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Diving without license/certification card

Discussion in 'AUSI: Associated Underwater Scuba Instructors' started by climax101, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. dead dog

    dead dog ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: SoCal via Pittsburgh, Pa.
    You use the word " certified by Connie Limbaugh " loosely. There was no formal certification at that time. No certification cards.
    They where all learning at the same time from each other.
    Connie Limbaugh later drowned in a cave in France. What did his training teach him ?
  2. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    There were "certification cards" at the time. I have one from 1967, but they date back to 1951, five years before I learned how to dive through mentoring without certification.

    While the actual events are sometimes disputed, it is generally acknowledged that the then new “aqualung” was brought to the United States in 1948 by a Navy UDT commander, Doug Fane. In 1949 we now that Cousteau sent six units to a friend, Rene Bussoz, who owned a sporting goods store near the UCLA campus. Seeing the potential value of scuba for scientific investigation, a young graduate student, Conrad Limbaugh, convinced his professor, Dr. Wheeler North, to buy two of the units. Soon after, Limbaugh, along with an associate, Andy Rechnitzer, began diving along the Southern California coast. I once heard Glen Egstrom (wearing his UCLA DSO hat) remark, in jest, "How do I get those damn things off my inventory?"

    In 1950 the two enrolled in the Ph.D. program at San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and the first scuba training in the United States — the informal tutoring Limbaugh and Rechnitzer did for their colleagues — had begun. The need for more formalized training was soon apparent when in 1952, when a UC Berkeley graduate student died in a diving accident off the coast of La Jolla, Scripps Director Roger Revelle asked Limbaugh to develop a training program in scuba. The first official course was held at Scripps in 1951. Rechnitzer writes about a situation Limbaugh faced in that 1951 class: “Today, diving operations for universities and scientific organizations are governed by a diving control board,” Rechnitzer said. “This originated when Limbaugh refused to certify a student on the grounds that he was not psychologically balanced enough to be a diver. He proved our point when he threatened to kill Limbaugh. He really meant it. We said, ‘We’ve got to take that burden off you and set up a committee, so he will have to pick on five or six people.’” So certification goes back to 1951, and was the rapid and immediate outgrowth of the formal program that the original scuba mentors, Limbaugh and Rechnitzer set up.

    In 1954, also concerned over the potential hazards of this increasingly popular sport, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation sent three representatives — Al Tilman, Bev Morgan, and Ramsey Parks — to San Diego to take Limbaugh’s course. This became the first formal scuba instructor program conducted in the United States. Returning to Los Angeles, the trio formed the nation’s first recreational scuba training program under the auspices of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, a program that still exists today.

    With the backing of the County, the Parks and Recreation Department joined forces with the Los Angeles County Lifeguards to design a program to teach safe practices for skin and scuba divers. The Department looked to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography as a model to develop the training programs the County desired. Al Tillman from Parks and Recreation and Bev Morgan from the Lifeguards were sent to Scripps to learn everything they could from Limbaugh.

    In the summer of 1954 saw the creation of the first basic scuba manual written by Bev Morgan, which he modeled after the Los Angeles County Lifeguard training manual. During this time the first public classes for skin and scuba diving were introduced. The classes filled up quickly and the County realized they would need more instructors to keep up with the interest that was forming.

    With that in mind the first UICC (Underwater Instructor Certification Course) was conducted at the Natatorium in Lynwood, California in the spring of 1955. The course was designed and moderated by an advisory board comprised of respected leaders in diving education and teaching.

    Limbaugh died in a cave-diving accident in France in 1960, at age 35. In a report about the accident, Scripps scientist Dr. Wheeler North, who had worked closely with Limbaugh, wrote the following: “On 20 March 1960, Conrad Limbaugh, one of the most experienced, cool-headed, and safety-conscious divers in the world, lost his life while diving in a submarine cave at the tiny harbor of Port Miou, near the Mediterranean resort town of Cassis, France, about 10 miles [16 km] east of Marseilles.” Limbaugh had become separated from his buddy, lost his light, and took a wrong turn that led him deeper into the cave. His body was found a week later.

