Saturday, January 07, 2006
After a couple of evenings of research on the Internet, I stopped by a dive shop today. Two hours and $750 later, I own a bunch of diving gear and I'm signed-up for lessons next weekend.
The way this works is that I'll have three days of lessons in a local swimming pool, along with some classroom time, then I'll have to do four open-water dives in a lake or the ocean to get the initial open-water certification. This shop takes a bus down to Florida about once a month to give certification dives.
I have my own mask, snorkel, fins, gloves, booties, knife, and slate. Tanks, regulators, dive computers, and other such stuff will be provided by the school during the lessons, then afterward I'll either rent or buy those things. I'll probably buy a wetsuit before my certification dives, because even in Florida, it's cold outside.
There is a book and a DVD I have to study before the lessons.
With all this stuff, plus the certification dive trip, the total cost for getting the open-water certification will be $1,200-$1,500. They kept warning me that I am getting into an expensive hobby, but after the private-pilot experience, this seems pretty cheap. Diving looks like it is going to cost about $100 per day, which is a lot less than the $100 per hour it takes to fly.
In addition to the expense, scuba has other similarities to flying. Participants are relying on technology to put them in environments where humans normally can't go. People aren't allowed to do it without formal training and demonstration of proficiency. One learns a lot about physics, meteorology, and physiology. Everybody is obsessed with safety. There are lots of toys to play with. People look goofy while wearing the equipment.
Scuba diving isn't regulated by the government. Instead, there are dozens of organizations around the world that provide training and certification. This school can provide both SDI and PADI certification. PADI is the larger, more well-known organization, but the guy at the dive shop recommended SDI, because their training focuses on more modern equipment and techniques, so I'm taking an SDI class. From what I gather on the Web, there isn't much difference between the organizations' training requirements and methods, particularly at the lower levels, so I'm not too concerned about the choice.
So anyway, I'll spend the next few days studying the training materials, then I'll get wet next weekend. With any luck, I'll be at the bottom of some large body of water within the next couple of months.
The downside is that I won't have any time or money to fly an airplane this month.