When most people think of scuba diving, what often comes to mind is all of the horror stories people hear. While there are many dangers involved in the sport, there are just as many safety precautions that go into dive preparation allowing for every dive to be safe and enjoyable.
Now that you know that the sport is not as dangerous as people make it out to be, let’s dive into how you can get started scuba diving.
Before you can even think about going into the ocean, you’ve got to spend some time studying in the classroom. The PADI Open Water certification course involves some pre-work followed by a pool skills challenge. The coursework is great for weeding out people who are into the sport for the wrong reasons. If you do not study up, you will not get certified.
The pool skills challenge can be very difficult for some people. I got certified when I was 16, and found a lot of the skills to be challenging. One of the most intimidating skills during this test is the mask removal and clearing drill. While underwater in a pool, the instructor will ask you to take off your mask, place it on the floor, and then put it back on while clearing out the water. Seems hard, right? Once you take the time to practice, it’s really not that hard to do.
After doing scuba diving related drills, you’ll then be asked to do some swim tests. These consist of a 200-meter swim, and 10-minute water treading test. I found these extremely difficult as I wasn’t very comfortable in the water when I was younger. I actually failed the water-treading the first time I tried, but once I learned to float on my back it wasn’t an issue any longer.
After reviewing the material and passing your pool skills competition, you are one step closer to going on your first dive.
One ”problem” with scuba diving is that most people don’t have access to dive locations. I grew up on the East Coast of the United States, so before I started nomading around, my scuba diving was limited to trips to Florida and Hawaii. This challenge causes many people to do scuba diving trips, where their entire vacation is dedicated to diving.
Photo credit: QBaron on Unsplash
But What Equipment Do I Need?
Ok, so you now have your open water certification and know where you want to do your first dive. And then suddenly it hits you, ”What equipment do I need to dive!?”
In most cases, you really just need a mask, snorkel, and fins. Even if you’re missing these, most dive shops will help you out and let you hire some. Before I went to Hawaii to do my checkout dives, I brought those items on the plane with me. The dive master that took me out provided all the rest of the equipment and showed me how to gear up.
In most cases, the dive shop will provide you with the following:
- Buoyancy Control Device (BCD)
- Weight Belt and Weights
- Dive Tank and Air
- Pressure Gauge, Air Gauge
P.S. there are full-face diving masks, too. This is when you have both the dive mask and the regulator into one. (I’m up for trying this one next time I go diving). – Bilyana
The Buoyancy Control device is one of the key parts of your scuba diving equipment. These are usually remotely controlled and go around your body. Using the remote, you can inflate and deflate your vest to achieve the buoyancy level you desire. Achieving neutral buoyancy is one of the most important skills a beginner can learn.
Weight Belts are used to allow you to sink by default. Once we sink to the desired level, we have some other tricks to stay at that level. These weights are often wrapped around your waist, but can also be integrated into your other equipment.
Dive tanks are what makes this whole entire thing possible. Without a tank, you’d only be able to scuba dive for seconds at a time. Not only would this not be practical, but it wouldn’t even be worth the effort. Dive tanks come in all shapes and sizes but as a beginner, almost every tank will function the same. They are often pretty heavy, so you usually don’t want to put them on until right before you dive into the water.
Wetsuits are what allow you to stay warm while diving at such deep depths. Depending on your location, you’ll want a wet suit with different thickness, length and maybe even color. My first dive was in Hawaii, so I was able to get one that was cut at the arms and legs. This allows for even more mobility which I’m always a huge fan of.
The regulator is what feeds you oxygen from your tank. If you don’t have your own, you’re going to have to use the dive shops. Before you ask, yes people have put their mouth on it before and no you won’t die from using it. If this is too gross for you than scuba diving might not be the best fit for you.
Last but not least, is some sort of dive computer or information system that tells you important information such as your remaining amount of air, current depth, and more. Scubaotter has some great reviews on dive watches and dive computers.
Now that you know what all of your equipment does, you’re ready to start your first real dive. Make sure to pay attention and follow the dive master. Your first scuba dive adventure is something you’ll never forget. The amount of freedom I felt while breathing underwater absorbing my surrounding was amazing, and I’d do anything to experience it again.
Photo credit: Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández on Unsplash
About the author:
Austin Tuwiner is a digital nomad, entrepreneur and scuba diver who is looking to help more people get into the hobby.
Owl Over The World first diving experience
On my recent trip to Egypt, I finally decided to try diving for the first time. I was excited about trying something new, something that I haven’t tried before. I’ve been snorkeling in the Red Sea before and I knew how beautiful the underwater world is and of course expected the diving experience to be amazing.
Everything was great until I started diving 8 meters down under the surface with the dive tank and all the equipment. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. For that same reason, it was pretty scary at the beginning. I had a few panic attacks under the water. ?
I got more used to it during the second dive. The truth is that it was so new and different for me, so I was breathing very heavily the whole time, just to make sure that I actually breathe. That was exhausting.
I didn’t do my best on this first experience, but I’m highly motivated to become a diver one day. I know that the fear that obsessed me, it’s a fear that I can overcome and that I can actually become comfortable with it.
And of course, the wholly other, incredible world that is waiting for you under the water is absolutely worth it!
Featured photo credit: wembley on Unsplash
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