View Full Version : Experience

Nubie scubie
12-21-2013, 08:48
How many dives did you have logged before you dove without a guide or dive master present? I know a lot of this depends on location. I was reading threads on Bonaire and thinking to my self how many times would it take for me to feel confident to go out with just my dive buddy on a shre dive alone?

John Yaskowich
12-21-2013, 10:13
My advice would be to dive a site a couple of times with a guide or group, then you will be more comfortable to dive it with just your buddy. Your local dive shop probably runs group trips to a selection of sites (two in my area run "Wet Wednesday" dives and rotate 3-5 sites.) As for number of dive before you are comfortable, that would be a personal feeling.

12-21-2013, 13:15
Bonaire is a pretty low stress place to try it. Especially from the resorts. The reef parallels the shore, you'll enter from a dive dock and if you get lost, just slowly surface briefly and look east. There's almost no current at any sites except the few at either end of the island. Tell the onsite shop and they'll watch for your return.

What's more difficult about much of Bonaire other than off the resorts are the entries. Outside of the resorts most don't have any facilities - save for a couple that have broken down piers that used to be something else. None have facilities or are staffed in any way so you need to be sure enough of your abilities to get in/out and be able to summon help. There's not really any sort of coast guard off Bonaire to call either. Someone once joked that if you get caught in the rip off Lighthouse you float to Venezuela.

There's maybe a dozen dive sites there with very easy walk-in entries - most will require some sure-footed ness (and good thick boots) to climb over the ironshore/coral rubble often found both on-shore and in the surfline. You'll carry your fins out and don them in a few feet of water - and rely on your buddy for stability on both entries and exits.

Some of the more difficult entries also have options - sometimes a sand channel bisects the reef - at other sites someone has piled coral rubble up marking the entry point. At some you just take your chances though. I have a scar on my right shin from when I went down at Angel City one time - stepped in a hole in the ironshore with sharp coral at the bottom.

You can see many of the entries here: http://www.shorediving.com/Earth/ABC/index.htm An example of a sand channel is here: http://www.shorediving.com/Earth/ABC/BonaireS/Vista_Blue/index.htm - that site is one not to dive as new divers - one afternoon dive the fans/soft corals were bent over flat. We started up-current twice and both times and it blew us past our truck. Called the dive.

Most of the DM's on Bonaire freelance also. I'd be very surprised if one of yours on the boat didn't mention it during the week. Usually you meet them at the site with all your own gear - including tanks.

My 12th dive was buddy and I. At the time all my experience was in San Diego or Maui.

Nubie scubie
12-21-2013, 13:53
My advice would be to dive a site a couple of times with a guide or group, then you will be more comfortable to dive it with just your buddy. Your local dive shop probably runs group trips to a selection of sites (two in my area run "Wet Wednesday" dives and rotate 3-5 sites.) As for number of dive before you are comfortable, that would be a personal feeling.

I will look into our local area, there are several groups. I appreciate the feedback. I know it will be completely up to my comfort level. My husband is already to jump out there. That's why I wanted the input of others on how long it took them to feel comfortable. Just a general consensus, Thanks!

Tom H
12-21-2013, 20:24
I've never dived with a guide/DM, save for the week I was in Panama-- there it was just him and me 4 of the 5 days. I started in with a fellow newbie here in N.S. We did benign shore dives, which is what I still do here to date. Slight tidal current at times, mostly easy entries. It may have not been the smartest way to start out in hind sight-- neither of us and the slightest bit of rescue training, other than the PADI OW course tows and cramp removal. You are supposed to be able to plan and execute your dives independently of a pro from the get go, as I'm sure others will point out. But I would just take it slow and find some easy local spots, stay very conservative. Maybe try to get some deeper local sights--to 60' or so, to prepare for charter boat dives. There may be some down there near your "Murphy".

12-22-2013, 10:28
Bonaire is fairly easy diving depending on the sites. Very low currents and as diversteve pointed out the trick in a lot of places is getting in/out safely. To your question, I would recommend you look for a mentor. I was fortunate to have one who happened to be my brother in law; so, I really never used a dive guide except on the guided boat dives and such. Getting your OW and many cases your AOW does not make you a diver (personal opinion). You learn a lot in these classes, but you don't learn experience. That comes from doing and to do it safely you really need somebody their that you can lean on and show the tricks and be their to give you pointers. Diving is a unique brotherhood/sisterhood. We tend to look out for each other and most are willing if not "gitty" to share their experience with others especially new divers. Look at this forum it is filled with those that love to help others. My advice is to go to your dive shop and meet people and if there is a local dive club, participate in it. Here is where you will find your mentor - somebody willing to dive with you and help you gain that experience.

There is a learning curve that every diver goes through to get them to the point where they are self-reliant. The trick is to get to that level without hurting yourself. You can't get their by being in a class or accumulating countless c-cards. You have to live it and at some point you will reach that point that you feel comfortable in your own skills. You will always be learning and honing your skills. My biggest fear is that diver that knows everything because they are the one that takes chances. Again, I highly recommend gaining experience is by diving with other experienced divers. Once you're there, you can then pay it forward with another new diver.


12-22-2013, 13:01
I probably had a few hundred dives before I had to dive with a DM on a trip. When I heard we had to have a guide I was like WTF I don't need one. Turns out there where nice at finding things since they knew the sites.

I think it really depends on experience and where your diving.

BTW I did a few boat dive a few years ago in Bonaire and remember they put a DM in the water with you on the boat dive. Well at least The Plaza did back then. Last trip we did just shore dives.

Nubie scubie
12-22-2013, 14:11
Since we live in the Dallas area I know there are several groups. Hopefully we can find a good mentoring couple to link up with like you said Snagle. Our upcoming trip to Roatan will be with a guide/DM for every dive. This should build up the comfort level. When we get back, and it warms up, we will look forward to more diving fun locally! Thanks for all the feed back and encouragement guys.

12-23-2013, 06:59
You are in Dallas, so you live right down the road from the "Scuba Mecca" (ScubaToys). I would get to know everybody there and they will definitely help you find a Mentor. You will do fine in Roatan, just do what you are comfortable with and pay attention to your gut feel. You want to challenge yourself, but your gut will tell you if you are getting into something you shouldn't. I would encourage you to do some of the boat dives. Don't get too concerned if you feel you lack the experience, just be up front with them about your experience level. There will be people at all levels in the group including other new divers. Nobody is going to judge you and you will leave with new friends. The reefs in Roatan are awesome and some of the best in the world. You can only experience that with doing a boat dive.

12-23-2013, 15:28
I think it was around dive 5 or less. I was right out of OW. I did dive with a couple buddies and it was lake diving.

01-05-2014, 02:58
Other than the 5 OW dives, zero. There werenít any DMís or guides back then. We didnít need guides or DMís we were taught how to dive during the 12 weeks of classes.

Rich Keller
01-05-2014, 09:03
I never dove with a guide or dive master and did not take an OW course until I had already been diving for 4 years. I only had about 4 or 5 dives total when the only person I knew that dove stopped so by dive 6 I was solo diving. As for shallow water shore dives, if there is nothing challenging about the location you and your buddy should be fine going it alone.

01-05-2014, 10:54
I started diving without a DM or instructor right after I finished my OW. I did dive with a lot of different, but experienced divers. It was a good learning environment for me.

Nubie scubie
01-05-2014, 14:25
It's interesting to read all the beginnings. My dive buddy, husband, is much more gung-ho. I'm excited, I just have a healthy dose of fear, and he's ready to go jump in the nearest lake at a moments notice, lol.