Sidemount, Advanced Wreck and Technical Diving Course FAQs
Welcome to the diving course FAQs page for sidemount, advanced wreck, and technical diving courses in Subic Bay with Andy Davis! As a prospective student, you may have a lot of questions about my courses. I’m here to help! Here’s a summary of some of the questions I’ve answered on this page:
Different diving agencies may have similar syllabi, but the specificity of minimum standards can vary widely. Higher instructor and student certification standards ensure better training results.
There tend to be only small differences between the skill syllabus of sidemount or technical diving courses at comparable/equivalent levels in different agencies. However, the minimum performance standards required of students can vary greatly, between one agency and another.
Higher minimum performance standards ensure that every student attains their certification with a consistently higher and more reliable level of proven competency. I currently provide diving certifications through RAID – as I recognize that this agency has striven to apply performance standards far above the norm. Having already taught for several different certification agencies, I feel that delivering courses through RAID offers my students a superior training experience.I create skilled divers, not ‘minimum standard’ clones and every certification issued has to be earned by the student.
What most experienced technical divers would state is that the choice of an instructor is far more critical than that of a certification agency. It is the instructor who shapes your course – through the culmination of their breadth of experience, mindset, teaching ability, and motivation to produce quality results.
It is ideal to supply your own equipment, as you will finish the course with your dive gear optimally configured and ready to go.
About 80% of students provide their own kit for sidemount and technical diving courses. Some prefer to invest in their own equipment ahead of a course and complete their training in their own kit. Others prefer to select and purchase equipment once they’ve completed training and know exactly what they want.
It’s not typically a problem to arrange for a supporting dive center to provide appropriate rental equipment – however, the benefit of conducting training with your own training is considerable. Many of the skills and practices in the sidemount and technical courses are aimed to develop equipment familiarity and ingrained responses. Obviously, if you subsequently dive using differently configured equipment, then you will have to ‘re-learn’ or adapt what you have previously been taught.
Recreational sidemount isn’t a big investment in equipment. There are a number of commercial harness/BCD systems available to buy at approximately the same cost as a medium-high priced backmount BCD. Other than that, you’ll just need an extra regulator 1st stage and be prepared to fit some different length hoses on.
There is a distinct benefit in having your own sidemount equipment when you attend sidemount training; as the initial set-up, and sometimes modification, of the rig is the key foundation to diving sidemount effectively. Getting your own rig configured with the help of an expert eye will save you many hours, and less than optimal dives, doing it for yourself afterward.
I am happy to consult with future students to help them select and configure their own sidemount rigs in preparation for training. This is part of my service.
In contrast, technical diving is expensive – be under no illusions. If you are serious enough to make the necessary financial and time commitment to undertake technical-level training – then you certainly must be prepared to make a substantial investment in equipment also… either before, or after, your course.
If you are considering the purchase of technical diving gear, please feel welcome to contact me for tips, advice, and guidance. I don’t sell equipment and I’m not on commission from manufacturers either – so don’t fear a ‘hard sell’ approach or advice that may not be in your best interests. Having good quality technical diving equipment, that is suitable for your personal philosophy and diving preferences is a critical factor in successful training. I strive to teach excellent courses and create happy, safe divers – nothing more, nothing less.
The optimal student-to-instructor ratio for advanced dive courses, such as sidemount, wreck, and technical diving, is 3:1.
I never teach more than THREE (3) students per certification class. Group workshops can vary in size – depending on the subject and environment.
I believe that class sizes play an important role in the quality and value of a scuba course – they determine how much attention the instructor can spare for each student, the amount of available ‘practice time’ for skills, and the level of safety supervision that each individual can receive.
In most instances, agency standards permit much larger class sizes for instructors. The only benefit from that is more money for the instructor – sometimes that benefit is shared with students, as a cheaper course, but more often it is not. Either way, the quality and value of the course are diminished.
Value for money in advanced dive training is critical – and a big class simply means that you’ve paid money to be floating around whilst numerous other students demonstrate and repeat their skills. I aim to give all of my students the maximum instructor-student time and attention. That’s a vital component in the process of creating competent and skillful divers.
You can join an existing course or request any other course within available diary dates. Courses are scheduled on a first-come, first-served, basis upon deposit payment for booking.
Once you decided you want to book a training course with me, I need a deposit from you in order to confirm your booking and reserve your place on a course. Diving course bookings are conducted on a first-confirmed, first-served basis. Only when I have received a deposit can I confirm your calendar booking.
The deposit will need to cover 25% of quoted tuition fees.
You can pay a deposit via PayPal, international bank transfer, or Western Union in either $USD or PHP. Balance payment of tuition fees is required at the beginning of the course in cash or electronic payments must have cleared to my account by that date.
Any payments to the supporting dive centers (boat fees, equipment rental, gasses, diving fees, etc) are paid on completion of training. Please confirm with me in advance, for suitable payment methods.
Instructor diving and gas fees, along with travel and accommodation (for courses outside of Subic Bay) are split amongst students. You save money if you bring other students to the course.
Courses are routinely held in Subic Bay, Philippines. Training can also be provided in other international locations, subject to expenses.
I typically schedule courses in Subic Bay, as this is a perfect training location for advanced wreck diving courses. However, if you prefer to arrange training at a more convenient location, please contact me to discuss the requirements. I simply need to ascertain the suitability of dive sites, the quality of supporting dive centers, and travel/accommodation availability.
