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Info on: Padi Open Water course | Advanced Open Water course | Rescue Diver course

Here you will find information on the

PADI AdvancedOpen Water Dive Course
Resulting in PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Certification

taught by Vance Stevens, P.A.D.I. Open Water SCUBA Instructor #64181

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Course Overview

e-learning: Many of my students are opting to take the academic portion of the course online. If interested, visit

This is one of the most enjoyable courses in the PADI system. It is one where basically, you dive. But under tutilage and in the company of an instructor, you have a unique opportunity to improve your skills and confidence with SCUBA in the open water. It is possible to do the course straight after completing 4 open water dives, and some do this as a means of boosting their novice diving up a notch under continued supervision. I have also taught the course to ex-commercial divers who needed a bridge to the sports diving world. And of course many come into the course at a point when they wish to push beyond the 18 meter depth limit on o/w divers imposed by dive resorts adhering to PADI standards.

It is possible to do the course in a single weekend, especially taking advantage of 'night dive' as one of the choices. There are two required dives for the course: Underwater Navigation and Deep. The remaining three dives can be chosen from a variety of options. Here's how a recent weekend course went at Dibba Rock, east coast UAE:

If we have never dived together before, we'll have a brief checkout before diving: mask clear, reg recovery and clear, fin pivot, and alternate air source breathing in confined or shallow water. Usually we start with the optional 'boat dive.' This is a chance for us to go through all the motions of diving you know but may be rusty on (or if you come from a non-PADI system, see how PADI divers do what you already do in a slightly different way), refresh any latent skills, familiarize ourselves with one another, and play around with the compass and navigation skills prior to the navigation dive. There is a required 3 min safety stop at 5 meters for all advanced dives, and you can explore some aspects of the boat you are diving from. Finally we log the dive, as we do for each of the 5 dives we do together.

If we get a surface interval on a beach or dry land, we can pace out what we'll do during the required Underwater Navigation dive, which is usually the one I suggest we do next. After that, we might wait for dusk and return to the water for your optional night dive.

We're often in relaxed surroundings for socializing over dinner and beverages then get a night's rest. Next morning we'll have booked a deep dive on a 30-meter deep wreck or coral wall. If we dive the Inchcape, the wreck is buoyed and we'll descend on the mooring line. The wreck is covered in shoals of snappers and has resident honeycomb morays and more subtly camouflaged scorpion fish. At bottom we compare depth guages (for discrepancy) and do a cognitive task (to guage narcosis effects). Assuming air holds out at that depth, we have exactly 20 minutes NDL and then we ascend up the line and stop at 5 meters for 3 minutes.

Our last dive of the day, and of the course, will be one of your choice. Peak buoyancy is a good one, but some prefer underwater naturalist or if conditions are right, a drift dive. If we were in Musandam it might be possible to do a multilevel dive. Some students opt for a search and recovery dive, or photography.

Once you finish your diving, I can certify you on the spot IF you produce completed knowledge reviews for Deep, Underwater Navigation, and one for each of the optional three dives chosen. Also I have to sign where you have logged your 5 dives, and there is some paperwork we have to fill in, including a PADI PIC card, which you will purchase from the dive center for around 100 dirhams ($25 apprx, or they might handle this online). I fill out my part, you fill out yours and put a photo in (supply a scanned photo if processing online), and you send it off to PADI who will send you a permanent card. You'll get a temporary certificate on the spot, good for 90 days, certifying that you've done the course and are awaiting your official card from PADI (if processing online, the temporary certificate is emailed when the dive center processes it).

What does is cost in total? Click here

Before we can do the course, you need to do two things.

  • You need to buy the book and read up on the dives you will do.
  • You need to fill out three forms, which I will supply.
    For liability reasons, I cannot start a course before all three forms, signed by you, are in my possession.
  1. The one that is potentially troublesome is the PADI Medical Form. This one has to be signed by you with all NO answers in order for us to get wet on the course. OR, if there are any YES answers, you need to have a doctor check you out and countersign the form.
    1. Download this form from Oct 2012 here: EEnglish - Medical Statement V201 - 10063.pdf
    2. <-- an earlier version is here, in case of problems with the one above
  2. The other two forms are the Liability Release
  3. and your acknowledgement of Safe Diving Practices.

Course Details

Minimum age: 15 (12-14 is OK, but depth of deep dive limited to 21 meters)

Other Prerequisites:

Ideal number of students: individually, in pairs, or 3/4 (8 permitted)

Academics: No academic sessions per se, but the appropriate Knowledge Reviews from the PADI manual Adventures in Diving must be completed and signed prior to certification. There are 5 open water/ocean dives which could be done in 2 full days except for the night dive, which may be on the night of one of the day dives.

