I must have had a bit of a psychic moment when I sat down and wrote the blog about Solo Diving back in June as a few days later my pre-release copy of the August edition of DIVER landed on my desk with a four page article about the new PADI Self Sufficient Diver course. Its important to point out that it’s not a solo diver course like those offered by other training agencies, it is an introduction to self reliant diving and focuses on developing the techniques, knowledge and skills that would allow a diver to rely on themselves first. The course requires a minimum of 100 logged dives with at least a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent certification.
There are obviously certain kit requirements for the course as well, it wouldn’t be much of a sufficiency course if it didn’t introduce redundant air source systems. There are ,of course, a wide choice of systems depending on your needs but it includes a pony system, side mount stage cylinder, complete side mount configuration or twin cylinders that are set up as independents. Other mandatory kit includes a spare mask, spare bottom timer / depth gauge (or perhaps a spare computer such as the new Oceanic BUD Back Up Computer), a dive knife, Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB) and reel and a surface audible signalling device.
The course covers topics such as dive planning, air consumption and scenario management which all help prepare you both physically and mentally for diving on your lonesome, especially in panic or stressful situations. The course dives practice such as buoyancy, air source malfunction and swapping, DSMB deployment, mask issues and navigation skills to name a few. This course could be considered to be a complete contradiction of PADI’s long standing backing of the buddy system but in my own personal opinion divers over a certain skill and experience level should be taught self reliance skills as standard. After all what happens if you become separated from your buddy and you run into a problem, you would appreciate that training in that sort of circumstance. Surely having two self reliant divers partnered together makes for a far stronger buddy pair.