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Doing a refresher course gives you the chance to rehears all the required skills. After the skill rehearsal you start thinking as a diver again! For the diver having changed his dive gear, these sessions allow you to build confidence in the use of your newly acquired gear while practicing with your instructor.
If a diver was certified Open Water but made no other dives after the course, then it would be sensible to do a refresher if the next dive is anything more than a few months later. For a diver with less than 20 logged dives then 6-12 months out of the water would warrant a tune-up of some description.
A good diver should be able to use their own judgement to determine whether or not they would benefit from a thorough refresher programme, or just need an easy check-dive to get themselves back into the water. If you’ve been out of the water for any length of time then some form of refresher is eminently sensible.
In certain circumstances, absolutely. The life of the diver themselves, other divers they might be diving with and, indeed, their guides and instructors might depend on their competence in the water. One diver’s inability to perform basic dive skills can quickly lead to a dangerously unsafe set of circumstances. A diver with poor buoyancy control and mask clearing skills is an accident waiting to happen – perhaps making an out-of-control ascent in an area with heavy boat traffic, meaning the guide has to leave the group to assist the panicked diver, thereby putting both themselves and the group at risk. If the diver had been through some remediation prior to getting in the water with other divers, that scenario might have never occurred in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, some judgment should be applied by dive centres when it comes to either recommending or insisting that a diver take a refresher before joining the regular dive trips. Asking somebody with 5,000 dives and 20 years of experience to do a refresher after a 12-month absence from the water would be a bit silly, but then somebody with 5,000 dives and 20 years’ experience would probably ask to do a check dive of some description before heading out to more challenging sites. Not a refresher, exactly, but a reacquaintance with the water.
Rather than place the decision in the hands of Ocean Encounters, a responsible diver should know their limitations and seek to review their skills as necessary. It could be argued, therefore, that a good diver would make a scuba refresher a mandatory undertaking for themselves.
Source: Mark “Crowley” Russell, Editor, Dive Magazine