The PADI Self-Reliant Diver specialty course will teach you to recognize and accept the role of the buddy system and its contributions to diver safety while identifying and developing self-reliance and independence while scuba diving.
Your dive buddies are your most important pieces of dive gear. They back up your brains and hands underwater, and if you're lucky, they'll help out with gas and pick up a dinner tab from time to time. You need a buddy, and you should always dive with one, but occasionally it's nice to be able to dive independently, assured by the knowledge that you have the skills and equipment to take care of your own emergencies. For example, you might get separated from your buddy, wind up paired with a stranger on a dive boat, or your buddy could be busy taking photos and you don't want to waste dive time waiting for him. PADI has a new specialty course designed for divers like you… Self-Reliant Diver.
Self-Reliant diving is a collection of skills and attitudes that allow a diver to undertake certain kinds of dives alone or with limited buddy support. Self-reliant divers use redundant gear, such as two cutting tools, two computers, two masks, redundant breathing systems, redundant lights, and so forth. Just having the gear and jumping into the water with it is only part of the story. Self-Reliant diving is about discipline as much as anything else. Because you have limited or zero support from a buddy, dive planning and correct execution of the plan are critical. There can be no shortcuts taken in planning or gearing up, or technique.
Even if you never plan to dive alone, being able to safely handle your own emergencies certainly is a valuable set of skills to have. It will make you more confident, you'll be safer overall and more relaxed in the water as a result. There are several diving situations in which separation from your buddy is likely or planned or in which you may want to rely on your own skills rather than those of your buddy.
During the knowledge development portion of the course, we'll cover dive planning in detail, including teaching you how to determine your Surface Air Consumption (SAC) rate, so that you can later go take air consumption measurements to calculate it. We'll also cover how to use your SAC rate to calculate gas requirements for a dive planned to a specified depth and time. You'll learn to plan your dive so that you begin your ascent with a sufficient breathing gas reserve to ascend safely and to allow for the unforeseen. Underwater problem-solving is also a focus area. Mask issues, air supply problems, entanglements, currents, getting lost, BCD malfunctions are all items that will be covered. Once we're in the water, you'll do three dives. Some of the skills are:
Your third dive will actually be a fully self-reliant dive. You'll be in the water with your instructor and the rest of the class, but you're expected to handle all aspects of dive planning and execution completely on your own. The rest of us will back you up if needed, but the name of the game for this dive is Self-Reliance and Self-confidence.
When you finish the PADI Self-Reliant Diver course, you will have come a long way and learned a lot about diving and about yourself. You'll be more confident, and you'll truly be able to take care of yourself in the underwater environment.