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What a wonderful world!

Discussion in 'New to Scuba Diving' started by Azz, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. Azz

    Azz New Member

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    Hi All,

    A pesty new member here ... and I am known for my curiosity and endless questions, so apologies in advance.

    My wife and I completed the Discover Scuba dive in the Maldives a month ago. It was an unbelievable experience. The lagoon dive itself was amazing, but actually jumping off the boat and into the ocean was just unbelievable. We were so impressed that my wife and I ended up doing another dive the very next day.

    Now, in hindsight, we should've done the Open Water Cert there and then, but I had no idea how much we'd enjoy it and that we'd actually want to take this up as a proper hobby.

    Since returning to London, I have looked at the requirements of the PADI Open Water Certification and how we'd go about it. I think this makes the most logical sense for us, in terms of next steps. However, I have the following questions:

    - Are there any recommendations on instructors in the South West London area? Is there a site where people comment on their experiences? Any guide on what costs to expect?
    - The first instructor I've called has given me an option to do the open water dives in Portugal with him, which he'll arrange. Is it better to do the dives with him or would any Open Water Referral be sufficient - are they all competent if they all show the right logos on their website? If yes, it allows us some freedom on when we do the Open Water dives.
    - Is there a return policy on 4 year olds? Crude joke - please ignore. We will just have to dive where we can find someone to take care of him. Do any divers have similar circumstances - any tips / thoughts? I realise he can start himself once he's 10 but that's too far away.
    - While our initial exercises for the Discover Scuba were a little daunting, we managed to pick it up fairly quickly. I realise those exercises were only the basic things and there's a lot more to learn - how difficult is it to learn all the exercises?

    Appreciate any advice.

    Best,
    A
     
  2. nickb

    nickb Active Member

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  3. JohnL

    JohnL Well-Known Member

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    Welcome Azz - we love answering questions on the forum; you will get several views to any question, maybe a bit of fisticuffs, and can decide for yourself what sounds logical.

    I did both OW and AOW on a referral basis - I felt this had two advantages:
    - I got theory and pool dives from a native English speaker (in retrospect, the overseas instructors I've met speak excellent English)
    - the water in Madeira was warmer and I didn't waste holiday time on theory and confined water dives

    On the whole, I'm happy with my choice; it is a bit more expensive. The downside is that, now I'm starting to dive in UK, I have new skills to learn, drysuit diving among others and this is taking time. My daughter and son-in-law qualified OW yesterday :singing:, again referral with the sea dives in Barbados

    Can't help you with childcare :whistling: - daughter is 27 and shows no sign of presenting us with a grandchild in the near future.
     
  4. Vanny

    Vanny Active Member

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    Re the learning bit we're BSAC trained so no idea really on the referral bit. Our kids (12 year olds) learnt last year with PADI on hols and enjoyed that experience.

    As for diving with kids. If you intend diving in the uk you'll be incredibly lucky to find any kind of child care, find a decent club! As they get a bit older you can be fortunate and find sympathetic skippers who if their boat isn't full you can get away with taking them out with you and leave them in the cabin with an iPad ! We've managed this a few times, it helps if their good swimmers and have grown up around diving.
    Abroad is a little bit easier, dive centres are keen for your cash so taking them on day boats is easier. If I remember correctly we've done that in L'Estartit and croatia, the staff took them snorkelling whilst we dived. There is also a campsite there that has a crèche and dive centre. They'll take the kids whilst you go diving.
     
  5. Colliwobbles

    Colliwobbles Active Member

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    Try Purple Turtle Diving in Norwood and speak to Toni. She trains smaller groups and is extremely passionate. She's attached to Amphibian watersports which is probably the best dive shop and emporium in London!!

    www.purpleturtlediving.com
     
  6. Doomanic

    Doomanic Dinosaur Wrangler
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    Is that a commercial post Col? ;)
     
  7. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    It's an amazing experience, that first time you go underwater, breathe, then look around you; that feeling of weightlessness. I still get that buzz even after hundreds of dives.

    UK diving is different to diving abroad. Our diving has more challenges in a lot of ways as obviously it's colder, but also as there's a lot of tide so the visibility isn't as clear as abroad. The upside is UK diving's very unpredictable and we've literally thousands of wrecks around our coastline.