    “That was really a shocker when he went,” Rechnitzer said. “I figured Limbaugh was sitting on a ledge somewhere in that cave, twiddling his thumbs, trying to figure a way to get out, because we had gotten out of some pickles before. He was cool…He’d figure a way out. Whenever we had problems in the canyon, whatever it might be he, would always coolly, calmly figure out what to do.”

    I guess I'm missing what it is that you're trying to say with respect to Limbaugh's death, perhaps it was that he was not "cave certified?"

    I'm not seeing your point, there is no doubt that mentoring is a great way to teach and to learn, mentoring does not require certification and, of late, certification is no guarantee of competent instruction, but then neither is mentoring. In the science community we continue the long tradition that was started by Connie and Andy and refined by many others ... we mentor and certify.
    Rogersea, agilis, AfterDark and 2 others like this.
  3. Graeme Tolton

    Graeme Tolton Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Orangeville, Ontario, Canada
    It seems apparent to me that lds' have imposed a lot of rules for their own gain.

    Ask yourself this, would steel tanks need anual inspections if lds' were properly maintaining their compressors? No they wouldnt. Industrial cylinders only need 10 year hydros! Same alloys!

    The reason some people become skeptical of lds course offerings is because they see people taking it in the hoop, paying for such courses as boat diver or fish id courses.

    Personally, i am sick of seeing all these extra levels of certification popping up when half the shops cant even teach the ow level properly.
    dead dog and AfterDark like this.
  4. Akimbo

    Akimbo Just a diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    I get the impression that some people think that the basic principles of diving had to be invented or discovered before Scuba certification could be developed. Let's not forget that many of the world's navies had well documented, though boring, manuals that were designed for people with far lower education levels than today's divers.

    These manuals were available to Cousteau and the many pioneers credited by Thalassamania. Once these principles were understood, it didn't take a daredevil or rocket scientist to figure out how they related to free-swimming divers. What it took was the intellectual curiosity and determination to sort through it all and actually think for a while.

    I have several books in my library that fully explain buoyancy, the physics and physiology of pressure, and treatment of diving maladies -- all written before I was born or Cousteau learned to freedive. Therefore, there is no reason that a good swimmer could not easily learn more on their own than the dumbed-down basic Scuba courses offered today.
    Schwob, dead dog and AfterDark like this.
  5. Thiad

    Thiad Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    While it's obvious that people can debate the merits of certification vs. non-certification (and let's face it, much depends on the instructor without getting into which agency is the best), the question remains in my mind, the possibility of litigation and responsibility should something go sideways. I've dove many places that won't let you on the boat without showing a card, and I've dove many places that never check - they take your word on it. If you have your own boat, then you do as you please. But if you want to explore the world and dive, chances are you'll be asked to show a c-card at least once or twice along the way - usually from the places that are terrified of being sued and check because their lawyers/insurance are demanding it.

    So we can all agree on that part, right? There have been a few people on the board that got their AOW because they couldn't dive on a trip or a shop wouldn't take them on a boat - even though they've been diving longer than I've been alive.

    But let me ask this... If you owned a boat, would you be willing to take a diver out that you knew didn't have a c-card? We recently saw a family sue a dive buddy over the death of their loved one. Here in the US, I would bet that most people would think twice before allowing it just because they're scared of what could happen should something go wrong. I'm almost guessing that prospect would make a lawyer salivate. Throw in there the opportunity to sue the shop that filled the tank, too. We're in a sue happy society - no arguing that. The ramifications of allowing a non-certified diver to actively participate in the sport is a liability for anyone in the industry - dive shop owners, boat owners, etc, etc.

