Become A Master Scuba Diver (MSD)
As an Open Water, Advanced, or even Rescue Diver, you may be wondering what more you can do to enhance your skills without having to achieve professional status. Behold, the Master Scuba Diver; the best of the best when it comes down to recreational diving.
The prerequisites to get here mean a fair bit of training lies ahead of you, but once you make the leap you join an elite club reserved for fewer than 2% of divers. First off, you need a minimum of 50 logged dives. You also need to be certified to at least Rescue Diver level and have at least five PADI specialties, aka ‘specs’, under your belt.
Why do the MSD Program?
This may sound like an obvious one but it’s true: the more you dive, the more experienced you become. You will gain familiarity with diving in different conditions, having different dive buddies, and will be placed in all sorts of exciting scenarios (some of which will get your heart racing for sure, if you like an adrenaline rush!)
You wouldn’t be much of a master if you’re not able to handle yourself and others safely under the water, which is exactly why a prerequisite is to be at least a Rescue Diver.
The EFR (first aid) and rescue course combination is the perfect way to learn about in-water emergencies and how to spot problems in other divers as they happen.
– Be The Best
There is much learning curve along the way to becoming an MSD. What with all the specs your do and dives racking up in your logbook, you soon become that knowledgeable diving wizard your buddies can only aspire to be. People will come to you for answers and look up to you as a higher-ranking diver, but this won’t be a problem what with all that experience you’ve got!
– You Choose Your Goal
It might get boring if you’re doing the same dive sites day-in day-out, with no real purpose while you’re down there. Don’t forget why you started diving in the first place. So mix things up a bit, choose some specialties you like the look of and re-kindle your passion for diving by setting some new goals!
What ‘Specs’ Should I Do?
This one is up to you! Koh Tao has some perfect options for you to select from, so here is a breakdown of a couple of favourites:
Diving on a wreck is like taking a step into the past. This doesn’t necessarily mean a ship, but also cars, airplanes and other vessels. There are a couple of wrecks around Koh Tao, but the most popular one by far is the HTMS Sattakut.
A WWII ship built in the US, donated to the Thai Navy and sunk in 2011 for a recreational wreck dive. Taking the PADI Wreck Diver specialty will teach you how to survey and map the site, using reels and lines to penetrate the wreck and advanced techniques to avoid kicking up silt or destroying the wreck itself.
There’s something mysterious about the deep ocean that lures us in and makes us want to explore it further. Large pelagic creatures such as whale sharks roam deeper waters, and there are wrecks around Koh Tao which lie below 30m.
During the Deep Diver specialty course you’ll learn how to deal with nitrogen narcosis and improve your gas supply management skills. Whatever your reasons for wanting to go deeper, getting certified to confidently dive to 40m will really expand the dive sites you can visit.
Do you like diving deep? Do you wish you could stay down there for longer without busting your decompression limits? If the answer to these is yes then this is the spec for you. In the diving world, the word Nitrox specifically refers to a gas blend of oxygen and nitrogen with a higher percentage of oxygen than regular air (21%).
In short, the reduced nitrogen in the breathing gas means it’s absorbed into your body less than if you were breathing regular air, thus extending your bottom time and reducing the possibility of decompression sickness.
The great thing about our Nitrox course is that it can be combined with other courses and specialities. If you’re tight for time when travelling by Koh Tao then consider this option. Not only will you save time but also money; our Nitrox upgrade is offered at a discounted rate!
Not everyone likes to be that guy at the front of a dive team with a compass, not really knowing where they’re going. And if you often find yourself wondering where you are under the water and then surfacing 500m from the boat, then the Navigation specialty can certainly help.
You will learn techniques to estimate distance underwater and how to navigate shapes more complicated than a basic square. You will also be shown how to use reference points on the surface to mark the location of, and relocate a submerged object. Now you can be that guy at the front with the awesome compass skills!
– Equipment Specialist
Sometimes a missing o-ring can be the difference between making a dive and missing it. Of course, diving is always better than sitting on the boat while your buddies are under the water, so if you have a minor equipment failure, it’s always better to be prepared to handle it.
Your gear probably cost you a lot of money so it pays to learn how to properly take care of it. You’ll learn all about routine maintenance for your BCD and regulator and minor fixes such as o-rings and fin straps.
– Peak Performance Buoyancy
Want to look like a pro underwater? The Peak Performance Buoyancy course will enable you to master your hovers in different positions (even upside down!!) improve your air consumption and even teach you how to swim backwards. After this you will looked like an experienced skilled diver gliding around the dive site effortlessly, having longer dives due to using less air and find it easier to observe the marine life especially the macro critters. This course takes the buoyancy skills you learned on your Open water course to a whole new level.
Seeing the underwater world in a light as you drop into a secret nocturnal marine world should heighten your curiousness. The dive sites will seem completely different to the normal day time dives as nocturnal organisms emerge and day time creatures retire for the night.
During the course you will be shown techniques on how to navigate at night, correct entry and exiting techniques while also monitoring how the animals behaviour differ at night. The thought of night diving can be spooky but if you are wondering what happens down there after the sun goes down then taking the Night Diver speciality is the one for you.
You have to ask yourself, “why would I NOT become a Master Scuba Diver?” After all, you will have all the knowledge, training, experience and most importantly confidence to be a safe diver that any other diving buddy would want to be with.
Author: Lee Pizzala (PADI DM #380258)