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PADI Deep Diver specialty course worthwhile?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Lorenzoid, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Yeah, I know that "is such-and-such a worthwhile course" is a tired old question here, but I couldn't find one specifically for PADI's Deep specialty.

    I'm considering it for a few reasons. First, I am not as comfortable as I'd like to be when I'm down at 100 feet or so, despite having maybe a dozen dives that maxed out at 100+ feet under my belt (over the course of 10 years or so) and having done the PADI Rescue course (about five years ago). At 90 or 100 feet, especially when vis is not great, I often start feeling anxiety and wondering if I could get myself out of a mess at that depth. The more I think, the worse it gets. I tell myself to stop thinking so much and enjoy the dive, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes, I have felt it spiraling toward what I was afraid might become panic, and I have ascended a bit to cool my brain off. So far, I have not bolted for the surface--thank God. Maybe it's psychological or maybe narcosis or a combination--who knows. Anyway, I'm thinking that discussing this with an instructor and then going through the motions might be just the ticket for me. I remember feeling absolutely calm on the "deep dive" portion of the AOW course. I was great in AOW class and went on immediately to the Rescue course, which really increased my confidence in the water.

    Second, despite this occasional feeling of anxiety that I am determined to rid myself of, I have ambitions of doing some divemastering someday as a semi-retirement career, and I believe I read a thread on SB that said the new PADI DM requirements consider Deep either a prerequisite or desirable for some other reason. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Third, my wife is planning to do the Rescue course this summer, and me spending a day on Deep Diver would give me something to do other than relax (which I'm not good at) while we're at whatever destination we decide on to take these courses.

    In view of the above, any reasons NOT to take the Deep course? If you've taken it, did you find it worthwhile? Other thoughts?

    I might as well ask a related question here. We were thinking of doing these courses in FL or NC or somewhere in the Southeast so we can drive there from Atlanta. Thoughts on what to look for or avoid in a dive shop offering the Deep course? We do NOT want to do courses in a quarry. We were thinking NC might be interesting because the conditions are not the crystal clear, calm, tropical conditions that we're accustomed to--might the slightly more challenging environment enhance our experience? I've seen it said that there is a difference between those whose training and experience are in places with ideal conditions and those whose training and experience have been in colder, lower-vis waters. Maybe this isn't a significant factor when we're talking about a single course, but I thought that mixing it up a little--putting us in an environment we're not accustomed to--might be good for us.

    Also, we've never dived in NC, and we want to see some wrecks!
    soggybadger likes this.
  2. scubadiveilat

    scubadiveilat Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives:
    Your on the right track!

    A little thought shaking and questioning is good. It's the way the mind works. Your preparing yourself mentally. Different oceans and environments are excellent to enhance your diving skills. If cold (not ice or that sort) is not an issue for you head to NC. Your issues are normal and not the usual. To over come them dive more and safely. Get into it; dive frequently. Diving is all about diving and more diving. Just like any other sport. Cycling, tennis, soccer etc.

    Practice makes perfect. Keep in mind to know your limit and of others.

    Have fun and enjoy it!!!
  3. Max Speed

    Max Speed Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Make it challenging- dark, cold quarry or lake. Then everyplace else looks easy!
  4. elan

    elan DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    What you feel is normal, that one of the signs of narcosis. As you come up a bit it goes away. For me it does not look like it depends upon experience I get those symptoms from time to time especially it low vis and cold water and when more taskloading is involved.

    Its good to find a good instructor who can make you realize that you are in fact narced at 100 ft no matter what and teach you what signs to look at. My deep specialty did not helped me. I learned it later with my dive buddies when I realized I was narced at 70 ft when I was made taskloaded. Since that dive I learned how to recognize the narc creeping in and I feel it on every dive below 60ft to some extent.
  5. RTee

    RTee Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Ottawa, ON
    Lorenzoid...I did ask myself the very same question...is the deep specialty worth pursuing? At the end of the day, I elected to not do it (even though I did my rescue and DM) and did instead Advanced Nitrox and Deco procedures. MY reasoning was as follow...with the latter, I can go down to 150 ft, plan my dive to make it worthwhile, ie be able to spend some time at that depth vs the NDL I would at 130 diving air (10 mins or so including descend time) or on EAN 28 for a couple mins more. I figure if there was something worth seeing at those depth I may as well enjoy it a bit instead of only going down for a very quick bounce.
    soggybadger likes this.
  6. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    Great responses so far--more variety than I expected. I thank those of you who tell me "it's normal," but I sure would like to hear it from a really good instructor and then get into it in more detail with him (or her) while doing some deep dives. The deep dive part of AOW, where the instructor had me do tasks to demonstrate narcosis, was interesting but since I had never felt narcosis or anxiety (and didn't really feel it on that dive) it didn't have much impact on me then. Now that I've got something specific to talk about, I'd like to see what a really good (and patient) instructor has to say about it.

