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Recreational Wreck Diving

Without question wreck diving is one of Sport Diving's most popular activities. Shipwrecks and artificial reefs attract great quantities of aquatic life, making such sites very attractive to photographers and fish watchers as well as those interested in maritime history. Wrecks are found at a variety of depths and in many different environments, making them popular with seasoned veteran and novice diver alike. As a general rule Wreck dives can be classified as either recreational or technical, with either being further classified as either external survey or penetration.

Recreational wreck diving can be defined as any dive on a man made object, at a maximum depth of 130 fsw within normal no-stop diving limits. Most recreational wreck dives involve external surveys.... i.e. no entry into the wreck's overhead environment. Limited penetrations are also considered as recreational dives and defined as involving no penetrations beyond the natural light zone, no further than 130 feet linear from the surface to the point of maximum penetration and not involving stage-decompression.

Recreational divers planning on conducting penetration wreck dives should seek out specialized training. Because of the lack of direct access to the surface and the potential for disorientaion or silt-out, special procedures are utilized when exploring the interior portions of wrecks and artificial reefs. For divers interested in executing penetrations beyond the recommended recreational limits, SportDiverHQ recommends a three tier training program: Wreck Diver; Advanced Wreck Diver; Technical Wreck Diver.

PADI /NAUI Wreck Diver

North Carolina is often cited as having "America's Best Wreck Diving". Bathed by the warm, clear waters of the Gulf stream, our wrecks are inhabited with a diversity of tropical and temperate aquatic life. Additionally, North Carolina was voted by Readers of Rodale's Scuba Diving magazine as being one of the best spots for viewing big aquatic animals. What better place to take your PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Course?

The PADI Wreck Diver Course is designed to prepare divers for planning and conducting wreck dives within established recreational scuba limits. During your course you'll learn about the use of line reels, lights, air management, and various techniques for safe shipwreck exploration. You're independent knowledge development will come through home reading assignments and by completing the Knowledge Reviews at the end of each section. Instructor led discussions and the exciting "PADI Wreck Diver" video will round out your academic training. In fact, if you're wanting to get a real head start on your training you can "Start Today" by purchasing a personal copy of the video to go along with your text.

Your in water training will consist of four exciting wreck dives over a period of two days. During these dives you and your instructor will explore some of North Carolina's finest wrecks. A variety of activities will help you to develop the skill and experience needed to safely plan and explore wrecks without the supervision of an instructor. You'll discover fun and adventure on every dive.

PADI Advanced Wreck Diver/NAUI Penetration Wreck Diver

The purpose of the PADI Advanced Wreck Diver/NAUI Penetration Wreck Diver Distinctive specialty course is to provide additional training and experience in the skills, knowledge, planning, organization, procedures, techniques, problems, hazards and excitement of penetration wreck diving within excepted recreational diving limits. The Advanced Wreck Diver Distinctive specialty course is intended as a safe, supervised experience and review of diving on wrecks. Training should emphasize fun and safety. The goals of the specialty course are;

To increase the student's practical knowledge of the underwater wreck environment.

To raise the student's awareness of the hazards, techniques and problems that are unique to exploration of shipwrecks resting at depths greater than 60 feet/18 meters seawater.

To improve the students awareness and abilities concerning the hazards, techniques and problems of exploration of the interior portions of shipwrecks within accepted recreational diving limitations.

To familiarize the student with the three direct and two major contributing causes of diving fatalities in overhead environments ("Accident Analysis") and how they form the basis of the safety rules around which this course and all subsequent wreck penetration dives revolve.


To enable the student to plan and organize dives to safely explore wrecks within depths and conditions as good as or better than those he has been trained in.

Advanced Wreck Diver Course Requirements

Prerequisite certifications: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and PADI Wreck Diver or NAUI Advanced Scuba Diver and NAUI Wreck Diver or equivalent ratings. The term equivalency is defined as proof or certification beyond entry-level with a minimum of 20 logged dives documenting experience in night diving, deep diving and underwater navigation as well as at least 4 wreck dives. (Students using Enriched Air ("nitrox") must have an appropriate certification) (PADI or NAUI Deep Diver highly recommended).

Minimum age requirement: 18 years.

Student to instructor ratio: 4:1; 2:1 for wreck penetration. Instructor must accompany students during any penetration.

Confined-water training may be added at the discretion of the instructor conducting the specialty course. As a pre-assessment before the course begins, a confined-water session may include a scuba skills review. The PADI Skill Evaluation or the Scuba Review program are excellent means of accomplishing this review.

Dive Data: Four scuba dives at two or more different sites. No more than 2 dives per day. Penetration-training dives are to be limited to within the light zone and within 130 feet/39.5 meters from the surface, vertical and horizontal distance included. No out-of-air drills are to be practiced in the overhead environment.

Enrollment Form


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Cave | Deco | Eanx | HOTx | Trimix
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Dive Centers | Destinations | Organizations | Information | Shop Online