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Hello! Various new diver questions.

Discussion in 'New Divers & Those Considering Diving' started by Aerosynth, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. Aerosynth

    Aerosynth Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Midwest/Central U.S. is where I hang my hat. Where
    Hi everyone. New to diving here. I'll be obtaining my cert within the next month, in order to go on a Catalina dive with a friend. I have two questions... I am sure you've heard them before, but I hope you will still entertain me by helping with answers. If they sound moronic, I take full responsibility for that... just go easy on me, lol. I am a newbie to all of this. :)


    (1) PADI vs. NAUI

    The dive shop in my area that offers the most affordable classes uses PADI instructors. They were my first choice until I started asking questions about the different certifying agencies. I was told that PADI certification is fine if I never intend to do anything more than just "leisure diving," but that I should seek NAUI certification if I think I might want to dive at a more skilled/professional level later down the line. How accurate is this? I don't know what my future plans are, but I would like to start out on the right foot with the right certification in case I do decide to seek additional certifications or take additional training later on.


    (2) GEAR

    I plan to buy my own gear. I know that I will learn more about what I need when I start classes, but since I will probably be taking classes at a DIVE SHOP, I don't want to fall into a trap where they try and sell me a bunch of crap I don't need. I've tried to do a little research online but the price ranges I keep finding vary wildly, anywhere from $500 to $3000 for a basic setup. I know scuba is not a cheap hobby, but I would like to try and narrow down the gear expense a little better if I could. Any help, or a rough and quick list of the essentials... that would be awesome.


    I'm really excited about this. Scuba diving is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but am just now getting around to it. Would love to hear any tips, also... mistakes you made as a beginner, things to avoid, etc. Anyone that knows any cool dive sites in Southern California, also... I would love to hear about them.

    Thanks a million.

  2. fisheater

    fisheater Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sebastopol, CA
    NAUI vs. PADI = Ford vs. Chevy. Yell, argue and scream and it's all basically the same.

    Gear: The sad truth is that the vast majority of LDSs, even in California, cater to the tropical vacation diver, both in gear and training. Thus, the gear that the majority of "hard core" local divers use won't likely be found in your LDS. My best advice is to get certified - locally - and join a local dive club that dives locally a lot. Meet the divers and discuss their gear choices, focusing on both what they like and - more importantly - why they like that gear.

    Oh. Welcome!!! California diving is challenging, but very rewarding.
  3. Scubagolf

    Scubagolf ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sacramento, California, USA
    No. 1 (PADI vs. NAUI): Although you will see a fair amount of PADI bashing on this board, the claim that it is somehow only good for "leisure diving" is really over the top and sounds like some knucklehead at a dive shop that is not a PADI facility bashing the competition. Basic training (Open Water) is really all about the instructor and not the agency. My advice is to not worry about the agency, but try to get a recommendation for a good instructor in your area and take it from there. You might want to look at the So Cal section of the California Kelp Divers under the Travel and Dive Club area of SB for recommendations on OW instructors.

    No. 2 (Equipment): My advice is to buy the mask, snorkel and fins before your certification class and then rent everything else for a while. You can find endless discussions on the subject of what equipment a newly certified diver should buy on SB. I waited until I had about 25 dives before I bought my regs, BC and computer. On the other hand, my wife (certified 4 years after me) ordered all of her equipment right after she finished the OW certification.
  4. k ellis

    k ellis Divemaster

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Oklahoma
    I agree with the above posters. The thing about any certification agency is they dont make the diver they just show you the basics to the sport such as how to breathe, how to work the bcd, how to clear mask floods and basic things like that.

    geting past the basics its like when you were taught to drive a car. they did not teach you everything about driving a car they just taught you the laws of the road and a few simple skills, some go on to be nascar drivers others go on to be in traffic court more then the judge it seems.

