Any other scuba divers out there?

Any other scuba divers out there?
I went “discover scuba” diving 2 years years ago in Cabo and fell in love with it. I finally got certified a month ago and now I am looking into getting my advanced certification over summer.

I initially only wanted to get certified so that I can diver whenever I am in a place with water (that’s interesting) but after the certification I find myself drawn back to the ocean. what was once supposed to be a minor hobby is now occupying a larger portion of my thoughts.

Any other scuba divers out there? Do you own your own gear? I’m starting to look into getting my own stuff instead of renting wherever I go but I’m hesitant. For one, it would probably cost 1500 on the low end to outfit myself, also, it’s almost an entire suitcase for my scuba crap.

Anyone have thoughts on renting vs buying? It would be nice to have my own gear if for no other reason then to not worry about someone else’s junk touching where my junk is touching.

I did find keeping my socks on protected me from rented fins chafing my feet raw :) That was as far as I went beyond the all-rental beginner route.

I learned to dive in high school and did a lot with my dad around Cape Cod. We had all our own gear which was nice but yeah it was a pretty penny even back then. I wish you were closer I’d be happy to give you my weight belt, dive bag and tank, which is pretty much all I have left at this point.

Would you not just buy the easy to transport bits? Unless you live where you want to dive. Ie. mask, suit and fins.

I got my certification about 30 years ago and got my Advanced Open Water certification about five years later. I kind of fell out of the hobby once I had kids and will probably need to do a “refresher” course this Spring when I go down to the Keys.

My two teenage daughters just got their Open Water certs this past year when their aunt (who has her Diving Instructor certification) took them to Aruba over Spring Break. As an aside, I highly recommend acquiring a sister who has no kids and a good job so that she can take your children off on vacations that you yourself cannot afford.

Anyway, the gear you acquire depends on your situation. You need your own mask, fins and snorkel, but if you got your certification you already have those.

A “shorty” wetsuit costs between $100 and $300, and although you can rent these, many warm-water diving shops kind of assume you own one already. If you plan to do any Caribbean or tropical diving at all, you probably should pick one up. Full-body wetsuits are fairly easy to rent unless you are a weird size (like me).

Everything else is really dependent on how frequently you will dive. My brother-in-law dives an an almost monthly basis down in SE Asia, and he owns his own BCD and regulator. My sister does too. I’d recommend that you stick with renting those for the first five years… lots of people dive in deep to the hobby in the first year or two but then discover golf or skiing or something, and buying these bulky and expensive pieces early is typically not a good idea.

Don’t buy weights. Pretty much every shop will provide them for free with a BCD/regulator rental, and you’re not going to pack them in your bags if you fly to a destination, so they’ll just sit in your dive-bag 99% of the time.

Oh, if you’re considering picking up a nice diving watch or dive computer, put it down and buy a GoPro camera instead. They don’t do the same things, but the money is about equivalent and your get a LOT more use (and reward) out of the GoPro. The basic case that it comes with is waterproof deeper than your basic Open Water cert will let you go, and it’s small and light enough to bring along on your adventures. Get a red gel filter for it so that your movies are are not so “blued” out below 15 feet.

I got my certification in Australia about 20 years ago, at the Great Barrier Reef, and I absolutely loved it. Nonetheless I didn’t do all that much with it after that, until I went to the Maladives on honeymoon, where we made several awesome dives. That was 11 years ago, and I haven’t dived since then, due to work, kids and, well, live.

Morale of this story? Wait with buying your own (expensive) gear until you are sure that you not only love diving (because I don’t doubt that you do) but you’re also willing and, most important, able to dive regularly. If so, by all means go ahead and buy your own stuff. If not, just rent and enjoy.

I still really would like to get into diving again, and I would love for my daughters to learn how to dive. How old are your daughters Tin? At what age can they get a certification?

There are a few different certifying organizations out there, but the most recognized is PADI. They say that you can be take lessons as early as 10 years or age, though anyone who gets their certification at 15 or younger is given a “junior” certification.

My girls were 17 and 13 when they got certificated last year, but I think they gave the 13-year-old a full-up Open Water cert… not that it makes a lick of difference in what they can and cannot do.

My eldest is going to school on the North Carolina coast (UNC-Wilmington) and I’m pretty pleased to see that she’s putting her certification to work. There is a massive salt-water tank at the Fisher Aquarium with sharks, eels, tuna and whatnot swimming in it. A few times each day they send divers into the tank to feed the fish and interact with the kids standing next to the glass. Turns out, they take volunteers from the local diving clubs to do this, and my daughter is going to do this on the weekends.

