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Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

How long does it take to get Scuba certified?
Complete certification may take as little as 3 days,  or 2 weekends.

Scuba lessons are as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1.  Class takes between  4 - 6  hours
2.  Pool practice for about 4 - 5 hours
3.  You must make 4 scuba dives.  These check-out dives are completed in 2 days

  1. I've always wanted to learn to scuba dive (or snorkel). How do I get started?
  2. How old do I have to be to get certified?
  3. Why do I have to get Certified to dive?
  4. For how long will I be certified?
  5. Will the fish bother me?
  6. How expensive is SCUBA diving?
  7. How long will it take?
  8. How deep may I go?
  9. Is it hard to learn to scuba dive?
  10. Do I have to be a great swimmer to be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver?
  11. How long does a tank of air Last?
  12. My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of the pool.  Won't they hurt when I scuba dive?
  13. Is scuba diving dangerous?
  14. Do I have to buy scuba gear?
  15. Why are some Instructors so much cheaper than others? What do I need to ask about the price?
  16. What are the bends?  Dive Tables help Link

For how long will I be certified?

Your SCUBA certification does not expire.  It is highly recommended that you keep in practice.  You should dive more than once a year. You may take a SCUBA Tune Up from any scuba instructor.  Most certifying agencies offer continuing education classes which are very informative.  Continuing with your SCUBA education is an excellent way to keep in practice and learn more safe diving skills.

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How old do you have to be to get scuba certified?

Most agencies follow the same guidelines. PADI requires you to be at least 10 years old to become a PADI certified Junior Open Water Scuba Diver.  Ten and 11 year olds  must dive with a certified parent, guardian or SCUBA Professional to a maximum depth of 40 feet.   Twelve to 14 year olds must dive with a certified adult.  At age 15, the Junior certification upgrades to a regular Open Water Diver certification.

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Why do I have to get certified to dive?

In the scuba class, you will learn how to dive safely and correctly.  Your SCUBA certification card is proof that you have taken and passed the SCUBA course.  No reputable Dive Center will rent you gear, fill your tank , or let you dive at their facilities unless you are a certified SCUBA diver.

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How deep may I go?

The maximum depth for a recreational SCUBA diver is 130 feet.   I do not recommend you ever dive the maximum depth.  You should not dive deeper than 60 feet without proper training.  In the Advanced Open Water course,  divers are shown the correct and safe way to make a deep dive.

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Will the fish bother me?

Most fish are afraid of you or will ignore you.  It  is very exciting to see fish.   The larger the better. The prettiest and most abundant fish are in the ocean.   The best place to see fish is near shipwrecks and reefs.   Some fish will let you get close to them but will stay out of your reach.  Some fish are curious and will follow you around.  I have been diving for a long time and have seen many sharks, eels and barracudas.  The sharks and eels are very shy and are difficult to see.  Barracudas are curious and might follow you around making it easy to photograph them.  Game fish seem to know when you are looking for dinner.  Grilled snapper or flounder taste great.  Most of the time I just take pictures, but every now and then I get hungry for sea food.  You are more likely to be attacked by a cow or a pig than by a fish.  Be safe stay off the farm and go diving.  You are definitely much safer in the water than driving your car.

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How expensive is SCUBA diving?

Once you are certified, SCUBA diving costs about as much as 18 holes of golf, or a good ski-lift ticket.  Starting out is the most expensive.  You have to pay to get SCUBA certified, and buy some gear.  Classes cost between $350 and $450.  The minimum amount of gear will cost about $175.  You should have your own mask, fins, and snorkel for the class.

A two-tank dive in the Caribbean will cost about $90, in FL you can expect to pay about $60.  Most SCUBA quarries charge about $20 for all day diving.    Air fills:  Caribbean=$8,   FL=$5,  Rock quarries=$10.   You  can rent a tank with air for about the same amount it will cost you to fill your own.

You don't have to buy all your gear.  Most dive shops rent gear and don't charge students rental during class.  A complete set of dive gear rents for $40 to $60.  You can buy all of your own gear (BCD, Regulator with SPG and Octo)  for as low as $700.  I recommend you buy good gear.  Don't skimp on your life support gear.  Mine cost about $1400.

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I've always wanted to learn to scuba dive. How do I get started?

The easiest way to get started is contact your local dive instructor.  He will be happy to sign you up and get you started.  All recreational scuba certifying agencies are about the same. PADI is the largest, don't let an instructor tell you his agency is the best.  Find an instructor who enjoys teaching not slandering the other agencies.    The way I conduct class  is; You need to get your home-study Starter kit.  The Starter kit contains;  an Open Water Diver manual,  dive tables, and 2 videos.  You read the book while you watch the videos at home.  We will schedule a convenient time for you to take the short quizzes and the final exam.  Then we are off to the pool to practice what you've read and watched.   Once you have mastered the pool skills we go diving and you are certified after the fourth dive.  You can be a Certified SCUBA Diver in three easy steps; class, pool, diving.  It's that easy!  I believe the best way to learn how to SCUBA dive is by actually diving.  I emphasize diving and maximize your time underwater practicing Scuba diving. Diving is fun and so should the instruction.  

