This year I crossed off one of my bucket list item, got Open Water Diver certification. I had done scuba diving before at Honolulu. It is among my top 3 best experiences. Ever since that vacation, I had been wanting to get into diving more seriously.
But since we live in land locked Dallas, I didn’t think it was possible or worth it. Then this year in February I saw Groupon from International Scuba and I decided to just go for it. I think Groupon was for $250 but then there was a fine print which said we need to buy our own mask, fins, snorkel, and boots. I bought all this gear from International Scuba as they offered free gear rental for checkout dives. But this added about additional $200.
This certification consist of three parts, online education, in-person classes and training in a pool, and checkout dives in open water body such as lake.
Online classes were easy and interesting. Production quality is sadly extremely low though. It looks like they shot videos in 1980s.
My in-person classes and checkout dives were scheduled in March. It was still pretty cold outside, but International Scuba has nice heated indoors pool. Our instructor was great and very thorough.
This was around the time when COVID19 was spreading in the US but DFW had no such cases yet.
Our checkout dives were at Scuba Ranch in Terrell. Water temperature there was about 60 F then. However, instructor assured that with thick enough wetsuit, we will be fine.
I got 7mm wetsuit but I was still cold in the water but it was bearable. One thing about thick wetsuits is that they increase your buoyancy significantly. We did our training in pool in just swimsuits, it was already hard enough to get neutrally buoyant in the pool without wetsuit. Now we had to not only do our skills in much colder water but also have totally different buoyancy profile. In addition, water is pretty murky there, so that is another new factor to consider. We had to do 4 dives, 2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday.
But first 2 dives really pushed me exhausted me and I woke up on Sunday with low grade fever. I would have been fine if I had taken some Advil but with COVID19 in the news and just didn’t wanted to push myself, I didn’t go.
Then lockdown happened. So I could not do my last 2 dives until June.
Scuba International was really nice about it, I thought I had to pay for gear rental this time but the loaned me the gear for free again. Also I had prepaid for Sunday entry at Scuba Ranch, but they mailed me a raincheck. So I was able to my last 2 dives for the same cost as if I had not missed my dives initially.
This time water temperature was about 80F. It is amazing how big of difference 20F is, we dived in just swimsuits, no need of wetsuit at all. Also skills were so much easier to do too. Water was still murky but it wasn’t as bad as I remembered from the first time.
I highly recommend that you do your Open Water Diver training during summer. And checkout Scuba International, they are awesome.