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Not a PADI Dry Suit Course October 31, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Training.
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As mentioned in my Rescue Diver experience, I started my reintroduction to diving and dive training in Canada with Scuba 2000 in Richmond Hill, Ontario, about half an hour’s drive away from my house, but eventually I gave up on them. My experience with the Dry Suit course was the reason. After the frigid waters I encountered during the open water training for Rescue Diver, I decided that I wasn’t going to last long diving in Canada in wet suits. Call me a softie but I like my comforts. A dry suit will extend the range of weather conditions that can be realistically dived in, and getting too cold on a dive not only reduces enjoyment, but impairs one’s performance.

So having had a reasonable experience with them on Rescue Diver, I signed up for dry suit training. I didn’t have a dry suit but was in the process of arranging a loan from a friend. So when I signed up, I asked whether I needed a dry suit to take the course, and they told me that I wouldn’t. So when I showed up they asked me if I’d brought my dry suit, and I said “no – I was told I wouldn’t need it”. So we did the classroom session but the pool training was delayed until I could bring one.

Several days before the course was to start I received a phone call telling me to come in and get the course book. So once I got home from work on the train, I got in my car and drove the half hour to the shop to pick up the book. When I got there, the shop owner, Alec Pierce, was behind the counter. I told him I’d come to pick up the book and he said they were all out. I then said I’d received a call from them to come get it, had told them I would, driven half an hour to get there, and was surprised that they didn’t have the very thing they’d asked me to come and get. He replied by saying that people come from all over Ontario to his shop, so half an hour was no big deal. Obviously his ego far outweighs his customer service skills. Simply saying “Sorry” and a commitment to hold the next available book for me would have been fine.

The next course was held on a weeknight. Once we were through the classroom (my second time), the instructor wanted to call it a night, instead of going through the promised pool session. The students more or less insisted we continue on, so we got ourselves ready for the pool. My friend’s dry suit was an older 7mm Neoprene suit. You don’t see these any more because they are incredibly buoyant. It also had a leak just below the right knee, and was a bit tight, as he is a little shorter than I am. Nevertheless, I fit in reasonably well.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the water was the crushing force of the water on my toes, even at a depth of four feet. This remained uncomfortable throughout the dive. I also needed a huge amount of weight to be able to complete the training. The instructor put second weight belt on my which was lopsided and uncomfortable. I’d never done a fin pivot before (it wasn’t part of my open water, advanced or rescue courses) and trying to learn it in a hot pool inside a thick dry suit, crushed toes, and unbalanced weights was extremely challenging. Somehow we got through it though.

I never went back to Scuba 2000. They think they’re professionally run but they seem to have forgotten about the customer, or maybe are used to having people so young that they can get away with pushing them around. Once you’re my age your tolerance for BS goes way, way, down. I completed my dry suit course the following year at my current establishment, and also bought my dry suit there, along with all my other dive equipment and training. Just to be clear I had no issue with the instructors I met, they were fine. It was the indifference of the shop staff to my needs that caused my problems.

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