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Is it hard to learn to scuba dive?

No, in fact, it's probably easier than you imagine -- especially if you're already comfortable in the water.   Entry-level diver course is split into knowledge development, confined water (pool) skill training and four scuba training dives.  The course is "performance based," which means that you progress as you learn and demonstrate knowledge and skill.

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Does it only take three days!?

SCUBA courses are "performance based," which means that you earn your certification when you demonstrate that you have mastered the required skills and knowledge.  Some people learn faster than others, so how long it takes you may vary.   The course may be scheduled over as little as three or four days, or as much as five or six weeks, or something in between, depending upon student needs and logistics.   As a rule of thumb, most students complete their initial certification in about thirty hours spread over 2 or 3 weekends.  The academic session takes about 8 hours, the pool about 5 hours.  The 4 checkout dives must be done over 2 days with no more than 3 dives completed in one day.  So yes it can only take 3 days to compete your scuba certification. We can do class and pool on Friday and go diving Saturday and Sunday. Most scuba classes are taught over 2 or 3 weekends.

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Do I have to be a great swimmer to be certified as an Open Water Diver?

No.  All you need to be is a reasonably proficient swimmer who is comfortable and relaxed in the water.  The swimming requirement for certification is an easy 200 yard nonstop swim (with no time or specific stroke requirement, you may dog-paddle) and 10 minute tread/float.

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What's in a scuba tank? Oxygen?

Recreational divers breathe air, not oxygen.  It's filtered to remove impurities, but otherwise, it's air like you're breathing now.

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How long does a scuba tank of air last?

This is a common question that, unfortunately, doesn't have a single answer.  People breathe at different rates, and you breathe faster when you're swimming than when you're resting. Also, the deeper you go, the more you use your air, and, you can get different size tanks.  So, the answer is "it depends;" this is why divers have a gauge that tell them how much air they have at all times.  As an approximation, a diver sightseeing in calm, warm water at 20 to 30 feet deep can expect the average tank to last about an hour. 

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My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of a pool. Won't they hurt when I scuba dive?

Your ears hurt because water pressure pushes in on your ear drum.  In your scuba course, you'll learn a simple technique to equalize your ears to the surrounding pressure, much like you do when you land in an airplane, and they won't hurt at all.

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Is scuba diving dangerous?

Not really.  Statistics show that recreational scuba diving is about as safe as swimming.  Certainly there are potential hazards -- which is why you need training and certification -- but like driving a car, as long as you follow the rules and use common sense, it's pretty safe. To put it in perspective, the drive in the car to go diving is more dangerous than the diving.

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Do I have to buy SCUBA gear?

No you don't have to buy SCUBA gear for your training.  You instructor should provide Scuba tanks, buoyancy compensator, regulator, and weight belt.  You will have to  have a mask, fins and snorkel.  Most dive shops and resorts rent gear.  It is a good idea to eventually buy your own scuba gear.  You'll be much more comfortable in your own gear with which you are familiar.   Support your your local dive shop.

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Why are some Instructors so much cheaper than others?

Most SCUBA Instructors charge about the same amount for complete certification.  Between $350 and $450.  The difference is some instructors do not tell you about all the costs.  Be careful, if the lessons price sounds very inexpensive it might not include everything.
-Does that price include the four Open Water Dives?  Where? (+ $180 to $350)
-Does that price include the book?  The book, log book and dive tables retail for about (+$79).
-Does that price include the SCUBA gear or free rental for the four Open Water Dives?(+$60)

-How many students will be in your class? 
-Does that price include the registration and your Scuba Certification card? (+$20)
You might end up paying more than you expected.   
Beginning SCUBA is taught in three parts Class, Pool, and DivingYou must complete all three Parts to be a certified scuba diver.  Some instructors break up the payments and advertise only the first payment.  You end up paying 2 or 3 time what you expected.  I suggest you ask how much for each part and what is included in the price.   Add  them ALL up,  you might be surprised.   Also make sure you know when and where you will make your four Open Water Checkout Dives.   A Florida trip can add another $350 to your cost.  I charge $275 for out-of-state  trips.
I recommend you meet and talk to each instructor face to face before you make a decision.  

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What are the Bends

A long time ago when the workers were breathing compressed air while working underwater, sometimes they would get decompression sickness or "the Bends".  Their joints would hurt and make them bend over.  This is caused by staying under water too long and coming up too fast.  Tiny bubbles would form in their joints, something like the tiny bubbles form in a soda bottle when you open it.  Just like the soda bottle, if you shake it and open it too soon or fast too many bubbles will form.  With all the new technology "the bends" is easily avoided.   Your instructor will teach you how to safely dive within the limits so you will never get the bends.   Don't worry diving is fun and safe.  He will teach you how to relax and enjoy your dive.  Dive Tables help Link

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Scuba lessons with Marcos


Parrot Island is a state of mind.
   Marcos@ParrotIslandDivers.com   (615) 955-3483