After finally receiving my materials and working my way through the material and tests for the first three chapters I had an 8.45am start over in Chiswick for Day 1 of the PADI Open Water referral course. My plan is to complete the PADI Open Water confined dives and theory in the UK so that I can take to the sea in Santorini to complete my Open Water dives next month.
When I arrived there were 8 other students, much more than I expected. But we were split into two groups (those doing their complete course with the dive centre by finishing the Open Water dives in the UK at Wraysbury and those, like me, completing elsewhere).
So my group was first in the classroom, which was a good way round because we were eased in with the theory and then had the afternoon to put into practice the confined dive techniques. It was a really good group of people with varying experiences and ages, they all asked lots of questions (but not too many inane silly ones) which is a great way to learn.
The format was that for the first three chapters of the PADI manual we would watch a video, then discuss our answers to the end of chapter quiz (which everyone had completed before attending the course) and then we were given a 10 question test to do in silence. Once we completed each test, the instructor would call out the answers and we would discuss any questions anyone had got wrong.
On the whole, no one got more than one or two questions wrong, I think any incorrect answers would be a reflection of someone who hadn’t read the manual or wasn’t reading the questions correctly. This was a well prepared bunch!
It was an extremely hot day so we had plenty of quick water breaks in between each chapter. Finally, after lunch, we headed down to the pool to complete Confined Water Dives 1 and 2.
One of my biggest anxieties was that I wouldn’t be able to put the gear together or that I would do so incorrectly and then during the dive something would go wrong. However, it is surprisingly easy and given the way it is designed, it seems surprisingly fool proof: if you hadn’t put something together correctly then: your BCD wouldn’t inflate, there would be no air flowing through the regulator, or when you get into the water there would be bubbles from any leaks. A word of warning to those of you that are slight or lacking muscles, a steel tank is bloody heavy!!
For confined dives 1 and 2 most of the exercises are completed in the shallow end of the pool and are made up of a number of skills where the instructor describes them, demonstrates them and then gets each person in turn to complete these. It was very serious compared to my Try Dive a few weeks back, but I guess that’s the way it should be!
We finished at 5.30pm and I headed home exhausted, but I still needed to complete Chapters 4 and 5 and learn how to use the RDP tables (which was surprisingly intuitive). My word of advice…if you have enough time, complete the manual before day 1 so that you can get lots of rest for day 2! Zzzzzz.....