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Open water qualification dives

Discussion in 'SSI: Scuba Schools International' started by kkco303, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. kkco303

    kkco303 Garibaldi

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Denver, CO
    I am just beginning my scuba journey. Can anyone prep me for what to expect on the open water qualification dives (i.e. format, skills tested, amount of time in the water, max depths, etc)?

    While I felt very comfortable with the skills learned in the pool, I typically run very cold and am slightly nervous about the open water dives taking place in Blue Hole, NM, where I am told the water temperature is going to be around 62 degrees!
  2. rick00001967

    rick00001967 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: canada
    you should not be doing anything different in open water than you have already done in the pool. we even put our students in full suits, hood, gloves in pool to get an idea of weighting and to get them familiar with what all that feels like. if you are dressed properly, water temps in the 60's is not a problem. that is warm where i live. haha
    kkco303 and Seaweed Doc like this.
  3. GreggS

    GreggS Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Thomasville, NC
    I would think that depends on the agency and/or instructor. When I did my OW, it was in a quarry in late June in NC. The water had not completely warmed up and it was cold below the thermocline of about 22 feet. We did have to do some skills at a training platform at about 25 feet, but the only thing that got really cold on the first day was my bare hands. Went that night to Lowe's and bought some mechanics gloves and that made all the difference in the world. During our actual dives, the instructor stayed right at the thermocline. If I felt the water getting cold I would just ascend a couple of feet.

    Of course, this is the way my OW dives went. YMMV.
    kkco303 likes this.
  4. Carl_F

    Carl_F Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seneca, SC
    As Rick said, you should not be doing anything new in the open water dives. You learned everything in the pool and now it's time to just apply it in a new environment. Visibility, cold, etc, are all different variables. Ensure you keep your instructor informed of how you feel. If you're too cold, let your instructor know.

    Its certainly expected that you'd be nervous or anxious about the unknown. Just remember your training and remember to breath.

    Also, a hood and gloves would be appropriate and hopefully you did the skills in the pool with that gear. If not, ask your instructor to have a short pool session with the same wetsuit (or perhaps drysuit), hood and gloves as you'll have in your open water dives. It's a fair request.

    Format ... this depends a bit on how your instructor structures the class. But there will be four open water dives spread out over a minimum of two days (three training dives max per day.) Each dive will have you practice skills you did in the pool. Generally, on Dive 1 your will clear a fully flooded mask and retrieve a second stage regulator (there is other stuff about neutral buoyancy, descending & ascending, etc.) On Dive 2 you can expect mask removal & replacement and air sharing. On Dive 3 you can expect mask removal & replacement, air sharing ascent & no-mask swim. On Dive 4 your can expect to have a bit more fun including basic use of a compass & calculating air consumption rate. You'll also do an emergency swimming ascent. Max depth will probably be about 30 ft. Minimum time per dive probably about 20 minutes (for this a lot depends on the class size and what other fun stuff like site-seeing the instructor may have for you.) And on each dive, I like to have students repeat skills done in previous dives to further engrain the skill in muscle memory.

    Heck, there might even be some bluegill to watch you do your skills! They've been right in front of my students' masks as they were doing the skills.

    I hope this helps!!
  5. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Carl_F describes well the last PADI OW courses I was on. They did add the "mini dive" as dive #4, where students plan & execute their dive without help (just supervision). Not sure if this still is there, but I thought it was a good addition.
    Cold tolerance varies so much that it is difficult to advise what to wear, other than have suitable warm clothes for before & after dives (well, after the last dive). Ie.---you don't want to start a dive already a little chilly.
    You will only know what your "diving" cold tolerance is after you do the first dive (unless you have snorkeled, etc. before in a wetsuit and have an idea of what 62F water feels like after say a half an hour).
    As mentioned, tell your instructor if you are cold, especially if shivering at all. You may be able to use a thicker wetsuit or even rent a drysuit (though unlikely if all are diving wet, as it has some different procedures you have to get used to).
    My guess is you'll do fine. It's OK if you're a little chilly (as long as no shivering, the first step in hypothermia). I have seen instructors excuse students from a dive early due to cold, but the missed skills have to be made up. I did my OW here in early Nov., which wasn't really a picnic, but quite doable in the 7 mil farmer john shop wetsuits.
  6. unwantedsn

