Jan 31, 2014
Guest Author

How To Decide Whether To Learn To Scuba-dive

Scuba diving is a very popular hobby, with millions of people enjoying the sport all around the world.  If you have a yen to learn to scuba-dive, this article gives some pointers that may help you choose how to go about it.

What is Scuba-diving?

Scuba diving involves swimming underwater, carrying your own oxygen supply so that you can stay under for much longer periods than if you were just holding your breath.  Obviously, as with any potentially dangerous sport, there are carefully developed safety procedures that are an essential part of both learning to dive and enjoying the activity on an ongoing basis.

What equipment do I need?

This depends to some extent on where you are diving, what experience you have, the temperature of the water and the depth you are diving to. If you are diving in colder waters, for instance, then you will need to wear protective clothing in the form of a wetsuit, possibly over a rash vest to prevent chafing, which allows a small layer of water in between the wetsuit and your skin.  This then warms up to body temperature and will keep the chill off for a while.

Decide to scuba-dive with Jessica Duggan

If you are diving for longer periods, as you become more experienced, or are venturing into really cold water, a thermal drysuit which, as the name implies, keeps you completely dry, is a better option.  If you learn by going on a course in Thailand, or the Red Sea, for instance, then the water is usually warm enough for the wetsuit to be unnecessary.  Other equipment is usually included on loan for the duration of the course, but if you become hooked on this exciting pastime, it is best to seek advice from an expert supplier such as http://www.wetsuitoutlet.co.uk/ who can provide everything you need.

Other essential equipment includes a buoyancy compensator device (BCD) to control whether you ascend or descend in the water, an oxygen tank and regulator, to control your oxygen supply, a face mask, possibly as part of a helmet, fins, torch and a watch capable of being underwater to a depth of around 40 metres.

Where do I start?

Living in the UK, there is a great deal of useful information from the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC).  This includes lists of local diving clubs, qualifications, having a go at a “try dive” in a local swimming club, under the guidance of an instructor from your local club as well as an extensive section on the all-important diving safety. The BSAC organise diving course for all levels, from complete beginners to advanced techniques such as dive leader or advanced diver and award qualification cards on successful completion of the course.

The internationally recognised diving association is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), and in the UK you also have the Sub Aqua Association (SAA) similair to BSAC where it is club based training and scuba diving. Similair information and training is given from each. You need to check with the dive location you are going to see if they recognize PADI, BSAC or SAA as some are more inclined to one organisation.

UK or overseas?

It’s probably a good idea to start with a “try dive” close to home, to make sure that you can cope with being underwater (not everyone can).  After that, you may be tempted by taking a holiday overseas, to warmer climes, such as the Maldives, the Caribbean, Thailand or the Red Sea, all of which offer courses for the basic PADI qualification, usually lasting around 5 days.  The attraction of this is that it is idyllic swimming and diving in warm, clear water, without having to worry too much about becoming cold, or having to use a torch to see anything.  The downside, of course, is the cost. Living on board a luxury “floating hotel”, with full board and all equipment and instruction provided, is likely to be between £2000 and £2500 in the Maldives, for instance, not including the flight there.  Thailand is far cheaper, with the same holiday PADI course being around £300 to £400, plus flights.

Perhaps the best of both worlds would be to spread the cost of the basic qualification over a few weeks in the UK, then indulge yourself by going overseas for the next stage!

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Jessica Duggan has been involved with the travel industry for several years, including working for 2 seasons on a “liveaboard” in the Mediterranean, which catered for both scuba diving and snorkeling holidays.  She is well aware of the need for stringent safety procedures in diving, having seen a couple of potentially serious situations.  She enjoys most water sports, including sailing and canoeing, but confesses to not having the balance for surfing.

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