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Building on OW cert

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by Esprise Me, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    This may be an absurdly overbroad question, but what's a good next step for someone who just got their open water certification?

    Of course my instructor tried to sell us on the advanced open water course immediately. I've heard some say it makes sense to do that, since it includes a review of fundamentals and fixes any bad habits before they get too ingrained. But it seems a little reckless to me to go right from basic certification to something that will allow me to dive much deeper and take on all sorts of other challenges before I've even practiced the basics. I know if I did the night diver course, I'd want to start doing night dives right away. But, um, I only did a mask removal in the ocean once, while kneeling on the bottom, only one CESA, only planned one dive myself, etc. I didn't feel like I really got a handle on buoyancy control until the very last dive. I kind of wish I could just do the ocean dive portion of the course over again several times until it was all second nature, before I futz around with depths that might make me stupid.

    What's a smart path from here? Do a bunch of dives and focus on practicing those skills on my own? Sign up for something like Peak Performance Bouyancy without it being part of an AOW certification? Hire an instructor for private lessons? Other ideas?

    FWIW, I live in Southern California and probably won't be diving much around here over the next couple months because I'm a wuss, though I have a trip to Playa del Carmen coming up next month. I do have vague ambitions to go deeper and maybe try wreck diving and other fun crazy kinda dangerous stuff someday. But I work a demanding job and don't see myself devoting every weekend and vacation day to the sport, so that's going to be a long way in the future, if I get there at all.
    naui_bigfoot likes this.
  2. Zef

    Zef Divemaster

    Peak performance buoyancy would be a great workshop for a new diver to attend. I would recommend getting the AOW cert sooner than later. It should introduce you to navigation and night/low vis which are good to be familiar with...taking AOW does not make you an "Advanced" diver...only experience through time underwater will do that...it is just a progression on a training continuum to help you further develop and become a better diver.

    I would also recommend that you look into taking classes with different instructors/dive centers. It is easy to think your first instructor is grea, and they just might be, but you have nothing to compare them to. Getting your info/training from multiple sources can help avoid knowledge gaps, may reveal biases, and will help you expand your network within the diving world local to you.

    Best of luck with whatever you choose.

  3. jonhall

    jonhall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Indianapolis
    I'm not smart, so the best answers will come from the experts. The types of dives one might do depends a lot on where and who you wind up diving with. The best answer from me is simply to dive as much as possible and ask questions if you have them. Talk to other divers when you go diving. Between my OW checkout dives and getting AOW certification, which was about 11 years, just over 40% of my dives were deep (60 - 110 ft.), 10 dives were wreck with penetration and 10 without, 3 were night dives, and 25 were drift dives (7 of those with no DM or anyone from the op leading the dive at the end - just us divers.)

    So no smart path from me other than to choose a good dive op wherever you go and dive as much as you can.
  4. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    I won't get into whether you should take AOW right away (or after only a few dives) or wait to be more experienced....too many threads on that already. I will list what I would do if I started from scratch. Assume we're talking PADI.
    After OW:
    Do a few dives to get comfortable with the whole process and pretty comfortable with my (bought used) equipment.
    I always advise trying to buddy with an experienced diver when you are new, preferably one with rescue cert., though I
    know this is not possible all the time.
    Do AOW--or at least "Adventure Diver" so I could now ……….
    Do Rescue Diver. (EFR/CPR is a requirement to take Rescue Diver but I believe it can be done before, during or after Rescue Course).
    I always advise to take Rescue as soon as practical as far as your comfort with diving. Even if more experience would possibly make the course go a bit easier, you now have the knowledge at the earliest possible time.

    Now figure out what you want to DO when you dive. It is said that finding other "side" interests is often what keeps newer divers interested, rather than just "swimming around in the same old shore sites", etc. For me it's shell collecting (well, that's the big reason I took OW), poke spearing flounders, maybe finding some tasty scallops. Then I got interested in being a divemaster and did that a few years.

    Along the way you may figure this or that specialty may assist you in your diving. If you take more courses, obviously make them relevant to your diving.
    MStrickland and Esprise Me like this.
  5. Barnaby'sDad

    Barnaby'sDad ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Virginia
    If I had it to do over again (I was in your shoes two months ago)...I would have taken the AOW course right after OW. I had plenty of people telling me exactly that too (don’t wait to take AOW).

    I’ve gotten some good experience since then over the course of five additional dives. ex. First boat dive, dive in moderate current, poor visibility, cold water, etc.

