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chuck@portsmouthscuba.com

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Portsmouth, NH 03801

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SCUBA DIVING FAQs

You’re looking for a new fun and exciting adventure! Learning to SCUBA dive is the opportunity of a lifetime that will open your eyes to the world’s largest treasure and playground waiting for you to discover. Can you see yourself swimming with the seals off the Isles of Shoals, searching for historical artifacts of 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s, seeing lobsters, founders, and crabs along the Portsmouth Channel/Harbor/waterways of the Piscataqua River? SCUBA diving offers countless ways to see and experience aquatic life in its natural environment, and will open doors to new relationships and memories that will last a lifetime.

Still not convinced? Our staff at Portsmouth Scuba is at your disposal to answer your questions and to help make your SCUBA diving goals a reality. We will offer you the opportunity to participate in Discover SCUBA, giving you firsthand experience swimming and breathing air underwater in full SCUBA diving apparatus. Our instructor(s) will work closely with you to teach you the basic skills to experience life underwater. When you are ready, our instructor(s) will teach you how to SCUBA dive safely through the PADI Certified Open Water Scuba Diving course.

Below we have captured the frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How old do you have to be to get certified?

PADI requires you to be at least 10 years old to become a PADI certified Junior Open Water Scuba Diver.  Ten and 11 year olds must dive with a certified parent, guardian or PADI Professional to a maximum depth of 40 feet.   Twelve to 14 year olds must dive with a certified adult.  At age 15, the Junior Certification upgrades to a regular Open Water Diver certification.

Why do I have to get certified to dive?

In a scuba class, you will learn how to dive safely and correctly.  Your PADI SCUBA Certification card is proof that you have taken and passed the SCUBA course.  No reputable Dive Shop or PADI instructor will rent you gear, fill your tank, or let you dive at their facilities unless you are a certified SCUBA diver.

For how long will I be certified?

Your PADI SCUBA certification does not expire.  It is highly recommended that you keep your skills current. You should dive more than once a year. You may take a SCUBA Tune Up class from any PADI instructor.  PADI offers continuing education classes which are very informative.  Continuing with your SCUBA education is an excellent way to expand your knowledge, skills, and experience to keep in practice and dive safely.

Will the fish bother me?

It is very exciting to see fish in their natural environment. Most fish are afraid of you and will ignore or avoid you.  The most colorful and most abundant fish are found the ocean.   Typically, you’ll find them near shipwrecks and reefs.  Some fish will allow you get close to them but will stay out of your reach, other fish are curious and will follow you around.  I’ve seen many sharks, seals, eels and barracudas.  The sharks and eels are very shy and are difficult to see.  Barracudas and seals are curious and will follow you around making it easy to photograph them. Practice common sense, and be knowledgeable about your surroundings. Remember, you are a visitor in their environment.

How expensive is SCUBA diving?

Like any sport or activity, there is a spin up cost to SCUBA dive. You have the cost associated with taking PADI Open Water class and buying dive gear. You don’t have to buy all your gear. You should have your own mask, fins, and snorkel for the class. The minimum amount of gear will cost about $210.  Most dive shops rent gear and include the use of rental gear in the cost of the class. A complete set of dive gear rents for approximately $110. The PADI Open Water Class cost typically cost between $500 and $600. Once you’re certified and own your own gear, your cost will be typically limited to annual maintenance, tank refills, and transportation to and from dive site.

You can buy all of your own gear (BCD, Regulator with SPG and Octo, weights, and wet suite) for as low as $1000. I recommend quality gear which offer great comfort and fit and meet your diving needs. Don’t skimp on your life support gear.  The internet is a great place to find good deals on new and used dive gear. You can also find great buys at your local dive shop. Initially Scuba diving may appear relatively expensive, but with proper care and maintenance your gear will typically last 10 plus years.

Is it hard to learn to scuba dive?

No, in fact, it’s probably easier than you imagine — especially if you’re already comfortable in the water.   PADI’s entry-level diver course is split into three segments, which include knowledge development, confined water (pool) skill training, and four scuba training dives.  This course is “performance based,” which means that you progress as you learn and demonstrate knowledge and skill.

