PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course

As a PADI scuba Instructor one of my favorite courses to teach is the Advanced Open Water course. It’s an opportunity for the student diver and myself to do a variety of fun and educational dives together and hone in on what is most exciting and important to that diver individually. Recently I had the opportunity to teach an Advanced Open Water course to a lovely woman from Florida. She had been diving since the 90s and had been trying to get her advanced certification for years! I couldn’t let her wait a minute longer to get that Advanced certification! We discussed her dive experiences, comfort level in the water and on boats as well as her physical fitness. She was more than mentally, physically and experientially ready for the Advanced course and I couldn’t wait to get started. The weather couldn’t have been more lovely, and since I had already had one dive that morning with Olan out by the Cabrits Pier, I couldn’t wait to get back in!


(Pictured: Me in front with Kerwin in the boat, Olan on the bow and Rich loading tanks from the dock)

Our first dive was the ‘Boat’ Adventure Dive” at Canon site, named for the cannons that used to line the beach here. Kerwin was our captin and Olan was assisting me. We took the little boat ‘Spirit of Succeess” out to the site after a briefing on the beach and as soon as we arrived at the site we demonstrated how the boat gets tied up to the mooring, we discussed various entries that could be done from this boat and how it compared to entries and exits on other vessels. Olan gave a fantastic site briefing describing the bottom composition, life we might see, and left the dive objectives and dive plan for me to go over before we entered the water. We opted to slip into the water, have our gear passed in to be put on in the water instead of doing back roll entries. After a moment on the surface, we descended using the mooring for visual reference, and I noted my student’s comfort in the water, this was going to be an extra fun Advanced class! The reef was abundant and she was wowed by the colorful sponges, coral and fish and eels and made the 36 minute dive fly by.

Our next dive would be the “Project AWARE Fish ID Adventure Dive” at five finger reef. This is always a fun dive to do here because there really is so much life to identify and discuss and the conditions were ideal – calm, clear, endless visibility. Just as we descended we saw a GIANT porcupine fish, it almost looked like a small shark until it turned around and made its large boxy head visible to us. This site was teeming with schools of creole wrasse, rocks writhing with basket starfish and the sun shining down through the surface casting rippling light onto the underwater scenery. This dive was nearly an hour long and although we were bummed that the day 1 dives were over, she was most excited for the Deep Dive, Navigation Dive, and Multi-level / Computer Dives the next day!


advanced-open-water-diver-3The second day of diving we were again joined by Olan as Dive Master and Kerwin as our captain, and although it was cloudy and gloomy above the water, you could tell how clear the water was below. We took the boat out to Sharks Mouth, a vast site that is named for the sponges jutting out from the reef making it’s silhouette look like that of a shark’s teeth. We brought with us pressure sensitive objects, color charts, flash lights and slates to perform the skills required for the Deep Adventure dive toward’s my student’s Advanced Open Water certification. We had no trouble quickly descending to 100 ft enjoying the colorful bottom, even as we neared our bottom depth there are still some fantastical colors that defy the properties of color absorption as they seem like neon signs of the deep. It was a fantastic dive all around that left us excited for more no matter how grey the sky got.


We decided to stay at Sharks Mouth for dive 2, but this time begin the dive in the opposite reaction to see a different area of the site. During the surface interval my diver and I hung out in the water, since it was warmer than the air. (The photo below was taken during the surface interval with Kerwin and Olan in the boat in the background) This dive was “Multilevel / Computer Adventure Dive” so we planned the dive accordingly, had the guys hand our gear down into the water to don it and drop beneath the surface for a multi level dive with a maximum depth of 70 feet and my student followed her dive plan perfectly, noting correct depths, times, turn around and safety stops as we went along.


advanced-open-water-diver-4After our Multilevel – Computer Dive was complete, Kerwin dropped us at the dock and went to tie up the boat. My diver, Olan and I went to Sister’s restaurant for lunch and our next surface interval. During lunch it rained on and off and there was plenty of thunder but the water was calm. We waited out a shower and decided the conditions still looked okay to dive. It wouldn’t be the best visibility, but that can be ideal for the navigation dive where students learn to trust their compass, buddy, and what they learn about how to measure distance under water. We practiced all the skills she would be doing under water on the land first, right on the beach in front of the dive site we would be using for the final dive of her Advanced Open Water certification! I cheered her on each time she completed a skill knowing that this can be the most intensive or stressful dive for some divers, especially those that have never had to navigate for themselves no matter how much experience they have under water! She successfully completed the Navigation dive andย  thus completed her PADI Advanced Open Water course!

I was proud of this student and she clearly had a good time, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear from her asking for more dives to round out her trip to Dominica. I would take her on 3 more dives over 2 days which I will outline in 2 blogs that come with 2 pretty awesome videos, I won’t post any spoilers but you won’t want to miss these!

Forever Salty,

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