In case you witsh to do your academics through PADI elearning, note this from the information at "The PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course online segment includes knowledge development for the two required topics; the Deep and Underwater Navigation Adventure Dives, along with five of the most popular elective dives. These include Night Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Wreck Diver, Boat Diver and Underwater Naturalist. As with the PADI Open Water Diver course, the entire PADI Adventures in Diving manual (complete with all Adventure Dive possibilities) will be available online to divers enrolled in the course."

Cost: For all my courses taught privately, I collect from each student a 700 dirham fee (600 if you've had a course from me before; price change in 2010)

In return for training, the instructor expects that the students will pay for all the diving involved in their training, including costs of air fills, any extra equipment rentals, and boat trips for themselves and the instructor. There is also a 100 dirham certification fee to cover the purchase of a PIC or positive ID card application from a local retail supplier, which PADI requires in order to process your certificate with the picture that you submit with the form (this price keeps going up, it's increased 30% the past two years).

The cost to you for the advanced course will vary depending on the number of students participating in the course, how much equipment you have to rent (I can sometimes provide spares), and how many boat dives you make (vs. shore dives), and sometimes on the policy of the dive center we use (some allow instructors with students to dive for free or at a discount).

Required Equipment and Materials:

Students in the Open Water Diving Course must have individual gear; i.e.: fins, mask, snorkel, & appropriate exposure protection.

Each student must also have a copy of the PADI Adventures in Diving Manual, access to dive tables, and a logbook or notebook with logbook pages. If you need to, you can use these logbook pages which you can keep in a notebook.

Students on any Open Water course will also need to provide, rent, or borrow, apart from tanks with air, weights and weight belt, a buoyancy-control device with low-pressure inflator & backpack, and submersible pressure gauge

For the night dive, each student must have an underwater light and whistle.

For pointers on the kind of personal gear to look for, see Equipment Considerations. For approximate costs, and availability of dive gear in the UAE, please refer to the Equipment Rental and Purchase Guide (I don't update these pages often :-)


Brief Summary of the PADI Advanced Open Water Scuba Course

The course consists of five dives, each with academic and open water components.

Academic component:

Open water components:

There are two Core dives which all students must do. These are the Underwater Navigation Dive and the Deep Dive. A deep dive is a dive done to a depth of between 18 and 40 meters (in practice we never go below 30 meters, especially not on a first deep dive).

For their remaining 3 dives, students may select, in consultation with the instructor, from among a range of Elective dives. Choices in the UAE are, in order of their convenience and feasibility:

There are many more choices, but not all are feasible in the UAE; these include ...

More Details and Course Standards

Prior to beginning any PADI course: Each student must ...

Before and during any PADI training dive:

You must:

After any PADI training dive:

You must:

Here are some performance objectives for the three core dives and various elective dives we normally do in the UAE.

Core Dives

Underwater Navigation Dive

Performance requirements are:

In practice, we usually conduct this dive by going down the anchor line. The anchor, or a buoy placed nearby, become our base reference.

  1. The instructor unravels a reel marked at 30 meters while students swim alongside counting fin kicks and tracking time. We sometimes leave marker no. 1 at that point (e.g. a plastic bag filled with sand) then swim back to the base taking in the reel while students double-check time and kick cycles, and make note of reference points.
  2. Students then swim out to the first marker using natural reference and return to the base the same way.
  3. Students then lead us 30 meters from base on a compass heading 90 degrees to the first leg. Students measure that 30 meters as indicated by time/kick cyles, and we leave marker no. 3 at the destination before returning to the base on a reciprical heading.
  4. We now have 2 markers out at points 1 and 3 on the square, which a student will now attempt to navigate. After a successful navigation to marker 3 or 1 we turn 90 degrees and go 30 meters. We make note of features in that location or leave marker 2. We then navigate 30 meters to the remaining marker, turn 90 degrees, and return to base, all on compass.

If there is more than one student, the second student can repeat the square picking up the markers, or the instructor can leave the students to collect the markers on their own. This is a particularly effective way of training in Abu Dhabi where sand and even coral bottoms tend to lack distinctive features, so that navigating strictly on reference can be almost impossible.

Deep Dive

Performance requirements are:

Elective Dives

Night Dive

Performance requirements are:

Boat Dive

Performance requirements are:

Multilevel Dive

On completion of the course, congratulations!

Once you've completed all dives and paperwork, you get a temporary Scuba diver certification card on the spot.
You send your PIC form in to PADI with your picture and get your permanent card a few weeks later.

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Last updated: Oct 25, 2012 at 07:00 GMT

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