Open Water Diving
Being a European Diving Family you have to think carefully about what first experience you want your children to have in the open water. For me having grown up in cold murky coastal water it was an easily decision to make, I wanted my children to feel warm, safe and be awe struck by the colours of vibrant marine life. We were lucky enough at this time to be invited by good friends to spend a week in Hawaii. This presented the perfect opportunity for the girls to try their first open water dive aged 10 and 12 in a tropical surrounding.
Tips for diving with Children in the Open Water:
1) Plan your dive carefully with the instructor, and dive your plan. For me it was more important that we had a 1:1 dive instructor ratio so that the girls felt safe, and had our full attention. If this means hiring a private dive professional rather than going with a busy dive club, then always opt for the plan that puts your child first.
2) Make sure your Childrens Dive Equipment fits them well and they themselves are comfortable with it. Diving with children in the open water is an exciting experience but remember they will be nervous. So take the time before the dive to make sure they feel comfortable with their wetsuit, reg, bcd, mask and fins. Children can panic easily if their mask fogs up, so it's better to be prepared and make them as calm as possible, before the fun begins.
3) Always Do a good Buddy check and review basic skills before descending. Children respond well to acronyms that are meaningful. BWRAF - Big Whales Really Are Fun - this is the padi buddy check that we use. Remind your dive buddy of what to do when they experience a leaking mask, and the hand signals for looking at their air gauge and computer.
4) Monitoring their depth and air gauge throughout the dive. Children especially get excited when in the open water and sometimes forget to monitor how deep they are going and the amount of air they have left in their tanks. As adults we must help them to communicate this vital information to us by reminding them with hand signals and by sticking close to them in case we feel they are losing buoyancy control.