Three things you should know about Enriched Air Nitrox

Three things you need to know about Enriched Air Nitrox

Enriched Air, Nitrox, EANx. What is it? Is it safer than air? Are there any new or different risks? Does it change how I plan a dive? Let’s take a look at Enriched Air Nitrox and try to answer those questions.

Diver with an Enriched Air Nitrox tank

Diver with an Enriched Air Nitrox tank

What is Enriched Air/Nitrox? Nitrox is a shortened name for nitrogen/oxygen. Nitrox is a term that can be applied to air (roughly 79% nitrogen, 21% oxygen). Nitrox can also apply to a different mixture. Enriched Air, Enriched Air Nitrox or EANx is a name for a breathing gas with a higher percentage of oxygen. There are a few different ways to blend enriched air. For recreational use, we typically use a blend somewhere between 22% and 40% oxygen.

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Five steps to Dive Planning

Five steps to Dive Planning

A well planned dive can make the difference between an excellent dive and a mediocre dive. Chances are, when you took your Open Water Diver certification course, you learned to plan a dive with some sort of planning tool—dive tables or a dive computer. That covers depth & time for safety, but there is a lot more to dive planning. Let’s take a look at five steps to dive planning and how they make your dive better.

Dive Careers

1. Pick a dive site. Sounds simple enough, right? Think about your experience level and your buddy’s experience level. Is the site you chose something you’re familiar with? Or is it a site that requires advanced skills that you and/or your buddy may not have mastered? For example, if you’ve spent most of your diving in calm water with minimal or no wave action or surge, trying to make a surf entry might be difficult. If you need to, get some expert advice and additional training before diving that site.

2. Decide on a dive objective with your buddy. Knowing what you’re both going to do can eliminate a lot of frustration. If you want to take photos and your buddy wants to zoom around on a DPV, you’re probably going to have some issues. Having a shared objective will also help you stay together. Remember, your buddy is there to help you and you’re there to help your buddy, so stay together.

Wreck diving with two scuba divers

3. Plan your depth & time. This can go beyond just looking at your computer and it says you can spend 50 minutes at 65 feet. Think about your air consumption and your buddy’s air consumption. If you typically empty a tank in 45 minutes, planning a 50-minute dive might be asking for trouble. You need to use either a computer or table to maintain a degree of safety for decompression sickness, but failing to think about how you use air can set you up for an emergency ascent. If you’re going to do a multilevel dive (starting at the deepest part of the site and moving shallower as the dive progresses), that will help you with air consumption and nitrogen loading. A dive computer makes this very easy. If you don’t have one, using a tool like PADI’s eRDPML digital dive planner is the next best thing.

4. Have a contingency plan. Things happen on a dive. You see an amazing school of fish and you just want to stop and watch. Without planning on it, ten minutes have passed that you’d not bargained for. Or maybe you see something that’s just a bit deeper than you’d planned to be and you want to check it out. Use your computer or dive planner to have some options. If you want to go deeper, you can’t stay as long. If you stay longer in one spot, you might need to adjust your plan. Don’t forget to add a safety stop, too. At sea-level and up to 1000ft/300m above sea level, this is three minutes at 15 feet. Above 1000ft/300m, you need to adjust your safety stop depth. Altitude Diver specialty training can help out here.

5. Make your dive! Kit up with your buddy. Do a pre-dive safety check (BWRAF-check BCDs, weights, releases, air and a final check for everything else, including any specialty equipment). Enter the water using an appropriate entry. Check your weighting and make a 5-point descent (SORTeD-signal your buddy, orient your self to something on land, swap your snorkel for a regulator, note the time, equalize your ears and descend). Equalizing your ears before you descend can really help out, rather than waiting until you’re five feet down. Enjoy your dive with your buddy, carrying out your dive objective. Ascend, make a safety stop, then surface cautiously. Inflate your BCD once you’re on the surface and exit the water.

There you go. Five easy steps to dive planning. Now, GO DIVE!

10 Questions on Dive Theory

How’s your knowledge of Dive Theory?   For that matter, what is Dive Theory?

For new PADI Instructors, Dive Theory encompasses dive equipment, physics, physiology, dive planning with the Recreational Dive Planner and general dive skills and the environment.   Take this short 10 question quiz on Dive Theory to test your knowledge in these areas.


