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View Full Version : Criteria for solo diver course (your input)



ozarkdiver
06-26-2008, 11:13
Okay, we've talked (and bitched) about the pros and cons of solo diving. So I'd like to hear from the solo divers out there.....what would your criteria be for a solo course (skills/equipment/experience/attitude/etc.)? You're the instructor.....how would you teach this course?

MSilvia
06-26-2008, 11:43
what would your criteria be for a solo course (skills/equipment/experience/attitude/etc.)? You're the instructor.....how would you teach this course?

PREREQUISITES
A. Minimum age: 18 years.
B. Minimum certification: AOW or equivalent.
C. Minimum of 50 logged dives.
D. Release forms signed, medical waivers, and the usual paperwork

REQUIRED Gear
A. Basic dive equipment
B. A redundant air source with it's own dedicated first and second stage regulator (pony, independant or manifolded doubles, etc. Spare air is not acceptable)
C. Two cutting tools, such as shears, knife, or line cutter
D. A compass
E. At least one audible and one visual surface signalling device.
F. A spare mask

REQUIRED SKILLS
A. Demonstrate good predive planning, including calculation of estimated air consumption, appropriate turn times, and a lost gas bailout plan
B. Demonstrate ability to execute dives according to plan
C. Demonstrate ability to rig redundant breathing system, and to deploy it in a simulated out of air scenario
D. Demonstrate ability to streamline gear so as to minimize entanglement hazards
E. Demonstrate safe descent/ascent rates and safety stop.
F. Demonstrate proficiency with compass navigation by swimming a pre-determined route and surfacing within a reasonable distance from the expected endpoint;
G. Demonstrate use of surface signaling devices.
H. Demonstrate ability to doff and don gear at at depth not less than 15 meters/45 feet in order to remove entanglement.
I. Demonstrate ability to remove an entanglement with a cutting tool while submerged.
J. Demonstrate ability to deploy and clear a backup mask if the first is lost or damaged.

emcbride81
06-26-2008, 11:44
I think I would focus a lot on gear, including what you should have and ways to set it up (ie pony slinging). Also, self rescue skills...being able to get out of entrapment, getting your gear off and on in the water, on top of the water. I would have "solo dives" where the instructor would follow the diver and shut off air, rip off his mask, rip out his reg, etc. to simulate emergencies. Navigation would have to be tip top, as well as being able to swim a long distance on the surface with gear...say 100-200 yds.

MSilvia
06-26-2008, 11:51
A swimming requirement would be a good addition to what I said. Good call emcbride81.

whitworthsa
06-26-2008, 16:50
My LDS just ran a solo diver course (SDI I think) and the personal requirements to register were that the diver be experienced (at least 100 dives) and comfortable in the water. I don't know if there were gear requirements to take the course or if one could rent the needed equipment if neccesary.

captain
06-26-2008, 21:20
It would also be a damm good AOW course not just solo

emcbride81
06-27-2008, 11:14
It would also be a damm good AOW course not just solo


That is a great point...we should start our own agency! :)

texdiveguy
06-27-2008, 12:07
Having never taken the current SDI solo class....I have read the manual, it covers the basics very well and of course a good instructors input and dives will provide the back bone of the class.

I persl. love solo diving in many different settings and even technical diving solo is an activity I find challenging on occasion.

Tod
06-30-2008, 13:53
Having taken the solo course (I have a card), I found the minimum criteria they require to be sufficient - but that is only one part of it. The second part of the equation is really what has been mentioned above: the diver's own confort/confidence level. For that, I don't really know a good way to quantify it other than perhaps going diving with each the individual in the course and carefully watching them go through their gear set up, their pre-dive planning, then assessing them through the dive to make sure they appear confident in their skills.

The bottom line is that most who take the class have already been solo diving before hand. Like me, the class was only for personal reasons (in case I was ever questioned on a dive boat), which to date (two-plus years) has never come up.

In the class I took, we did have a pool sesson where the instructor (and his assistant) went around and shut off our air, and gave us "pop quizes" with slates that had various scenarios on it (e.g., you BC inflator hose won't stop inflating) and then watched you as you solved the problem. After that, we did an open dive in the ocean and we were each followed by a dive master (from afar) to watch how we did.

