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Thinking of Packing it in...

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by MJS1946, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. MJS1946

    MJS1946 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Central Oregon
    Short background: I was first certified in 1969 (yes, i’m old). I lost my cert card many years ago and was not able to get a replacement card for various reasons. Went to an agency that supposedly searched various places to get a replacement card and actually got some bogus card from their own certification organization. So, I went to a PADI shop, but failed to get a doc sign off for asthma. Fast forward 2 years and finally got a doc to sign off on the asthma as it’s no longer an issue. All that was last fall. Did the academics and confined water dives last November and was scheduled to do the OW dives in Hawaii In January. Fell on the ice just prior to the Hawaii trip and had 9 staples in my head-didn’t do the OW dives. Started to do the OW dives locally in a lake in cold water in May, but due to a really thick wet suit and an odd body was not able to keep the 40 pound weight belt on, eventually losing it in 15 feet of water. Was not able to recover it and join the dive.

    Am again scheduled to go to HI again in October and will be within the 12 month period for the referral program. Went back to the LDS to get a pool dive in before then, but don’t seem to be getting any cooperation from them (probably fed up with me). The fee for the referral dive on Maui is $375, plus what I’ve already paid out is making the whole deal a bit cost prohibitive. After all this hassle, I’m now asking myself if it’s worth the bother, especially if I can’t get in a pool session before Hawaii. Has anyone else had a similar test getting certified and was it worth it?

  2. 2airishuman

    2airishuman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    Most instructors would have retrieved the belt for you and helped you continue the dive.

    No similar experience but a few suggestions.
    1. Keep in mind that diving in warm water is much easier all around than diving in cold water.
    2. Generic nylon weight belts work badly on modern wetsuits. They slip off and are just a nuisance unless you are female and have an hourglass figure. Use something else.
    3. No real reason to seek out pool time again, schedule an extra dive in Hawaii if you think you need it
    4. Ask questions about instructor to student ratio for your open water dives. Under your circumstances you would probably be better off with an instructor who has no more than 2-3 students in the water.
    Alternatives to weight belts.
    1. Suspenders-type weight harnesses. Like this: Seasoft Sea-Wolf-40 Weight Harness - There are cheaper alternatives.
    2. Rubber weight belts. That's what I use. They are inexpensive. 40 pounds is a lot on these but 20 can be done rubber belt buy at LeisurePro
    3. BCs with integrated weight pockets. Not my cup of tea but many people like them.
    The more lead you carry, the bigger a deal it is to carry it in the best possible way.

    It's possible that you don't need all 40 pounds but there's no way to tell without being there. In 7mm, in the ocean, with a rental BC and aluminum cylinder, I would use 35 pounds, and I am a fairly large person (250 pounds).

    You may be able to reconfigure some of your gear to reduce the amount of lead you need, though this is difficult to do with rental gear especially when you are not yet certified. For example you could use a steel cylinder rather than aluminum, or a BP/W buoyancy compensator, or both. These two changes together would take around 10 pounds off your belt.

    It is also possible to split the lead up and put it in different places so not all of it is on your belt.

    Ideally you would be able to speak with an instructor and work through these alternatives before showing up for the dive, realizing that some shops/instructors may be more helpful than others. This can be hard to do however since the shop -- especially the person who answers the phone -- may not know who your instructor will be. Some shops provide rental/instruction BCs that have integrated weight pockets while some do not. Most shops do not teach in BP/W BCs but there are exceptions (I was taught in one). Some boats have steel cylinders available, sometimes for a small upcharge, some just don't use them. There is variation in shops, call around.

    Good luck in your journey.
  3. oly5050user

    oly5050user Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Westchester NY
    Use a modern weight inter grated BCD. Unless you weigh close to 400 lbs, and if you do I do not think diving is a good idea for you sorry, if you needed assistance in the water how could it be expected that you can be helped? I have to say you were grossly, even dangerously over weighed with lead. I would even say your instructor may have been negligent by not having you do a proper weigh check during the training dives. Wearing a7mm wetsuit , a rough estimate on lead required would be 10% of body weight , plus 4 to 6 lbs if in salt water. In our facility if a student needs to wait 6 months to a year before training dives completed , we get them in our pool for a refresher session with an instructor( there is a fee for this service). Close to a year, we also require new medical, liability release, statement of understanding, retake final exam.
    MJS1946 likes this.
  4. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
    I would suggest you make a few phone calls to find out about gear situations and how vital it is that you book ahead.

