I received my OWSI (Open Water Scuba Instructor) card and certificate in the mail yesterday! Exciting =) So thought it was a good place to start, since the PADI Open Water Diver Course is the first one that you do, to become a certified diver!
The first thing you do is the theory. There's a fair bit of reading to complete if you have the book, but now there's a great thing called e-learning! Which is way more efficient for not only the students but also the dive centres, as it reduces the classroom time required and students can complete it in their own time. So when you sign up to do the course, you will normally have a orientation with the dive centre, like a meet and greet and what to expect, etc. Then once you've completed the e-learning online, you print out the form that says you've completed everything and away you go - time to get in the water! You'll get quizzed on the theory before you get in the pool, but if you've done the online learning, you'll be sweet.
There are 5 pool sessions you need to complete, called confined water dives. During these sessions you learn all the skills that you need to dive safely in open water. Each sessions builds on the previous sessions, for example firstly you learn partial mask flood, then full mask flood, then finally you learn mask remove and replace. Sounds like great fun, doesn't it! If you're anything like me, you won't find this bit fun. But the instructors are very patient with you, and you can take your time to master each skill in the pool before going into the open water. The first time I tried to take my mask off I freaked out and came to the surface. Lucky I was only in a swimming pool! That's why you do the skills in the pool before you do them in the open water. It wasn't until Divemaster training that I got comfortable with taking my mask off underwater. Gaffa took me to Little Manly, on a freezing cold day with water temperatures of about 10 degrees, and made me practice taking my mask off until I was able to do it with ease. Lots of tears were shed that day, but I made it!!
Once you've finished all the pool sessions, you head to the open water - where the real fun begins! (Or depending on how the dive centre structures the course, you can complete certain confined water dives and then the corresponding open water dives, then back to the final confined water dives before finishing off the final open water dives). There are four open water dives, where each one you demonstrate the skills you learnt in the pool, in the ocean. Remember, the water maybe abit colder and it's normally salt water instead of chlorine. Once you've finished the skills you normally go on a little dive to get the feel of scuba and see some great marine life, and just generally have some fun (not that doing skills isn't fun...).
So once you've completed all the course requirements and paid your fees, you can be certified as an Open Water Diver, allowing you to dive with a buddy to 18m. YAY!!! :) The course normally takes 2-3 days, depending on the dive centre where you do it at. You get to meet new people and experience the underwater world for the first time. Once you're certified, that's your ticket to go have some real fun! Wherever there is water, there will surely be a dive centre around that are more than happy to tell you about their local dive sites and hire out gear to you, or if you've got your own gear - even better! Check out the PADI store locator to find any dive shop/centre/resort around the world!! Your options are endless!!
Once you're comfortable with diving, the next step is the Advanced Open Water Diver Course. This is where you complete 5 Adventure Dives (2 being Navigation and Deep Adventure Dive). The AOWDC is a lot more fun than the OWDC, because there's less theory and more diving! And you get to try out different areas of diving, like digital underwater photography, night diving, wreck diving, fish identification....Maybe you'll find your special niche in diving like I did - taking photos!
Here are some photos of my OWDC:
|My first time underwater|
|Gaffa & I underwater|
|Was I that bad of a student? :(|
|My head in a crusty ring underwater :)|
So, are you a certified diver or do you want to become one?