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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Right. This is NOT an agency bashing. It is NOT a troll. It is NOT a newbie looking for advice.
We all know I'm a qualified diver already and don't need to do a crossover

However, as a quick glance at Dnet right now will show, it's a common enough innocent question from beginners that almost inevitably descends into flames.
So, as I did with topics like the Hub & the suicide bottle et al, I'd like to put together a comprehensive web page with all the pros & cons laid out in full, so if the question gets asked, a full answer is readily available that might help to forestall the inevitable long, drawn-out arguments we so often see.
So, what I'm asking for here is for posts about what I ought to include - what advice you usually give a newbie who asks this question. What you liked about the agency that trained you, and what you didn't like. Etc etc.
Oh, and I'm happy to include ScotSAC and the SAA etc if anybody wants to post some things about them.
I'd appreciate it if this could be limited to just things for consideration in an article, and not a slagging match
REASONED debate about an article's contents. That's all.
See the pig! See it fly!
 

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PADI

Pros:

Largest diving training agency in the world
Most widely recognised dive certification
Well constructed training materials
Gets you in the water from day one
Caters for pretty much all recreational diving needs
Excellent safety record

Cons:

Not cheap
Very 'American' in its philosophy
Remote administration of dive centres can allow for differing training standards


That should start you off - can't comment about BSAC as I know little about them
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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In this country - do PADI centers teach metric or imperial? ie the local system or the US?
 

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Dominic

Metric is taught in this country.  (I had a hell of a time trying to make conversions when I took my IDC/IE in the US!!)

Regards.
 

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What about the difference between BSAC clubs & BSAC schools?  It is something that is rarely considered in these debates but I think that there are some interesting points to be made there.
 

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Finless: You couldn't invent him...
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Dom,

I'm PADI trained and very happy with the training I received.

My only concern is that OW or AOW qualification does not necessarily mean that person has the right experience to go out diving without a more experienced diver as a buddy straight away - especially if they learned (as I did) abroad and start diving in more challenging conditions like the UK.

I am not explaining this very well but a reasonable analogy would be having passed your driving test does not mean you are a good driver - you need road time and to build up experience.

Mind you, I did my AOW 20 years ago so maybe it has changed now.

Oh well, I tried - feel free to ignore this.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Finless @ Sep. 05 2003,11:01)]Dom,

I'm PADI trained and very happy with the training I received.

My only concern is that OW or AOW qualification does not necessarily mean that person has the right experience to go out diving without a more experienced diver as a buddy straight away - especially if they learned (as I did) abroad and start diving in more challenging conditions like the UK.

I am not explaining this very well but a reasonable analogy would be having passed your driving test does not mean you are a good driver - you need road time and to build up experience.

Mind you, I did my AOW 20 years ago so maybe it has changed now.

Oh well, I tried - feel free to ignore this.
Would not neccessarily disagree but not sure that it is really that relevent as PADI's great caveat is "Trains you to dive in conditions similar or better than the environment you were trained in"

I think it is more a question of setting expectations correctly,  

BSAC Pro's

Training more focussed on UK environment,
Club environment

Can be cheaper.
Can give access to kit to borrow.

BSAC Con's

Club environment

Takes longer to get in the water.


The training materials is also quite a good one to look at from a different agencies perspective.  There was a review in one of the dive magazines some months back listing the merits of each agency.

Daz
 

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Hi,

I did my initial training with BSAC when I lived in the UK and I was very pleased with it.

I did a cross over to PADI for AOW and all other levels after that (and specialities). I did this simply because I'm an ex-pat and BSAC courses are difficult to do abroad. I was happy with my PADI training that I've done around the world.

For me, the important thing is being able to do a course wherever and whenever I am...which is easier with PADI. I think that access to training would be a big consideration for someone deciding between agencies.

Hope this helps.

Kinetic
 

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I agree that there is a risk that training standards may vary between different PADI scools and instructors but doesn't that apply equally to BSAC clubs and instructors or do you think BSAC's quality control is better than PADI's? I've no personal experience of BSAC so have no axe to grind, just asking.
 

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Just not enough dive time.
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Did Padi Ow in Lanzarote and AOW in France,
no complaints about either in as much that both of the Instructors included more than the minimum, which Padi allow for in their courses.

Padi pros
Probably better known
Instant, or almost, water access
Very good manuals, mind the vids are super too (not, that woman with the make-up and nails - right!)
Good instructor equals a good time, fun and learning in one.
Courses available for virtually whatever you want and you get to mix and match to your specific requirements

Padi Cons
training abroad does not prepare you for UK diving, (D)Smb use as an example.
Can be expensive when you add all the costs together for the myriad of courses
AOW - as has been stated a misleading title.
No Club environment so extra knowledge can be hard to get from experienced divers i.e. kit selection etc.
Rarely can you find buddies (other than through here, or shop based clubs)

Based on being a Bsac club member once,
Bsac Pros
Club environment
Pool etc facilities
Experienced divers can help out
Available buddy
Slow and steady, althoug I believe you can get in the water almost as quick as with Padi
Crossover route from other Agencies

Bsac cons
Yearly membership can be costly, if you are a member for many years the cost ends up similar to Padi. No membership
equals no qualification, which can lapse after time.
Club environment (yes a plus and a minus) can be intimidating,
if the Branch has an established clique.
Crossover invariably to a lower level.
Attitude to youngsters
Attitude to Crossovers
Unavailabilty of training as you are relying on volunteers.
Personality clashes can result in having to move to another Branch.