Diving courses are performance-based. Occasionally, additional days or training dives are required for students to meet the course certification standards.
You pay for the training, but you have to earn the certification. I endeavor to allocate contingency days on most course schedules to anticipate extra remedial training being necessary.
I strongly recommend that students do the same, and reserve 1-2 surplus days after the scheduled end of training and prior to departure. If those days are not needed, you might opt to conduct further training dives anyway, to enjoy some post-course fun dives or to simply relax, dry out and enjoy the non-diving attractions of the area.
I do not charge additional tuition fees for extra remedial training days, within reason and provided the student has (1) arrived for training with the prerequisite skillset, and (2) abided with the Student Learning Agreement (see below) throughout the duration of the course.
Advanced diving courses require a lot of commitment and motivation from both the instructor and the student. Those commitments are often defined in a Student Learning Agreement.
This is the Student Learning Agreement that I have for my diving students:
1) Students should be on-time, prepared, and properly equipped for theory and in-water classes, without performance deterioration from insufficient sleep or hangover. For everyone’s safety, you will not be permitted to dive if hung over or excessively fatigued. Diving equipment should be prepared and ready for use at the designated time. No refund is given for course delays due to poor student timekeeping or the effects of alcohol consumption.
2) Students should behave responsibly. The use of illegal drugs, or prescription medication without an official prescription, is prohibited during training. The habitual use of narcotics prior to training may also cause course cancellation on diving medical grounds. Substance abuse, violent behavior of any kind, bullying, and any sexually abusive action towards other students or dive staff is not tolerated and will result in course cancellation without a refund.
3) Students should complete designated theory and practical application coursework within agreed timescales. Failure to complete coursework to an acceptable standard and within a scheduled time frame may lead to the need to extend course duration at the student’s expense. This includes designated diving course eLearning pre-study, and homework set during the dive course, where applicable.
4) A positive and motivated mindset is critical for successful training. Students should demonstrate a willingness to learn and a high degree of focus on the knowledge, skills, and procedures they will be taught. Advanced diving training demands a high degree of attention to detail, precision thinking, and superior self-discipline. Student attitude and approach to diving is an assessed criterion for certification in all technical-level diving courses.
5) The dive instructor must be informed, prior to further training, if the student feels unwell or injured. For everyone’s safety, diving students may only participate in training if in good health and fitness. A self-declaration of medical fitness is required for all diving certification course courses. If medical fitness decreases before, or during, training the instructor must be informed and medical authorization from a doctor may be needed before training (re)commences.
6) Students are responsible for all equipment and training aids loaned to them during the course. Diving students are expected to treat rental or loan dive gear with care and respect. Repairs or replacements due to damage caused by negligence or mistreatment will be charged at the appropriate local retail price.
7) Dive safety is everybody’s concern. Students are expected to contribute towards safe diving by following instructor guidance accurately, applying their training to the best of their ability, and taking all reasonable steps to ensure accidents are avoided. Students are expected to be open and frank with the instructor about their personal comfort, stress, and performance levels during training. Students should not allow themselves to be pressurized into doing any task they don’t understand or feel reasonably comfortable attempting.
8) All student-provided equipment must be in full working order, adequately serviced and maintained, and suitable for the task. The final decision on assessing the suitability of equipment remains with the instructor. If in doubt about the suitability of your diving equipment, do consult the instructor in advance.
9) Students must provide diving certification cards and logbooks as verification of prerequisite training and experience at the beginning of dive courses. This website details course-specific diving certification and experience prerequisites, but if in doubt, please contact me to confirm. Courses will be postponed, without a refund of the deposit, if the student cannot verify the necessary training and experience on enrollment.
10) All diving courses begin with a proficiency assessment of training prerequisite competencies. Students are expected to attend courses with sufficient diving proficiency to progress beyond their current certification level. This proficiency includes fundamental diving skills; such as buoyancy, trim, water comfort, situational awareness, and the application of all previously certified procedures and drills.
Failure to demonstrate prerequisite diving proficiency requirements may require course extensions for remedial development to occur or may lead to course postponement. Advanced-level diving courses require a progression of skills and should not be diluted by having to remedy deficits in basic skills. Weak fundamental skills may also pose safety risks in overhead environments and technical-level courses.
11) Students on certification courses should have registered online with DiveRAID, purchased their eLearning course, and completed all required modules, quizzes, and exams. Please contact me if unsure of performance expectations, I can advise on personal preparation methods and/or provide a pre-training clinic to ensure that fundamental and other prerequisite skills are satisfactory.
All of my courses are personally tailored to the preferences of the student/s. That means the pace of training can be altered in respect of intensity, timescale, and demands. Some students prefer to get the training completed as efficiently and quickly as possible, whereas others prefer a more laid-back approach.
A typical course day begins at 8 am with theory and practical application training. There will be a break for lunch. It is normal to do 2 dives per day (max for tech courses), or one extended shallow skills session, with debrief critique and further theory training before ending at 5-6 pm.
If a short timescale is critical, I am more than happy to work/teach theory in the evenings. I can also schedule courses to run on half-days (mornings or afternoons only) for a longer duration; although you will still pay the same daily rate for instructor expenses. When booking, please let me know any scheduling preferences you have.
If you have any questions that are not answered in these sidemount, wreck, and technical diving course FAQs, please do not hesitate to contact me: