It’s just another course right? Another cert card? An opportunity for the dive school to make a bit more money? Well for us it’s not quite like that at all. For one diving isn’t going to make you a millionaire here!
There are different reasons why people do courses. The main reason we are given for people taking the AOW is because they would like to do a liveaboard and they need the cert card to get onto the course. But there’s a great opportunity here to develop your diving and move your skills and experience forward.
The AOW consists of five dives. Deep and Navigation are required and you can select the other three. I often recommend PPB for the first course (Peak Performance Buoyancy) because buoyancy is the most important skill for diving. Starting with this gives us the opportunity to continue to work on buoyancy and it’s great to see a huge improvement with students as they work through the rest of the dives.
The navigation dive is always interesting as the focus on the compass often means students initially forget to consider their buoyancy and their speed so it’s a secondary learning point to review buoyancy during this dive.
The wreck dive is a popular choice as many people are drawn to the stunning wrecks both here in the UK and abroad, and this is one of the most popular specialities that students complete. Dry suit is another popular option. I enjoy the Search and Recovery dive as it contains a lot of different skills such as the knots. The search patterns links up the navigation skills and buoyancy again plays a huge part.
I enjoy the AOW. There is no exam element and it’s a step forward in dive skills. It allows students to be in different environments, pushing themselves beyond their current experience in a controlled situation with an instructor to support and develop them. It’s time to work on the areas you need to develop alongside the required elements for the course.
To get the most out of the course ensure you’re as self reflective as you can be with your instructor. Listen to feedback but also contribute with how you are feeling and what you’d like to develop. We run small groups only and usually only two people on an AOW course so it’s five dives for focused coaching time and students can get so much out of the two days. So it may be a cert card for some to get them onto that liveaboard but it’s also a brilliant opportunity to move you forward with your skills which will allow you to enjoy your diving even more than you did before!