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NEWSLETTER

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Ocean Explorers Aquatic Center
732-906-8400

180 Lafayette Avenue
Edison, New Jersey  08837
 Hours:
Tue - Fri 12 - 8 p.m.
Sat  12 - 6 p.m.

MAP & DIRECTIONS

 

 


 

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about recreational scuba diving:

 

Q -What, exactly, is SCUBA?
A . SCUBA stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Unlike snorkeling, where you stay on the surface or free diving, where you hold your breath and go under the water, scuba divers carry an air supply with them and can stay under water for long periods of time.

Q- Do I have to know how to swim to learn to scuba dive?

A- Yes and no.  If you know how to swim it will be easier to meet the water skills requirements.  If not, no problem.  We have nationally certified swim instructors who can teach you how to swim enough to take lessons. For more information on our swim school go to: www.oeswim.com.


Q- How do I learn to scuba dive
A- The 2 most common ways to learn how to scuba dive are:
1- Discover scuba or “try scuba” as it is sometimes called, where you would go to a swimming pool with an instructor. He or she would help you put on scuba equipment, give you a few basic safety rules and take you diving in the pool.
2- Discover Scuba Diving is where you and the instructor, after the pool orientation, would actually go diving in an open water setting. The instructor would be right with you the whole time making sure you have a safe, enjoyable experience.
These can be extremely fun, however each time you want to go diving you would have to go through the entire process again. If you would like to go diving on your own without direct supervision or not have to pay for an instructor each time you want to go diving, you would have to become “certified.”

Q- How do I become certified to scuba dive?
A- Becoming a certified scuba diver takes 3 easy steps.
1 – Academic sessions. This is where you learn the “What” about scuba.
This part of the program can be taken on-line or in a traditional classroom setting. Which way is best depends on several factors.
On-line training.
Pros: Convenience. Anytime, anywhere you have access to a computer. You can take as much time as you need to complete the lessons.
Cons: Expense. There are fees involved in computer based training. No face to face interaction. No one available for help when you need it.
Classroom training
Pros: Taught by real people. These professionals know how to teach students with different needs and learning styles.
Questions can be answered immediately.
There is often an instructor and several assistants to help you through the material. These staff members will not only teach the material, but because they are experienced divers themselves, they will share their knowledge of the real world of diving and show you how what you are studying relates to different diving environments.
Cons: The sessions are usually held at a specific time and place. This could create conflicts with people who find it difficult to schedule these lessons into their lives.

2- Pool or confined water session. Here you get the “How” of scuba.
This is where the fun begins. You will be in shallow water wearing all of your scuba equipment. Over a series of session (5 is the most common) the staff will teach you the skills required to safely enjoy the sport of scuba diving. These skills are progressive, starting with the simplest and working up to the more complex. They are also performance based. You will not be asked to do any complex skill until you are comfortable with the previous ones.

3 - Training dives. Now you learn “Where” we dive.
You will take the skills that you learned in the pool and show an instructor that you can do them in an actual diving environment. You will need to do a total of 4 dives over a 2 day period. Again, you have a few options here.

Local dive site You can go with your instructor, staff and fellow classmates to a dive site close to home. It may be the ocean, a lake or in many cases such as with us, a flooded rock quarry that has been converted in a scuba training facility.
Pros: Close to home. No expense of travel. You will be doing the dives with the person or people who trained you in the pool and are aware of your strengths and the areas where you may need a little TLC. Most instructors and dive shops try to make this a fun, social event where you will meet other people learning to dive or taking advanced courses.
Cons: For those of us in the northern part of the US these lakes and quarries can be somewhat daunting. The water can be chilly most of the year and there usually isn’t much to see. In cold water we need more wetsuit material to stay warm and more weight to stay down.

Destination dive training Because most of the academic and pool training is standardized, you can complete the open water training dives virtually anywhere around the world. Most of the training agencies have a referral service that would allow you to complete your course in a more climate friendly setting. You can take a formal referral form to almost any dive resort and complete the training dives with one of their instructors who would then issue your certification card.
Pros: Usually done at a place where you would be vacationing. Usually warm water. Less equipment requirements. More to see on your dives.
Cons: Expense. These dives with an instructor can be a little pricey. The instructor did not do your initial training. He or she will not be aware of your initial diving experiences. You will be just another paying customer who will be leaving on the next plane off the island. Often these dives are done from a boat adding additional stress to a completely new experience. Also, you will be devoting the better part of 2 vacation days to complete your course.

