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markingrassia - 9/13/2015 11:33 AM
Category: New Diver Q&A
Replies: 10

Now closing in on a year since getting my OWC (and 50 dives) and comfortably ahead of the newbie curve, I wanted to drop a few pearls of wisdom that I wish someone told me.
Diving is a very personalized endeavor and you’ll soon find out that no two people have the same theory on anything: gear, sharks, three minute stops etc... Your training, on-going experience and self-discovery are your best teachers. Learn to experiment with gear and in particular, what weights you should use. Buoyancy control mastery is absolutely your first goal. Listen to more experienced divers, but don’t jump to something new without testing its validity and also, it helps to be a healthy skeptic. The guy who advises that you’ll never use more than ten pounds weight in salt water or, that Moray eels never bite is someone you should politely ignore.
So, if you’re under double digit dives stick to your instructor’s advice and training until you can safely figure out what works for you. There should be a core of knowledge that never alters and in fact, should be at the core of all your dives. This would include depth limits, non-decompression limits, no fly times, hand signals, safety checks, regularly check you equipment and mostly importantly, having a trusted dive buddy at your side—add too, your ‘gut feeling.’
So, unless you’re with an instructor, avoid taking ‘jumps’ in dives that far exceeds your experience and comfort level. If you just got your cert and you’ve never been deeper than 25 feet (and in fresh water) should your first ocean dive be at 90 feet with someone they just paired you up with on the boat? No, it shouldn’t. Chances are you’re probably still working on perfecting buoyancy control in fresh water and if this is your first salt water dive, you have an entire new environment to figure out.
Next bit of advice: Know your equipment. Practice at home with the lights out: put on your BCV and find your BC inflator hose and the inflate/deflate buttons by touch. Practice the regulator side sweep. Know where the purge knobs are on your vest by feel. And in the dark, practice removing and replacing your weight pockets.
Next, and I can’t stress this enough, master your dive computer. Make sure you’re an expert at knowing what the information displayed is and what it means, particularly the no-decompression clock. If you’re using Nitrox, become expert at programming the EAD settings.
Lastly, know when to say ‘no’ to a dive. If you feel a certain dive is a bit beyond your level of expertise (night dive, diving with sharks or wreck dive at 100 feet) or, you’re struggling with a fin strap that won’t tighten or your BCV rental is too loose, then do yourself a favor and sit it out. Troubles above the water only get much, much worst down below.
Eric_R - 9/13/2015 5:36 PM
There’s so much that isn’t directly covered in a dive certification class. Like most sports you get better the more you participate. I would say all sports are a personalized endeavor but diving is a very gear oriented sport so it has more things to personalize. There’s no short cut to diving experience and the experience gained will be different for every diver. I often get paired with new divers on dives and I always ask a few questions about their experience so I can base the dive plan on what they have already done. I always check their buoyancy and will have them surface if needed to give instruction so they can make the corrections. It sounds like you took what’s needed from the class to be aware of your equipment and make adjustments so it works for you and makes for a more comfortable dive.
markingrassia - 9/13/2015 6:03 PM
I have seen new divers, alone, trying to learn how to set the EAD setting on their new Dive Computer (box and receipt in plane view.) I helped two newbies in person’t tank came loose...another couldn’t get the air out of his BC. A third had a lead I discovered but wasn’t really in danger.

I’m surprised there aren’t more diving accidents
ram04769 - 9/14/2015 11:32 PM
Excellent advice Mark! What you have said makes a whole lot of sense, thanks for sharing!
SeaGoat - 9/16/2015 2:16 PM
Good advice. I always tell new divers to seek out more experienced divers and not to just dive with their classmates. I’ve been diving for 16 years and am still learning (what to do and what not to do) from everyone I dive with.

If you are experienced, someone probably mentored you and you owe it to the community to mentor the new divers. (Only buttheads don’t realize this!)
lerpy - 9/18/2015 2:53 PM
LOL SeaGoat, only buttheads don’t realize this, love it. I like your approach of pay it forward in the mentoring, always good. I had a great mentor, and still have a few as I progress in my diving. Now I am finding I am starting to dive some dives with newbies in shallow water, and I realy enjoy it, passing on knowledge that kept me safe that can keep them safe.
seeker242 - 9/29/2015 8:01 PM
"and mostly importantly, having a trusted dive buddy at your side"

Crap, the most important thing is the thing that I don’t have! (sad face)
Eric2112 - 3/20/2016 10:23 AM
great advice. thanks for passing it along to us newbies. I plan on doing a lot of fresh water diving to get my experience level up and look forward to learning from others.
bsharp117 - 7/02/2016 4:45 PM
Great advice Mark, you sound like a very safe diver. Do you dive South Florida?
Pixel - 9/10/2016 8:29 AM
"Know your equipment"

So important. I’ve had to help someone deflate their bcd because they didn’t know where the dump valve was.