    How about hearing from someone who has actually taken the PADI Deep course?

    Can anyone recommend a dive op in NC that might fit the bill?
  7. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    Somewhat off topic but you brought it up; with rescue diver 5 years ago, have you stayed current with your CPR and first aid? That cert needs to be re certified every 2 years. My instructor lets prior Rescue students audit the class which gives you more training and the instructor a bigger circus to orchestrate. So you might want to see about doing the rescue class, as a refresher, with your wife.

    It's worth it to have someone show you the effects of narcosis and strategies to deal with it, whether in a deep specialty or Advanced Nitrox and Deco procedures as RTee suggested. Your anxiety at depth is a good thing because it's a warning but, don't think that if it doesn't happen your OK. The danger of narcosis is that it can make you real stupid without any signs at all except your depth gauge reads greater than 60'. If you can't make sense of your depth gauge go up till you can read 60'.

    I may be old, but I’m not dead yet.
  8. rongoodman

    rongoodman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Albany, NY
    Instead of the PADI Deep course, you might consider the Recreational Trimix course from IANTD--a little He would clear your head on the deeper dives and you would still be staying within NDL limits.
    FinnMom, danvolker and Jim Lapenta like this.
  9. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    I took the PADI deep course a few years ago from what I consider to be a very good PADI instructor. He taught the course to standards and a little above but in all honesty looking back now from my own view as an instructor and someone who has taken a bit of tech training the course was not thorough enough.

    There was a great deal of info lacking in it. Not enough time is spent on equipment configuration and selection of the gear and why. Emergency deco procedures are IMO glossed over and the hazards of going into deco and the hazards of deep diving itself not emphasized enough. Actual deep diving should promote some anxiety and in some cases enough that that certain divers will just reconsider the whole idea and not do it. Emergency deco procedures should be part of any deep dive and planned for as back up. The problem is that the instructor may not have a good idea of just what those procedures and tables are. When choosing a deep instructor ask them what tables they follow for an emergency deco event. If they say the RDP guidelines - run like hell and find someone else. I use either v- planner, the US Navy Deco schedule, or the emergency deco tables we teach in the SEI Open Water class. Try to find an instructor that has a track record of deep diving ; preferably technical deep dives. Their idea of planning and actually executing those dives usually carries over into the ones they do recreationally.

    I also do not think that 4 dives is enough - I'd like to see 6 over three days min- and the min depth for those dives at 80 feet. With at least three of them in excess of 100. 3 dives to 70 -90 feet and one to 110 is not enough experience. Also the required skills on those dives are a joke. there are no real task loading skills other than a timed task at depth - mine was a combination lock. I have students run a line and reel at 90-100 feet in my AOW deep dive, perform air shares, and communication exercises at that depth. In a deep class they would also perform buddy breathing, gear removal and replacement, switching to a stage bottle as a planned and as an emergency exercise, and a few other things I would come up with based on their needs and reasons for diving deep. I might have them recover a concrete block with a lift bag and bring it from 90 to the surface under control.

    In the course they also talk about optional equipment for deep dives and what they consider optional I do not. Every item is essential including a proper redundant air supply, lights, reels, emergency O2, and back up gauges. I also consider a lift bag and /or SMB with reel or spool to be required gear. And deploying that bag from a depth of 80-100 feet should also be an exercise in the course.

    There also needs to be enough face to face time in the classroom with the instructor and while self study is valuable it should supplement the classroom not replace it.

    I'd also advise you to not rule out a quarry for training. Not all are the same. Gilboa with it's 40 degree bottom temps will be far more challenging than a warm water dive to the same depth and test you more. You may not have the currents but it will not be an easy walk in the park.

    Management of narcosis is possible and there are a number or ways to do it. I have my own method that for reasons of liability I will not detail here in fear that someone may try it and get hurt by misinterpreting what I use and then sue me or worse their survivors sue me. I will only say that it involves task loading myself in a set manner during the dive to stay alert and aware.

    The best way to manage it if you are going to do deep dives is to eliminate it. I like Helium for that:D.

    In short do not take lightly what you experienced and don't take a deep course just for the card. Find a course and an instructor that will give you an education and don't limit yourself to any agency. Interview the instructor and the shop if going thru one like you would if you were hiring an employee to train your most loved family members. I have three chapters in my book dealing with interviewing an instructor, interviewing a shop, and deciding what training is best for you and when.

    I have been told it has saved some readers money, time, and helped them get better training by knowing what questions to ask.
  10. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    I'd also recommend the NAUI Tech courses of Intro to Tech and Helitrox. Extends depth to 150 but you don't have to go that deep.
    PEDiamond likes this.

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