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Solo diving course - looking for information

Discussion in 'SDI/TDI/ERDI' started by Peter Southwood, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. Peter Southwood

    Peter Southwood Public Safety Diver

    I am looking for information on the syllabus and assessment criteria of the SDI Solo diver certification. There doesnt seem to be anything useful on the SDI website. Can anyone tell me what they actually teach, and what the diver must know and be able to do to be considered competemt?
  2. shoredivr

    shoredivr Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ontario
    Contact Doppler on this board for the curiculum, he's high up in the SDI/TDI admin.
  3. MRTdiver

    MRTdiver Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Fayetteville, NC
    Hey Peter,

    Yeah I agree they need to improve the website.

    I surmise that this SDI Solo PDF and/or Instr. Manual is relevant, unless outdated.

    Steve Lewis can help as well (Cf. Post)
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  4. Peter Southwood

    Peter Southwood Public Safety Diver

    Thanks, that was helpful for the practical requirements, they look pretty straightforward. Any suggestions for the knowledge requirements? the specifications are a little vague.
  5. AndyNZ

    AndyNZ Instructor, Scuba

    Hi Peter,

    A somewhat late reply, sorry. Hopefully still relevant.

    You will find that most SDI instructors will offer very different courses. The standards linked to above are the bare minimums we must teach - most of us will go well beyond that. For example, the course requires 2 dives and I normally end up doing at least 6 dives with all my students, some do even more.

    Knowledge requirements are pretty straightforward - some basic maths to do the gas management calculations and an open mind to absorb the knowledge is more than enough.

    For me, teaching the course is really about the practical skills and attitude rather than specific knowledge. I tend to introduce topics like gas management the "formal" way, i.e. doing calculations to determine how long a tank of gas will last but then introduce much easier to remember rules of thumb to facilitate on-the-fly calculations during a dive.

    Practically, one of the big things I am looking to foster in a solo student is always knowing how much gas they have. Throughout a course I will progressively task load a student by simulating more and more failures, then pop-quiz them on estimating how much gas they have without looking at the gauge. Typical failures can be anything from a loss of gas, to getting tangled in an SMB line through to having parts of a BCD mysteriously break with no warning. Or all at the same time. One of the nice things with the solo course is that a good instructor will push you as far as you want to be pushed. The better prepared a diver is going in to the course, the more you can push them. :)

    This is why I teach SDI now - and only SDI (well, TDI too). As agency they encourage me to teach above and beyond the minimum standard. If you find a good instructor then you will love the solo course. Have fun.
  6. Peter Southwood

    Peter Southwood Public Safety Diver

    Thanks Andy,
    My query is mostly academic, as I have over 1000 solo dives over the last 25 years or so, and there are no SDI instructors near me anyway. Most of my current recreational diving is site mapping, which I do solo, equipped to suit the site and depth, but there is a growing group of local divers who prefer to dive solo than to be buddied with someone who is not interested in photography, and there is probably a market here for training and assessment. The local charter boat policies vary. Some allow solo diving by people they know are responsible, competent and know the area, others dont allow it at all, but there are no certified solo divers here. I instruct commercial divers, and we occasionally work solo on scuba, with a surface standby, and no special certification is required, the decision is up to the diver and supervisor, after considering the risk assessment for the job. I do feel that it might be possible to learn something from the rec solo training, if we could find out what exactly it is that they teach.
  7. Jax

    Jax Deplorable American ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: AZ TX
  8. Mark Powell

    Mark Powell Scuba Media & Publications

    Of all of the SDI/TDI courses I teach, the Solo Diver course is the hardest to describe in response to this type of query. I've just finished teaching a Solo course today and it was very different to any other course but then each one is always very different. This is because I base each course on the student. Part of the course is to push the student a just little bit outside their comfort zone to introduce them to stressful situations which they can then learn to deal with. This is used as an example of "deconditioning panic". Of course each student has a different comfort zone and has slightly different things that will push them just outside of it. As a result the instructor has to use a lot of judgement to gradually build up the stress to the right level so that the student is outside their comfort zone but not so far outside that they stop learning.

    As Jax says, it teaches a mindset more than anything else. For some people it is just about looking at their diving differently. For other people it is about learning about skills and techniques that they did not previously know. For others it is about having an instructor look at their techniques and procedures and providing feedback on what improvements could be made.

    For this reason it's almost impossible to state "what exactly it is that they teach".

    I know this sounds like avoiding the question so I'll try to be more helpful. After each course I ask my students "what did you get from the course". Below are some of the answers, starting with the one I had from a student (who was also a professional diving instructor) just over an hour ago.
    "I've realised my skills are not as good as I thought they were"
    "I didn't realise that some of these equipment issues were so important in an emergency"
    "I've learnt more in this course than on any of my other courses"
    "I never had any intention of diving alone but this has helped to make me a better buddy"
    "I've realised that a pony cylinder might not always be enough"
    "I know that even if I never solo dive in the future, it has made me a better and safer diver, I would recommend it to anyone."
    "Now I know exactly how I want to set up my kit"
    "I've only just realised that even though I had a buddy I was effectively diving solo"
    "I can't believe how quickly I managed to get beyond my comfort level"
    "There really is no excuse for running out of gas"
    BCSGratefulDiver and w ripley like this.

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