I’ll be posting longer dive theory quizzes focused on only one topic throughout the rest of the year.   Check back to test your dive theory knowledge.   Want to learn more about Dive Theory?  Try PADI’s Dive Theory Online course.


Dive Theory - Physics, Physiology, Dive Planning, Equipment & the dive environment

Here are ten questions on Dive Theory.   They cover the same topics that PADI Instructors have to know to pass the PADI Instructor Examination.  How’s your knowledge of Dive Theory?




10 Steps to PADI Master Instructor

10 Steps to PADI Master Instructor

What does it mean to “master” something or to be a master of a subject? You’ve probably heard of a “master’s” tour, or a “master’s” degree or a “master” craftsman or artist. The term master denotes someone of ability and experience. In some fields, it may mean thousands of hours spent on the subject matter. For the PADI system of diver education, a Master Instructor is someone that has taught many, if not all, facets of the PADI system and trained many divers at different levels.

Weightless scuba diver hovering over a wreck

Let’s take a look at the ten steps to become a PADI Master Instructor:

Chose your adventure!

Chose your adventure!

1. Complete the PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and IDC Staff Instructor programs

2. Be a PADI Instructor for at least 2 years

3. Be an Emergency First Response Instructor

4. Participate in three PADI Seminars

5. Issue 150 PADI Certifications, including at least 50 continuing education (Adventure Diver or Higher), including 15 Specialty certifications, five Rescue Diver certifications, five Divemaster certifications and five Assistant Instructor certifications.

6. Issued at least 10 Emergency First Response provider course completion cards

7. Use the complete system of PADI instruction and materials for training.

8. Issued PADI as the primary certification

9. Have no Quality Assurance violations within the past 6 months

10. Demonstrate support of the PADI organization in it’s efforts to establish programs in aquatic education and conservation.

Those are the requirements, right out of the PADI Instructor manual (some minor paraphrasing). It’s clear that there is a time commitment (at least 2 years), but the depth and breadth of teaching is the essential part. So, there are the requirements, why should you aim for PADI Master Instructor? For me, it was initially my goal to reach Master Instructor to prove to myself that I really knew what I was doing. [Of course, that goal changed once I jumped into Instructor Development.] For others, it might be that extra rating to make themselves more marketable. Of course, you have to know how to convey that as a Master Instructor you’ve taught at all levels.

Now, do those 150 certifications have to be 150 different individuals? Nope. One of the things I’ve found most rewarding in my diving career is to take a group of divers through many levels of training, watching them develop as divers. Let’s take a look at some options.

Group of four divers. You start with Open Water Diver and you complete your dives on a dive boat, so you can integrate the Boat Diver specialty. You take them out on a 3-day live-aboard for their dives. Reaching day two and completing their dives for Open Water and Boat Diver, they decide to complete Adventure Diver. So, after the class and three days on a boat, you’ve racked up 12 certifications; 4 open water and 8 continuing education.

Follow that up, with that group completing Advanced Open Water and maybe a couple of Specialties with two days of diving. Twelve more certs. You’re now up to 4 Open water, 20 continuing education, with twelve of those being Specialties.

A few weeks later, you take them out for Rescue Diver and another specialty, like Underwater Naturalist. Totals: 4 open water, 20 specialties, 4 rescue divers, 4 Adventure Diver, 4 Advanced Open Water. 32 total. More than 20% of the total number of certs towards Master Instructor, knocked out your specialty requirements, most of your rescue diver requirement and a good portion of the continuing education requirement, all with four people. If they racked up the diving requirement and a fifth specialty, they’re probably all ready for the Master Scuba Diver Rating. Add another 4-8 certs.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Do it four times with Master Scuba Diver, and you’ve hit the number of certs you need. EXCEPT…you still need Divemaster and Assistant Instructor certifications. Chances are, once you’ve trained Rescue Divers, they’re ready to make the jump to Pro. So that will probably be easy. Assistant Instructors might not be so easy. You can earn those numbers by staffing Instructor Development Courses. If you staff two complete IDCs, that will count as the five AI certs you need. I actually suggest you staff at least one IDC and then work with a Course Director so you teach the AI course as part of an IDC. That way you get some excellent experience with actually teaching the AI’s and you have some help during the course.

There you go. Ten steps towards Master Instructor. What are you waiting for? Make a plan and start down the path!

