All Seems Quiet on the West Coast in Scuba ... for now

Great Dive Trips at Bargain Prices with the Sea Divers

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Posted by TDI_2 on May 22, 2002 at 16:00:48:

I have learned a lot of things by reading posts on this site for the past couple of years. How to plan for contingencies on diving excursions, what can go wrong, what gasses are available for various types of scuba, what the most popular dive computers are and with whom, where the bugs are, what dive boats are available for charters and day trips in the SouthLand, and the wonder of it all: flame wars by weekend diving dare-devils.

The technical training of my diving is almost over now. One more weekend and I will be completely through with that, other than periodic refresher courses.

So its time for me to look ahead and choose the next challenge.

I have chosen the NAUI ITC.

I know NAUI has some major weaknesses compared with YMCA Scuba and with PADI and SSI. And I know a lot of scuba stores have switched away from NAUI in the past few years in favor of SSI and PADI.

But if you look hard enough, you can still find a full service NAUI scuba store somewhere. In my area, we have a total of about 3, compared to dozens of PADI and SSI stores in the same area.

I think PADI's greatest strength is its universitality and the speed with which they get things done, uniformly, with dive stores and resorts all around the world. I respect PADI for spreading scuba diving to every city in America, resulting in easy access to more modern gear for all of us as the industry grows and new stores pop up everywhere.

I think SSI's greatest strength is their thoroughness in their training, and the fact that at the end of any diving day, its usually the SSI instructors who are still at the beaches, later and longer than anybody else, training their students.

I think YMCA Scuba's strength is in the YMCA organization, which makes YMCA scuba fairly ubiquitous anywhere there is a Y with a pool.

So why choose NAUI? After all, they werent the first, since LA County and the YMCA were both earlier into scuba than NAUI was. And they are not the biggest anymore, since SSI and PADI have each certainly passed NAUI in size by now.

The guys who taught me first how to freedive and then scuba long ago were NAUI divers from Southern California. Their stories of "bugs the size of your boat" and "rapture of the very deep" and even "abalone fever" back in the days when there were still abs to be had in Southern California still echoes. Their quotes that "cave divers are different, they always have two of everything, and they only get one chance to do it right, the first time" still resonates.

You can still find a few good NAUI scuba stores here and there if you look hard enough. I have, at last, and I am going to go with that, and see where it takes me next.

I think the TDI and PADI and SSI lessons that I have learned will help me in NAUI's programs. NAUI stores and their instructors normally take their student divers on more dives for a given rating level than the other agencies, and that is what has tipped the balance in their favour in my consideration. YMCA does too, but they are also closely associated with youth activities and the Y and I am not necessarily a YMCA devotee. So that leaves NAUI, by my way of reckoning.

I have heard that NAUI has a new guy in charge of the West Coast operations. I hope he is good at his job, and that things can turn around somewhat with him there.

Those of you who are SSI instructors are probably glad I wont invade your territory. Those of you who are PADI probably dont care, because there are PADI instructors all over everywhere like sand on the beach. You YMCA instructors might think that I am not giving the Y a fair shake, but its just that I am not alligned in any way with the Y. I was taught how to swim by the American Red Cross not by the Y like most people are. Y scuba is extremely good too, in my opinion.

Those of you who used to be NAUI divers and left, you know what I am talking about. Those of you who have never heard of NAUI have no clue. If I was recommending to someone whether to go with YMCA or NAUI or PADI or SSI, I would say to them, choose a good store, close to where you live, and go from there.

However I did not do that. I searched out to find a good NAUI store, and its far away. I was lucky to find a couple of them. You dont see that many of them anymore. I hope that changes someday. I doubt that it will ever change back to when the sun rose and never set on the NAUI scuba empire. PADI has the empire now.

The next challenge for me then becomes to learn a new instructor manual, and blend into these new procedures that I will be taught the strengths that I have already learned from previous SSI and PADI and TDI training. I have somehow learned to respect all of them. I know you GUE guys are programmed and brainwashed to pay lip service to GUE and flame everyone else and youre proud of it. Thats fine. I dont want to be brainwashed. Even so, I still respect GUE as well, for their innovative products and publications and concepts.

And I also dont want to be required to do things only one exact way with no flexibility at all. And I especially want to be able to go to the ocean as many times as I need to with students, until they get it down right, and not just 4 open water dives, period.

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