Our fourth, and final, step toward becoming certified open water divers was to complete four open water dives. We had a few options for completing the open water dives and finally settled on taking a extended trip to Florida in order to complete the dives. West Shore Scuba had a Florida dive trip scheduled for the end of March that would allow us to complete our open water dives and it wasn’t much of a fight to escape the Pennsylvania winter to head to the warm, southernly Florida waters. The trip included airfare, hotel accommodations, two days of diving and gear rental. Since we decided to make a vacation out of the trip, we opted to drive instead of utilizing the included airfare, so we scored the trips for only $850 per person, which we were pretty happy with.
In order to complete our certifications, we needed to complete four open water dives. The first three open water dives were comprised of a few skills at the beginning and end of each dive, with the majority of the time underwater being spent exploring and checking things out, while the fourth open water dive consisted of the two of us planning and executing a dive, under our instructors observation. (There are pretty extensive descriptions of all four of our dives here and here, if you’re interested.) All of the skills we demonstrated during our open water dives were skills that we had practiced and mastered during our confined water dives in the pool, so, replicating them in an open water environment was a pretty reasonable task, while we enjoyed the added bonus of getting to see a ton of underwater life. Immediately following the fourth and final dive, we emerged from the water, certified open water divers!
Josh, of course, was a complete natural underwater, replicating skills easily and feeling completely at ease and confident. Since completing the open water certification, he plans to continue his journey with PADI and has his sights set on potentially obtaining enough certifications in order to “go Pro” with scuba diving.
I, on the other hand, am still celebrating the fact that, despite my struggles, I successfully obtained my open water diver certification. I learned a lot about myself through the certification process and am really thankful to have had such a supportive learning environment. While I don’t have any active plans to “go Pro,” I am interested in continuing to build on my scuba skills and am looking forward to getting more time in the water to continue to build my confidence.