Why would I need a scuba refresh?
Everybody has experienced it. You are on a diving excursion and one of your fellow divers is not at the level expected. It typically starts with the preparation of the dive kit. It takes ages to get prepared and requires the full attention of the dive centre staff. The person in questions is obviously very nervous. Once ready, limited attention is given to the dive briefing. You now upfront this is going to be a hard one. You are convinced a good scuba refresh would be advised.
Having a good up to date knowledge and practice, handling of dive gear and understanding of diving procedures is key to fully enjoy your dives. Nevertheless we see divers in our centre regularly that are lacking at least one of these. They have not been diving for a while, regardless of the reasons, and do not feel confident. They not only increase the risks when diving, they typically spoil the dives of the regular divers.
The same quite often applies for active divers that decided recently to make major changes to their dive equipment. Not sure how to use the new equipment or lacking practice with it, they easily shift the focus to the new kit as opposed to the diving while being under water.
When you recognize yourself in any of the above statement, it might be wise to talk to the dive centre and agree on a refresher course.
What’s in a refresh for me?
Get back into it
Over time unused scuba knowledge fades. We as dive centre expect certified divers to safely plan and execute dives in accordance with their qualification. Planning a dive, controlling your bottom time, master your buoyancy and performing a correct safety stop are key to any dive. Understanding the correct buddy procedures increases your safety. Knowing what to do in case of diver separation is mandatory to conduct dives in a safe and controlled way. During a refresher course we will go through all the steps of a dive and help to bring you back up to speed on all these aspects.
Understand and manage your own dive gear
Most dive centres want certified divers to assemble and disassemble their own dive gear, check and adjust their weights and make sure all is functioning correctly. Sorting out your dive equipment gets a lot of attention in the refresher session.
Refresh skills and routine
Any dive professional is ready to help you rehears the required scuba skills. Believe us, quite often small, forgotten things can cause major issues during a dive, ruining the dive for everybody. Sometimes they can even cause dangerous situations. Doing a refresher course gives you the chance to rehears all the required skills. After the skill rehearsal you start thinking as a diver again!
For the diver having changed his dive gear, these sessions allow you to build confidence in the use of your newly acquired gear while practicing with your instructor. He will be happy to help you out with any issue and even demonstrate how to use the equipment correctly.
Practice in a controlled environment
Scuba diving is not risk free and if something goes wrong, there is a risk attached. It’s critical for the safety of you and your dive buddy to know what to do if you find yourself in a low-on-air emergency situation. Strangely though, certified divers rarely practice these skills. Running through the skills under the supervision of an instructor makes you to practice them in a safe, risk-free environment so that they become instinctive.
As a certified diver you understand that being stressed for a dive is not the best option. The lack of recent experience or major changes to your gear will get you nervous as you get closer to hitting the water. The higher your heart-rate gets, the more the stress will build up. This will have a negative impact not only on your air consumption, but might cause you not to react correctly on events during the dive. Practicing in a confined and controlled environment under the direct guidance of a pro will give you the confidence required and reduce the pre-dive stress. You will be able to fully enjoy the dive and reduce the risks for you and your fellow divers.
Get to know your guides
Quite often the pros assisting you during the refresh course are also the divers that will guide the dives. Getting to know each other and building report during the refresher course will help for the real dives. In addition these pros have tons of dives and know the environment you will be diving in by heart. Enjoy the refresher course to gather valuable information and get fully prepared to discover the underwater world at 100%.
Some final thoughts
All divers learn during their basic diving course, regardless from the agency, that a refresh is required when you did not dive for somewhere between 6 to 12 months. Experience teaches us that the person asking for a refresher course is often the least needing it. Quite some divers over estimate themselves and are confident a refresh course or even just a refresh dive is not required. Once they come into the centre and are requested to start preparing their gear we know how late it is. Please think twice before joining a dive and be critical on yourself, it will increase the safety for yourself, your fellow divers and your guides.
Regardless of the recommendations of the dive associations, each diver should make a critical evaluation of his ability to manage a dive end-to-end. Some divers may need some assistance to safely re-enter the water way sooner as others. The recommendations are just a rule of thumb but each should in the first place do an honest self-assessment. Believe us, as dive professionals we will not judge anybody requesting assistance to re-enter, just the opposite. At the end it is all about making sure dives are fun and enjoyable and can be conducted in the safest way possible.