Advancing your skills can be fun and rewarding, jump into the Advance Open Water Course
Did you know that many divers do not continue their diving education after they get their open water certification? This is a real shame since these divers are missing out on a vast amount of fun and unique dive locations that their Open Water (OW) certification will not allow them to visit. If you become an Advanced Open Water Diver (AOW), the dive sites you can visit and activities you can participate in greatly increase. Additionally, by becoming AOW certified you will get more confidence in your abilities in the water. In order to be considered AOW through SDI, you have to have four specialty courses under your belt and twenty-five logged dives. For me, I took deep diver, night, navigation/limited visibility, and computer nitrox courses. Note that there are several scuba certification agencies, and each have different standards and requirements to achieve the Advanced Open Water Level. So it's best to contact one our Force-E Scuba Centers to see which program is right for you.
So what kind of dive locations can I visit that my open water certification will not allow me to you ask? Short answer is, anything between 61ft or deeper. Addition courses tech you necessary skills to even go beyond recreational limits of 130ft.
There are many wrecks off the coast of Florida that OW divers cannot see due to the depth exceeding 60ft. Could you go beyond 60ft with only your OW? Sure, but can you do it safely is the question and every diver needs to be as safe as possible. The 60ft OW limit is there for a reason and we must never forget that. I remember going on one wreck dive that had a mix of OW divers and AOW divers. Once we got down to the wreck, I noticed that I could only explore part of it in order to stay within my OW certification limits. This was very frustrating since I knew someone would see something unique further down. Sure enough, once we got back on board I had one of the AOW divers tell me how they came across a goliath grouper that I missed out on due to it being just a little bit deeper. Needless to say, the next week I signed up for my AOW class.
Night diving is a very unique experience if you have never done one. The best way to describe it in my opinion, is that it’s about as close to feeling like you’re in outer space as you can get. Picture being in space, but instead of aliens you have fish. The calmness of the water at night will allow you to hear more sounds underwater without them been drowned out by boat engine noises or the dreaded jet ski sound. During night dives, you will see all type of sea creatures that you would have never seen during the day due to them being nocturnal or even the marine life that you do see during the day behaving in a different manner. Additionally, your dive light will allow you to see the true colors of all the marine life allowing for some truly awe inspiring photos.
One of my favorite courses covered was the limited visibility and navigation course. You probably find this odd but allow me to explain. I have done many lake dives where the visibility is 5-15ft at times and learning how to navigate efficiently with my compass and landmarks really makes life easier. One of my favorite dive spots I discovered by having a fellow diver give me multiple compass headings to follow since the visibility can get very bad there at times. The dive location was a sunken fishing boat.
The skills learned during the AOW are even helpful during great visibility since you will be taught how to triangulate a dive spot so you can easily find it on your next dive. Additionally, if you’re a shore diver you can learn how to navigate your way back to the shore without ever having to surface. Skills you learn during this portion will also aid you in your rescue diver certification, which is the next course I recommend as the next progression of diver training.
Some agencies offer a computer nitrox specialty course. Nitrox is a very beneficial gas to divers in multiple ways especially here in South Florida with average depths in the 50’-80’ range. One reason people dive nitrox is to extend their bottom time and reduce surface intervals since you absorb less nitrogen. Needless to say this is very beneficial since no one enjoys a long surface interval and short bottom times. This equals less time on the boat and more valuable time underwater.
The Advanced Open Water certification unlocks many sites that open water divers simply will not be taking to by charters for safety. Not only will you have more diving opportunities but the knowledge gained from this course will allow you to be an all-around better and safer diver.
So what are you waiting for? Get that Advanced Open Water Certification and LET’S GO DIVING!!!!