Sunday, 19 August 2012

PADI Open Water Referral Day 2

Today I was back at London School of Diving for the second day of my referral course.
We were first in the pool this morning, whilst the other group went through the final chapters and their exam. I liked it being this way round, so that we could finish the course at the end of the day with the exam. I couldn’t believe how quickly the morning went, it was one o’clock before we knew it, over 4 hours in the pool! Most of the confined dive exercises today were in the deep end, which was a bit more fun and challenging than Day 1.

Taking off your BCD underwater and putting it back on was surprisingly easy. I really didn’t enjoy having to take my mask off and swim around the deep end for a lap, then put my mask back on and clear it. But I did it, and definitely an important skill!

One of the other skills was learning to breathe from a free flowing regulator, what a weird sensation! This is one of the skills that by the time I got the hang of it, I was told to stop so the next person could perform the skill. I would have liked to have given this a few goes rather than only just getting the hang of it after a face full of air!

I think this is the problem with doing the course in a class of 5 people. First, it can be a bit boring for some of the longer exercises to just sit and watch, although sometimes you can learn from other peoples mistakes. I tried to practice my buoyancy by hovering ever so slightly off the bottom at one point and was told off like a naughty child because I had to stay still. Secondly, when I completed the exercise but would stumble through it, it would have been nice to be able to repeat some of them a few times. But I can do this out in the Open Water I guess.

I really liked the instructors at London School of Diving, and they have a good communal area and classroom. However, the changing areas really were a bit run down and dirty…but I do have cleaning OCD and no one else seemed too fussed.

After lunch we completed the videos, quiz reviews and tests for chapters 4 and 5. Much of this was focused on using the RDP tables – which I was very proud to have mastered late last night.

After a quick break we completed the 50 question exam. There is no time limit, I managed to complete this first after about 25 minutes, others in the class looked like they were all at different stages. I took it to the instructor who marked it and, demonstrating my inner geek, awarded me 100%! I believe that the protocol is that if you get any questions wrong the instructor will discuss these with you to ensure you understand the principles. The pass mark is 75%. I assume if you get less than this you have to retake a different exam but I think the goal is to ensure you understand the material if you go wrong. If you read the PADI manual and the RDP manual and understand the answers to all of the tests and quizzes, it would be pretty difficult to fail!

I had a quick chat with the instructor afterwards and bought a binder for my log book (which she was shamelessly pushing to sell the whole weekend). On the whole, I found the centre quite pushy trying to sell additional courses, join their club and convince me not to do my Open Water Dives in Greece but with their centre in the UK. The cynic in me thinks this was shameless sales tactics to get some cash to smarten up the place, but perhaps she genuinely wants to get people diving as much as possible so that you don’t just do the course and then not actually use it!

So that was my two day referral course and now I’m super excited for the Open Water Dives! I could go into loads more detail but if anyone reading this has any questions on my experience I’d love to share so post a comment below!


  1. welcome to the world of scuba diving.
    having 5 students in a OW course with one instructor here in UK is a bit much and i do agree with you, even if padi say this ratio is ok

    Yes and all the instructors wear a nice smile its the Padi way :)
    Being a Padi IDCS instructor i teach for pleasure in London/kent at cost and not profit, i make sure my students understand and master all the skills prior to taking them in to open water, if it takes longer than usual then so be it.
    The trouble with many dive business/centres in UK profit is there main concern and how to get as much monies out of the students, some lack real training and i have seen this with many OW divers.

  2. Hi Lee,

    That's interesting, considering that the centre prided themselves on their maximum of 6 student ratio - it did feel a bit much!

    I guess you would hope places find that balance between profit to stay afloat and caring about their students. Nobody wants a reckless or untrained diver to be their buddy!