Ah, the Advanced Course. Never before has a simple case of semantics led to so many bitter recriminations. When the Roman legions of PADI invaded the shores of Brittania in 1991, the barbarian BSAC hordes engaged them in a bitter and bloody battle. The war was fought predominantly over what was meant by the term advanced diver: From the BSAC’s point of view an advanced diver was an individual with 10,000 logged dives, a home-made drysuit and at least 5 confirmed kills to their name. From the PADI perspective, an advanced diver was someone who knew that the inflator valve is not an ‘up button’ and who could put their own equipment together with only minimal assistance. The horrors of that conflict still remain fresh in the memories of it’s survivors.
So ultimately who was right? Well as is often the case in war the answer was neither and both sides were made to shake hands and say sorry like they meant it. The problem was all due to interpretation: In the UK to call yourself advanced at anything implies expertise and years of experience whereas in the States to be advanced means to have simply progressed beyond the basic level. Apparently. I’m not sure if that’s true, I haven’t done any research and it’s possibly offensive to a large group of people but it sounds good, quick someone make me the editor of the Daily Mail.
So what I’m kind of driving at here is that the Advanced Course isn’t perhaps the best name for the course but please don’t let that put you off. The actual ethos behind the course is that you simply extend your experience and skill level whilst under the supervision of an instructor. The Advanced Course actually runs very well back to back with the Open Water Course and it certainly isn’t necessary to go and do loads of dives before signing up. I did my Open Water and Advanced back to back and it didn’t do me any harm. Someone said I had quite good buoyancy control once.
So what does the course entail? The best part of the Advanced Course is that it really is centred around fun diving. There’s no classroom or swimming pool stuff just 5 open water dives where you’ll work on a range of skills. The idea is that you complete 2 core dives: Deep and Navigation and then 3 others. There is a choice but we generally find that Drysuit, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Wreck and Moto Service Station Forager work best. A typical course runs as follows:
Day one is where we complete the shallower dives. We usually start off with the drysuit dive (if you’ve already qualified as a drysuit diver we often substitute this for Search and Recovery). This dive focuses on buoyancy skills in a drysuit and gets you used to moving in and diving the suit. This is then followed up with the peak performance buoyancy dive which is another dive based around buoyancy skills. We find that running these 2 dives first really helps you to get to grips with the drysuit as well as preparing you for the rest of the course.
Dive 3 is the navigation dive. This expands on some of the basic compass skills from the open water course (but don’t worry, we’re not asking you to become underwater orienteers) as well as getting you thinking about natural navigation.
On day 2 we progress to some deeper dives. You start, unsurprisingly, with the deep dive where we’ll take you down to 30m. Whilst you’re down there you’ll look at how different objects and colours are affected by pressue and if you’re really lucky your instructor will show you the potato trick! Once that dive is complete you’ll finish the course doing a wreck dive, this is really now just a fun dive where you’ll bring all your skills together.
As a final bonus because you’ve done a drysuit dive as part of the course you are able to do a final dive at the end of the day to qualify you as a drysuit diver. In fact this extends to all the dives on the course, they all count as dive one of the speciality course so you can extend your experience from there.
The last dive is then conducted at a motorway service station on the way home when you’ll have an opportunity to show your instructor how much health food you can find and consume in 15min period.
So there we have it, the Advanced course is really just about extending your skills and confidence as well as qualifying you to dive to 30m ( a very handy skill when it comes to exploring some of the cool wreck dives around the world and in this country). We run regular courses every other weekend, so give us a shout if you would like to join us!