In the end, I really didn't learn a whole lot, but it did give me the confidence in knowing that I was already doing things I should be doing.

ozarkdiver
06-30-2008, 14:49
Your quote "Demonstrate ability to remove an entanglement with a cutting tool while submerged."

I agree with you that an entanglement is a hazard a solo diver (or any diver, for that matter) should be prepared for, but do you think a dive agency would allow a simulated entanglement in their training? I'm willing to bet they would lower the hammer on that one for liability reasons. When you consider the training scenario, what if something happens to the instructor while the trainee is entangled? He makes an emergency ascent, and the trainee (who's hasn't figured out how to untangle himself) is trapped and panics.

I agree it would be a good skill to teach, just not sure how to do it.

ozarkdiver
06-30-2008, 14:50
Your quote "Demonstrate ability to remove an entanglement with a cutting tool while submerged."

I agree with you that an entanglement is a hazard a solo diver (or any diver, for that matter) should be prepared for, but do you think a dive agency would allow a simulated entanglement in their training? I'm willing to bet they would lower the hammer on that one for liability reasons. When you consider the training scenario, what if something happens to the instructor while the trainee is entangled? He makes an emergency ascent, and the trainee (who's hasn't figured out how to untangle himself) is trapped and panics.

I agree it would be a good skill to teach, just not sure how to do it.

MSilvia
06-30-2008, 15:38
I agree with you that an entanglement is a hazard a solo diver (or any diver, for that matter) should be prepared for, but do you think a dive agency would allow a simulated entanglement in their training? I'm willing to bet they would lower the hammer on that one for liability reasons.

I don't know, but I do know that if I were an instructor, I would want to make damn sure it was something a student of mine could do before I ever said I thought they were ready to dive solo. That aside, there are far more dangerous things taught in agency approved curriculums than that... deco diving, for example.


When you consider the training scenario, what if something happens to the instructor while the trainee is entangled? He makes an emergency ascent, and the trainee (who's hasn't figured out how to untangle himself) is trapped and panics.


With a class like that, I'd want to limit the student/instructor ratio to help ensure that isn't a problem, but in any case I'm not suggesting tying a student to the bottom of the pool, but rather something like making a few wraps of monofilament around their feet, tank, and/or other "line traps". If they panic, they aren't trapped... they can surface and deal with it there. If they can't cut themselves free in the pool, how are they going to save themselves in the ocean? After all, IMHO solo diver should be a class in self-rescue first and foremost. You aren't doing anyone any favors by taking the stress out of it.

diver 85
07-07-2008, 13:16
Okay, we've talked (and bitched) about the pros and cons of solo diving. So I'd like to hear from the solo divers out there.....what would your criteria be for a solo course (skills/equipment/experience/attitude/etc.)? You're the instructor.....how would you teach this course?


Think REDUNDACY, over and over.........If you've got enough equipment with you, you'll make it......I've just recently started soloing in the Turbine Channel outside Toledo Bend Reservoir...Of course, being well experienced helps ALOT,.....too......

magelk
07-26-2008, 06:46
How about a psychological test??:smiley36:

freeski4ever
07-26-2008, 15:13
How about a psychological test??:smiley36:

And require a mandatory doctor's physical as well as administering a physical fitness test.

mchain
07-26-2008, 18:27
lol, I had an image in my head of surprising the student by throwing a fishing net on top of them in the pool. For some reason that entertained me.

tonka97
07-27-2008, 07:10
what would your criteria be for a solo course (skills/equipment/experience/attitude/etc.)? You're the instructor.....how would you teach this course?