    You haven't said how many dives you did prior to your lost C-card. I would say that your historic dive count and experience should also be factored in. If you really enjoyed it and were comfortable and especially if you got in a fair few dives it would make you more competent with the refresher you took.

    Before you "Packed it in" I would suggest you might even just go to Hawaii and pop in to the local dive shops with your paperwork. A chat with the local pros may help you make your final decision. I figure.. you have come this far so why not do the dives? Many people go there to dive so rather than thinking about it as more money to get the cert.. think of it as one of the holiday activities many people pay extra for anyway and enjoy a couple "safe guided dives".
    MJS1946 likes this.
  5. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Working toward Cenotes ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    There are some nice beach reef dives, that would look very similar to pool dives in difficulty/ease. I'd press the local shop, but not stress about that. Just get in the water in HI with a good instructor.
    MJS1946 likes this.
  6. divinh

    divinh ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco
    Not knowing where in Hawaii you're going, I looked up some OW course prices and they seem to vary from $200, for a class of up to 8, to $350-500, for the typical class of 4, and upward, for two or private. Since you haven't had the class for a while, why not take the OW class again as a refresher to theory? And a way to show the dive op you know what you're doing? Unless the theory is fresh for you and you'd rather not repeat, then I suppose you could tell the dive op you'd like to skip the theory, as you've already had it. Price-wise, the referral cost is about the cost of the course from scratch.
    MJS1946 likes this.
  7. 0321tony

    0321tony Angel Fish

    Were only on this earth for a short time so cram in as much fun as you can. Drive on and don't give up. You wont need as much weight in Hawaii and the rental gear I have used there all had integrated pockets so no worry's about dropping a weight belt. If they do use weight belts tell them of your previous experience and they should help you out. You've had some setbacks, we all have at some point but if its something you want to do and you are physically and medically capable then DON'T GIVE UP!!! life is short and you may forever regret it. I'm assuming you went through PADI if you did and you did the Elearning then you can access your Elearning for a year, I'd suggest going through it before going to Hawaii just so the information is fresh in your head. Your completed date wont change so your instructor may quiz you before you get in the water.
    Best of luck to you.
    Happydiver1212, dead dog and MJS1946 like this.
  8. Pyde

    Pyde Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Idaho

    I just wanted to give you a quick run down of my experience to get certified. As I was in a similar boat as you are. Just different experiences along the way.

    I went in for my 400$ OW PADI Cert class with my head held high.
    We did...........
    2 days of class
    1 full day pool session

    I ace'd all of this with flying colors........ Here come the problems and expenses

    We went to do our 4 open water dives in a geothermal lake. 71 degree topside - 80 degree bottom. Visibility with 50 or so other divers trying to get certified as well....... ZERO. There were 4-5 dive shops there all with divers trying to get certified. This lake is a 4 hour drive from my house. On my first dive (Saturday morning) I wasn't able to clear my left ear and besides that..... I couldn't breath well at all. I also felt super uncomfortable through the whole thing so I called my dive. My 2 dive instructors plus 1 dive master had 7 of us with them in that class. I really felt like they didn't have time to just sit with me one on one to get me through any of the issues I was having. It was rather frustrating. But I sucked it up and got out of the water. I stayed the night in a local hotel near the lake to try again on Sunday morning. Sunday morning my instructors were busy getting everyone else through dives 3 and 4 that no one had time to get me back in the water.

    This trip cost me about 250$ total between food / fuel / lodging

    After this experience I went back to doing more pool sessions (per the request of my instructor) until we headed back one month later to the same geothermal lake with next months open water students.

    I ran into near the same issues this time in the Geothermal lake as I did the first time. Except no ear problems this time. Everything felt rushed / couldn't see anything / breathing felt sporadic / just felt completely uncomfortable. I called the dives again. I didn't get back in the water again Saturday or Sunday while being there. Again we had about another 6-7 students in this class as well.

    After both of these experiences I really thought about not getting certified.............. BUT............. after talking to others on these forums and listening to advice I scheduled private open water dives for myself with another instructor (my wife tagged along for these who is an AOW diver).

    So now with the initial purchase of my class and all expenses from trips I was up close to 1000$ with no certification.

    The private open water dives ended up costing me another 375$ (Just for the 4 dives and certification card)

    The private Open Water dives I scheduled in Utah at Homestead Crater where the water is 95 degrees and about 60 feet deep went perfect. My instructor was patient and it was great to be the only student. I was having a little ear trouble during my 4 dives but hanging out at certain depths under the water and giving my ear the 30-45 seconds to equalize was perfect. These dives were so relaxing that I forgot all about how uneasy I felt at the other dive location. My wife did these dives with me and the instructor which was another awesome experience. We got to practice the buddy skills together while supervised closely by the instructor. All in all I passed my 4 open water dives here with flying colors feeling very comfortable through out the entire time.

