Advanced Open Water Scuba Diving
The Advanced Open Water course is a chance to dive deeper than we have before so that we can explore life on the verge of a reef and the big, wide ocean. It’s an opportunity to learn how to navigate our way along a vibrant and colourful dive site. Perhaps it is the thrill of investigating a wreck or learning about one of the plethora of unique dive specialties that excites us to take the course. Is there anything else that the course offers?
Well, the Open Water course teaches the basic skills of scuba diving, while the Advanced introduces some brand new skills and experiences. Let’s stop at the end of the Open Water course for s moment though. The fact is, however, that most Open Water divers will still be experiencing totally new sensations on each and every new dive. Diving can take a little getting used to. Actually, many students will not have even had the opportunity to make multiple dives since they completed their Open Water course.
This is where the Advanced course can offer that little bit more. Although students get all of the experiences mentioned above, they also get to significantly improve on those basic skills they learnt during the Open Water course. For example, by simply participating in more dives, students also get to work on skills such as buoyancy, weighting and breathing patterns.
Additionally, outside of improving on the basic dive skills from the Open Water course and introducing some defined specialties, the Advanced course can also assist newer divers in familiarizing themselves with common dive equipment and procedures. For instance, the Advanced course may be a diver’s first exposure to using a dive computer. This is perhaps changing now that dive computers are becoming more and more accessible. In fact, at the Toronto Scuba Centre, we now teach our Open Water course using computer simulators. Yet having a practical opportunity to use a computer in an open water setting with an instructor is equally as invaluable as simply being taught how to use one.
This might also be a chance to introduce new pieces of equipment to our divers beyond just the dive computer. Although a compass is used briefly during the Open Water course, Advanced students learn its use in much greater detail. And for most people, the use of SMB’s (“surface marker buoys”) is a novel concept as well.
Even the most obvious pieces of equipment get revisited … for example, the BCD (“buoyancy compensation device”). Most of the BCDs used by the Toronto Scuba Club are weight-integrated BCDs. As the Open Water course requires an understanding of weight belt usage, we introduce how to properly weight and distribute that weight to our students on the Advanced course.
Basically, the Advanced course is a chance for students to become better acquainted with dive gear generally.
Finally, along with improving a student’s diving and equipment-related skills, a further benefit of the Advanced course is increased confidence. Learning to dive in different circumstances and conditions can only help to broaden a newer diver’s experiences. At the Toronto Scuba Centre, this is particularly emphasized, especially because our students get to dive in the St. Lawrence in the middle of the Thousand Islands … a green-water, fast-moving fresh cold-water river system. Most of our students only come to fully realize the benefits that this location offers later.
For many scuba divers, diving is a pastime they have only experienced in lush, gentle, tropical, and mostly calm warm-water environments. And there is nothing wrong with that, in fact, that type of environment is one I particularly crave. What the location that we teach our Advanced course in offers, however, is a completely different experience. Many of our students often give us feedback about how much they appreciate it. They routinely tell us that having dived in much more demanding conditions makes them much more proficient and relaxed when they dive in far-easier waters. Not that it makes them complacent divers, but that they feel much more confident when they are abroad. Perhaps the most common refrain is also that our divers have a deeper appreciation of the beauty and colour of a tropical reef, having dived into a far different environment here in Ontario.
Simply put, the Advanced course just keeps on giving. It offers a lot and every student gains so much.