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I've been scuba diving for several years, but it's been a little while now since the last time. I last dove in the summer of 2014, and I'm traveling to Chile next month and am hoping to go diving there.

I have my PADI Open Water and Adventures in Diving books I can reference, but I'd rather not re-read them in their entirety :) While I feel capable of just jumping back into diving, I'd prefer to be confident I'm not forgetting anything.

What are the key points I should make sure I'm comfortable with before getting back in the water? What should I practice? What should I do when I arrive (I'll be renting most of my gear rather than bring it with me, if that matters).

  • Is this practise as in fitness? Or in hand signals, etc? :) – Aravona Jan 15 '16 at 7:55
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    Hand signals, equipment checks, etc. come to mind, but anything someone who hasn't dove in a little while should cover is fair game. – dimo414 Jan 15 '16 at 8:02
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Diving is first and foremost a PRACTICAL skill so the best way to practise is to do it. Yes you can read through the books to refresh your theory, but this will not refresh your ability to dive. But it can be helpful in reminding you about small things you may have forgotten. Practising hand signals can be good, but these we always confirm before dives as different divers from different places and different organizations might do dive signs a bit different.

My suggestion is that you go for your first dive with a Divemaster/Instructor or very experienced diver on a nice easy shallow dive so you can just work through setting up gear, getting used to the feel of the gear as you swim (achieving Neutral buoyancy), breathing slowly and deeply in and out without holding your breath.

Also remember to practise things like mask clearing, regulator recovery and clearing as these are things that happen more often and should be easy and effortless to do.

If you been out of diving for a long time with very few dives it is worthwhile to do a whole refresher course with a qualified instructor to refresh all the skills you learned. This should be done in a pool (or very clear, calm, shallow ocean) followed up by a nice easy ocean dive.

On the theory side I would recommend going through those adventure dives that you might be interested in doing and that have a bit more to them to think about: DEEP, NIGHT, WRECK, etc.

  • Always start with easy dives if you go on a trip after a long break from diving. Never just go straight into deep cold long dives. – AquaAlex Jan 19 '16 at 14:37
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    +1, but OP also needs to relearn how to achieve neutral buoyancy, which, for me anyway, was the hardest elementary skill to learn. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jan 19 '16 at 19:46
  • it is worth noting for the OP that they might have a chance to practice some skills before he even leaves for his trip. Check your area for a Local Dive Shop that offers Open Water Diver lessons. Often times they will offer refresher nights at a local pool. This will give you a chance to go through the process of setting up gear as well as practice skills. Plus you will have an opportunity to talk with their instructors about what you might need for the trip. – Malco Feb 19 '16 at 14:32
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Breathing technique is bar far the most important. Remember to keep your airways open at all times during descent and ascent, but most importantly during ascent. During normal dives you want to keep you ascent slower than the rising bubbles, while in a near continuous exhale, in deep dives you slow the ascent to half the speed of the air bubbles while exhaling.

An air embolism is a SCUBA divers worst nightmare come true.

  • that is such an old way of trying to control ascent rates. Rather invest in a dive computer with an audible alarm to tell you when you are ascending to fast – AquaAlex Jan 26 '16 at 10:31
  • Gadgets break, bubbles accents reliably. You should know how to breath and how to ascend without a gadget telling you how. Same way you should know how to navigate if your gps breaks. – Escoce Mar 15 '16 at 0:33
  • OMG! Dive computers rarely break and they are not considered gadgets anymore, you are aware we are living in the information age and not dark ages anymore? And not everyone dives 100+ times per year to be able to control their breathing and ascend in such a way. – AquaAlex Mar 16 '16 at 7:24
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Skim-read the books again, answer some of the review questions again. This will remind you of the theory. However, books are no substitute for getting wet and running through the skills.

All dive shops / schools will be glad to take you on a refresher dive in a closed environment to go over the skills - rigging the kit, checking the kit, buoyancy, trim, reg out, mask off, descents, ascents, etc. It's in the interest of the shop/school to make sure that you're feeling competent again.

The word of warning is that it's said you loose a "level" every year. The problem is the mind (ego?) remembers how one used to do things and doesn't adjust to the new reality. So take it gently for the first few dives whilst you remember just how great diving is and reflect on why you left it so long!

Diving's like riding a bike; it comes back pretty quickly. Have fun.

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