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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 181
Turnbun Offline OP
OP Offline
Hi, everyone!
You were all so helpful in your responses to my post concerning SCUBA and claustrophobia (you see me as jenniee sometimes and turnbun sometimes, depending on the computer I'm using).
Now, some more questions. My main question is: how do I know what SCUBA school is the best? Is PADI the best? What questions should I ask the instructors before I sign on? Should I insist on a trial session or a money-back policy if I decide I can't go through with the certification?
Does anyone know of a good/reputable/patient dive shop in Austin, Texas?
Lastly, if I do get certified, should I buy my own equipment (i.e. regulator, etc.), or is it ok (safe) to rent it?
Thanks for the information! Your advice and comments have been immensely helpful.
Turnbun, jenniee

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 610

I responded to your other post. SSI or PADI or Naui. What a loaded question. It is all a matter of personal preference. I chose SSI for several reasons. First of all, all the SSI shops I talked to really stressed SAFETY! Needless to say a big concern.

The shops tended to a little more personable. Most PADI shops in my area seemed really pushy and braggats. We are the biggest, baddest and best.Let me preface by saying this is my opinion. My shop I visit is great.

The link I posted earlier is for a shop in your area and they are a SSI platinum facility. What matters most is who you are comfortable with and who suits your style. There are several shops closer to where I live but I drove 45 minutes across town because of the personal attention, comfort level and willingness to accomodate me.

I shopped several shops and put them through the wringer before settling on the one I chose ( I research things to death). Ask questions, tell the shop about apprehensions, concerns, fears. Ask if there is a instructor who suits your style. Trust your gut feeling. First shop I went too the guy was a real ass, inflexible and thought only a select few should have the privledge to dive. Not a great attitude.

Nonetheless, a certification card is the key. This is your license to dive. If you complete the open water piece at home regardless of what agency you choose, the card is recognized at all dive resorts/shops.

If you do the open piece in Belize there is an item called an universal referral form you take to the shop you are going to do your checkout dives with and it doesn't really matter which agency you are coming from. The form is signed by your instructor stating you know the basic skills needed to scuba and then you do your checkout dives.

I could go on and on. E-mail me at [email protected] and I'll tell you more than you probably ever wanted to know.

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 179
Well, that's a big subject, all right. In a way it all depends on how you approach diving.

The nice thing is that you can, and should, take it at your own pace. Just remember as you go along that you should always take responsiblity for ensureing that your training, confidence and skills do exceed your diving activities.

Try to remember that most of the best of what there is to see is in the first 50' of water and you get to do that right off with your Open Water Diver card. There is NO need to rush anything.

So, the first place to start is to choose an instructor/school to get your Open Water Diver certification.

For myself, I don't think you can go wrong with PADI, NAUI, or SSI. I chose PADI. I had 37 dives in already from a Resort Corse and my confidence level was such that I went to Cozumel and took Open Water and Advanced Open Water from Aldora Divers.

So ... that is one basic choice you do have. As in introduction to scuba you can go to almost any dive resort destination in the world, take a one-half day Resort Course and then go diving with those folks. You cannot go with anyone else, it's not a certification, it's not transferable, you get no card. But for $60 you get to dive at least the rest of that week with that dive instructor/diveshop and can actually get in quite a few dives and see if you like it with minimum investment. You will be restricted to very safe, shallow dives under greater-then-normal supervision.

Another option open to you is the Referal Course. This is available through PADI (I don't know about the others) and involves doing the book work and pool work in your hometown with one instructor, who then works with you and an instructor at the destination of your choice to do your open water qualifying dives while on vacation. This works well for many people, there is in fact quite a bit of book work, much in the form of "homework". Whether you want to do that bookwork while you are on vacation or not is something to consider.

As to the best schools, that would be a matter of opinion and preference, but I like Pro Dive of Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Ocean Divers of Key Largo, FL. I have taken training through all three of the diver companies I've mentioned in this post, and I think there is not actually a contest. It's easy to reccomend Pro Dive.

The real question though, is not so much where, but who. The important thing is that you and your instructor click. That you have confidence in your instructor and feel comfortable with the learning experience.