Does it only take three days!?

PADI courses are “performance based,” which means that you only earn your scuba certification when you demonstrate that you have mastered the required skills and knowledge. The PADI Open Water Diving course (beginning scuba) is typically split into five sessions. The course may be scheduled over as little as four days, or as much as five weeks, or something in between depending upon student needs and logistics.   Typically, most students complete their Open Water Certification in about twenty-five hours.  The academic session takes about 8 hours (Classroom or eLearning), the pool session takes about three 4 hours sessions.  You must master all the pool skills before going on to complete the four open-water dives. These four dives are completed over 2 days with no more than 3 dives completed in one day.  So yes, it is rare but you could complete your PADI scuba certification in as little as 3 days.

How deep may I go?

PADI is a recreational SCUBA organization. You should always dive within your training and experience limits. The maximum depth for a recreational SCUBA diver is 130 feet. A PADI Open Water Certified diver is limited to 60 feet or less without proper training.  In the PADI Advanced Open Water course, divers are shown the correct and safe way to make a deep dive (dives deeper than 60 feet).  It’s never recommend that you ever dive the maximum recreational dive depth of 130 feet.

Do I have to be a great swimmer to be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver?

No.  You need to be is a reasonably physical shape and a proficient swimmer who is comfortable and relaxed in the water.  The swimming requirement for certification is an easy 183 meter/200 yard nonstop swim (with no time or specific stroke requirement) and 10 minute tread/float.

What's in a scuba tank? Oxygen?

It is a common misconception that Scuba divers’ tanks are filled with pure oxygen, not so!

In fact most Scuba divers’ tanks are actually filled with compressed air – the very same that you and I are breathing right now.

How long does a tank of air last?

This is a commonly asked question that, unfortunately, doesn’t have a single answer. 

People breathe at different rates, are in different physical condition. You breathe faster when you’re swimming than when you’re resting. The deeper you go, the more air you will consume, and there are different size tanks.  So, the answer is “it depends;” this is one reason why divers have a gauge telling them how much air they have at all times.  As an approximation, a diver who is sightseeing in calm warm water at 20 to 30 feet deep can expect an 80 cf tank to last about an hour.

My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of a pool. Won't they hurt when I scuba dive?

Your ears hurt because of the differential in pressure on the inside and outside of the ear drum. This is caused by water pressure pushes in on your ear drum as you descend.  During an ascend, you can get a reverse ear block. In your scuba course, you’ll learn simple techniques to equalize your ears to the surrounding pressure, much like you do when you land in an airplane.

Is scuba diving dangerous?

Not really.  Statistics show that recreational scuba diving is about as safe as swimming.  Certainly there are potential hazards, which is why you need training and certification, but like driving a car, as long as you follow the rules and use common sense, it’s pretty safe.

Do I have to buy SCUBA gear?

No, you don’t have to buy SCUBA gear.  Most scuba shops have tanks, buoyancy compensator, regulator, wet suites, and weights for rent. You will need your own mask, fins and snorkel.  A complete set of dive gear rents for approximately $110.  You can buy a BCD, Regulator with SPG, Octo, and wet suite for as low as $1000. Your local Dive Shop is a viable resource in helping you choosing the right gear for you and your diving needs. Do your research and call all the dive shops.

What are the Bends?

Decompression sickness is commonly called the “Bends”. This is caused by the build-up of nitrogen in your body, and not allowing sufficient time to permit the nitrogen to escape the body prior to reaching the surface. By employing safe diving practices, the bends can easily be avoided (i.e., diving within the recreational dive table and conducting a safety stop). With the new technology “the bends” is easily avoided and very rare.

I lost my Certification card how can I get it replaced?

Any PADI instructor can help you.  The best way is to ask your instructor for a replacement card (C-Card). They can initiate the process for you.  Most instructors will charge you $20 to $25 for a replacement card.  If you forgot your C-Card while on vacation, you can verify your PADI certification on-line or by calling 1-800 -729-7234.