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Flashback to Open Water Certification

Posted by on September 22, 2012
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Bob Ward

Fiction author with a zest for adventure travel. Blogs, tweets, videos, and pins for research and fun. He also hosts Ward's Adventure Travel Research & Trip Journal, a weekly podcast available on EFN, iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and more.

Before I dig through my tub of journals to find my accurate notes on our SCUBA certification, I want to search my memory for the highlights. Partly, I’m curious to see how well I recall the cert process, and partly, I’m too jazzed to discuss it to wait. Anyway, my flashback reel of highlights can offer insight to the most memorable parts of certification, to me, and those who recall similar or different highlights can freely comment.

A quick list of thoughts…

I was certified in 2007.

1) We used a local SCUBA shop, owned by a husband and wife, and they and their staff were excellent. They had three guys…Jim, Jim, and Mark. They were all great! Very dedicated, and they traveled all over the world leading dive tours, so they knew what they were doing. Jim is an engineer, quite bright, as I recall.

2) We had 2 classroom and pool sessions (on a Sat & Sunday). The first session was pool training, the second session was classroom study. The book was about an inch thick.

3) My wife and I each had to purchase mask, snorkel, and fins.

4) The cost of the class was a couple or a few hundred bucks.

5) The most common question asked regarded the how to avoid the Bends, what were the Bends, and what happened if you got the Bends.

6) The most important part of the classroom study centered on the concepts of always continuing to breathing, never hold your breath. The next most important part was on decent (SORTED) and accent (STELA)¬†procedures. SORTED: Start, Orient, Regulator, Time, Extend, Decent. STELA: Stop, Time, Extend, Look up, Ascend. ¬†(I may have the S wrong on both–I haven’t dived in a while).

7) Very memorable to learn how nitrogen bubbles accumulate under the increasing pressure of depth.

8) 1 Atmosphere of pressure is sea level

9) The deeper you dive, the faster your air goes.

10) It’s not oxygen in the tank…it’s regular breathable air.

11) The pool training was fascinating. A couple students proved too scared underwater to remove their masks. Thus they failed the class, and will never go scuba diving. The same students couldn’t even swim. One student said, and I quote, “I don’t float.” We had to do the dead man float for about 10 minutes. One guy fail at that point.

12) The absolute most horrifying part for everyone was taking off their mask underwater, putting in back on, and clearing the water from the mask. This is a lifesaving skill you need when you’re 60 feet underwater and your buddy accidentally kicks off your mask.

13) We had to go to a lake in Illinois to finish our open water dive portion of the certification, and I have the picture of me and my wife that day, smiling after we both passed.

14) In the lake, the most talked about aspect of the dive by everyone afterwards was seeing the one fish swim by us all while we knelt in a line on a sunken semi-trailer to do our buoyancy test. That proved to me that the most fascinating aspect of scuba diving was seeing live fish underwater. (Far and away the best part of diving is the sea life…fish of all color, eels, conchs, crabs. LOVE IT!)

15) Learned the last day that 90% of people who get certified never take a single scuba trip. At that point, I made a promise to myself and to my wife that we would be in the 10% club. The figure shocked me. We went to Bonaire within the next few months with friends from out of state. The husband, 007G, can be seen on holding a knife to my throat.

That’s the highlights from my flashback.

More accurate details and correction from my journals and logbooks will follow as soon as I have more time.

Please forgive any spelling errors, etc. I brain dumped very quickly.

Right now, I must go meet the Rider Company team.



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