by Natalie Novak (March 2012)
The other day, Ivan said to me, "There are a few things in life you should not be cheap with—a good doctor, a good lawyer and a good dive instructor!" He did not mean that you should always go with the most expensive of these professionals. It's just that you may not want to take the advice of a doctor or lawyer who graduated last in his class. Just like I would not want anyone I care about learning from a less then amazing scuba instructor.
Ivan and I have been retraining a lot of divers. Most people who retrain do so because they have had bad experiences with mediocre and indifferent guides and/or instructors. The best advice that I can give is:
1) When choosing an instructor do some research. The easiest way to do this is online. Do not just look up the dive facility, but also look for information about the instructors. How long have they been teaching? What is their attitude like? When taking a course, you have the right to ask for whichever instructor you would prefer to work with.
2) Though it may feel odd, ask for credentials. Do this for your safety. It is how you ensure that the person who is teaching you IS actually an instructor, and not just a guide. Only a current Instructor can teach you how to dive and not those who hold the qualification level called a dive master or assistant instructor. These people are not qualified to teach anyone how to dive no matter how long they have been diving.
3) Go with your gut. Yes, scuba diving is exciting and breathing underwater feels unnatural. And that anxious feeling you get before you go diving is a good thing. A good instructor will teach you how to use that fearful feeling to remind you to check your gear and yourself. If you use that nervousness to ask yourself the right questions, then you will become a conscious diver. If you and your instructor train yourself to ignore feelings of discomfort, then you may miss an opportunity to recognize and solve a minor problem before it becomes an emergency.
Retraining requires more effort than learning good habits from the get-go. But if you are already certified and want a review, or some pointers, that is our specialty. Ivan and I are both Instructors and when we dive with certified divers, we are happy to use fun dives as diagnostic tools to help our divers dive longer, more comfortably, and safer. That is the advantage of diving with an instructor every time. Come out and play with us UNDERWATER!
Check out Dive with Natalie & Ivan. And remember to book us online, because we spend our time underwater.