All training courses require some level of diver medical before any in-water activities can begin.
Level 1. Most courses require a completed “Medical Questionnaire” - answering “No” to every question is great.
Level 2. If any answers are “Yes” on the Medical Questionnaire, then you need the next level of medical clearance. This is a signed declaration by your doctor (or physician) stating that you are medically fit for diving. The actual declaration is attached to the Questionnaire and it must be your own doctor who completes the declaration.
Level 3. Some technical diving courses require some form of “fitness to dive” medical examination conducted by an authorised doctor (who is not necessarily the same as your own doctor). In the UK all dive professionals have to take a “HSE Diving at Work” medical for example.
When booking, I will let you know which type of medical you need. You must have this competed prior to beginning our training – without a suitable medical form we are not able to get in the water.
In 2020, the international Diver Medical Screen Committee (DMSC) released a new diver medical screening system and guidance to the physician.
Other languages and general information on the new form is here
In addition to a diver medical, you will be asked to complete paper work which is designed to ensure that,
You accept the liability for any events that occur while diving.
You acknowledge you are taking part in a sport that has inherent risks.
You acknowledge that there are general safe diving practices which you must adhere to. For example, you understand there are safe ascent rates to follow.
The specific forms differ between agencies and when booking, I will guide you to the required forms for the relevant agency and course.
Since scuba diving introduces you to some level of risk, it is advisable to have specific dive insurance to cover the costs of a dive related incident – whether that is a sea rescue, hyperbaric treatment or medical care. Some specific courses make this a mandatory requirement.
I advise all divers to have dive insurance, but when booking I will let you know if insurance is mandatory for a course.
During the booking process I will ask you to say a little about yourself.
I will be interested to know,
Your diving history & experience
Your highest diver certification
Your motivation for training
What equipment you own
If you have any pictures or video of you diving
INCOMING SKILL LEVEL
Training generally builds upon your previous skill and knowledge to extend your abilities. For this reason, training courses are structured so that you achieve one level before moving on to the next. However, it is quite common to see divers who have not mastered a level they are certified for, but have enrolled in a higher level course. This creates a mismatch between where the diver should be and where the diver is – and this highlights a gap in the training that has to be corrected before the diver can move on.
For example, if you are already certified as an Advanced Nitrox diver when starting your Decompression Procedures course, but you are not able to hold still, maintain depth or effectively move in the water, then it is not possible to learn new techniques until these foundation skills are mastered. When the higher levels levels expose the diver to greater risks, then this gap becomes more serious and must be closed for safety reasons.
This “training gap” is generally seen on the first day of training and so we will have some days to devise and agree a solution. One option might be to simply extend the number of training days and another option might be to focus on the missed training level and return for the originally planned level in the future.
This is one reason why it is not possible to state the "number of days" a course will take and why costs are based on days.
We are not in school, but we are going to be in a learning environment and I want to maximise the effectiveness of the time we spend working together. I do not want to impose rules, but simply stress that we have chosen to make an investment to develop our diving abilities together.
I will ask that,
You complete any required reading or theory before a course starts
You stay focused on the training days and not the activities of the evening
You are well rested and hydrated at the start of every training day
You pay attention in theory sessions, dive briefings and debriefings (and in the water as well!)
You complete any homework assigned during the training
CARE & SAFETY
When we are making training dives together, my primary concern is your safety and wellbeing. We will not dive anywhere that I deem unsafe and I will always advise you about how to stay safe on land as well as in the water.
If we have an unplanned problem, we will end the dive in a safe and controlled manner – we will not continue any diving with broken or failed equipment or if either of us is feeling unwell and not fit for diving.
For training in Gozo, I will collect you from the ferry terminal when I am available and take you to wherever you are staying on the island.
I will also pick you up, take you home and take you to the dive sites on each training day.
After the deposit, payment is generally made at the end of your training since we will see all of the costs by then. Payments can be made in cash (Euros or Pounds Sterling), via PayPal or via bank transfer to a Euro or UK bank account to suit your home location.
If you have to leave your training early, then aside from any rental or purchases, you will only be charged for the number of days we worked together plus anything that required payment in advance (e.g. places on a dive boat).
You are also asked to pay for any lost or damaged equipment that you have borrowed or rented.