Oke, still a few years to wait then (my daughters are 7 and 9). And indeed very cool that your oldest daughter is able to make use of her diving skills. Always the best way to actually get proficient in anything!

Main reason for me not diving (despite loving it) is having to travel quite far, and abroad, to be able to have a good dive. Diving in the Netherlands, in cold water with about 2 meters of visibility, just doesn’t do it when you are used to (read: only have (a tiny bit of) experience with) chrystal clear, warm water… Still, if the girls know how to do it (and like it), we might be able to plan our holidays around it at some point. Better start saving up some money… :-)

I was thinking at a minimum I need a dive computer so I don’t have to deal with those shitty charts. I was thinking of at least getting a dive computer and a first stage/regulator set. Realistically I’ll probably go on one scuba diving trip a year and one local (to Los Angeles, not to Nigeria) dive a year.

Yeah, but on any of your targets do you really think you’re going to go deep enough to actually require a dive computer? Most recreational scuba is done on reefs that are no more than 30 feet down. At that depth you’ll typically run out of air long before you’ll need to worry about the bends.

And if you’re doing anything deeper (like maybe a cool wreck dive or a wall dive), the excursion leader will almost always lay out the decompression routine for the entire group.

Now I’m not saying that a dive computer is a bad buy or that they are not useful. I for one fully understand the desire to buy a nice shiny piece of tech that’ll let you make cool graphs on your PC. They’re not even that expensive compared to all the other stuff. But realistically it is almost the last piece of diving equipment you should purchase.

Done it once and fell in love, despite my ears bleeding afterward - no pain or hearing change, just a drop of blood.

For now I am just going snorkeling when I can and forgoing the diving because nobody wants to do it with me.

I think when my son gets old enough I will try and get us both certified, but that will be years yet, he is just 4 now.

Where do you live, Matt? Are you really in Nigeria?

I’m fortunate enough to live where there’s some really nice diving nearby. Not Cabo nice, but nice in its own way. I love Southern California’s waters. However, I haven’t been diving in, gosh, five, ten years? Basically ever since my jerk diving partner moved away. What a jerk! I got a girlfriend scuba lessons for her birthday once, but she ended up flaking on the checkout dive several times, which I took as a sign she wasn’t really interested. Probably a bad choice of birthday gift on my part.

I’ve got one level up from Advanced Open water, which is called Rescue Diver or something dramatic like that. And I did everything but take the test for the level beyond that, which is called, I dunno, Dive Master or some such thing? One step down from Dive Master? I forget. I basically decided I didn’t care about working my way up some ladder designed for PADI to make money. I was content with what I learned and I had my own equipment and I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do with the card they gave me (i.e. get airtanks refilled). I even stopped logging dives at a certain point. It seemed to me like people used logs as a scoring system. That might be important if you’re a pilot and you want to fly planes full of people who need to be reassured with how much time you’ve had in the cockpit. But for diving? Naw. I do feel it’s important to buy your own equipment, simply because the last thing you want when you’re diving is unfamiliar gear. The more comfortable you are when you dive, well, the more comfortable you are when you dive! To me, it was well worth the expense. Except I never bothered to buy a tank. That always seemed kind of pointless because anywhere you would get the tank filled, you can rent one. And tanks don’t vary in any way that’s meaningful to the experience.

The problem with your situation is that it sounds like you’re wanting to dive when you travel. Schlepping gear around is NOT something you want to do when you fly. So if that’s your situation, you’re going to be stuck renting.

I still have my equipment, but it’s gathering dust in the garage. I suspect some of the rubber fittings on the octopus would probably have to be replaced from sitting dry for so long. For a while, I didn’t think I would have been able to fit into my wetsuit anymore but, morbidly enough, losing fifty pounds makes that entirely feasible now! :) I should press another diving partner into service. Consider moving to Los Angeles, Matt.


Grew up in Nigeria and now live in Nigeria for work but my roots are in Los Angeles. Basically my life is Summers and Christmas in LA and the rest of the time working like an asshole in Nigeria. But yes I agree I should consider moving to LA. Hopefully in 10 years or so with an early semi retirement.

I’m sorry, I know nothing about the subject, but what causes this? Is it common?

When I was young, I used to read the Rick Brant Science Adventure Series books, and was always fascinated whenever they would go for a dive. Several books in the series had scuba diving as the central theme, and because of that, I always wanted to try it, but living in North Dakota made it never possible, and I rarely travel anywhere outside the state.

