A most excellent question. There is a misnomer in the industry that once you become an Open Water (OW) Diver, you should first log some dives before going for you Advance Open Water (AOW) Card. Though that is certainly an option, it is not the rule. In Open Water class we teach you the basics. To be good, like in many sports, you need practice, and repetition is king!
Once you have graduated from Open Water (OW) you need to get back into the water. If you wait four to six months, or even longer, you will forget what you were taught. Not only will you be a danger to yourself, but to your buddy as well. How to get back into the water is the question. You can grab one of your classmates or a diver friend and go. But a more popular option is to enroll in the PADI Advance Open Water Class right away. Many Argonaut Diving OW graduates take the AOW class within weeks of graduating from OW. In fact we are running a special this summer that if you purchase and pass OW class you get AOW class for free (does not include scuba gear).
Unlike OW class, where you have knowledge reviews, quizzes, exams, pool training sessions and skills check off in open water. The AOW class has no exams or quizzes, minimal skill tests (in the Navigation Dive), only five Knowledge Review chapters to turn in, and finally, five open water dives. So in the Argonaut Diving AOW class, we have one brief classroom session where we go over those knowledge reviews, then we do five dives, usually over a period of three days. Required dives include Deep and Navigation, the remaining optional three dives can be chosen from a myriad of choices. They range from Drift Diving, Night, Wreck, Buoyancy, Drysuit, Cavern, Fish ID, and many many more.
Though we give those Adventure Dives in AOW class specific names and we review those topics, the real reason for the class is to get you in the water to practice, while being supervised by dive professionals. Doing it over a short period of days allows you to learn and adjust immediately your diving techniques, then applying those techniques on the next dive. The main focus is buoyancy control. Let’s face it. The key to a great dive is buoyancy control. So we triple check your weighting and trim and adjust as needed throughout the course. AOW class also focuses on re emphasizing all of the techniques you learned in OW and more.
The AOW certification will certify you beyond the OW certification 60 feet depth limit, to 100 feet. It will also better prepare you for varying diving environments, including boat diving, Night Diving, Drift Diving, to name a few. Many charters require you to be AOW certified before they allow you on board. Also, a significant number of the local desirable dive sites exceed 60 feet and are not available to you as an OW diver. In the tropics deeper diving is even more prevalent with the better than 100 foot visibility commonly encountered in those regions.
Argonaut Diving’s AOW class is almost like a private class. You and your buddy will be assigned a staff member to do the dives with you so you are not going out in large groups. This two to one ratio of students to staff makes the experience that much more rewarding and fun.
So, if you have not taken Advanced Open Water class, the time is now! If you just graduated from Open Water Class, the time is now! If you have not learned to dive yet, then sign up for Open Water class and get the Advanced class for free. The time is now! Check our class page or registration page to see when the next one is available. Because of our ratios, space is always limited.
Dive Smart, Dive Safe!
There are many skills in scuba to master. One of the most important, and one that often causes divers grief, is a lack of situational awareness. Even though the oceans we delve into are vast, we need to have awareness of what is immediately around us. Here is just a short list of some of the more obvious, but often violated.
- Where is your buddy? You have a responsibility to monitor where your buddy is. Above you? Below You? Behind you? When ascending and descending is even more important that you maintain a visual contact at the very least. Visibility affects this greatly. The less vis, the closer you should be. Heck if vis is nonexistent, holding hands is allowed! Really!
- Where is the bottom? On a shore dive, you often follow the bottom contour out to deeper waters and back. But if you are on a wall, or plan on doing a blue water descent. You really need to watch your depth gauge and be alert. Again following the wall down or a line is preferable. But if you are not, be aware of where you are. In many advance diving situations a charter may drop you on a wall that goes hundreds of feet down. You are responsible that you know where you are at. Assuming you can drop to the bottom can be a fatal mistake. Knowing where the bottom is and not crashing into it, damaging aquatic life is important.
- What is above me? When ascending, you need to monitor your buddy as well as keep an eye as to what is above me. And monitor your ascent rate carefully. Most computers have built in audible warnings, but that should be a back up. You need to be aware!
- How deep am I? Do not blindly follow your buddy to any depth. Maybe they have a 100 Cf tank and you have an 80 cf tank. Monitor your air. Though we dive in buddy teams, each diver is responsible for their own dive profile. Blindly following your buddy and assuming they have your profile in mind is a recipe for disaster. You should not be diving beyond your training.
- Where is out? In case of emergency, which is the fastest way out of the water? Take a compass reading before your drop below the surface. If you are uncomfortable with underwater navigation, take a refresher or sign up for the PADI Underwater Navigation course. You should have a general idea where you are underwater in relation to your exit point at all times. Relying on your buddy has consequences.
- Keep an eye around you. Taking pictures is not an excuse to ignore everything else around you. Be alert. Plan your dives and dive your plans. Plan turn around points. Stick to them. Have good buoyancy management. Monitor your air and keep track of buddy’s air. Review signals before during buddy checks and do those buddy checks.
Common Sense? You would think so. Surprising how many divers we notice not doing these things. Don’t be one of them. Have an awareness of what is around, will make your dives much more enjoyable.
Food for thought!
Dive smart, dive safe!