    unwantedsn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Nebraska
    Lots of great info here. Here is what my training dives were like:
    Day 1: Air Temp: 72 Water temp: 57, Thermocline 72 at 17'
    Cert Dive 1: Max Depth 27' total dive time 30min, AVG Depth 16', Vis 5'
    Skills: Buoyancy check, Controlled Decent, Buoyancy (aka diver profile/hover), Reg Retrieval 1,2,3 , Mask Clear 2, and a small excursion dive.
    26min SI
    Cert Dive 2: Max Depth 28', total dive time 51min, avg depth 20', Vis 5'
    Skills: Reg retrieval 3, Buoyancy (aka diver profile/hover), Mask removal / retrieval, Controlled decent/accent, Emergency air share, small excursion dive.

    Day 2: Air Temp: 77 Water temp: 64, Thermocline 73 at 19'
    Cert Dive 3: Max Depth 25' Total dive time 40min, avg depth 20' Vis 6'
    Skills: Buoyancy (aka diver profile/hover), Mask removal / retrieval, Reg retrieval, Emergency Swimming Accent, Emergency air share, basic navigation dive (ie head north until you get to this buoy then head south to other buoy)
    20min SI
    Cert Dive 4: Max Depth 30' Total dive time 37min, avg depth 18', Vis 6'
    Skills: DSMB from 30', buoyancy, Nav dive.

    Note: These are from my log book, their might have been more skills that were completed that I forgot to write down. But as the others here have said, nothing done in our quarry was different than what we practiced in the pool (other than the depth)
  7. Jayfarmlaw

    Jayfarmlaw Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tuttle, Ok
    We just got back from Blue Hole a couple of weeks ago. It's is an awesome training dive location. First it is clear, early in the morning is damn near swimming pool clear. It's a little chilly at 62 degrees, but you will be in a 7 mil wetsuit, with a hood and gloves more than likely.

    My advice is get in the water quick, if your instructor will let you giant stride in, get the cold shock over with and let the wet suit do its thing. If you have to go down the stairs, do it quick. Once you're in the water, it's not bad at all. Keep in mind, locals swim there in swimsuits.

    As far as skills, you will repeat everything you did in the pool, and do a CESA emergency ascent and a safety stop. They have PVC pipes suspended at 20 and 30 feet for training.

    The facilities are built for divers. A large room with heaters as well as bathroom with hot showers. Not Luke warm, but honest to God hot showers. We ate at a place called The Comet, and the food was good, but spicy hot by any standard. (I grew up in West Texas on Tex Mex so I like spicy) I'd still eat there again.

    Relax, have fun, and enjoy the dives. I wrote a trip report a few weeks ago in the SW location forum here.

    Welcome to the addiction,
  8. Dirty-Dog

    Dirty-Dog Frequently Censored ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Pueblo West, CO, USA
    If you're doing your certification dives at the Blue Hole, here's what you can expect.
    It's cold, dark, and there's nothing to see.
    Personally, I've always wondered how the Blue Hole qualifies as an open water dive in the first place. It's just an 80' wide, 80' deep pool.
    Generally, you'll hit the water, and go down to a platform. You'll sit on the platform and perform the same skills that you performed in the pool. You'll get out, warm up, and do it again. As soon as everyone in your class is done, you'll get out. Because it's cold, dark, and there's nothing to see. Next day, you'll do it again.
    Personally, we didn't do it, and I think it's a horrible introduction to SCUBA.
    Instead, we did out classroom stuff online, then went to Cancun and went diving with Alvaro at Always Diving. The water was warm, clear, and there was tons of stuff to see. We splashed, and just started cruising along the reef. Alvaro had each of us perform the various skills during our dives, but it wasn't like a test. After all, you cleared your mask while you were diving anyway. Looking at my logs, our OW training dives were in the 50-60FSW range, and lasted about 45-50 minutes. Not terrible, for noobs. But it was warm, clear, and there was tons to see.

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