Advanced Open Water Diver Course
We’ve now seen a host of reasons why taking the Advanced Open Water Diver course is probably one of the smartest steps a fairly new scuba diver can take. Beyond those reasons, why else should someone take the Advanced Open Water Diver course?
Well, it may seem obvious, but the last reason why someone should take the course is probably the most commonly over-looked. What is it? Quite simply it is yet a further opportunity to get totally immersed in your newfound dive passion.
You may have read or heard the following PADI adage (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors): “Meet People, Go Places, Do Things” (often accompanied by the adverb “underwater”). Cheesy or not, the crazy part is that it is true.
Scuba diving used to be a fairly elitist sport, enjoyed either by former military/professional divers, the affluent or hard-core enthusiasts. Times have changed. Today, scuba diving is a sport that is far more widely accessible and open to anyone who can moderately swim and learns the basic skills necessary to dive safely (health issues aside).
Given the greater accessibility, significantly more people are now scuba diving. A few years ago (about 2007/2008) PADI was certifying over 500,000 people a year as Open Water divers. It is impossible to quantify the exact number of scuba divers worldwide, because there are many different certifying agencies keeping their own statistics and because a lot of divers started diving prior to certification requirements. It is safe to say, however, that there are millions of divers worldwide (PADI’s alone estimated in 2008 that it had certified over 15 million Open Water Divers).
With that many divers, no matter where you dive, the chances are high that you will always meet new people and experience totally different adventures on your travels or holidays. So, yes, the PADI adage is a little cliché, but scuba diving really does open up a global dive community that provides opportunities to make new friends and enjoy good times that otherwise you would never have known about.
Being able to dive, no matter where you travel (providing there is a body of water nearby), also gives you another thing to do while you are abroad. Gone are the days of plateauing on your vacation, reaching that point where the beach is old news and you have already seen and done all of the local attractions. Instead, you just need to a good dive outfit, grab your gear and get exploring underwater.
You could, of course, already do this as an Open Water Diver, so why is the Advanced Open Water Diver any different?
The previous articles in this series have already discussed all of the various attributes the course offers: deep dives, navigation, specialties, etc. It is because of the skills you have learnt on the Advanced course, however, that you will now be able to dive pretty much anywhere the dive charter is willing to take you. Being relegated to only the shallow and potentially dull dive spots that Open Water divers are restricted to can be incredibly frustrating. The Advanced certification changes that. After the Advanced course you will be able to enjoy almost all of the dive sites that any given locale has to offer. Combine that with the chance to dive with groups of usually more experienced divers (who may have some great stories to swap) and your diving proficiency will develop in leaps and bounds.
Quite often, many Open Water students simply stop at that level of certification. As a result, they only ever dive easy warm-water settings. There is nothing wrong with that and we are not suggesting that anyone should try to do anything that they are uncomfortable with, but diving in slightly more demanding circumstances and at greater depths (after you have been properly trained of course), naturally engenders a greater awareness of your own diving skills. Accordingly, you will know where you need to improve and you will want to improve and that can never be a bad thing.
We know the Advanced Open Water course also gives you a taste of some of the specialty courses available in recreational scuba diving (as well as perhaps an interest in a number of more advanced courses, such as the Rescue Diver course). After your Advanced course, the chances are that you will likely dive with divers who already have those specialties. Now you will have the chance to find out more about the specific skills that interest you from those who already have them. All courses give you the basis of understanding a specific skill-set, but it is your experiences and interactions with other divers that will fulfill your aspirations for any specific goal.
Essentially, getting more involved in the dive community is a fundamental way to learn new skills and specialties, as well as get the inside scoop on dive spots and dive opportunities. Starting with the Advanced, you will be set to explore and fully develop your dive experiences for years to come. Welcome to a whole new world of diving.