    It took me literally two months to bang out those five dives though, as it took time to line up dive buddies (something you won’t have to worry about with an AOW course) and I had a couple dives scrubbed due to poor weather.

    In addition to the benefit of getting five more dives with an instructor looking over your shoulder, you’ll have the added benefit of knocking out the AOW certificate...which you will see as a requirement for many boat dives (at least the ones I find myself interested in at this point).
    Esprise Me likes this.
  6. JackD342

    JackD342 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Highland Park, IL
    Yeah, number one is to dive more. On that trip you have planned, (from a PADI perspective) you could knock out a couple of non-stressful certifications like Peak Performance Buoyancy and Fish ID, which gets you both a paid instructor in the water with you that you can leverage for some of your other wishes, while also advancing a bit. Doing those two certs would knock off two of your AOW dives, leaving 3 to go.

    And as already mentioned, don't be afraid of the AOW course. Because someone has guided you below 60 feet and got you used to it, doesn't mean you have to start spending all your time there on every dive from now on. Extend your limits only as you feel comfortable, but it will be good to have the experience and the option sooner than later. You may also find you get a shot of confidence building from Deep and Navigation that accelerates your comfort level in the water.
    markmud and Esprise Me like this.
  7. Bowers

    Bowers Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    nothing wrong with getting more dive experience with an instructor keeping an eye on you. as mentioned above, advanced OW does not mean your an advanced diver but it is a good next step. As you mentioned, there may be concern about diving deeper etc.., but keep in mind you dont have to choose difficult dives on the charter just because you're certified to a higher level.
    long story short, id recommend taking AOW but still do easy dives for a while until you get more experienced.
  8. Divingblueberry

    Divingblueberry Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Montréal
    My 2 cents...
    I don't have a huge amount of dives behind my belt, but here's what I did.
    I started practicing on my own right away after my certification. That means : pool session and quarry dives with an insta-buddy every week-end. I went to the same place I did my OW certificattion so I met many instructors and started asking a lot of question, even if they seem very stupid. I also bought a Go Pro, put it in the corner of the pool and watched the video afterwards to improve my trim and frog kick.

    I also had the great chance to go for a basic training with an amazing cave instructor for 2 days. It got me out of my comfort zone and I cannot tell you how much I have learned. This was the best 2 day training I could imagine. It was a basic buoyancy, trim and propulsion class but he taught me much more than that (Beyond the technical side, I'd say the attitude, frame of mind and being rigorous). I strongly suggest you find an experienced diver that is ready to take the time to teach you not only the basics, but also what, how and why the bests in the business do things the way they do.
    Esprise Me likes this.
  9. JXT71

    JXT71 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: California
    A good next step would be an honest self-assessment of how you feel you did in your OW class. Did the final check-out dive seem like a challenging test, or an easy guided swim? How did you handle the descents, temperature, or low visibility? Are you afraid of removing your mask at depth? Things like that.
    From your post, it sounds like you're already doing this, and that's great. Instructors and divemasters can tell by the end of class who is good to go for AOW and who isn't. If your instructor gave encouragement to take AOW rather than just a sales pitch, that's a good sign. OW teaches you the basics so you won't get yourself hurt, lost, or killed when you and your buddy go out alone the day after certifying. AOW is where someone can begin to teach you how to be a diver. I took AOW just after OW, and I had a blast. Far more enjoyable and memorable than OW.

    If you're still unsure about jumping right into AOW, that's fine too. It's important to listen to those gut feelings in diving. The only real fix would be more dives to get comfortable. You could try asking your Local Dive Shop or instructor if you could flesh out an odd-numbered OW course when they do their dives. Better yet, if your LDS plans shore/boat dives, try to get with one of those as they are usually catered to OW level and will have a DM at minimum. If the DM isn't preoccupied with a bunch other people, they will have no problem going over some skills with you.
    While a cert in peak performance won't really count towards a AOW course with pre-determined specialties, buoyancy is a very important skill to master so there's no harm in it either. What I'd look for is if your LDS offers free equipment rentals with a low-stress course like peak performance or maybe fish ID (like JackD342 mentioned, and +1 on not having to go deep all the time) - that way you can get back in the water for more experience, expand on necessary skills, be mentally prepared for AOW, and hopefully get a decent deal out of it as well.
    Esprise Me likes this.
  10. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Oh yeah, forgot to add that unlike many (and myself), you should practice the 24 pool skills now & again. Do one or two when on a dive.
    Esprise Me likes this.

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