1. How old do you have to be to learn to dive?
18 years of age is the minimum age for adult certification allowing a certified diver to dive on his or her own, purchase scuba equipment, rent gear, get air fills, and go out on dive boats without supervision. However, children between 10 - 15 may dive with parental permission. Students 15 - 17 may receive an open water diver certification allowing them to dive with others in their age group and adults. Students 10 - 14 may qualify for a junior open water certification allowing them to dive with a certified parent or legal guardian.
2. Do you have to be a good swimmer to be a diver?
While you do not have to be a competitive swimmer or lifeguard to be a diver. Students do have to pass a swim test to demonstrate a minimal swimming competency: a 200 meter swim, 300 meter snorkel, and 10 minute water tread.
3. Can I dive if I have a medical condition?
Most common medical concerns are not contraindications to diving. Even divers with many physical disabilities may dive. If you can answer "Yes" to any of the medical conditions listed on the PSAI Medical Form simply visit your primary care physician and have him or her answer whether or not your condition precludes you from diving. If you have a medical condition you will need your doctor to sign you off as cleared for diving and bring the signed PSAI Medical Form with you to class. If your physician wishes to speak with diving medical experts regarding your condition, the Divers Alert Network (DAN) can provide assistance. Contact information for DAN is available on their website diversalertnetwork.org.
4. Is diving dangerous?
The simple answer is, "Yes." About 150 people each year die as a result of diving accidents. How dangerous it is depends upon one's health, fitness, training, attitude, equipment, type of diving you do, and fortune. Please review the PSAI Adult Waiver. If you can accept that "diving is inherently dangerous" you probably have the right attitude. Sign the form and bring it to class.
5. What equipment do I need to start diving?
Mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit. Please contact me before purchasing so I can help you make sure you have the correct gear for your needs.
6. Regarding specialty training, do I need to take all of those courses?
No. The diving industry went from training divers in one long certification course to a modular approach. Divers can structure training that will meet their needs and they may stop at any point. If you want to be a recreational diver who dives actively in the northeast USA, who does a few warm water trips each year, I'd recommend just doing the PSAI ABC, advanced navigation, nitrox, rescue, night diving and deep diving courses after your open water certification. Drysuit and twin set/doubles would round you out to dive in the northeast. After that, technical diving courses such as wreck penetration and advanced nitrox and trimix will allow you to visit most dive sites in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, and the wrecks off NY, NJ and NC.
7. When should I begin technical diver training?
If you are interested in reaching the deeper wreck sites we have in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway and in the ocean, I'd recommend gaining at least 100 dives worth of experience. That's not set in stone. Each diver has different needs and desire for technical training. I've had students with just 20 - 25 dives begin tech. I think 25 dives to get comfy in scuba is a good place to start switching to doubles for recreational diving. 25 - 50 dives is a good amount to start doing wreck dives staying outside. The 50 - 75 dive range would allow you to do advanced nitrox to 150 feet, and 75 - 100 dive range would allow for wreck penetration or trimix level 1 training.
8. What about cave diving? Isn't it very dangerous?
Like all forms of diving, there are certain inherent risks associated with cave diving. The major concerns are that we no longer have a direct access to the surface, caves are perpetually dark so every dive into them is a night dive without any ambient light to help us see, and they can be very complex to navigate. Fortunately, the large number of cave fatalities experienced in the earlier days of the sport created an interest in accident analysis. We now have 5 Rules: 1) Be trained to cave dive and never exceed the level of your training. 2) Always run a continuous guideline to open water. 3) Always reserve AT LEAST 2/3 of your starting gas supply for exit. 4) Always carry at least 3 lights. 5) Never dive deeper than 130 feet on air or deeper than an EAD/END of 130 feet on mixed gases.
9. What equipment do I need to begin cave diving?
The first level of cave training is the Cavern Diver course. Since this is a "safety course" to introduce students to diving in the overhead environment the only change you need to make is to add a long hose to your regulator, a shorter back-up regulator hose and necklace to your second stage, carry 2 safety spools, and 2 lights. At the cavern level sunlight acts as our primary light in the daylight zone of a cave. You may use a single tank for cavern diving. But, I highly recommend using the correct equipment consisting of backplate, wing, doubles, 7 ft. long primary regulator hose, necklaced back-up regulator, 2 safety spools, 3 lights, proper fins, etc. The video below explains cave diving equipment. I teach in backmount doubles only.
10. Who was your instructor?
I have had many over the past 35 years. My first instructors were Frank and Doris Murphy, the presidents of PDIC International. My first technical diving instructors were Andrew Georgitsis (president of UTD) and Michael H. Kane, Bob Sherwood, and Ed Hayes of GUE. My first cave instructors were Chris Wright of NACD, John Orlowski of IANTD, and Lamar Hires (president of Dive Rite) of the NSS-CDS. Bill "Hogarth" Main, himself, taught me about the nuances of the Hogarthian philosophy which is the foundation of the DIR, the NAUI Technical configuration, and the North Florida Cave configuration.
Cave & Technical Equipment video
My first instructors, Doris and Frank Murphy, presidents of PDIC.