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Scuba diving courses – What do we value most, more depth or more skill?



Scuba diving is an expensive hobby and courses are no exception. And with the budgets available to spend on our hobbies being squeezed it’s an interesting time to look at how we perceive value in relation to dive courses.

It’s obvious that we want to get the biggest ‘bang for our buck’ from scuba courses and for many of us that means increased ‘depth for our dollar’ and the new breed of ‘tech’ courses seem to offer this in spades. But are this new breeds of mainstream scuba diving courses really the best way to progress ones training? I think the answer is not always.

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The first question to ask is why is taking such a course a bad thing? It would seem reasonable that if a recreational diver wanted to improve their diving, that by taking a course that taught them the more advanced skills, equipment and procedures that are required to undertake deeper dives they would be a more skilled diver at the end of that course? Unfortunately this is not always the case. This is because to be a more skilled diver does not always mean more complex skills. It requires refinement of basic dive skills.

Scuba diving courses will always be driven by two factors; time and money. The longer a course the more it will cost, so in order to keep them of a reasonable length, the agencies have to focus training time only on the specific skills that are required for deeper diving such as decompression and gas planning, stage bottle use, and emergency procedures such as gas sharing and vale manipulation. However, the problem arises because these more complex skills are built on a weak foundation of basic recreational dive skills.

James Sanderson 4

Basic skills such as trim, buoyancy control and propulsion that are not refined at the recreational level are required to act as foundations for more demanding skills such as gas switching, SMB deployment, ascent control and most importantly, teamwork. And like a castle built on sand, the foundations will crumble.

So the diver leaves the course with new equipment and procedures that they can only use on ‘tech’ dives and very little in terms of improved basics skills that would make the other 99% of their diving safer and more fun.

James Sanderson 1

So what is the conclusion? Divers should accept that huge value can be gained by getting the basics right. Comfort, control and capacity will be increased by more advanced training but only when built on a strong foundation. Rushing forward to pursue depth based ‘tech’ certifications leaves a vacuum of basic dives skills behind the diver that they will realize too late need to be filled.

Blog courtesy of

James has spent nearly 10 years teaching and diving in some of the world’s most enviable and challenging dive locations. He is an active trimix and cave diver and now has nearly 2000 dives in such diverse locations such as Caribbean reefs, Fjords in the Arctic Circle, submerged volcanoes in Coral Sea and the caves of Florida, Mexico and France and wrecks of the UK's south coast. He now teaches exclusively as a GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) instructor for TecLife (

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1



Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.

We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.

Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.

There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.

We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt.  Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.

Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson.  Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.

A deserted Gatwick Airport at 0900 on 10 October

Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was.  Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.

Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment.  Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs.  The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.

Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.

Corey having a pre-flight temperature check

Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.

Two things to note:  If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive.  You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long.  It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through.  This means two days with no access to resort facilities.  If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.

COVID guidelines

Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements.  A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.

None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre.  Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.

Sterilised Dive Kit

We all felt very COVID secure.

Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…

Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at

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Dive Training Blogs

Dive Instructor! Is Your Paycheck rubbish? Here’s 4 passive income ideas for Scuba Pros (Watch Video)



How much money does a Dive Instructor make? The easy answer is not much. Here’s 4 ways a Scuba Diving Professional can diversify their income streams.

You hear it all the time: Being a Scuba Diving Instructor is a labor of love. Why is it that Scuba Instructors, when compared to almost any other professional in a sports training or educational role, make less money? Well, we’re not going to dive into that topic, because nobody here has the time for that!

What we are going to do is give you 4 ideas for generating passive income using your expertise as a Dive Instructor. Each of the ideas requires a little effort and investment on your part, but with a long term strategy, you can absolutely add money to your monthly income.

If you’ve just finished your Instructor Development Course, I strongly encourage you to diversify your income streams by trying your hand at some or all of the ideas we explain in this video.

We want to thank all of our subscribers for supporting this channel and being such an active and engaged audience! We appreciate you all! And thanks for making our most recent video our most watched video yet!

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