No, your scuba certification does not expire. However, this does vary largely according to the certifying agency for your course and that it’s always a good idea to refresh your skills when it comes to keeping yourself and your dive partners safe in the water.
Maintain evidence of recent diving activities. Important when traveling and going to new places to dive and performing different dive activities (i.e.: boat dive, warm vs cold water diving, freshwater vs salt water, lake vs pond) before taking visiting divers on an open water dive. Your scuba logbook helps others verify your experience level and currency. Refresher courses or sometimes just attending guided fun dives and trips with knowledgeable dive instructors and Dive masters (as well as other divers) that are current and informative. Your certifications and/or logged dives to confirm this.
The expectation of staying current and active is placed upon the diver. One could borrow, rent, or purchase gear with little interference regardless of whether one was certified 20 years ago or 2 months ago. With that said dive travel is less forgiving, but inconsistent. Generally, a certification is not enough if it is more than a couple of years old; evidence of recent dives will usually be required and either a Refresher course of some kind or an informal check-out dive will be recommended or required of those without recent experience.
Whether it is PADI, NAUI, or another certifying agency they all adhere to standards on scuba training, experience, and competence.
If you are a thrill seeker, scuba diving may not be for you. It requires focus, organization, and clear thinking. It also is not competitive. Cooperation is key. Your dive buddy is the person you will rely on if there is trouble.
Look for a diving mentor / instructor who is experienced and professional, but not egotistical. The scuba learning experience should be properly organized, careful, safe, and fun as well. it is important for divers to maintain a dive logbook of their dive experiences
Yes, I know, there is NO mandated requirement to have recurrency training after a long diving layoff. The simple fact is most of us have done a lot less diving the last couple of COVID years and face it we are rusty in our skills.
Oftentimes, divers’ breeze through getting in a currency dive – thinking that going back to scuba diving as “just like riding a bike”—and don’t spend much time preparing for the dive.
And every year, divers hurt themselves at the beginning of the season and right after long layoffs from the sport. But even though divers clearly need safety refreshers after taking a break from the sport, there’s a lack of standardization of what currency training should be.
As such, we divers have an opportunity to look at what currency training would detail.
Do most divers believe that after a diving layoff, for whatever reason, one should take it slow and make deliberate choices in getting back into the water?
Can we change the mind set of all divers, no matter their experience level, to encourage others as well as themselves to create a mindset of safety first and will how divers think of and conduct that first couple of dives after a layoff deliberately choosing to devote the time to retraining themselves?
However, simply attending a few Diver Safety Day seminars is not equivalent to true currency training. Experienced divers should structure their own currency training carefully, using proven techniques and academic strategies to help themselves get back to their level of competency.
Before conducting the dive, the Lead Diver should formulate a dive plan with it planned around the competency of the least experienced diver.
Each diver shall conduct a functional check of his/her diving equipment in the presence of the dive buddy.
It is the diver’s responsibility and duty to refuse to dive if, in their judgment, conditions are unfavorable or if they would be violating the precepts of their training.
Any diver may refuse to dive, without fear of harassment or embarrassment, whenever the diver believes it is unsafe for them to make the dive. The ultimate responsibility for safety rests with the individual diver. It is the diver’s responsibility and duty to refuse to dive if, in their judgment, conditions are unsafe or unfavorable, if they would be violating the precepts of their training, or for any reason whatsoever.
This buddy system is based on mutual assistance, especially in the case of an emergency. Therefore, Buddy divers must maintain close continuous contact during each dive.
Did your dive plan have an emergency plan appropriate to the dive mode, available for immediate reference before and after each dive.
ALL dives shall be terminated while there is still sufficient breathing gas to permit the diver to safely reach the surface, including any required decompression time, or to safely reach an additional air source at the decompression station.
It is essential that emergency procedures be pre-planned, communicated, and understood by all divers and surface support personnel.
Maintain your own dive log. All divers should log every dive and be retained by the diver. It should include the Name of diver and buddy(s), the Date, time, and location. Diving gas used and the general nature of diving activities Approximate surface and underwater conditions Maximum depths, bottom time, and surface interval time. Note if Diving tables or computers were used and detail any near or actual incidents.
How to maintain diver competency
Diving itself may seem effortless, especially when you’re gliding along in a mild current, with a boat waiting to pick you up when you surface but are you able to efficiently kick through a current for a short time to return to the boat ladder and then climb it?
As we get older that gear seems to get a lot heaver and bulky, are you in good enough physical condition to do so?
How about that shore dive? Can you easily handle the entries and exits which are often the most demanding parts of the dive? Do you have the strength to walk your equipment in and out of the water makes the entire dive more efficient and therefore safer?
Are you out of physical condition? If so, before you begin diving again add short walks to your daily routine begin an exercise routine to include muscle toning and strength but remember to build up slowly.
Remember that you built your diving experience slowly, coming back after a long break will take time. It might be tempting to look at the last dive in your logbook and try to repeat it straight away. However, pushing the boundaries of your existing diving experience, it’s not a great first couple of dives back.
Getting back into diving is not about rushing. Having a couple of pool dive is not exciting dive site, but it’s the best place to check if everything still fits and works as you expect it to.
Always consider your underwater comfort zone and start with a dive that is well within it. Do a few diving days in familiar conditions to allow you to build confidence and regain muscle memory. Take it slowly and enjoy the process.
Note that refreshing your skills doesn’t necessarily mean booking a course as such. A similarly or higher qualified dive buddy may be able to help. Filming yourself practicing skills also goes a long way toward finding weak points and improving them.
Were you doing technical dives? Even more important when you’re building up technical dives after a break to do so slowly. You may be qualified to dive deep but going from a year on land to multiple cylinders at depth is simply a recipe for disaster. After months out of the water, your stamina is likely diminished.
Just as you completed your training in several stages, your return to diving after this year or possibly longer will take some time. The good news is, however, that all this underwater time is enjoyable. Put simply, diving cautiously is part of your return to diving to the top level of your qualification.
REFRESHER DIVES FOR NEWBIES
For those who may have just completed their qualification before taking this long break and spent several months or longer out of the water, its highly recommended you get a refresher course with a qualified dive mentor, divemaster or instructor. Initial low threat dives are crucial to truly commit diving skills to memory and practice truly leads to mastery. It makes more sense to practice not only until you can get something right, but rather until you can’t get it wrong anymore.
Whichever way you choose to get back to diving after a long break to take things step by step. Rushing into big dives is never a good idea.