    Just like getting a pilot's license, a c-card is a license to learn. It's 4 dives, a bit of classwork and some pool time. Yes, there's the cost, but I guess in my eyes, the grief of not having it far outweighs the cost and time involved in getting it done. It's one week out of 52 in the year (or less). I'm sure I could have read about all the ins-and-outs of diving (and I read that stuff anyways), but was blessed with a terrific instructor who truly taught and actually passed useful information on to his students - far beyond anything I got out of a book. I guess for myself, it's just not a risk I'd be willing to take and I got a lot of out of my courses. If other people chose differently, that's their decision but I know what worked for me.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
    AfterDark likes this.
  6. DCBC

    DCBC Banned

    A Student Pilot Permit is a license to learn, a Private Pilot License is a level of competence.

    I think I understand what your saying, but the license to learn comment bothers me. In the case of a pilot's license, you must convince the examiner that you know what to do in normal conditions and in an emergency (my examiner pulled power immediately after takeoff). It wasn't a case where my examiner said that I failed something but here is your license, you can learn by experience. It's just not how its done in aviation.

    Today divers are certified and have no idea what to do if their buddy requires assistance. They are not prepared to handle themselves in all circumstances and NEED further training. Isn't it important on Day 1 to know how to save your buddy? In the early days, this was the case. Like Private Pilot's, they were capable of diving during daylight hours within the parameters of their certification. You don't get a Pilot License and they tell you to come back to learn how to do a forced landing...

    dead dog, jm and oldschoolto like this.
  7. Thiad

    Thiad Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    I still view every flight is an opportunity to learn even with advanced ratings. I may have passed my private flight review, but I was in no way ready to tackle every situation that was presented to me during my subsequent flights (and quickly realized this). The only way to gain experience was to fly and get more training. For any new pilot, instructors don't (nor can they), ensure that every situation you'll run into is covered in training - they cover the basics to keep one out of trouble. When I went through my instrument certification, at least in my case, was when I truly started to understand more about aviation as a whole - aerodynamics, weather, instruments, procedures. Private training had barely scratched the surface. I quickly learned how much I didn't know. That became the best flight course I've ever taken.

    But, we're veering off the original question... I think you and I both agree, or at least appear to, that training is definitely needed. Training and more diving!
  8. DCBC

    DCBC Banned


    Yes, I too continue to learn more as I gain experience and training. Every hour is a learning opportunity for both Flying and Diving. The difference between them (as far as the certification process is concerned) is that Flying holds a higher standard. Some diving programs were made easier to increase the numbers of divers and drive up the sales of diving equipment. I started to see the decline in the quality of instruction in the 70's. Even the swimming requirement has gone by the wayside in some Agencies. I suppose this can be expected within any non-regulated sector. Industry has a way of aligning itself on the side of profit. Flying however, demands that the Pilot is competent. A high-level of safety must be assured before any license is issued. With Diving, this isn't always the case. After-all, it's just recreation right? I'm afraid that I've seen too many divers who just aren't prepared and should never have been certified (IMO). If you cant swim and NEED to dive with a Divemaster before you can feel safe in the water, you need more training. That's a different situation from a licensed Pilot being inexperienced...
    Thalassamania likes this.
  9. BarbP

    BarbP Registered

    Well, back in the 70's and 80's you couldn't get your tanks filled by a reputable dive store unless you were certified! !! I'm not sure how sloppy things have gotten since then!!!
  10. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    Although this question was asked 5 years ago, it does not seem to have been answered, at least not in this thread (the thread diverged off into how great diving training used to be...)

    The PADI Experienced Diver Program began in 1998, and was last in the Instructor Manual in 2009. There was no mention in the Training Bulletins of the reason(s) for its demise but i can guess it was because it was rarely used, and the requirements for it were almost the same as going through the entire course, except you did not have to do the confined water classes...but you DID need to do a Scuba Review with all the skills, and you did all the exams, and you did all the OW dives.

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