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Solo Diver October 10, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Training.
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Scuba Diving International, commonly known as SDI, is the only agency that I know of that has a solo diver certification. SDI also has a well-known technical diving sister company called TDI, and the two agencies share a web site.

I’ve signed up for this course, after receiving an offer I couldn’t refuse from Brad at my local dive shop, and have reviewed the entire book, the “SDI Solo Diving Manual”. It is full of sensible advice, and sits about 1/3 of the way between normal recreational diving practices and the technical diving techniques I learned in the IANTD Advanced Nitrox Course and the DSAT Tec Deep Course. The bottom line is a higher level of dive planning – including gas planning, emphasis on self-control as a prerequisite to self-reliance, and redundant equipment including a secondary air source, reel and SMB, and a spare mask. I carry a reel, SMB and spare mask on almost all dives, solo or otherwise.

While I feel the content of the course was pretty good,  I was surprised by the number of errors in the book, ranging from poor use of commas (placing a comma between the subject and the verb, for instance) to mathematical errors (Conversion of metres to atmospheres by adding 1 to the depth and dividing by 10). At one point it casually introduces the concept of deep stops by recommending them to be added to the US Navy tables (good idea) without mentioning that the stop should be added to bottom time, as the Navy tables require a 30 foot/min ascent rate. Not that I would ever use the Navy tables unless I was in a real hurry to get out of the water for safety reasons. I’m not a super fit somewhat expendable 25 year-old with a recompression chamber available at all times.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the course, and will write to SDI with my list of errata so they can hopefully do a better job with the next edition. One thing I like is that I have all the equipment I need already.



1. Tara - October 19, 2009


– a friend of mine (PADI Staff Instr.) has written a Distinct Specialty for PADI titled “Self Reliant Diver”
The materials we wrote are really interesting and his course was very good too.
Lemme know if you are interested in taking a look.


deepstop - October 20, 2009

Hi Tara,

I wasn’t aware of that specialty, but that also goes for most of the distinctive specialties. They seem like an interesting but not very well-promoted idea and I think PADI should promote them more than they do.

It would be interesting to compare it to the SDI course.



2. tara - October 21, 2009

i havent been able to find a complete list of the available PADI Distinct Specialties! just for interest sake that is.

I can send you a copy of the .pdf


3. SDI Comes to Town « Chronicle of an older diver - March 17, 2011

[…] to PADI Tec Deep mid way through. All my certs except Open Water Diver are PADI, although I did the SDI Solo Diver course but the card is lost in process […]


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