    Starting out is best done gently. Get the basic skills out of the way. I did my Open Water and the "Advanced" Open Water abroad; easily done over a couple of weeks. There's a lot to be said about the split courses where you can do all the academics in the UK and in swimming pools, then do the open water skills somewhere warmer.

    The UK alternative is to do the open water skills either in one of the quarries or lakes. The problem is that the visibility isn't great and they're cold except for the peak summer months -- even then they're never warm, about 18 degrees is the tops. Depends on your attitude; if you're wanting to get the skills done and can put up with the conditions, then do it in the UK. But if abroad is an option, do take it...

    Later on if the bug really bites, then you'll end up like lots of us in our drysuits (with heaters - yay!) and crawling around wrecks or playing with seals up 't north. What's nice is to get to see our countryside as you end up driving all around.
     
  8. Colliwobbles

    Colliwobbles Active Member

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    Wasn't meant to be mate. Just a personal recommendation..if it breaches the site rules I'll take a slap
     
  9. Azz

    Azz New Member

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    Wow, so many replies and lots to digest... Thanks everyone

    I'm leaning towards warm and comfortable diving at the moment. Given our 4yo, its more likely that we'll dive on holidays abroad only and we'll have to make sure there's a childcare thing at the resort / divesite we choose.. This does restrict us in terms of overall dives per year but this is how its looking at the moment.

    Both the wife and i are really keen to get started though!!!

    And yes, the first time underwater was like "wow"... We also had a good instructor to start off with and that enhanced our experience a lot. Any websites that provide feedback on uk diving instructors?

    I also need to start reading / learning more about the fish / wildlife etc. we're likely to experience going forward. So far, I'm only at Nemo and Dory! Any books / websites (with lots of pictures) recommended to help with this?

    Thanks again for all the replies... Been reading the forum for the last two days and hardly done any work.
     
  10. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Diving does have that effect. It's great when you're in a boring meeting getting death by powerpoint to drift off, imagining floating in space.
     
  11. jb2cool

    jb2cool Moderator
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    You are the ideal location to use Wraysbury for your open water dives. I wouldn't mess about with a referral course but go start to finish with one school/instructor and just smash through your open water. That way when you are next somewhere nice you can just enjoy the diving.
     
  12. Azz

    Azz New Member

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    Spot on Wibble ... Or sitting in a meeting and thinking you're really a sea turtle :)

    What's your recommendation on doing the dry water cert along with our open water, if indeed we go down the UK open dives route?

    Define how cold is cold (say in the summers - July)?
     
  13. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Summer sea temperatures get up to about 18 degrees in the Channel, and 14ish up north (Farnes, Scotland). Wetsuits can be used in the UK, but it's one season (unless you're a well-hard northerner, in which case a shorty mid-winter...). Drysuits really are the better tool for the job in the UK and easily mean stretching out to "three" seasons. In the depths of winter the weather tends to stop the diving - storms stir up the visibility, etc. Winter temperatures in the Channel are around 7 degrees.

    Diving inland it can get above 20 degrees in the shallower lakes, with larger bodies of water being around 18 degrees, and a lot colder at depth (beyond recreational limits).

    The inland places are interesting as once you're away from the basic skills, you can go off and play with "the attractions" which vary from a bunch of small boats at Wraysbury (Heathrow) through to aircraft, buses, tanks, etc. at NDAC (Chepstow). Whilst you can only dive inland, the real interesting places are on our coast. There's classic early days diving out of Swanage, Selsea, Portland and some easier stuff close in to Brighton, Newhaven, etc. Obviously there's absolutely loads of places to dive. Except the big estuaries as the visibility is awful (Thames). UK geology means the western side (Portland and beyond) and north of Newcastle is better for diving. Plymouth's great!

    Yep, definitely pining for the taste of salt water...
     
  14. Colliwobbles

    Colliwobbles Active Member

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    Personally if you are thinking about diving in the UK I would recommend combining your open water course with a drysuit course. You get a lot more time in the water in your drysuit and you may as well get the basics sorted straight away such as buoyancy and trim in the equipment to you'll be diving in.
    In effect if you combine the courses (with padi) you get 5 drysuit dives, whereas you only get 2 with a stand alone course, a no brainer really
     
  15. Azz

    Azz New Member

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    Thanks guys... I'm now leaning towards the open water and drysuit course, all in the UK. It just gives us more options and a flavour of UK diving too, so we'll know what we're getting into...