Scuba diving subjects your body to some seriously rigorous forces that it’s not used to. And that our bodies simply aren’t designed to withstand. The pressure is the main issue. Just as air from the atmosphere pushes down on us, water pushes down on us all the more. The main problem with this is that the gasses you breathe from a tank of compressed air can cause weird things to happen in your body as it contracts and expands. Air in your bloodstream can expand and either break blood vessels or cause embolisms. Gendal probably popped some blood vessels in his ear, where the ear drum is one of the membranes that gets most stressed during pressure changes. When you scuba dive, you have to let the air dissipate slowly is you swim up, because you’re reducing pressure and causing the air in your body to expand. Normally, this is no big deal, because you just breathe it out normally as bubbles. Easy peasy. But this can be an issue if it expands too quickly in the wrong places, or if you hold your breath and the expanding takes place in your lungs to the degree that you cause damage. This isn’t an issue when you just hold your breath and swim deep into the water because your body is never bringing up more air than it took down. But when you’re breathing from a tank, you’re cycling air in and out of your system under considerably more pressure than it’s used to. This can even change the chemical composition of your body by forcing more nitrogen – the air we breathe is primarily nitrogen – into your system.

It sounds like scary stuff, and it can be when things go wrong. I remember a dive instructor telling us about a guy who panicked and shot to the surface, suffering such violent decompression that his eyeballs popped out into his mask. I doubt it played out quite that way, but it makes for quite an image! But really, it’s not dangerous so long as you follow a few very simple rules that basically come down to “take it slow, keep breathing, and never hold your breath, dummy”.

And, yes, a little bleeding isn’t uncommon. I remember being terrified when I first started diving and my buddy came up with a nosebleed. I was all, “gah, he just got the bends!!!”

That’s no excuse! I was certified when I was a college kid in Arkansas! My checkout dive was in Beaverfork Lake, where you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face!


Now that I have an almost dive master whose ear I can bend without fear of asking a question dumb enough to fail a certification… Tom do you know why "never hold your breath is a thing? I get never holding your breath when you are ascending, but why do I have to continually blow bubbles when my regulator pops out of my mouth? I need that air! (This is assuming that I maintain the same depth while the reg is out)
And to go further along those lines, on my first two dives I found myself subconsciously taking in more air than I was letting out, which meant every few minutes I would need to make a deep exhale. Towards the end of the exhale I would deplete my lungs and sink a few feet. Is that generally bad practice? Could I potentially do harm if I have exhaled to the point where I can’t further exhale and sink a bit before the inhale?

Thanks for the writeup Tom - I always wondered how serious that was. I never even felt discomfort at any point but the blood definitely made me question future dives, that’s great to know its a common event.

Any recommendations on places to get certified in socal, preferably south orange county?

I got certified through Eco dive center in Culver City and they were great. No idea about Orange County though.

You know, that’s a good question. I’m assuming it’s two things: 1) To condition new divers to never hold their breath. If you lose your regulator while you’re ascending, your instinct will be to hold your breath. And that’s exactly the wrong time to hold your breath. 2) I might be misunderstanding the basic physiology of breathing – and indeed why the instinct is to hold your breath when you can’t breathe – but I’m not sure that holding a quantity of air in your lungs sustains you much longer than exhaling it. Whatever oxygen we circulate into our bloodstream comes from the act of inhaling, not from holding the air in our lungs and letting it seep into our blood through our alviolae, right? When we inhale, we pull air down a long series of branching tubes that end in little organs that cull the oxygen from the air. There’s only so much air that can be pulled against the membrane of the alvioli by the act of inhaling. I suspect the rest of it just floats uselessly in the rest of the lungs, which is why we’re not very efficient at culling oxygen from the air we breath. When you exhale, you’re still exhaling air with plenty of oxygen in it. That’s why exhaling into someone else’s mouth works for the P part of CPR.

But I could be wrong about that second point. Is there a (pulmonary) doctor in the house?

I would say whatever place is cheapest, especially since you already kind of know what you’re doing. Certification is a simple process that really only has to do only three things: 1) Make sure you’re not the type of person who might get claustrophobic or somehow freak out when you’re underwater, 2) Get you used to how the gear works, and 3) Teach you to never hold your breath. There’s some other stuff worth learning down the line if you want to get serious about diving, but pretty much anyone who has done those three things is ready to go scuba diving alongside experienced divers.


I think the major worry is abrupt and unexpected changes in pressure. As Tom mentioned, the forces that are acting on your body and your lungs in particular when diving are not what your body is designed to handle. A rogue wave or even a shift in current can significantly change the water-pressure on you, not to mention the bow-shock of a speeding boat. By constantly keeping your windpipe open, it means that a 3’ wave passing over you won’t damage your lungs when the air in them all of a sudden tries to increase its volume by a quarter.