Open Water Skills

Scuba Checklist

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Night Before

  • Plug in Rechargeable Light Battery / Change backup batteries
  • Charge Scooter Battery (if you have one)

Don’t Forget to bring

  • Scuba certification card (if you need gas fills)
  • DAN Card (just in case)
  • Dive Log & RDP
  • Crab License
  • Headlamp (if at night)

What to Wear to the Dive Site

  • Sweatpants
  • Swimsuit (if in wetsuit)
  • Flip Flops

Dive Day Gear

  • Mask / Backup Mask
  • Snorkel (optional)
  • Wetsuit / Hood
  • Gloves / Booties
  • Fins
  • Drysuit / Drygloves / Spare gloves / Hood / Wrist Tubing
  • BCD / Wing / Backplate
  • Weights for BCD
  • Weight Belt / Harness
  • Dive Light
  • Regulator, gauge and safe second
  • Tanks
  • Dive Computer


  • Light snacks
  • Hot Drink (soup, coffee, tea, water, cocoa)
  • No coffee until after dives (dehydrates)
  • Warm water for wetsuit (2 gallons in cooler)
  • Water bottle
  • Floor mat to stand on

After Dive Clothes

  • Towels (2)
  • Warm Hat
  • Baseball hat
  • Long sleeve wicking shirt
  • Fleece
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Warm coat or blanket

Pre-dive safety check

Bruce Willis Rules All Films

  • Buoyancy Compensator
  • Weights
  • Releases
  • Air
  • Final Okay

Five Point Decent: SORTED

  • Signal
  • Orientation
  • Regulator
  • Time
  • Equalize
  • Descend

Five Point Ascent: STARS

  • Signal
  • Time
  • Airway (look up)
  • Reach (BCD exhaust up)
  • Swim (don’t use BCD to rise)

On Ascents, also Remember

  • No faster than 30ft/min (follow smallest bubbles).
  • Deflate BCD while rising.
  • Safety stop @ 15ft for 3 mins


  • Problem, end dive and ascend
  • VENTID => Vision, Ears, Nausia, Twitching, Irritability, Dizziness
  • Cylinder – Nitrox labeled, O clean, contents label
  • Blenders – DSAT certified? Recent Gas Quality Verification report?
  • Analyzer – calibrate to 20.9%
  • Oxygen partial pressure – 1.4 normal, 1.6 emergency

When Crabbing

  • Crab License
  • Crab Gauge
  • Crab / Lobster Bag
  • Cooler for crab
  • Ice for crab
  • Garbage bag and ties to line cooler / prevent spills

What to Expect on Open Water Night One

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Typically Open Water Classes are either taught in two ways:

  • Four Days of Classroom & Pool, 1 Weekend of Open Water Dives (e.g. Tues/Thurs, Tues/Thurs & Sat/Sun for Open Waters)
  • Intensive: Two Full Weekends, actually starting on Friday evening.

For the regular four day class, please come prepared to your first night having completed the Knowledge Reviews for the first three chapters of the Open Water Manual.

For the Intensive sessions, you need to be completely DONE with reading the book and ALL of your knowledge reviews before Friday evening.

On your first night we will:

  1. talk logistics
  2. go through our paperwork (ensure it’s signed, filled out correctly, medical releases are in order (if required), etc.
  3. do our Continuous Surface Swim & the Survival Float
  4. learn how to connect your BCD, tank and regulator
  5. potentially complete dives 1 & 2 in the pool

Don’t forget:

  • swimsuit & towel
  • mask, fins & booties and a snorkel [you will also want your gloves for the final day or night so you can practice with them in the in the pool]
  • your Open Water Manual
  • completed knowledge reviews 1-3 (or 1-5)
  • student folder [we’ll fill it out together if you haven’t already completed it]
  • completed medical questionnaire from your doctor, in the event any of the questions were YES

We’ll also be encouraging you to borrow one of the shop wetsuits for the pool, but if you’re planning on going to the tropics anytime soon, buying a 3mm shortie wetsuit before class is a great way to use your own suit in the pool for class.

The Open Water courses include rental scuba gear for open water, so don’t worry about buying all new toys before class. You’ll likely want to chat with us before buying them anyway.

What to Expect on Your Open Water Dives

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We will do Open Waters at Alki Cove 1 or Cove 2 (depending on the crowd). We’ll be having LOTS of FUN, but there are a few things that will make that even more fun:

  • Get some nice warm tea / cocoa / soup and enjoy it before you arrive
  • BRING HOT WATER to warm yourself up (e.g two gallon milk jugs kept in a cooler, or just a cooler full of warm water. You can stand in it and pour the warm water down your wetsuit)
  • Bring food if you need munchies
  • Bring a bottle of drinking water too… you’ll be working and we always want to stay hydrated

Day 1 (Saturday):

  • Two dives to a max depth of 40′, approx 20 minutes each
  • Open Water Gear
    • BCD
    • Regulator
    • 2 tanks (make sure they have enough gas before you leave the dive shop)
    • Weights
    • Wetsuit
    • Booties
    • Gloves
    • Mask, Fins, Snorkel
  • We should be done by Noon on Saturday.
  • Don’t forget to Refill Your Tanks after diving Saturday in preparation for Sunday.
  • Don’t forget to Bring a Passport Photo (for your certification card for Sunday)

Day 2 (Sunday) STARTS at 1PM.

  • Two dives to a max depth 60′, about 20 minutes each
  • Gear (same as Saturday)
  • We need to fill out paperwork Sunday, so we probably won’t be done until about 2p Sunday.

Survival Swim

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To keep yourself on the surface for 10 minutes.


This ensures that you are able comfortable in the water and able to care for yourself in the event of a minor equipment problem.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Relax
  2. Tread water for 10 minutes

Equalize Your Ears

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To safely and with NO PAIN whatsoever, equalize your ears for going underwater.


This skill is very important to snorkeling, skin diving and scuba diving in that it allows you to AVOID the pain of jumping into the bottom of the pool your remember as a kid. What happened there is that you went from 0′ to 12′ and the difference in pressure caused pain by pressing against the eardrum. You should be clearing your ears ever few feet whenever you are changing depth.

Steps to Perform:

There are three methods for clearing your ears. I use the tried and true method of squeezing your nose and blowing GENTLY out to balance the pressure inside your ear with the pressure outside [in the water].

I’ll cover all three here [needs to be updated]

Video Demo: