by Jeff Virgo
(Peekskill, NY, USA)
I am a little concerned about my buoyancy control and what to tip for my certification dives.
I'm taking my 4 open water dives for certification in Bermuda and using a new wetsuit (which is more buoyant than a used suit). I will also be in salt water which is more buoyant than the fresh water I am used to.
I am afraid of messing up my certification by having a problem with buoyancy control.
I would be very interested, not to mention very grateful for any other words of wisdom/encouragement you can offer.
The referral dives over 2 days with 2 tank dives each day is about $400.00. Should I go with the percentage you suggested or is tipping a different rate for referral dives?
Again, thank you for your time and expertise.
Let me start out by saying your concerns are very common. I remember having them myself when I started diving.
So rest assured you are not alone and try not to be too anxious over the certification dives (easier said than done, I know).
As far as the buoyancy problem, the best thing to do is to talk to your instructor before you start diving.
Explain that it is a new wetsuit (I'm not sure if you had a used wetsuit or didn't use one at all; nevertheless, the concept is the same) and that you are used to diving in fresh water.
The divemaster is very used to (or should be) making adjustments for weights in students and experienced divers alike.
I see this question being asked of divemasters all the time - how much extra weight should I wear to compensate for: new wetsuit/wearing wetsuit for the first time/diving in salt water, etc.
That is what the divemaster is there for and that is what he is getting paid for so definitely talk to him. He can make adjustments from the amount of weight you were used to wearing and the new conditions you will be diving under.
Most divemasters carry extra weight with them during a dive in case a diver has a problem with buoyancy. It is easy to hand you a weight underwater which you can stick on your pocket during the dive if you are underweighted.
It is common for new divers to have problems with buoyancy control since that skill really requires experience to nail down so try not to sweat it too much.
As far as the tipping for certification dives question, that's a little trickier. There is no right or wrong here. I can only give you my opinion.
First, certification dives are different than regular pleasure dives. And the price you are paying reflects that. You are paying for a teacher and the teacher is earning more than a divemaster going out on a normal 2 tank dive with certified divers (at least he should be - and I think it is safe for you to assume that he is).
My initial thought is that you do not have to tip for certification dives for the reasons stated above. I for the life of me cannot remember if we tipped during our certification dives or not - just too long ago and my memory is not that good!
It really all comes down to you and what you want to do. I will say that I think most people do not tip for certification dives (seeing how few people tip on regular dives, I don't think this is too far off the mark).
If you do want to tip, I wouldn't go overboard. You are paying alot already. If the instructor was outstanding and you were very happy with him/her, and want to tip, I would tip in the $5/tank range.
Again, there is no right or wrong, just see how you feel after the dives.
Good luck with your certification. I hope you love diving as much as we do. It opens up a whole new world to you.
Please let us know how it goes - we would love to hear all about it.
Above all - Relax and Have Fun!
Hope this helped.
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