A proper Advanced Course is not just five more "experience" dives with an instructor. That you can do without taking a course and paying any fees. A proper course will not only evaluate your basic skills before allowing you to even start the class, but will also tell you what you need to do to bring those skills up to snuff if need be. Once you are actually permitted to start the course it should introduce new skills on every singel dive that build on each other.
It should also include real face to face time with the instructor in the classroom going over the theory behind the dives and the new knowledge to conduct them safely. Otherwise you're just paying for a guide to hold your hand and give you a card that gives you access to dives you may not be ready for and that can turn and bite you in the butt.
An advanced class that includes a deep dive should include info on gas management and deco procedures. It should talk about rock bottom pressures, SAC rates, and redundant gas supplies. It should also let you see why an al80 is not an appropriate tank for a dive to 100 feet witout a redundant air supply. The Nav dive should give you skills that actually will allow you to develop that core skill in stages and not put unrealistic expectations on you that set you up to just get by.
It should not include dives that pass on no real dive skills or are just used to fill out the five dives. Stuff like altitude, boat, fish ID, etc. are better left for another time or just include the info.
And each dive should give you plenty of time to practice the new skills. I like to do some advanced dives in water less than 30 feet. Requires greater buoyancy control and results in each dive being at least an hour long. And since I will take no more than two students for the class I offer they get plenty of time to work on the bag shoots, stage bottle deployment, compass, natural, and reel and line skills, and rescue skills.
I am also a firm believer and had it written into the SEI standards for our Advanced Level classes that student must have basic rescue skills such as panicked diver, unresponsive diver from depth, supporting a diver at the surface, and rescue tows before they can start the advanced level classes or they must be included in the course at some point.
This is no biggie for those who have trained with us from the beginning as they are all Open Water skills under our program. But when I began to see students from other agencies that did not have them I was forced to do workshops and remediation to teach them. Rescue IMO should come before advanced if the skills have not been imparted already. They give a diver greater confidence and situational awareness that I feel is necessary for advanced training as well as skills that may likely be needed when doing advanced dives.
For this reason I don't think it is wise to start AOW until you've gotten in ten or twenty dives and worked on your basics. If you can't do all basic skills neutral, horizontal, in midwater you're probably not ready for advanced. If your buddy skills are not spot on, you're not ready for advanced. If you're not completely comfortable planning, executing, and safely returning from a dive with a buddy of equal training without the assistance of an instructor or DM you are definitely not ready for advanced.
Sunday June 02, 2013 8:54 am
Posted by Dwayne
Great Post Jim
I agree with everything...It would seem to me that the ADV class is treated like OW+ and is little more than a cash grab, for PADI anyways..I cannot speak about SEI.
I do think advanced classes are for divers with a level of confidence and a number of dives. A 100 ft dive on an AL80, well 2 minutes of bottom time hardly makes it worth it, especially for a somewhat inexperienced diver watching his gauge, and left wondering where all his/her air went at 100 ft.
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