    All said and done...... My Open Water Cert took me 3.5 months and cost me with Fuel / Lodging / Food / Cost of classes / Gear = Roughly $1650.00.
    So much for a 400$ certification that I originally paid.

    Now that I'm done with all of this though I couldn't be more happy that I persevered through the endeavor. My wife and I have done some awesome dives and have all of our own gear now. I even have my own 7 mil wetsuit / hood / gloves / boots that we use here in Idaho to dive our freezing cold lakes. We are headed out this weekend to dive one of them.

    Looking forward to getting in more dives and then shooting for my AOW and Rescue Diver Cert...!!!!

    Hopefully my experience makes sense and in some essence may help in yours.
  9. 2airishuman

    2airishuman ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Greater Minnesota
    I would not be so sure.

    In my 7mm wetsuit (two piece with hood and gloves), it takes 22 pounds for me to be neutral in fresh water at 10 feet, if all other gear is neutral. I add 8 pounds to my belt for salt water, and 3 pounds for an empty AL80. The 8 pounds is based on adding 2.5% of the total weight of me, my gear, and the other lead, so 250# for me + 40# gear + 25# lead = 315# * 2.5% = about 8 pounds. This is a total of 33 pounds of lead. In a rented, jacket-style BC, I would round up to 34 pounds since I find that most jacket BCs are slightly buoyant.

    These are actual values that I have "dialed in" over the course of many dives and are quite close -- within a few pounds -- to the minimum I need to maintain buoyancy control at 10'.

    If I were diving with 40 pounds, I would be about six pounds over. Overweighted, yes, but not grossly so.

    Now, I don't ever dive with that much lead. For one thing, my coldwater dives are in fresh water, and for another, I use a backplate and negative cylinders when diving 7mm, so the most I ever use is around 16 pounds.
    MJS1946 likes this.
  10. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    Diving in a thick wetsuit in freezing water is bad enough; adding 40 lbs of lead so you can get that thick wetsuit submerged is borderline torture. (Quick note: some people here have suggested you were overweighted, because 40 lbs is far too much weight for a 7mm wetsuit; I suspect these people are underestimating your neoprene, and that you were wrapped in more like 12mm.) It is weird that the people running your class didn't have a way to mitigate the problem of putting 40 lbs of lead on one belt. But that's beside the point: until you get far enough into diving where you have a drysuit, BPW and steel tank, forget about diving in freezing water!

    Only you can decide what is worth your time and money, but consider this:

    1. Local diving is not working for you. Leave it behind for now. Get the referral from your LDS.

    2. Hawaii diving is a completely different world. The water is warmer, the people that will take you diving do it every day, and they are used to handling divers in exactly your situation: those from colder climates that want to dive in warmer water. They will likely have all the solutions to your problems.

    3. If you have dived in the past, you have a big advantage: you know exactly what you're getting back into. That should make the decision easier.

    It sounds like you might be getting a little (a lot?) discouraged because of your interaction with the people at your LDS. They might be getting discouraged also, because they can't figure out how to get you diving with a thick suit, lots of weight, and freezing water. Recognize that the solution isn't to give up... the solution is to get away from cold water, thick suit, lots of weight.

    As for cost: shop around a bit. Boat diving in Hawaii is more expensive than most places, and that $375 is mostly because you will probably take two boat trips to do your four OW dives. If you price these at $125 each, then really you have $125 x 2 for the boat trips and $125 for the instructor's time (and gear rental?) When you break it down, it's not out of line. But you might be able to get a lower price from a shop that maybe does cert dives from a beach instead.

    Be sure to talk to your instructor about your concerns as early as possible... it will make your life, and theirs, much better during your time together. The Hawaii people should be able to set you up with a quick pool session, just so they can get a look at you before taking you in the ocean (this is a common practice with referrals, although not everyone does it.)

    AND... whatever shop you choose to go with, ask them about the signed medical form before you travel! Make sure you know exactly what they will need from you, e.g. medical form with original doc's signature, etc, so you can have that for them. One of the worst things would be for you to be ready to "take the plunge" after flying over there, and then have the dive shop refuse to take you diving because of the medical paperwork. Every dive shop has its own rules; assuming the Hawaii shop will take you with your asthma cleared by the doc just because the Oregon LDS did could leave you disappointed.
    bowlofpetunias and MJS1946 like this.

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