Every diver remembers that exhilarating time when he or she first tried scuba diving. A few will pound their chests and declare they never hesitated a minute. They just strapped that 50 lbs of gear on their backs and back-rolled into the abyss. Hoo-rah!
Most of us remember it differently. We were excited, for sure. But we had concerns. We needed answers before willingly subjecting ourselves to hostile alien environments where human beings were not designed to survive.
Working at Dolphin Dive Center puts me in contact every day with people are interested in scuba diving. They come into the shop excited but also apprehensive. Their excitement and apprehension prompts causes almost every person new to scuba diving to ask the same types of questions.
I’m going to compile the ten most common questions in no particular order that people new to scuba diving ask and offer my answers to each.
Will I have to buy a lot of expensive equipment?
The short answer to this question is, Nope.
Whether you dive at a resort or with a charter boat service there will likely be a rental shop where you can rent gear by the day, weekend, or week. It may not fit you perfectly but you will be able to dive in it.
That said, when you own your own gear, it will fit you every time. You won’t have to fumble with straps, inflator hoses or purge valves because you will be so familiar with your personal set-up.
Owning your own gear contributes to your comfort and peace of mind. A relaxed diver consumes less air and enjoys longer bottom times, allowing him or her to truly savor the experience.
But there’s no rush to owning your own gear. Rent for as long as you like when the time is right to buy, you will know it.
What if I wear contact lenses?
You can safely scuba dive while wearing your contact lenses.
It is recommended to use soft lenses rather than hard or gas permeable lenses. Disposable lenses are also a great option. For more great tips read our post about Scuba Diving in Contact Lenses.
Aren’t there, like, sharks down there…?
We hear this one all the time. It’s usually the second question, right after “How much does scuba diving cost?”
It is understandable to worry about sharks, considering the bad rap sharks get from Hollywood blockbusters and the annual Shark Week.
However expert Dr. Robert Hueter of the Mote Marine Laboratory – Center for Shark Research in Florida sets the record straight:
“The idea that sharks are out there attacking humans, it doesn’t reflect the reality of what we have learnt over the past 40 years about shark behavior and biology – sharks are not man-eaters, and in fact, many shark species are threatened by humans.”Article – Sydney Morning Herald
Bottom line: Ask most experienced scuba divers, and they will tell you the highlight of any dive is a shark sighting. Unfortunately, sightings are quite rare.
Can I be a scuba diver if I’m out of shape?
Scuba diving is a sport anyone can enjoy. Whether you are young or old, fit or out-of-shape, still wearing the jeans you wore in high school or in need of a good weight loss plan — anywhere on the spectrum — you can scuba dive.
And here’s a fun fact: Many divers at Dolphin Dive Center become motivated to lose some weight, start exercising, and/or quit smoking after finishing their scuba certification. Why?
Because they realize that getting fit means their respiratory systems will work more efficiently, which in turn means they’ll consume less air and extend their bottom times. Added benefits, all around!
What if I’m claustrophobic?
Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder in which sufferers have an irrational fear of being trapped in confined spaces. If you are claustrophobic and considering scuba diving, you will most likely experience some of that anxiety the first time you gear up.
But rest assured, the training you will receive during certification will desensitize you to the fear of confinement. As you master skills that allow you to cope with the underwater environment, your training will become a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
It will be important to let your instructors know about your fears. They will spend extra time with you, if necessary, until you feel safe and comfortable underwater. Just like with anything, if you really want to dive, your fears won’t stand in your way.
What if I’m prone to seasickness?
This was one of my personal concerns, when I was introduced to scuba diving. I’m happy to report that I don’t get sick all the time. But occasionally, it happens.
And if the seas get rough enough, it might happen to everyone on the boat. I learned there are lots of strategies to prevent seasickness, and remedies to combat it when it happens.
For example, take a preventative dose of motion sickness medication (such as Bonine or Dramamine) the night before a dive and again the morning of. Should you start to feel ill, move to the center of the boat and fix your gaze on the horizon. Have a “sea sick kit” in your dive bag, with items like Sea Bands, ginger flavored hard candy, Saltines, and peppermint gum.
