It was not until 1999 that solo diving was formally entered into the certification roll by SDI. Although PADI, NAUI and other agencies have not included this type of diving certificate until now, solo diving has slowly gained acceptance among diving enthusiasts around the world.
Obviously, it is one of the most debated topics in the diving community.
What is solo diving? Should PADI or NAUI sanction solo diving? What does SDI require for you to be considered for a solo diver course?
Solo Diving Defined
The British Sub-Aqua Club defines solo diving as the “Plan to conduct all or part of a dive without a buddy”. Simply put, it is diving by yourself.
From one aspect, advocates of solo diving often regard diving instructors as “solo divers” because they dive with novice students who have little or no experience and who do not have enough skills to rescue other divers should an emergency arise.
Why Dive Solo?
Diving alone is strongly discouraged by most diving certification agencies, especially for those who do not have a dive master certificate such as a Master Diver certification from PADI or Master Scuba Diver training certificate from NAUI.
Unpopular as it is, many experienced divers who have exceptional skills in self-sufficiency opt to dive solo for the following reasons:
Focus. Consider the case of underwater photographers and videographers. Some if not most of them prefer to dive unaccompanied so that they can focus more on their mission and have a wider prospect of capturing outstanding images without relying on a buddy. Chances are, with two or more divers swimming around, underwater life are more likely to be disturbed.
Independence. The buddy system has become a standard through the years as it is purposely meant to give aid to another diver in case of distress or emergency.
On the other hand, it unconsciously fosters interdependency among dive buddies which, for most solo divers, could distract their diving pleasures.
SDI Solo Diving
Many have speculated whether or not solo diving certification is a marketing approach of SDI. The hope is, however, that it will be adopted by other agencies such as PADI and NAUI.
Let’s take a look at the SDI solo diving program. To qualify for the course, one must meet the following requirements:
- Must be at least 21 years of age.
- Must have logged at least 100 dives.
- Must have a signed medical release to guarantee that a diver is in excellent physical condition at the time of the course.
- Must be a certified Advanced Diver.
The SDI solo diving course includes 8 hours of class and 2 dives. Among other things that are comprehensively covered in the class are the advantages and practical use of backup systems along with the use of other specialized sets of equipment which are regarded as “must haves” in solo diving.
We are often told in almost every non-SDI diving class not to dive alone, as we are posed to hazards when diving without a buddy.
But for solo divers, the technological advances in specialized equipment and backup systems should be enough to guarantee a diver’s safety along with the skills needed to solo dive.
Speaking of safety: Diving is truly unsafe IF you dive untrained; that is why we attend scuba classes and learn the ABCs of diving. Diving without a buddy is even more unsafe if you are untrained to do solo dives.
Whatever reasons you may have, venturing into solo diving still rests on your individual decision. Make sure, however, that you are prepared if you consider to dive solo.