PREREQUISITES
A. Minimum age: 18 years.
B. Minimum certification: AOW or equivalent.
C. Minimum of 50 logged dives.
D. Release forms signed, medical waivers, and the usual paperwork

REQUIRED Gear
A. Basic dive equipment
B. A redundant air source with it's own dedicated first and second stage regulator (pony, independent or manifolded doubles, etc. Spare air is not acceptable)
C. Two cutting tools, such as shears, knife, or line cutter
D. A compass
E. At least one audible and one visual surface signaling device.
F. A spare mask

REQUIRED SKILLS
A. Demonstrate good pre-dive planning, including calculation of estimated air consumption, appropriate turn times, and a lost gas bailout plan
B. Demonstrate ability to execute dives according to plan
C. Demonstrate ability to rig redundant breathing system, and to deploy it in a simulated out of air scenario
D. Demonstrate ability to streamline gear so as to minimize entanglement hazards
E. Demonstrate safe descent/ascent rates and safety stop.
F. Demonstrate proficiency with compass navigation by swimming a pre-determined route and surfacing within a reasonable distance from the expected endpoint;
G. Demonstrate use of surface signaling devices.
H. Demonstrate ability to doff and don gear at at depth not less than 15 meters/45 feet in order to remove entanglement.
I. Demonstrate ability to remove an entanglement with a cutting tool while submerged.
J. Demonstrate ability to deploy and clear a backup mask if the first is lost or damaged.

Excellent!

I solo dive about 50% of my OW dives. The main skill necessary, in my opinion, is a calm deliberative mind set, equipment redundancy (especially an independent air source), and a sense of humor.

The skills outlined by MSilvia should be confidently demonstrated to the solo certifier, with the ability to vary the responses when things 'don't go right'.

:smiley13:

tonka97
07-27-2008, 07:15
"Think REDUNDACY, over and over........."

If I do that, I will end up mispronouncing redundancy!

:smiley5:

But you're right!

:smiley20:

Daved
07-27-2008, 08:56
I really like the term self rescue. Be it an out of air scenario or an entanglement problem. Self rescue starts before the dive. Knowing when to call it. Knowing that calling it on conditions or just the spidey senses is the most important decision of the day.
Good job MSilvia. I agree with the equipment list--I will add a spare mask--I wish the proper attitude could be purchased just as easily as the equipment.

pir8
07-27-2008, 09:18
What you can do to verify getting out of entanglements is have them deploy each and every cutting instrument one at a time several times throughout the dive.

MSilvia
07-27-2008, 09:34
What you can do to verify getting out of entanglements is have them deploy each and every cutting instrument one at a time several times throughout the dive.
Maybe, but just pulling out and stowing a knife or scissors doesn't make someone familiar with the practical considerations of entanglement removal, like how well different tools are suited to removing a tangled line, monofilament "rat's nest", or length of steel fising line. It also doesn't prepare a student for the way contorting yourself to reach and remove an entanglement can make it challenging to maintain control of your trim and buoyancy.

Personally, I don't think "show me the tool" is anywhere near a sufficient learning experience. I feel pretty strongly that a challenging class is necessary in order to really prepare someone to solo. The whole point is to teach a diver the skills they need to be safe without having a buddy to rely on for help. Making it easy is counterproductive.

pir8
07-27-2008, 09:59
Sorry but I don't believe in causeing a problem where it didn't exist before. Prepare for them but don't facilitate them.

wmspdi
08-05-2008, 19:10
On my first pool training session with my public safety dive team I was taken to the bottom of the pool, told to close my eyes (to simulate zero visibility) and wrapped in rope. I then had to untangle myself while safety divers were nearby in case I panicked. The test was repeated 3 or 4 times in different ways. I left that session with more confidence in my ability to free myself.

After that pool session I ditched the traditional BC/regulator setup in favor of a streamlined BP/wing rig with only 3 hoses to reduce the points of entanglement. I soon found after a few open water team dives that even though there are other PS divers in the water, you are really a solo diver due to lack of visibility. I carry 2 or more cutting tools, an emergency SMB and redundant air on every PS dive now.

Daved
08-07-2008, 09:13
The problem with all certifications--solo or otherwise --is they are a snapshot in time. If someone with 500+ dives has not entered the water in 3 years--he better be taking a re-fresher course. If I only dive once a year in warm, shallow water--do I need to be certified? Should a certification card not have some form of current rating?
To maintain the certification of a solo diver there should be some sort of pre-requisite that in the last three months he(she) has logged 25 dives with a buddy.
Or is this just another case of trying to legislate common sense?