    My advice is simply pick one you are comfortable with whether its Naui or Padi or any other recognized cert agencies and go with it. Once you get certified youll have fun learning most everything you will ever need for diving on your own with a good experienced dive buddy :)
  5. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    Basic open water from any of the mainstream agencies is a learner's permit to dive. A lot of the time, the vision is to produce a diver who is capable of donning his equipment, jumping into the water, and following a guide around for 45 minutes. The guide does the dive planning and the navigation, monitors everybody's gas, and plans the profile so the decompression is adequate.

    If you want to be able to dive independently in local conditions, you either have to select your class carefully (and it isn't agency-dependent as much as it is instructor-dependent) or you will have to continue with further training beyond OW.

    As far as gear goes, the advice to hook up with a local dive club or group (and in LA, you have lots of possibilities!) is a good one. There is a huge spectrum of equipment out there, and a lot of the best stuff for cold water diving is not sold in many dive shops. Shops may try to push you into what they sell, rather than what will work for you. Getting a gear education can save you a lot of headaches and a lot of money (says Lynne, who replaced darned near everything she bought out of her OW class within six months, and wishes somebody had told HER this).
  6. Sas

    Sas Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    1. Early training doesn't seem to matter much for later training. These two agencies, doesn't matter much.

    2. Make friends with divers with gear and then borrow their gear :) See what you like and then buy! Worthwhile having your own mask when you start, if fit is an issue though but buy as little as you can until you know what kind of diving you will like and how much you will be diving.

    Enjoy your course :)
  7. Txfirefighter4305

    Txfirefighter4305 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Nevada, Mo
    I have given in to the demons. Since I dive with a relatively small group and will be venturing into Public Safety Diving this year, I have chosen to go with a set up very similar to others in the group.

    I do this for familiarity. Its easy for me to relearn my kit, but not easy for everyone diving with me to learn my kit as a one off oddity. Should I move, change groups I frequent, etc I will probably change my kit as I feel it could be better.

    But it works for me and the diving I do right now. You have to be flexible to the conditions and people you dive with.
  8. SangP

    SangP Loggerhead Turtle

    Padi is the most recognized dive organization for a reason, great worldwide support. It may not have the most comprehensive training but overall it's pretty good till you want to get more technical. From Nitrox onwards I went elsewhere, anyway there's only so much you can learn from a class. The rest you have to experience it yourself.

    Essential gear:
    Mask (something simple that FITS! An Oceanic Shadow or Hollis M1)
    Snorkel (I like simple ones like OmerSub Zoom Pro Soft Snorkel, XS Scuba Snorkel Cargo or Apollo Prestige Stowable Snorkel)
    Fins, get a used but still in good condition jet fin, buy some spring straps from piranhadivemfg.com or just get a Hollis F1. They'll last for years n is good enough for pretty much everything.
    Wetsuit, rent till you know what works for you, then either get it cheap from LP or really affordable custom suits from AquaFlite, Atlaninc or Wetware.
    Hoods, gloves, booties are all pretty much the same unless you dive from very rocky, hard places then you need a seasoft stealth boot which means you may need a larger fin.

    Next in order of importance:
    1. BCD (nothing is more important than buoyancy, the sooner you're comfortable the better for you) Something simple, upgradeable with pockets/pouches padding etc, n with replaceable parts:
    Zeagle Express Tech BCD
    You can get a larger wing if necessary a Zeagle 35lb Retractable HD Nylon Bladder or 44lbs Zeagle 360 Donut Bladder.
    2. Computers, Uwatec Aladin Tec 2G Wrist Computer is a great computer that you could use as a bottom timer if you go tech.

    3. Regs, check out Hog Regulators pretty similar to Apeks for a lower price, easy to get parts n should be serviceable in the US easy.
    If you have the $, either Apeks DS4/XTX50/XTX50, Aqualung Legend LX Supreme or Scubapro MK17/G250V are the more recognized regs around.

    Lights, bags, etc, etc can be gotten later.

