day. NEVER discount information solely because of who gives it. You may hear something life-changing from the 5-dive chump next to you on the boat and hear total BS from the Dive God instructor on the same trip.

    Be a thinking diver. Dont EVER take things at face value. Question, understand, integrate. Its your life and lines like "I thought it was wrong but my instructor told me to....." are heard way too often.
  7. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    By the same token, don't keep second guessing your instructor. The instructor is trying to impart the necessary information at a basics level for all the students in the class. Most of those probably aren't trying to self-educate at the same time.

    Listen to what the instructor is telling you, concentrate, absorb that. You can develop and add on in an organic way as your diving progresses.
    RainPilot and filmguy123 like this.
  8. PatW

    PatW Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Central Florida
    For gear, I would say get a mask, fins, and wet suit appropriate to the diving you do most.

    For the rest of the gear, it depends. What suits one person's purpose, does not suit another's. My wife loves her super expensive titanium regulator. She gets jaw and neck pains in other rigs. I just use my trusty, old, clunky regulator. But then again, I am old and clunky too and maybe trusty.

    Many people love air integrated computers. I have one but it is a bit of a nuisance compared to a wrist mount. I know my gas usage pretty well so I dumb gauge is fine.

    I had a jacket BC which I never liked. It was what was strongly suggested. I have a back inflated BC and really like it. It allows more freedom of movement.

    In my case, it took a number of dives before I knew what I preferred and what suited my needs.
  9. KDAD

    KDAD Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Northern New Jersey
    Slow down. Dive, dive dive. Don't become addicted to buying gear (too late, for both of us). Don't become addicted to Scubaboard (again, too late, for both of us). You don't know what you don't know if.

    All of these have already been said more than once. Cause they ring true. That's why my status is listed as I don't know what I don't know. Well, that was last year's status. This year's is I STILL don't know what I don't know. Next year's may be different but too soon to tell.

    I'm just a humble diver who like you came to Scubaboard before getting certified and am happy for it and a better diver for it. My commitment to bouyancy and trim came from here. My knowledge of a bp/w and buying my last gear first came from here. All of the safety and gas management things that i picked up. Many, many tips and advice from true experts were gleaned on these pages. SB is a great resource but you still need time in the water.
  10. CuzzA

    CuzzA Solo Diver

    Buying certifications:
    Starting out many new divers who really want to be involved in this sport get sold a line of BS that you need to buy this course and that course. It's the best opportunity for a salesman to separate you from your money. Get your OW cert. and just dive. Dive a lot. Do a lot of easy dives and master the skills you were taught. Once you've mastered these skills then move on to more courses and training.

    Sloppy Ascents and buoyancy:
    Mastering buoyancy is obviously very important and you'll work on this in class. Ascents are usually the hardest thing for a new diver to master but it's one of the most important. If conditions allow (I.e. No strong current with an anchored boat) Try to do all of your ascents without the aid of a mooring or anchor line. I have friends that have been diving a lot longer than me and they still insist on anchoring their boat when diving and it quickly became apparent to me why. They have to hold on to something to hold their stops. I've never once used an anchor or mooring line and I feel like it has helped me polish my ascents right from the beginning and really have control over my buoyancy.

    Buying the wrong gear:
    Have a look on eBay and Craigslist. Scuba isn't the most popular sport, yet there is a ton of gear being sold on the used market. That tells me there's a lot of people who changed something or got out of the sport altogether. A lot of that gear is hardly used. So aside from people getting out of the sport I believe one of the biggest mistakes is a new diver may not know what direction they want to go with diving. Some activities call for different gear. A perfect example would be a new diver buying a pair of traditional fins only to discover he loves spearfishing and should have bought a pair of long freediving fins. Now he/she is selling those other fins on Craigslist for a loss.

    The key here is to try and decide what you want to do while diving. I believe you're into professional photography. I'd start researching what guys who do this are using. For example, many photographers want to be able to clip their big camera tray to both shoulder d rings so they can be hands free if necessary. Well, if you bought a BC that doesn't have shoulder d rings or the ability to add them you might find you've made a mistake and you'll be selling that rig and replacing it with one that does.

    Research is important. There's a wealth of archived information on this site. Start utilizing the search function and you'll likely find answers to all of your questions.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016

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