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Who Should Take the PADI Self-Reliant Diver Specialty?

The buddy system is key when it comes to safe scuba diving, but the PADI self-reliant diver specialty teaches divers how to handle emergencies on their own.

From the first day of our Open Water courses, instructors emphasize the importance of the buddy system. We teach new students to never dive solo, but experienced divers might wish to dive alone. At the very least, they may want to learn to rely on themselves in an emergency. These desires led to the creation of the PADI Self-Reliant Diver specialty, which is both challenging and fun.

Who should take this course?

PADI Self-Reliant Diver is designed for experienced divers, as the minimum requirement is an Advanced Open Water certification and 100 logged dives. The philosophy of this course is twofold. Divers will learn the skills to dive solo should circumstances warrant it, and/or to sharpen their dive skills to make them a stronger dive buddy.

Experienced divers or dive professionals may face several circumstances where self-reliance is necessary. Professional as well as amateur underwater photographers or videographers often spend much of their dives alone, following behind other divers and wildlife to shoot images. They cannot always rely on other divers in the group to help in case of an emergency; they may not even have an officially designated buddy. If you’re not a professional, you may still prefer to dive alone occasionally. Or, you may have been paired with a buddy you don’t know.

The course emphasizes self-reliance in both situations with and without a dive buddy. Even if you’re not planning to dive solo, this course will improve your diving skills and make you more self-confident in a variety of situations.

What does the PADI Self-Reliant Diver course cover?

The course goes over the theory of self-reliance and self-rescue in diving, and what skills to work on to improve in those areas. Other topics include redundancy equipment, solo-dive planning, gas management and problem management.

As for equipment, the idea is to work on redundancy and self-reliance. You will need to use equipment such as a redundant gas source — a pony bottle, for example — as well as a redundant dive computer or time and depth devices, redundant signaling devices, and a back-up mask.

The training dives require mastery of skills including using a redundant gas source, buoyancy skills, DSMB deployment and out-of-air scenarios. The course also emphasizes navigation skills. Each of the three training dives has specific requirements.

Where can I take the course?

This course used to be a Distinctive PADI specialty, but has recently become a standard specialty course. Only those certified as a Self-Reliant Specialty instructors can teach the class, so it might not be available at all PADI dive centers. Check with your local center if you’d like to take the class. Even if you never plan to dive alone, this course will improve your current abilities and almost certainly make you a better diver.