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2010
  9. Colliam7

    Colliam7 Tech Instructor Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kents Store, VA
    And, in addition to the direct replies you get here, spend time reading a sampling of the many threads on SB about these two issues. Responses will generally be more consistent than divergent.
    As others have said - not accurate. What is more important at your level is the instructor (and, possibly, the shop) you work with. There have been several recent threads discussing the kinds of questions to ask a potential instructor (http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/ne...ng/335456-instructor-interview-questions.html), and some of the associated posts (by Walter and Jim Lapenta, in particular) offer good insight about how to decide where to do your initial training. If you are training with an instructror through a shop, don't stop with the instructor. Consider the range of classes offered by the shop, ask questions of the shop staff about the kind of diving they actually do, find out what the 'body of expertise' may be among shop staff. Does the shop- sponsor a dive club, or do they actively work with an area club to promote diving?
    Do not necessarily assume that will be the case; certainly don't go into any relationship with a shop presuming they are out to 'rip you off'. Yes, the primary business of most shops is gear sales. But, that doesn't mean you cannot get good value, nor that you have to buy everything they recommend (you don't HAVE to buy expensive defogging solution, for example - you have your own). I would avoid 'package' deals in general. The price may seem attractive, but you also may not get what you want. As several have suggested, start with a good mask - ONE THAT FITS YOU WELL, is low profile, modestly priced - and a simple, inexpensive snorkle (you don't need a 'dry' snorkle, for example). As for fins, several suggestions have already been made. I personally prefer Mares Quattros, for example, but there are many options. I agree with the suggestion about spring straps, by the way. Beyond that, get a good exposure suit, that FITS YOU, and you are in position to rent gear (BCD, regulator, tanks) and dive it, to begin getting a feel for what you prefer. When diving, look at what other divers around you are using, and ASK QUESTIONS - what do they like about their gear, what don't they like. In addition to her reply here, Lynne (TSandM) started a very long-running thread several years ago on gears purchases that divers later regreetted making, and that is very informative (http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/basic-scuba-discussions/114279-what-did-you-buy-you-regret.html).

    I will offer another suggestion that may not be agreed upon by all (or even many) but it has been my experience, so I offer it FWIW. Establishing a good relationship with a shop can be a tremendous benefit. A shop where divers hang out, talk about diving, make plans for diving, talk about gear, etc., can be a great place to be. When I started diving, I did this, almost by accident. But, through the shop I met lots of local divers, got to know the owner and shop manager, over time became a 'regular', and found that I received a wealth of free consulting from experienced divers, borrowed lots of gear over time to try out before I bought, continued my training, diversified my diving through association with technical divers, cave divers, dive professionals, etc. I found I prefer to buy my new gear locally, whenever possible. Yes, in-shop prices may be somewhat higher than the absolutely lowest on-line price you might be able to find, but you don't have to necessarily pay list price, either, and the on-line savings do not necessarily equate to value. Over time, as I pursued DM then Instructor, I got increasing levels of shop discounts, and access to special deals. There is not one and only one right way to proceed (e.g. shop vs. on-line purchases; NAUI vs PADI). But, take time, ask lots of questions, consider options with an open mind, try to benefit from the experience of others here on SB, and locally, and you won't regret it.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2010
  10. Mike Boswell

    Mike Boswell ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: San Diego
    Hi Aerosynth,

    I strongly second the advice given earlier about seeking out the best instructor, and renting your gear for a while.

    My wife and I were extremely fortunate in the instructors we had. These guys went way over the top for their students, and I have since discovered that not all instructors are like that. So if you want great instruction, call around, join one of the many Socal dive clubs, talk to people, find a great instructor, and be willing to pay them what it's worth.

    It's a funny thing, but many people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on gear, but they dig in their heels at spending a few hundred dollars for training. IMO, the training is much more important than the gear, and some of the best divers I ever met were using gear that was just plain embarrassing.

    As to gear, we buy and sell and trade over time. I know guys with garages full of scuba gear. A good local instructor can help with this also. You can get great deals of almost-new gear on Craigslist, Ebay, and on the classifieds here on SB.

    Good luck and enjoy the journey.

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