Not a flame starter just actual observations
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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Right, here's the first draft.

It's badly worded, badly laid-out, and so on. But it's to give an idea of what I've got so far.

More information on the basic grades would be appreciated, along with any other feedback.

-----------------------

The question is asked by many, many novices when they realise that they have to choose who to train with. Unfortunately, such an innocent question posed to a forum almost always winds up a slagging match between people determined that THEIR agency was best and the OTHER agency is lousy.
So, in an effort to cut down on the flames wasted on such a common debate, this page was written, to set out clearly and non-controversially the differences between the various agencies.
Firstly, a bit of history of the organizations.
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is a commercial organization that originated in America. Started in 1966, its first instructor training course was run in 1970. It is now a world-wide organization with millions of divers having been trained by the PADI system.
BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club), in contrast, is a non-commercial organization, set up in 1953. Whilst BSAC has branches throughout the world, it is mainly concerned with UK diving, and is the governing body for the sport in this country. BSAC was previously a member (and co-founder) of CMAS, the European scuba body. This is no longer the case, but through the SAA, BSAC qualifications have an equivalent CMAS rating.
The SAA (Sub-Aqua Association), is currently the UK representative of CMAS. It is the youngest of the three agencies, and like the BSAC, it is non-commercial.
These are the three main agencies in the UK. Before considering the courses they teach, a few pros and cons of the agencies themselves:
PADI.
PADI is undoubtedly the most widespread agency in the world. There is nowhere you can go diving that won't recognise your PADI qualification. Their courses are designed to get the enthusiastic beginner into the water as fast as possible to enjoy the sport, and come with excellent training materials.
However, courses are not cheap - over £200 is commonplace. Courses are also designed with warm-water diving in mind, which can lead to certain drawbacks in the UK - novices in cold water only being allowed wetsuits, for instance. There is also a widespread concern that PADI novices are awarded their qualifications because they have paid for them instead of because they have earnt them, and also that PADI divers are encouraged to do further training not because they would benefit from it, but because they would pay for it. It is important to recognise that this is very much against PADI standards and that a reputable center will not engage in this behavior. It is, however, a stereotype that PADI divers may find themselves subject to.

BSAC
BSAC, whilst not as widespread as PADI, is still internationally recognised. It is exceptionally rare to hear of anybody with a BSAC qualification being unable to get that qualification recognised. Courses are provided at the cost of the training materials only, which makes them substantially cheaper than PADI. In addition, because the instructors are unpaid, there is no drive to qualify as fast as possible. BSAC divers are encouraged to learn at their own pace.
Also, BSAC is a club, therefore in addition to courses, the beginner has access to club equipment, the club facilities (which may include a compressor) and the knowledge of club members. BSAC clubs run their own trips, frequently using their own boats, and so there is never any problem with finding a buddy or getting to dive.
However, whilst the courses are cheaper, you must be a member of BSAC itself and of your local branch. BSAC has an annual membership fee, and so do most clubs. Whilst this tends to be a small amount, such as £10 a month, over the course of a few years, club membership costs will amount to more than the cost of a commercial course. Also, BSAC courses tend to be an hour or two a week, as opposed to the intensive PADI courses - it can take months to gain a BSAC qualification. This may be a big advantage in terms of the knowledge that can be gained during training, but can be frustrating to somebody who just wants to get into the water. Lastly, some BSAC clubs can be 'political', and there are also some clubs with the inherent belief that anything other than BSAC training is worthless. Again, these individuals are operating against their agency guidelines and are a minority, but they do exist.

BSAC schools
Worth a mention, BSAC does have commercially-run schools, which run intensive courses that will get you qualified in a few days. If you want a BSAC grade in a hurry, these can be worth looking into.

SAA
The SAA, being a relatively new club, is less well-known globally. However, because it issues CMAS qualifications, no problems should be encountered by SAA divers abroad.
SAA divers are often divers who trained with other agencies and became frustrated with them, and so crossed-over. BSAC clubs are often accused of being "all politics", and PADI divers can become tired of the "you only get it if you pay for it" culture that some centers have.

At the end of the day, all three agencies will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to scuba dive safely, and qualifications that will be recognised wherever you may go.

However, the courses they teach have various differences.

The PADI entry-level course is the Open-Water grade, OW. An OW diver is qualified to a maximum depth of 18m, and can dive only in conditions equal to or better than those they learned in. PADI OW students are almost always taught in wetsuits.