When I’m prepared with medication and my kit, I feel in control and less afraid of being sick. That’s important. Seasickness is more related to the anxiety of becoming seasick than to the actual motion of the ocean.
What if water gets in my mask?
Scuba masks are designed to keep a pocket of air around your eyes so that you can see clearly underwater. Masks have a soft silicone skirt that, when properly fitted, creates a watertight seal from mid-forehead to below your nose. Sometimes, that seal is broken.
This can happen if, for example, some of your hair is under the mask or by smiling. I smile underwater all the time. Each time, I feel little trickles of water breaching the mask skirt. It’s okay when this happens. One of the skills you will learn during your certification training is how to effectively clear your mask of water.
I remember this freaking me out when I first heard it. Why not just teach us how to avoid water getting in our masks? Here’s the thing: scuba training prepares you for many underwater circumstances so that you won’t panic if something unexpected should happen.
As you master a skill like mask-clearing, you become more comfortable and confident, and you learn that what you feared before, isn’t really scary at all.
Isn’t scuba gear heavy? What if I can’t walk with it on my back?
Scuba gear typically weighs about 50 lbs and feels a bit heavy, on land. The good news is you don’t scuba dive on land! Once you’re in the water, you don’t feel the weight of the gear, at all.
One of the extraordinary sensations during a dive is the feeling that you are weightless, floating through underwater space like the fish, in stark contradiction of the laws of gravity we thought we were unconditionally bound by.
As far as getting geared up, you will find that divers are a generous bunch. We help each other into our gear. We hoist and hold, strap down and support, check and double-check. The staff of most dive boat charters moves your gear for you, changes out your tanks between dives, and even puts your fins on for you as you stand ready to enter the water.
Bottom line: If you need assistance, the divers around you will jump up and help, usually without being asked. Divers are cool, that way.
What if I once ruptured my eardrum?
“A ruptured eardrum — or perforated tympanic membrane as it’s medically known — is a hole or tear in your eardrum, the thin, drum-like tissue that separates your ear canal from your middle ear.”Source Mayo Clinic
It takes a few weeks for a ruptured eardrum to heal without treatment. A rupture with infection or requiring surgical intervention could take longer.
It’s not advised to scuba dive with a perforated eardrum. Once it is again intact, however, there is no medical reason to avoid scuba diving. I actually ruptured my eardrum in December 2011 and then dove in Belize the following February. I visited my doctor a week before the trip, to verify that my eardrum was healed.
As always consult your physician before a dive, if you have a medical concerns.
How much does scuba certification cost?
Dolphin Dive Center has certified over 1,000 students since opening our doors in 1999. The Scuba School International (SSI) curriculum is outstanding but it’s our instructors that make your dive training fun!
The course is a two-step process of classroom and pool sessions followed by the final steps of the open water check-out dives.
Total price of our Open Water Certification is three payments of $395*. This price includes all life-time access to the course’s digital learning materials, instructor fees, air tank fees, classroom and pool sessions, dive computer rental, buoyancy compensator rental, and open water checkout dives with your instructor.
* Transportation and meals during checkout dive weekend NOT included. *
It also includes the purchase of mask, fins, snorkel, full wetsuit, and gear bag that become your personal dive equipment as they are yours to keep at the end of the course.
Check-out dives must be done in open water to qualify for course completion. You have 4 months from the time you complete the classroom and pool sessions instruction before you must complete your check-out dives.
Dolphin Dive Center offers students check-out dives at Vortex Springs, FL or Lake Jocassee, SC depending on the time of year. You also have the option of going on one of Dolphin Dive Center’s dive vacations and completing your certification there.
Also, if you already have a beach trip planned, Dolphin Dive Center can refer you to a dive shop at your vacation destination to complete your Open Water check out dives there. The cost of a referral is $75 payable to DDC this does not include any fees charged by instructor at your destination for your check-out dives, you will be responsible for those fees so make sure to check the cost before you travel.