Every diver remembers that exhilarating time when he or she first decided to try scuba diving. A few will pound their chests and declare they never hesitated a minute. They just strapped that 50 lbs of gear on their backs and back-rolled into the abyss. Hoo-rah!
Most of us remember it differently. We were excited, for sure. But we had concerns. We needed answers before willingly subjecting ourselves to hostile alien environments where human beings were not designed to survive.
This two-part blog series was conceived to answer ten of the most common questions asked by people new to scuba diving. Part 1 dealt with the sharks, diving in contact lenses, investment in scuba gear, claustrophobia, and fitness levels. You can read Part 1 by clicking here.
In Part 2, we answer more of your burning questions. Let’s get started!
6. What if I’m prone to seasickness?
This was one of my personal concerns, when I was introduced to scuba diving. I’m happy to report that I don’t get sick all the time. But occasionally it happens. And if the seas get rough enough, it might happen to everyone on the boat. I learned there are lots of strategies to prevent seasickness, and remedies to combat it when it happens. For example, take a preventative dose of motion sickness medication (such as Bonine or Dramamine) the night before a dive and again the morning of. Should you start to feel ill, move to the center of the boat and fix your gaze on the horizon. Have a “sea sick kit” in your dive bag, with items like Sea Bands, ginger flavored hard candy, saltines, and peppermint gum. When I’m prepared with medication and my kit, I feel in control and less afraid of being sick. That’s important. Seasickness is more related to the anxiety of becoming seasick than to the actual motion of the ocean. (Want more tips? Please read my post “Sick of the Sea — Dealing with Seasickness.”)
7. What if water gets in my mask?
Scuba masks are designed to keep a pocket of air around your eyes so that you can see clearly underwater. Masks have a soft silicone skirt that, when properly fitted, creates a watertight seal from mid-forehead to below your nose. Sometimes, that seal is broken. This can happen if, for example, some of your hair is under the mask or by smiling. I smile underwater all the time, and each time I feel little trickles of water breaching the mask skirt. It’s okay when this happens. One of the skills you will learn during your certification training is how to effectively clear your mask of water. (I remember this freaking me out when I first heard it. Why not just teach us how to avoid water getting in our masks??) Here’s the thing: scuba training prepares you for many underwater circumstances so that you won’t panic if something unexpected should happen. As you master a skill like mask-clearing, you become more comfortable and confident, and you learn that what you feared before isn’t really scary at all.
8. Isn’t scuba gear heavy? What if I can’t walk with it on my back?
Scuba gear typically weighs about 50 lbs and feels a bit heavy, on land. The good news is you don’t scuba dive on land. Once you’re in the water, you don’t feel the weight of the gear, at all. One of the extraordinary sensations during a dive is the feeling that you are weightless, floating through underwater space like the fish, in stark contradiction of the laws of gravity we thought we were unconditionally bound by. As far as getting geared up, you will find that divers are a generous bunch. We help each other into our gear. We hoist and hold, strap down and support, check and double-check. The staff of most dive boat charters move your gear for you, change out your tanks between dives, and even put your fins on for you as you stand ready to enter the water. Bottom line: If you need assistance, the divers around you will jump up and help, usually without being asked. Divers are cool, that way.
9. What if I once ruptured my eardrum?
“A ruptured eardrum — or perforated tympanic membrane as it’s medically known — is a hole or tear in your eardrum, the thin drum-like tissue that separates your ear canal from your middle ear.” (Source Mayo Clinic) It takes a few weeks for a ruptured eardrum to heal without treatment. (A rupture with infection or requiring surgical intervention could take longer.) It’s not advised to scuba dive with a perforated eardrum. Once it is again intact, however, there is no medical reason to avoid scuba diving. I actually ruptured my eardrum in December 2011 and then dove in Belize the following February. I visited my doctor a week before the trip, to verify that my eardrum was healed. (Always consult your physician before a dive, if you have medical concerns.)
10. How much does scuba certification cost?
Dolphin Dive Center has certified over 1,000 students in past few years. The SSI curriculum is outstanding, but it’s our instructors that make your dive training fun. The course is a two-step process: Classroom and pool sessions; and open water check-out dives.
The cost for the classroom/pool portion is $395, ($295 for UGA students and enlisted military members). Price includes course materials and gear rental for pool sessions. You will provide your own scuba-grade mask, fins and snorkel. If you don’t already own these items, your DDC instructor will advise you how to purchase the best-fitting gear.
Check-out dives are done in open water. DDC takes students every month of the year to Vortex Springs, FL for check-out dives. The cost for that trip is $395 and includes two-night hotel stay, breakfast and lunch both days, park entrance fees, and instructor fees. If you don’t own your own scuba gear, there is an additional $100 rental fee.
You have 6 months from the time you take class before you must complete your check-out dives, so you have the option of going on one of DDC’s dive vacations and completing your certification there. (See our trip schedule here.) Also, if you already have a beach trip planned, DDC can refer you to a dive shop at your vacation destination. Cost of a referral is $75, payable to DDC. You will then be responsible for paying the referred instructor for your check-out dives.
Are you a new diver with other questions? Or do you remember having different questions when you began diving? Leave them in the comments and we’ll answer them for you.
Thanks for reading!