FAQ’s Scuba Diving Info

Here’s a few questions we are asked on a regular basis.

What’s it like to scuba dive?

There are about 100 different answers for that. It depends on who you ask and their experience with diving. For some the experience of taking their first breath underwater is unparalleled by anything else. They’re hooked by their first session in a pool.  [/dt_quote]

Is it expensive?

Our course is $425.00 per person for a wetsuit course or $495.00 per person for a dry suit course, that includes everything; books, gear, class and pool time, everything you need to complete your course. Afterwards, if you choose to purchase gear you can buy it all at once, or a piece or two at a time, or rent the gear until you decide if you like the sport enough to invest in it. We offer package pricing, and layaway. And, when you compare the cost of purchasing dive gear to say the cost of buying kayaking gear, it can be relatively inexpensive.


Do I have to be a strong swimmer?

Honestly, you should be able to swim comfortably in the water. For the ‘swim test’ of our open water course, it requires you to swim 8 lengths in a pool (200 m) untimed, then be able to tread water for 10 minutes. If you’re unsure of your ability, drop in to your local pool and see how you do.

How long is the course and where does it take place?

Our course is scheduled in the evenings. It usually runs 3 evenings; Mon, Wed, Fri, from 6 –11 pm, then a Saturday and Sunday for four ocean dives and that’s it. You’re a certified open water diver! Our newly revised PADI course includes an open water DVD and manual that you watch and read at home at your own pace before the course even starts. This enables us to teach the course over the period of one week. If you have a large group, or our schedule conflicts with yours, ask us about private classes.

I’m worried I won’t be able to do it.

The course is very user friendly. Don’t be intimidated, it’s very rare that people have issues with the course. But, just like any sport, scuba diving isn’t for everyone.  We work with you one on one and make sure you’re comfortable in the pool and classroom before we’d ever take you to the ocean.

If you’re not getting it, or you’re not comfortable in the pool or classroom, you won’t enjoy going to the ocean. This is where we’d evaluate how you’re doing and if the sport is right for you. Sometimes it’s just a matter of another pool session or two practicing your skills in order for you to become comfortable.Also, we’re always at the dive shop, so if you’re having a hard time with the bookwork, we’re simply a phone call or visit away. We’re more than happy to sit down and help you out.


I’m going on a tropical vacation and I hear there will be scuba diving where I’m going.

More than likely there will be. And warm water diving is fun. The visibility is usually pretty good, the marine life colorful, the weather warm. And, most divers who are trained up here in colder waters find it easier to dive in tropical waters because you’re not wearing as much gear or weights like you do here.

We recommend you take your course here first and then just enjoy diving on your trip. If time is an issue though, you can split up your course. You can learn the classroom and pool portion of your open water course here, and then we’ll find you a facility at your tropical destination that can certify you on the open water (ocean) part of your course.

I was going to take a course this summer, but never got around to it.

You can learn to dive at any time of the year. We dive all year round on Vancouver Island. And the best time for visibility in the ocean is the winter months. We get days where we can see up to 100 ft underwater!

Isn’t it dark under the water?

Not as dark as it looks from the surface. We do carry flashlights with us, but not always, and even when we do have them, we don’t always use them.

What about sharks and things?

Well, we don’t really have anything dangerous up here like they do further south. We do have six gill sharks, up around Hornby Island, but they live quite deep and we haven’t heard of a shark attack. Most of the time the fish life only lets you get so close to it before it swims away. However, keep in mind that any underwater life you might come into contact with is wild and therefore unpredictable, that goes for those cute little seals, sea lions, octopus, wolf eels, or any fish for that matter.

So, once I take a course, then what?

Diving is a social sport. As an certified open water diver you never dive alone, and most people don’t want to dive alone. It’s much more fun to be able to share your dive experiences. We have a list of people who are certified divers who are always looking for someone to dive with. Not everyone is able to go diving on the weekend, so some of our divers are looking for a buddy for a mid week dive. We’re also starting a Saturday Morning Drop In Dive, where new divers will meet at the store and a dive master or instructor will take them to a local dive site and lead them on a dive.

We do our best to keep divers diving. We try to go out diving ourselves once or twice a week. We also arrange for little weekend get-a-ways for a change of scenery. The only obstacles in front of you are the ones you put there.

Plus there are much to scuba diving that your training isn’t over once you’ve taken the open water course. Divers are always learning, they learn about new sea life on almost every dive, they learn about equipment and diving techniques on a constant basis, and there are many more courses to choose from after you’ve taken the basic open water. The most popular ones are the Advanced, and the Nitrox. And for those who fall in love with diving and have a natural tendency to want to teach or help others you can go on to a Rescue course and a Dive Master course.

Events and excursions.

We do a ton of diving, just look through our past calendars. We put on dive events almost every holiday. We have a New Year’s Day Dive, a Valentine Dive, Easter, Be a Diving Fool’s Day for April 1st, twice, we’ve gone down to Victoria and combined an Imax presentation and then did a dive in Victoria. And twice, we’ve gone up island and dove with Abyssal dive charters. We have our annual Poker Dive (Nanaimo’s first ever Poker Dive), and we’re even planning a Zip Line Adventure and River Dive Day! We dive almost every Thursday night and then once on the weekend. I think our fingers are permanently shriveled! And we’re looking into doing more things, like a Project Aware day where volunteers go to a river, lake or ocean site and clean it up.

Why is your store named Sink or Swim?

Well, for one, because we have a sense of humor, and for another because it seems like a lot of stores are called ‘pacific’ or ‘blue’ or ‘ocean’ or ‘dive’. We wanted our name to be different, and boy oh boy was it a challenge to come up with a name that was fun and different. When we came up with Sink or Swim, we decided we could apply the word ‘sink’ to scuba divers, because you do have to sink under the surface in order to dive, and swim, well we do that too, and so do snorkelers. And seeing as we cater to divers and snorkelers, the name works for us.

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Diving BC
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