RAINBOW DIVERSNORTHERN CALIFORNIA
 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What is your typical member like?

We don't have any one type of member. We are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, straight, and everything in between. Our ages range from early 20s to early 60s. We come from many different backgrounds, but we all share one thing: a love of diving.


What does the club do?

Our primary focus is on providing diving opportunities for club members. We offer monthly boat and shore diving opportunities at local dive sites, as well as extended trips to destinations all over the world. Our members instructors offer classes and we hold meetings at which our members socialize and have a lot of fun. For more information, visit the Trips/Events page.


Where do you dive?

Northern California has some of the most beautiful diving anywhere in the world. We are fortunate to have the only giant kelp forests in North America right here in our own backyard, and we take every opportunity to spend time there. Our local diving is done primarily in nearby Monterey, with occasional trips to North Coast locations such as Gerstle Cove. We also sponsor a number of dive trips every year to give our members opportunities to experience different kinds of diving. Recent destinations have included Alaska, Roatan, Saba, Cozumel, the Turks & Caicos, the Galapagos, the Sea of Cortez, the Dominican Republic, British Columbia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, The Red Sea, The Maldives, Thailand, and the Southern California Channel Islands. For more information on local diving and dive travel, visit the Trips/Events page.


Isn't the ocean in Northern California freezing?

One of the big misconceptions about Northern California diving is that it's terribly cold and difficult. While our waters certainly aren't tropical, they're great for diving because cooler temperatures mean more nutrients in the water and, as a result, more life for us to look at. The water temperatures we dive in here average about 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people are fine in a 7mm wetsuit, while a lot of us choose to dive in drysuits.


Do I need to be able to swim in order to scuba dive?

Although being a competent swimmer helps you in diving, you do not have to be a great swimmer to dive. You will be asked to pass a basic swimming test during your Open Water certification class, so you should be able to comfortably swim 12 or so laps of a standard-sized swimming pool and be able to float for 10-15 minutes.


I'm not a certified diver. Can you help?

We certainly can. We have several members who are certified scuba instructors with various teaching agencies, and they offer everything from entry-level Open Water classes to professional level classes for those interested in working in the dive industry. They occasionally offer NCRD-only classes, and even when they don't have an NCRD class scheduled they'll be happy to include you in one of their regular classes. Contact us who should be able to put you in touch an instructor.


Do I really have to be certified to go diving?

If you can find someone to rent you the gear, you can try diving on your own, but that’s unlikely to happen; no reputable shop or dive operator is going to let you go diving with them without seeing that you have a certification card (also called a c-card). Although diving is a very safe activity when done correctly, it's something you should be trained to do before you try it on your own. You will definitely not be able to dive with NCRD without proper certification.


Who certifies divers?

There are several different agencies that train instructors to provide dive education, including the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Scuba Schools International (SSI), the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), and the YMCA. These groups all offer essentially the same type of educational programs, with some variation between them. Instructors certified by these agencies offer classes through dive shops, through community centers such as the YMCA, and sometimes on an independent basis. Please visit this page for links to major dive agencies.


Does it matter which agency my certification comes from?

No. Certifications from all the major certifying agencies are recognized all over the world, and wherever you go to dive your certification will be accepted. Additionally, because most agencies have similar educational structures, you can usually receive your initial instruction from one agency and then, if you like, receive further training from a different agency. For example, you can receive your entry-level (Open Water) certification from a PADI instructor and later take an Advanced Open Water or Stress & Rescue course from an SSI instructor without having to  repeat your initial training with the new agency.

The most important factor to consider when choosing where to receive your dive education is not the agency providing it but the instructor who provides it. An agency is just a name, but your relationship with your instructor will play a large part in the experience you have in learning to dive. It's important to learn how to dive from someone with whom you feel comfortable.


What kind of certifications are there?

There are many different levels of scuba certification. The most basic is called Open Water certification. Upon successful completion of your Open Water certification, you are considered skilled enough to go diving without being accompanied by an instructor. After completing an Open Water class you can then go on to take many other exciting classes, including Advanced Open Water, Stress & Rescue Diver, and numerous specialty classes such as Night Diving, Wreck Diving, Ice Diving, Deep Diving, and more.


How do I get my Open Water certification?

You earn your Open Water certification (c-card) by completing an Open Water class offered by any of the certifying agencies. An Open Water class consists of classroom sessions in which you cover topics related to diving, pool sessions during which you practice scuba skills, and ocean dives during which you demonstrate your proficiency in those skills. Your Open Water c-card is issued after you complete your ocean dives successfully. The length of time it takes to complete an Open Water class varies from two weekends to several weeks depending on the format.


Do I have to do my certification dives in local (cold) water)?

We recommend that you do your full certification in local water, particularly if you want to join NCRD on any of our local dive outings. However, most agencies offer "referral" certifications, which means you can complete your classroom and pool training here and do your ocean dives in another location if you're planning a trip somewhere warm.


I am physically challenged. Can I scuba dive?

Diving is a sport that is open to people of widely varying physical abilities. Although there are certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy and some respiratory conditions, that may preclude you from diving, most physical differences can be accommodated. Several of our NCRD-affiliated instructors are certified through the Handicapped Scuba Association to provide dive training to people with disabilities including hearing loss and deafness, blindness and limited sight, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and limb loss. You can also contact the Divers Alert Network (DAN) for any questions related to diving medicine.


How much does getting certified cost?

We like to compare scuba diving to sports such as golf and skiing, which are also equipment-reliant. Although you can certainly spend a great deal of money buying a lot of scuba gear, you don't need to break the bank to go diving. The cost of getting certified varies depending on where you take your Open Water class, but in general classes run around $300. In addition to class costs, you may be asked to purchase some items of basic gear for your personal use, such as fins, a mask and snorkel, gloves and booties.


What does it cost to go diving with NCRD after I'm certified?

Our dive outings vary in cost from inexpensive shore dives at Pt. Lobos State Reserve ($10) and moderately priced boat outings in Monterey ($75-$115) to more expensive trips such as our annual Channel Islands trip ($400-$600) and extended dive vacations ($1,000-$3,000). We usually offer something for every budget.


How do I join?

You can join NCRD on either as an Individual or couple. For complete information about joining, visit the Membership page.


I still have some questions. Whom can I talk to?

We have a whole team of Board Members and volunteers who are happy to answer any questions you might have. Please email us with any questions and we will be happy to assist you.

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