The BSAC entry-level course is the Ocean Diver, OD. An OD diver is qualified to a maximum depth of 20m, and can dive in any conditions, subject to the approval of the club D.O. The OD will also have received training in basic rescue skills, and will usually have been trained in a drysuit.

Later training from the agencies will allow for greater depths and more varied conditions.

Possibly the most important difference to a UK diver between PADI and BSAC is that PADI forbids decompression diving. In tropical waters, where dives tend to be multi-level, this is no real handicap. However, UK diving is usually square-profile, with the whole dive being performed at depth, followed by an ascent to the surface. In these circumstances, it can be very difficult to get a good dive time without straying into decompression.
A BSAC OD is trained in decompression procedures, but not allowed to do a deco dive until the next grade, SD. A PADI diver cannot perform decompression without going to another agency for training.

A question that many novices ask is when do they become self-sufficient - at what point in their diving they stop being considered "learners to be looked after" and become "divers I'm happy to dive with".
Typically, the answer is PADI Rescue diver or BSAC Sports diver - it's at this point that you're capable of not just looking after yourself, but looking after your buddy as well, in the event that he becomes incapacitated.

So what agency should you choose?

If you intend to be a holiday diver - PADI. This is what they do best.

If you just want to get into the water ASAP - PADI, or a BSAC school. Fast courses are what they're all about.

If you want to dive the UK and get UK-dedicated training - BSAC or the SAA. Drysuits, SMBs, and decompression training come as standard.

If you intend to become a dedicated UK diver later, but just want to get into the water right now - PADI, then crossover to another agency for the UK-based training later. There's no reason to stay wedded to a single agency.
 

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Just not enough dive time.
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And you reckon THAT will stop the flames on Handbagnet, well its a good try and I hope you succeed.

One other thing I noticed with being in a Club, you are expected to help out, be it paint the club house, run the bar or just do 'things' that help in the running of a Club. This isnt just a Bsac thing. Howver if you have little spare time and you'd rather be diving it can be 'awkward'.
Matt
 

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Nope - that's why I'm getting it co-authored here so you can all pick the holes in it

It's not actually true that you're expected to help out with the club - I know plenty of BSAC members whose sole contribution to the club is to pay the membership fees and turn up at the dive site.. in fact there are some members who don't even turn up to the diving that just keep paying anyway....
 

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Hi Dom,

I read it through, I guess the only major point you have missed is that there are almost no PADI "schools" that offer diving without training (yes there are a few that proove the rule) BSAC clubs are fundimentally centred around actually diving (I know there are those that would dispute this). This for me setting aside the warm water versus UK arguament is the main difference between the two. If you look at the new BSAC training manuals, they look and feel more like the PADI manual. The difference being the emphasis on UK things such as SMB's etc.

I am both a PADI DM and a BSAC DL. I see little difference in the training these days. Most PADI schools I know in the UK offer a dry suit course as part of the OW course. But to re-iterate my point, once you finish the OW course you can dive if you can find one, or you can do more training.


Andrew
 

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I think it is worth mentioning that UK diving is largely geared towards the club, or at least the group ie having to hire an entire charter boat etc. I have found it really difficult to get dives at times which is where the club helps a lot, having a group of divers you can organise things with.

Mind you it need not be a BSAC or even SAA club, I believe there are PADI clubs now too.
 
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Spike,

I can not agree with that, it is easy enough to get dives, you just have to search the boats web sites and they are usually posted.

Andrew
 

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Hey Andy

Maybe I'm not looking hard enough but the only boat I've found so far with a schedule on a website is Dive eclipse in Selsey. I have checked at least a dozen others on the south coast between Eastbourne and Weymouth and usually end up phoning them. The reply almost always goes something like - "sorry, I've got a regular club on thast date."

Suggestions as to boats catering to individuals and buddy pairs in my region would be very much appreciated.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (spike jackson @ Sep. 05 2003,16:32)]Hey Andy

Maybe I'm not looking hard enough but the only boat I've found so far with a schedule on a website is Dive eclipse in Selsey. I have checked at least a dozen others on the south coast between Eastbourne and Weymouth and usually end up phoning them. The reply almost always goes something like - "sorry, I've got a regular club on thast date."

Suggestions as to boats catering to individuals and buddy pairs in my region would be very much appreciated.
Spike,

You are bound to find boats fully booked with club dives. The club I belong to has already booked next years boats - you have to in order to get the dates. Also, it is easier for skippers to block book than to try and find 12 individuals.

I normally dive on Nauticat (www.channeldiving.co.uk) out of Brighton and quite frequently there are late spaces available where a club has been unable to fill the boat.

To get registered for "late places" follow the below link and register your details. You will rcv e mails from divers/skippers if they put empty places up for grabs (registration is free of charge).

Of course this is open to anyone with the right quals/experience. Please remember these are NOT club dives. YOU are responsible for YOU and YOUR buddy. If you go you pay. YOU MUST HAVE A DSMB.



WreckTech
 
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