    Going to start looking at instructors now... Will start off with the recommendations received. Do i need to confirm if they have the right qualifications - what should i ask and do I actually want to see their certificates?

    And do we normally pay everything upfront?
     
  16. Tel

    Tel Super Moderator
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    Ok this might put a spanner in, but i'd look at doing a referral.

    You can do PADI eLearning at home, so theory is easy and no babysitters,
    then go along to a UK dive center to do the pool stuff. This doesn't have to
    be done together and it's arguably better sometimes that its not. Again no
    babysitter as one of you is at home.

    Now it's off on hols for a week somewhere warm and clear with a beach :)
    You split the course again, one goes diving the other stays on the beach
    building sandcastles with the kid. By day 3 or 4 you are both divers and by
    then maybe have sorted a babysitter for a day so you can do the odd dive.
    Many resorts also have kids creches, so that's another option.

    Once now fully trained as a diver you come back to the UK and either do
    Drysuit with that same outfit you did the pool with (if you liked them that is)
    or you can even join a BSAC outfit and do the same.

    A warm-water diver learns a drysuit very quickly as buoyancy has already
    been nailed, especially as it's common to do an extra 5 dives after the course.
    It's just a case of understanding the difference from what you know already.

    I've trained hundreds of students in the UK and overseas and can say that
    the vast majority by miles that went warm to cold stay around longer in the
    sport than the cold water only trained divers.

    This is backed up by the UK stats of the sheer number of divers that do a
    UK basic course (even in a drysuit) and never dive the UK again !!!

    If it was just the two of you i'd say just do the UK, but with a toddler, no not
    in a UK diving environment, better to go where it;s family orientated.
     
  17. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    e-Course vs dead trees....

    I know dead trees aren't so much in flavour these days, but the initial material's quite good and allows you to scribble / highlight important sections. The PADI Open Water books are good (as I'm sure are other agencies). You can buy the books separately, for example at Ocean Leisure under Charing Cross station -- obviously Amazon and other online sellers.

    The issue with the e-Course material is that it's often interactive so needs an intarwebs connection; a sod if you're abroad. In the case of PADI (nickname Pay Another Dollar In) I'm pretty certain that you only get access to this material for a year (someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

    I guess it largely depends on how you study. I'm a complete vandal of books and always write notes & highlights, all of which is rubbish on a tablet (no, not because the screen needs cleaning...) because the user interfaces for Kindle et al suck.


    And OW + AOW....
    Your first course will be Open Water. Shortly after you can do the "Advanced" Open Water. It's not advanced, but it's good additional skills and definitely a good thing for diving in the UK (and elsewhere). Not sure it's good to do OW & AOW back-to-back as you'll need a few dives for practising your skills before learning more. You should look at taking the AOW in the same year as your OW; just because your skills will be reinforced.
     
  18. Tel

    Tel Super Moderator
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    It's all about choice, last student I had that that did eLearning was working onboard
    ship. He booked on the course via the net and when he got back did the pool and
    open water. No issues with connection at all and that was in the middle of the Pacific :)

    Sure might have a bad connection somewhere overseas, so if that's the case don't
    choose this option :p
     
  19. Azz

    Azz New Member

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    Leaving my little one for the UK open dives isn't a problem as there are plenty of people to leave him behind with, especially if our timing works.

    The option of doing the drysuit dives together with the OW is making the most sense at the moment. And we'll be targeting July for our OW dives, so hopefully not too cold...

    Has anyone used Aquanaut scuba (in Kingston)?

    Also, not fussed about paper vs online.. Will let the wife decide
     
  20. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    More thinking of an e-course I've recently done (wasn't PADI). I didn't like the material as it's hard to find specific info once you've done it, i.e. as reference material.

    It forced you to go through every page (a good thing), then for every section you had to pass a test (again, a good thing). What you couldn't do was easily go backwards and forwards to review around the page. Nor mark important information.

    Totally agree that it's horses for courses; some people may prefer that.

    Personally I'd prefer the material as PDF so I can read it in bed.


    Regarding instructors, sure there are bound to be some instructors better than others. However, the UK diving market is quite small and specialist, so most instructors tend to be pretty reasonable.

    There's the adage that you should choose the instructor not the course. OK, you know the course, but make sure you chat to the instructor first.
     

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