Black-Gorrilla
08-11-2008, 00:30
Your quote "Demonstrate ability to remove an entanglement with a cutting tool while submerged."

I agree with you that an entanglement is a hazard a solo diver (or any diver, for that matter) should be prepared for, but do you think a dive agency would allow a simulated entanglement in their training? I'm willing to bet they would lower the hammer on that one for liability reasons. When you consider the training scenario, what if something happens to the instructor while the trainee is entangled? He makes an emergency ascent, and the trainee (who's hasn't figured out how to untangle himself) is trapped and panics.

I agree it would be a good skill to teach, just not sure how to do it.


how about on land? it's not the same... but it's something...

MSilvia
08-11-2008, 11:57
To maintain the certification of a solo diver there should be some sort of pre-requisite that in the last three months he(she) has logged 25 dives with a buddy.
It's good to be current, but your requirement seems arbitrary. That aside, I'm not sure how any number of dives with a buddy keeps solo skill fresh. Also, at 25 dives in 3 months, there are very few divers even among skilled solo divers who could stay current unless they were dive professionals. Even when I was at my activity peak, I only just barely approached 100 dives in a year.

Besides, a certification isn't a license... you can dive solo just fine without a c-card for it, so I'm not at all sure I see what impact failing to renew a solo certification would have.

stairman
08-11-2008, 12:22
I see no need for a solo course myself.When I solo cave I have two backmounted tanks w/din regs.Two knives/one pair of nippers/Two masks/Four lights/four reels/Dual bladder wing/Two computers/and my aluminum 80 stage bottle.I dont penetrate over 7-800 ft.and feel very at peace with my gear and emergency procedures.If the roof falls in so be it.A health issue is the worst thing that could happen so I stay in shape and live right.

georoc01
08-12-2008, 17:48
To maintain the certification of a solo diver there should be some sort of pre-requisite that in the last three months he(she) has logged 25 dives with a buddy.
It's good to be current, but your requirement seems arbitrary. That aside, I'm not sure how any number of dives with a buddy keeps solo skill fresh. Also, at 25 dives in 3 months, there are very few divers even among skilled solo divers who could stay current unless they were dive professionals. Even when I was at my activity peak, I only just barely approached 100 dives in a year.

Besides, a certification isn't a license... you can dive solo just fine without a c-card for it, so I'm not at all sure I see what impact failing to renew a solo certification would have.

If you are diving completely on your own, that is true. But when I was on a liveaboard in Australia, you could dive without a buddy if you had the card and took a pony bottle with you.

MSilvia
08-12-2008, 17:51
you can dive solo just fine without a c-card for it.

If you are diving completely on your own, that is true. But when I was on a liveaboard in Australia, you could dive without a buddy if you had the card and took a pony bottle with you.
That's valid, but I would think a liveaboard would be a fairly easy place to find a buddy. I usually only solo when buddies aren't so available.

Daved
08-12-2008, 20:57
Oh--here we go--
Liveaboards started me solo diving. My level of comfort under water with the insta buddy 10 dives old who was instructed by a DM younger than my kids,,,,and well I know--most DM's are younger than my kids now,,,,
who thinks it is ok to touch feel and prod everything---well I just started going it alone.
As for Solo certification---your list is great--but man wouldn't it be nice to have common sense on the list.
Instructor--"nope--I'm sorry--no common sense--no ticket"
Student "awe--I really thought that Redundant Air Supply was that old band"

emcbride81
08-17-2008, 19:25
I see no need for a solo course myself.When I solo cave I have two backmounted tanks w/din regs.Two knives/one pair of nippers/Two masks/Four lights/four reels/Dual bladder wing/Two computers/and my aluminum 80 stage bottle.I dont penetrate over 7-800 ft.and feel very at peace with my gear and emergency procedures.If the roof falls in so be it.A health issue is the worst thing that could happen so I stay in shape and live right.


The only reason I plan to get my solo cert is to be able to dive some local quarries that are close to where I live. You cannot solo there without the cert.

pir8
08-17-2008, 22:40
At Dutch you need to carry a locator transmitter as well as having the cert.