As to aquiring your own scuba gear. Buy mask, fins and snorkle now. Get certified. Make some open water dives. Once you know this is something you want to keep doing, buy your own equipment. Everything. The highest quality you can afford. There is no substitute for your own stuff.

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 8
I was certified naui at 13 and padi at
19 I think they were both about the same.
Like others have said talk to a few and
find one you like. There was a dive
shop in San Marcos where I took padi but
that was years ago. Best of luck

J and A

Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 1,205
I vote for Naui...Don't know about SSI...

Life May Be a Beach...I prefer Reefs...
I agree with everything Florian said. The cozumel diving should be when your ready for drift diving, Cozumel has gotten to be such a tourist trap, freeways above and below the water, it is easy to get mixed up in the wrong group underwater. If ever there leave Aldora Divers alone as they have had a couple of divers in the past two years lost at sea, they also use steel 120's and go for long deep dives.

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,563
"The best laid plans of . . ."
I was given advise about not buying stuff, just as you are getting. Then I went right ahead and did my own thing. I too tend to research things to death. I chose my dive instructor/shop because they were the only ones that had their own pool. Part of the deal was that I could use it as much as I needed to practice . . . for the rest of my life. Also, if I want to buy something from them I can try it on in the pool. Once you walk out the door with anything and it gets wet -- in any way -- there is no taking it back.
One instructor who worked there was SSI the other was PADI. Only difference I've ever been able to see is which side you put your regulator on. (What a joke this is!)
It is a very long story about why it took me 15 months from start to C card but suffice it to say I had accumulated a lot of gear in that time period. Every time something I didn't have came on sale I bought it so by the time I was certified I was fully furnished. To each their own. If you are a standard size and can rent go for it. I'm big and hard to fit so when I found something that suited me I invested in it.

I didn't know about the referral system that people have told you about and the S.O.B. who took all my money then wouldn't take me to the open water also didn't tell me about the referral stuff. I went to Puerto Vallarta and did 4 fantastic dives with a dive master. On the first dive - at 79' I looked down and my bright red finger nail polish was cobalt blue. It touched something in me so deeply I started to cry. Victor knew it was from ecstasy, took my hand and we glided across and up the wall at a 45 degree angle. I knew right then and there I would do this the rest of my life -- no matter what it took.
Because I didn't have resources, such as this bulletin board, I struggled through two more complete courses here in the COLD ROUGH Northern California waters before I was fully certified.
Good luck to anyone who wants this experience -- it's one of the best gifts you will ever give yourself.

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 8,880
Scubalady, you just made me cry! :^) That is how I feel about diving too. My heart soars, I feel younger, prettier, smarter, funnier, happier, happier, happier, more content, satisfied. My life is beyond enriched by having taken up diving. I'd thought of taking it for years before I finally got around to it.

My advice . . . don't wait! Don't waste any time!

A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 165
I just recently got certified. The dive shop I went through used to be PADI but dropped it. They do SSI now. They said PADI got too much about the money and not the safety and experience. This was their experience. They had been doing PADI for about 20 years. They said they liked SSI because you advance in certification level based on experience (# of dives) and continuing education. In other words, you are eligible to go up a level based on the # of dives, but not formally promoted until you take a continuing education class on what advancement you're going for. They also offer classes on cave diving, wreck diving, etc. Not sure if PADI or NAUI do.

My boyfriend was cetified NAUI about 15 years ago. He said is was a much more strenuous course but he appreacited the extra training. They did a lot more rescue stuff even when being first certified.

As the other divers have said, DO IT! Whatever you choose. It opens up a whole new world to you. Amazing! I got certified right before my trip to Belize, did 4 dives, and I'm hooked! Good luck! Sharon

Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 8
Do not worry so much about which of the fine organizations you try to get certified through but rather concentrate on the instructor. I have found that just as each student is different, so is an instructor. Get referals and talk with the individual before you commit to taking any classes. Consider doing a private or limited enrollment course. Once you begin your course please do not ask for a refund. People are earning their living from trying to teach others about a great sport. It is not necessarily the teachers fault if the student cannot finish the course. I am not an instructor but I have come to know some as my friends and dive companions. Have fun and progress at your own level.

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