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Now What?

By: John Chandler

Date Posted: 2001-08-30

Labor Day and the end of summer are rapidly approaching but what a magnificent summer we divers have enjoyed! The Dive Lockers on Okinawa are bulging with new divers that have taken the plunge, beat the heat, and earned their entry-level certifications in SCUBA Diving. To all of you that have entered the Underwater World for your first time this summer I bid you a fond welcome. Now what?

The excitement of certification can often lead directly to the fear and trepidation of your first few dives away from the watchful eye of your instructor. There are many ways to avoid that uncertain feeling so I thought it might be helpful this week to discuss a few of the things novice divers, or experienced divers that are new to Okinawa, might think about doing whilst gaining the experience that will come with their first 10 dives. Here are a few suggestions to ponder.

Actively seek out dive buddies that you trust and who have experience beyond the entry level. Now remember that experience is not always how many certification cards you have, but how many dives you have logged. Look for a dive buddy that may have 25 or more dives and ask if you could join them. They may only have entry-level skills like you but they have the experience associated with 25 dives. Hopefully this will be a good experience too, and you will know that on your first day with them. But if you are uncomfortable move on, we have plenty of divers in Okinawa and it is best to associate with a diver you are comfortable with. There is nothing to prove underwater except how much fun you can have. Remember also that the entry-level skill means you are only trained to dive safely no deeper than 60 feet! This is just like your driver’s license. Because you know how to drive does not mean that you are ready for the Indy 500. You would need more training, and much more experience, before leaving the pits with your driver’s license. It is exactly the same for diving. Only dive to what you are trained for. Having a good buddy that respects that is important too.

After you have logged about ten dives or so on your own you may want to seek the continuing leadership of an instructor and enroll in an Advanced Level Certification Course. With this comes something very important. Entry-level training taught you how to dive. Advanced training will teach you “WHY” you want to dive. In the Advanced Level of training you get exposed to more technical aspects of diving like underwater navigation, deep diving, boat diving, night diving, and of course the one I like the most -- underwater photography! There are a myriad of adventure dives that will introduce you to new skills that may become your hobby (or obsession). I know I sure have found that diving from a boat, with a camera, in a current, at night is just about as much fun as you can have with your fins on! But that is a whole different story I will save for later.

If you are looking to meet new friends, go to new places, see new things, and then come back and are able to embellish the stories at least three fold then you are ready for the fall and winter diving Okinawa is going to offer you. Soon the heat will break and we will be looking for our hoods and 3 mm wetsuits. But until then you have some prime time to gain more experience in the water and really find out what is it about diving you really love. I hope that you will challenge yourself, and your buddies, and get out for some adventure diving this weekend. See you at the beach; or on the dock!

My next Underwater Photography Class is being conducted over Labor Day Weekend. If you want to catch the beauty of Okinawa Underwater please give me a call at 956-3636 or for details check out my website at www.jwchandler.com

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