Dive shop group trips A good dive shop will have a schedule of guided dive trips to some of the more popular dive destinations. They may be short, weekend getaways, weeklong vacations or extended exotic adventures to far away lands. These are led by the shops instructor staff. Often with the one who trained you and with whom you have developed a personal relationship.
Pros: Everything is done for you; airfare, hotel, transportation, dive schedules and social activities. The staff knows you and has a vested interest in your safety and making sure your trip is an enjoyable one. The social aspect of our sport is accentuated on these trips. You will meet other divers from the shop and build your own little dive group.
Cons: Scheduling may be a problem. The shop may not be going where you want when you can get away. The shop may not cater to the type of diving you want to do. For instance some shops simply don’t do cave diving trips. Some will not do what is considered technical diving beyond the limits of traditional sport diving.

Q- How are scuba classes scheduled?
A – There are several formats for you to choose; private, semi-private and group classes.
Private classes allow you to meet with your instructor on your schedule.
You will be working one on one at your pace.
Pros: Class is done at your convenience. You have the instructor’s total attention. Entire course can usually be completed in a shorter amount of time.
Cons: Expense. Private classes are always the most expensive. You don’t get any interaction with other students. Hard to make new diving friends when you are the only one in the class. But when you graduate, you will be at the head of the class.

Semi-private or small group This is where you would take the class with one or two relatives or friends who have the same timeframe free.
Pros: Similar to private class. Usually some cost savings over private lessons.
Cons: You have to share the instructor and staff. It’s going to take a little longer to complete. Still no new friends. You already know your classmates.

Group lessons These are regularly scheduled classes which are determined by the dive shop and/or the instructor. Most common is one day a week for 5 weeks. Occasionally a condensed course may be offered. This might meet twice a week or all work may be done in a weekend.
Pros: Group classes are the most economical. You will not only learn from the staff, but also by watching others progress through the program. You have time to establish a good working relationship with the scuba staff. This will become more important as you continue your scuba education. You will be able to take advantage of their vast diving experiences.
Cons: You have to arrange your schedule around the course. Because the course is progressive, you should try to attend all of the segments. If you miss one you cannot continue until you have made it up. This can get costly as you will now be paying for a little private instruction.

Q – What equipment will I need to become certified?
A - This would depend on where you decide to take your lessons. Equipment falls into two categories: personal equipment and life support system.

Personal equipment – mask, snorkel, fins with or without booties and usually a weight belt and some weights to help you get underwater. Booties are required where safety or cold water are concerns.
Sometimes the use of this equipment is included in the course (usually at resorts.) Each time you go into the pool you pick out gear from a pile that has been used before by many other people. Each time you have to find a mask that fits, a snorkel that has been in who knows how many mouths, and fins that fit you feet. This takes up valuable pool time.
Most often you will be asked to purchase your own personal gear. Then you have new, unused equipment that you know will fit properly, and has been properly cleaned and maintained.

Life support system – tank, regulators, buoyancy control device, information console and environmental protection.
This gear will always be provided to each student in the pool. It is included in the cost of the course. It is not always included for use in your open water training dives. This is because we don’t always complete the pool sessions and training dives with the same people. Also, many students decide to purchase some or all of their life support systems while they are learning skills in the pool. This has many benefits. Everything fits properly. You become familiar will all the components of the system. You don’t have to relearn each time you use rented or borrowed gear.

Q- Do I rent or purchase my life support system?
A – This is a tough question. There are many factors to consider.

Q – Isn’t it cheaper to rent than to purchase?
A – Yes, maybe for the first few times. After that all you have is a bunch of receipts and nothing to show for it. Once you purchase your gear you won’t have to spend any more on rental fees.

Q – Can’t I get what I need at the dive resort where I am vacationing?
A – Sure, but do they have enough? Do they have everything in your size? Has it been properly cleaned and maintained? Each time you rent you have to wait in line, fill out the forms, leave a deposit and make sure it is returned in the same condition as it was when you took it.