If you are not happy to pay, it is best we talk about it before we get to the end of the training – like eating the whole of a bad meal at a restaurant 😊
EXTRA TRAINING DAYS
When booking a specific course, we will agree the number of days this will typically take. There are generally accepted numbers of days courses will take based on the number of required dives and volume of skills and theory to cover.
However, people learn and progress at different rates so there may be occasions when the diver has not met the required standard after the prescribed number of days. We will generally see that we are likely to need extra time and we can decide how best to handle this logistically.
Extra Days may also be required depending on the Incoming Skill Level (see above).
Extra days are charged at the initial daily rate, but there is a degree of flexibility around this so you do not have costs becoming excessive.
A reservation fee of 25% of the training cost is required to book. The fee is required to arrange the required logistics and transport for the training as well as to start the course administration.
The training is not confirmed until the fee is received.
The fee is non-refundable if you do not train as I will have had to turn down other work that I have to protect against. However, if you can’t come because of something outside your control, I generally have no problem about returning the fee – just as I have to all the divers who booked me the first half of 2020 and could not travel.
The fee will be subtracted from the total training cost.
There will be additional costs for your training arising from the location and training agency.
What is not covered,
Course Materials and Certification fees from dive agencies (TDI, PADI etc.)
Dive site entrance fees
Nitrox & Trimix gas fills
For all costs, we will discuss these in advance so you can be comfortable with the cost of your training.
GOZO & MALTA
The reason I am working from Gozo is that the conditions lend themselves very well to training. The water temperature is around 14/15 degrees Celsius from March when the season starts, through to around 27 degrees in the summer, then back down to 21/22 degrees in November when the season comes to an end
I have seen that if you can remove a lot of the overhead of coping with the colder & darker water of say the UK, then it leaves you much more open to focus on learning new things. It is much easier to adapt new skills to the cold water compared to trying to learn AND deal with the overhead at the same time (e.g. wearing thick gloves, thick or restrictive undergarments, shorter dive times due to the cold, loss of interest/enthusiasm when cold).
There are lots of dives sites accessible from shore and there is a good selection of sites to allow for wind that might affect only parts of the island. The sites range in depth and provide for training to all technical levels. The sites also have reefs, walls and plateaus that are ideal for performing various skills and training exercises. There are a variety of entry and exits which works well for sidemount divers adapting to these techniques.
Gozo is a great location for almost every kind of training including sidemount, technical / deep diving, cavern and intro to cave diving.
All the sites on Gozo & Malta are free to enter, you only pay for the ferry to Malta or a day boat to visit a site with a sea entrance.
France has a variety of fresh water caves that are ideal for Intro to Cave diver training. The caves in the Lot region make logistics and travelling to the sites very effective when using Oliv’Air as the centre and filling station.
The caves in the Lot region are karst and generally have a single passage with very little complex navigation which is precisely what is taught at the Intro to Cave level. There are options to run Full Cave courses here also with some real complex navigation at sites like the Ressell as well as simulated complex navigation.
Access to the sites is straightforward with manageable walks from the car parks to the water.
The sites are free to enter and the water is a steady 13/14 degrees Celsius year round.
Mexico is word famous for the number and variety of submerged caves. A giant meteor theory exists about how the region formed these incredible caves – but the porous limestone rock is a fundamental component that allowed hundreds of kilometres of underground passages to form.
The most popular caves in Mexico are in the Quintana Roo region and are located on the stretch of land from Playa del Carmen and south to Tulum and further. The caves are mostly fresh water, but some have haloclines where the salt water layer begins as they have sea connections. The fresh water is a constant 24/25 degrees Celsius with the sea water being a few degrees warmer.
The variety of accessible caves allows for all levels of cave training; Cavern, Intro to Cave & Full Cave.
The sites do have an entrance fee, which along with the associated travel costs make Mexico a premium destination – however, once you see first-hand what is on offer, you will understand the reason it is so famous.
Based in the South East, training is conducted at,
Wraysbury Dive Centre for initial check out dives and introductory course dives.
Stoney Cove for technical level training up to Decmpression Procdures / Tec 45
NDAC for Trimix and deeper courses
Each site has their own respective entrance fees payable by each diver.
Water temperatures range from 5 to 20 degrees and for this reason I do not recommend training over the winter months in the UK. My guideline is to train between May and October.