The Transition Between Diver and PADI Professional
There are a couple of things that signify your progression in diving - the most obvious for many is how you gain qualifications. Gaining qualifications should not be completed without gaining experience; all of this is covered in your training, however, the gaining of equipment (shiny things) also signifies this progression.
Since completing my rescue diver training and as I have progressed through being a trainee PADI Divemaster, PADI Divemaster, PADI Assistant Instructor and PADI IDC candidate, I have become a source of experience and knowledge for students.
Much of the interaction you have is on land and during equipment setup. I am the one who spots problems with equipment or the student comes to when something is not working, and now I know how to correct them.
I have learned the following:
- How to change seals in a dry suit.
- How to change a cylinder valve so it can take a DIN or yoke fitting.
- How much weight to start a first-time Open Water diver on
- How to thread the weight belt and distribute weights.
- How to fit a necklace to an Octo.
- How to change a chewed through the regulator mouthpiece.
- Garage gloves help wet glove go on.
- Talc/KY jelly is required to prevent drysuit seals damage.
- How to replace a mask strap.
- How to rethread a BCD tank strap.
- How to mend a small leak in a dry suit.
- How to replace a fin strap.
- Why you need two types of signaling devices.
- Why you should always carry a cutting tool.
- Why do you need a spare mask?
I could go on (and often do). We were told on our various courses to start to build a “save a dive kit”, and I strongly believe that you should not gain your PADI Divemaster qualification unless you have a "save a dive" kit and you can complete all of the above tasks. As a PADI Divemaster, you should always ensure that you have at least one cutting tool and two forms of signaling devices for assistance on every dive.
What should a "save a dive" kit include?
Everything should be in one place, so a small toolbox makes an ideal store, the one thing I can guarantee you is that it will grow. There is nothing worse than not being able to dive due to blown O-ring worth a few pennies. Just imagine, you have gone on holiday and the problem prevents you from diving on the trip? Tools and spare are “a crock of…” if you do not know how to use them, so go see Ben and sign up for the PADI Equipment Specialist course. At the very least, spend some time with PJG in the workshop.
So now you have the knowledge, what do you need to have in your spares box?
You need to be able to ensure the dive goes as planned, and you needs may differ if you are diving locally or on holiday. So on holiday you may need to take a service kit for your regulators, as these may not be available in your destination. But for a trip to Capers where there is a shop on site where you can hire quality equipment that is not as important.
I think your "save a dive" kit should include the following.
- Inflator hose valve
- Pressure gauge spindles
- Blanking Plugs
- Cable ties
- Gaffa tape
- Mask strap
- Fin strap
- Cylinder inserts
- Lengths of bungee
- Bees wax
- Condoms and tampons (for keeping things dry and absorbing moisture)
- Silicone grease
- Anti fog
- Hair ties
- Dump valve
- Spanners each size for your hoses as a minimum
- Screw driver
- Allen keys
- O-rings picks
- Bolt snaps
- Insulation tape
- Adjustable spanner
- Aqua sure or other cement
- Puncture repair kit
Other bits I have:
- Sun cream
- Headache tablets
- Seasickness tablets
- First aid kit
If you have a second set of regulators, it is good to throw these in as well so that you will always have spares.
All of these things can be collected as you go along - a top tip, if you need to order a new one, order two. Remember if you use it, replace it! If you use someone else's kit, please offer to pay for what you take. Most of the time we say “don’t worry” because if we know it’s been used it can be replaced; if you don’t say anything, you are the “@*#%” who helped themselves without saying and have now cost me the dive. Please use the comments below to add what you have found useful to have.
Other PRO essentials
In the water you should have two forms of signaling assistance, many of us carry three on most dives.
Surface Marker Buoy
You should have a surface marker buoy (SMB) I prefer a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and spool. This means that I have a surface marker that can be deployed underwater. When diving from a boat, the DSMB is essential to show the boat where you are on your safety stop or as you are ascending to the surface.
You need a whistle as the sound carries further and can be blown for longer than you shout for. Do you know the international distress signal is six blasts, repeated with an interval of one minute between the six blasts. Keep blowing to ensure that your location can be fixed on. You can buy a whistle that will fit on your low pressure hose, this has the benefit of also working under water the down side is if you are out of air, it will not work.
I carry a torch on most dives in addition to the DSMB and whistle that I carry on every dive, some even are preprogrammed to signal SOS. Furthermore, when you are low in the water you should flash your torch on your DSMB so that you can be located. In the unlikely event of a helicopter coming to your rescue, do not flash your torch at the helicopter but light the ground so you do not affect any night vision equipment being used.
Again you should have two cutting tools. I carry an eezycut trilobite on my computer strap that I can access with my left hand. I also have a larger maniago TS1 cutter on my waist strap that I can access with my both hands. These are both similar in that they are line cutters. They can be used one-handedly as a slasher type tool, both are razor sharp and cut webbing like it isn’t there. It can also be used on fishing line and string effectively. They both struggle on large gauge rope so I may in time change one of these to a pair of shears that are more accurate to be used one-handed but can also be used open as a knife blade to saw. Cutting someone out of a dry suit is a doddle, blade in at neck seal and slice down with no resistance. The eezycut comes with spare blades as standard. Before you use the tool for the first time take it apart and smear some vaseline or silicone grease on the blade and then put it back together.
You could also use a knife - I have had knives and I am not a fan, as for most you need two hands to use effectively. They are a blighter to keep sharp and they can cause problems when travelling when you forget to check them in. Start building on your spares, tools and "Pro essential" dive gear now by visiting our online store via the link below or calling into Scuba Leeds. Please remember that our online store is constantly building and if something isn't shown online, it doesn't mean that we do not stock it. So please give us a call or ask in the shop before heading off elsewhere!