If there was an addictions group for PADI courses I would be its president. I love scuba diving so much that it seems not only natural to me but also completely necessary to learn as much about it and the marine environment as possible, and to become the very best diver I can be. I’m a type A person. I organize. I live by lists. I cannot leave a task unfinished once I have started it. Luckily for me the PADI training system was obviously set up by a fellow type A because its a nicely organized chart that looks an awful lot like a series of lists. I simply cannot resist!
Someone asked me not too long ago when I would go for my dive master training (the first step in becoming a professional scuba diver) and I replied that I couldn’t. Not until I’ve got all the specialties. That chart is just one big beautiful to-do list to me and I get such satisfaction from checking another course off of it. I’m quite sure this makes me a dream customer for PADI because in addition to standing for Professional Association of Diving Instructors it also happens to stand for Put Another Dollar In. I absolutely don’t want to think about how much money I’ve invested in my training to date and how far I still want to go. Don’t get me wrong here, every single penny is worth it. I don’t regret a single cent. But just the same I think I’ll sleep better at night not knowing the exact figure.
In the 10 short months I’ve been a certified diver I’ve checked off my Open Water course, my Advanced Open Water course, my Rescue Diver course, Project AWARE diver specialty, Project AWARE Coral Reef Conservation diver specialty, Drysuit diver specialty, Enriched Air diver specialty, and Emergency Oxygen Provider specialty. I am 30 logged dives away from sending in my application (which is already filled out by the way) for the Master Scuba Diver rating, the highest in recreational scuba diving. Rest assured there will be many celebratory drinks the night that hits the mail!
Originally when we planned this trip I talked a lot of trash about how I didn’t want to spend my vacation doing lots of training. I just wanted to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy ‘fun’ diving (what I call a dive that doesn’t involve any training related skills practice) for a change. Yet somehow (and honestly I’m not entirely sure how it happened) I’m smack in the middle of preparing to complete up to 8 more specialties. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!? I really do need a 10 step program. I’ve finished the readings and knowledge reviews for 4 of the courses so far, and just need to put in some time with my instructors to go over the content. I haven’t started on the other 4 yet. My goal is to have only the dive components left to do while we’re gone, so that at least in the time I’m not diving I don’t have to have my head buried in a book. That will also give Warren and I the flexibility of completing training dives as the opportunities arise, rather than having a set schedule to follow. I wont’ get through them all on this trip, but I’d like to be prepared for any of them because we won’t know which we’ll finish until we’re there. We’ll be logging 50+ dives on this trip so I’m sure we’ll manage to strike a lovely balance between courses and fun diving! So here’s what I’ve got on the go:
Navigation – learning to navigate underwater using natural navigation techniques (such as bottom topography, water movement and light and shadows) and a compass. This will give me the skills to be able to find my dive sites, return safely to the boat or shore and I’ll also do some distance estimations and swim patterns underwater. This is one of my “for-sure” courses on this trip.
Deep – learning how to safely dive between 60 and 130 ft. this includes equipment considerations, recognizing and dealing with nitrogen narcosis, and how to minimize the risks of decompression illness. This is also a “for-sure” course.
Peak Performance Buoyancy – learning how to fine tune my buoyancy skills through lung volume control, trimming gear, and weighting to ensure I dive without damaging the marine environment or my equipment and get the most out of my air supply.
Night – learning how to plan and organize night dives, while considering procedures, techniques, gear, entries and exits as well as how the night environment differs from the day time.
Fish ID – learning how to identify characteristics of fish families and species, and surveying techniques and strategies. This is a “for-sure” course.
Project AWARE Shark Conservation – learning about the issues contributing to the disappearance of shark populations worldwide and ways to participate in conservation activities such as clean-ups, political advocacy, and supporting eco-tourism. This is a “for-sure” course.
Wreck – learning techniques for exploring wrecks, equipment considerations, and techniques for penetrating intact wrecks (ie. venturing inside).
Digital Underwater Photography (DUP) – learning how to choose an underwater camera system, how to get great shots quickly while controlling buoyancy so as not to damage the environment or gear, and primary principles for taking photos.
Wish me luck…I’ll need it.