Q – Isn’t it a bother and an expense to take the equipment with me when I fly?
A - Yes, you may need and extra bag, but not always. Much of it will fit in a carry-on bag. And the rest can go in with the small amount of clothing you will be taking any way. What do you need? Couple of bathing suits and a few tee shirts. Besides, most divers appreciate the security of have their own systems with them every time they dive.

Q- If I decide to purchase my own scuba gear where do I get it?
A- There are 2 main sources; a full service dive center or a discount online seller. Each has pros and cons.
Your local dive center.
Pros: these are dive professionals. They exist to create divers and keep them diving. They have invested heavily in a brick and mortar location to serve the local community. They will provide you with the essential 3 “E’s” of diving; Education (the courses you need to learn to do this safely)
Equipment (knowledgeable in all facets of the gear they are selling. Not only will they sell it to you but can do repairs and maintenance.)
Experiences (this is vital to you continuing your enjoyment of the sport. You need and want to go diving with people who have been there and will share their experiences with you.)
Cons: Dive centers can not afford to offer all of these services to you and sell products at a deep discount. Yes, you will pay a little more but you get value in the services, personal attention and social relations you get from a full service dive shop.

Online sellers
Pros: Savings are just a click away. We can buy most anything on line today.
Cons: Once you have bought on-line you are on your own. Don’t bring it into a dive center and ask for it to be assembled properly. And you probably won’t be asked to join the “club” and be invited on the next dive outing or vacation trip. The dive center only has so many resources in the way of personnel. They will spend most of it on customers who have supported the dive center and not the on-line retailer. So be prepared to go it alone. You’ll have to use Travelocity for you next dive trip.

Q – How much does scuba equipment cost?
A - For your personal equipment you can expect to pay between $100 - $300 depending on your taste and pocketbook.
For your life support system it’s hard to give an exact amount. There are high end, middle of the road and economy systems. Again, which is right for you depends on preferences and pocketbook. A good rule of thumb would be that you can expect to spend as much on a good scuba system as you would on a week’s vacation.

Q- Where are beginning scuba classes from Ocean Explorers conducted?
A – We use several pools in the area; Rahway, Metuchen and Scotch Plains YMCA’s and a couple of private swim clubs. In the warmer months we have access to outdoor private pools.

Q- Do I need to take other classes after the basic or Open Water course?
A – Due to the limited time devoted to training in this first course there is only so much you can learn about scuba in five sessions. When you finish the course you will be certified to dive under limited conditions. The continuing education programs are designed to expand your underwater abilities. For example:
The Open Water course gets you comfortable with your equipment. Like learning to drive, this is more a learner’s permit. It is a license to begin learning how to dive.
The Advanced Open Water introduces you to different situations in the diving environment.
The Rescue Diver or “What if?” course teaches you how to be a good dive buddy. You will learn how to identify a potential problem before the dive and how to deal with it should something occur during the dive.
These three courses make up a good diver’s core education.

Q – What is the difference between a Dive Center and a Dive Resort?
A - A Dive Center is your local, neighborhood Dusty’s Dive Shop. Their primary mission is to create scuba divers. The staff will teach you how to dive, sell you the equipment you need and take you diving.
The Dive Resorts are destinations where you go to dive. You will find them on islands like Grand Cayman, Cozumel and the Florida Keys. Putting divers in the water is their main objective. They may do training but usually only a small amount. They may also sell some gear but due to high import duties and shipping costs the equipment tends to be a little on the expensive side.

Q – What is “diver dropout?”
A – This is the bane of our industry. Diver dropout is when someone takes a course or two, buys a few pieces of gear and tries a dive trip on their own. They take a “been there, done that” attitude and move on to something else.
Here is where a full service dive center is your best friend. Our job is to keep you diving by offering new and challenging dive experiences. When you support your local dive shop you become part of a dive club or family.

Q - What if I am not really a water person?
A - While scuba diving may not be for everyone, as long as you are comfortable in the water, a good instructor and staff can get you through a course. A reputable dive center will allow you to start a program and if it turns out not to be for you, they should offer a complete refund. So, you have nothing to lose, give it a try.

Hopefully, we have provided answers to the questions you may have about becoming a certified scuba diver. If not, give us a call anytime. We would be happy to spend some time with you.