Dive Careers — Resort

Dive Careers – Resort

Beach at Blue Bahia Resort, Roatan, HN

Imagine this as your office!

“Where do you want to be in five years?” The dreadful interview question. The obvious answer is “Living the dream. Working in a tropical paradise as a dive professional.” Of course, unless that’s what you’re interviewing for, it might not be the answer to get that job. But do you really want THAT job? Do you want to work at a dive resort in the tropics?

First, let’s make sure we’re clear. As a dive professional (divemaster, instructor, etc), you still need to work. But we get to work in the coolest place ever UNDERWATER! Of course, a lot goes into getting us ready to work underwater. Let’s take a look at what you might see at a small resort.

8:00 AM Get to the dive resort. Start filling tanks. Open up the front desk for customers.

8:15 AM Your first few divers trickle in. They want to go out on the 9:00am dive. You get them signed in and start getting gear together.

8:30 AM Divers from yesterday that signed up for the 9AM dive arrive. You greet them and get them situated with equipment.

8:45 AM You brief the divers on the location you’re going to take them to. Everyone is excited about the reef location you picked out. After your briefing, you direct everyone to grab their gear and meet at the dive boat. While they’re heading towards the boat, you grab your gear and any other equipment for the dive. This might mean wheeling a cart of tanks down to the dock to load onto the boat.

9:00 AM Your divers are all aboard the boat and are getting situated. Tanks are ready and they begin to set up gear. Your boat captain signals you to release the mooring ropes and you begin to motor out to the site. During the trip, you remind the divers of the dive plan and show them where the emergency equipment is on the boat.

9:20 AM You arrive at the dive site. You help divers get kitted up and they do back-roll entries into the water. After everyone is in, you direct them to the mooring line, then you enter the water.

9:40 AM You’re underwater leading your first dive of the day. It’s a reef you know well, so you point out the squid, the eel that always lurks in one spot, the cluster of lobster and the many other fish.

10:00 AM You signal the divers to check their air. Everyone is okay. As you’re finishing your check, a sea turtle swims past. You give the divers a signal for turtle and point at the turtle swimming away from your group.

10:20 AM You signal the divers to check their air again. No one is low, so you continue the dive, turning back towards the boat. All of the divers are doing well, but one or two look cold. You think to yourself that they should have worn a wetsuit instead of just a swimsuit. Have to remember that, since they want to dive this afternoon.

10:35 AM You’re back at the mooring line. You give everyone the signal to make a 3-minute safety stop at 15 feet.

10:45 AM Everyone is back on the boat. Your divers are thrilled about what they saw and can’t stop talking about it. They break-down their gear as you motor back to the dock.

11:00 AM You’re back at the dock. There’s another group of divers ready to go out and one of the resort staff has a cart with full cylinders. You greet the new divers and say goodbye to some of your previous group; some of the previous group is going out on the next dive.

11:10 AM Everyone is situated and you start briefing the dive. New location, new things to see.

And so on. The second group, after they dive, go back to the resort and grab a snack. You’ve another group going out at 2pm for the third dive of the day. They have a junior diver so another instructor is coming along to guide that junior diver and parents on a shallower dive than you’d planned. On around 4pm, you’re back at the resort and start cleaning up the boat, getting it ready for tomorrow. Around 5pm, you head into the resort to greet the divers and find out what the plan for tomorrow is. One of your divers from today buys a round of beers for you and the shop staff. You sit around and discuss the day’s dives. Depending on the resort, you might stick around for dinner and keep up with the social side of diving. After a good meal, a few drinks and a lot of dive talk, you head back to your room or house and get some sleep. Tomorrow morning will come early enough.

Dive Careers

Like I said, it’s work, but it’s really, really cool. You might follow the same schedule for five or six days before having a day off, but showing the amazing underwater world to divers is one of the coolest, awesomest jobs in the world.

Now, what are the gotchas? There are a few. You might need a work permit for some countries. Handling your money outside of the US can occasionally be tricky, and there might be issues with moving funds between countries. And the tropics have some of their own unique challenges. On my first trip to Central America, I was told, “Use bug spray. The mosquitos during the day spread malaria. The ones at night are dengue.” The tropics have a lot of diverse life, both above and below the water line. Be careful and take care of your self. Also, tropical work can be seasonal. You might not have a contract for the full year. Rather work six months of the high-season and then move on. The good news is that there is diving all around the world, year-round.