Do you know that feeling? You are going on a scuba diving holiday, have been looking forward to it for weeks or even months. You can imagine that first dive already and than suddenly you need a refresher course! Half a day (or day) filled with theory and scuba exercises. Most recreational scuba organisations have this rule/ norm. However during my travels I've noticed the requirements vary per country of perhaps even per dive center. So what does this refresher course really entail?
When you go scuba diving with a dive center, they'll ask you when your last dive was. Usually when you haven't dived in the last six months they will say you'll need to do a refresher course. I have noticed that the period may vary per dive center. When I was scuba diving in Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) this year the dive center asked for a period of nine months! Some dive centers ask for proof by asking for your logbook pages and others will let you fill in a form where in you state you 'recently' dived. Again great differences between dive centers.
Personally I find this norm really weird. Don't get me wrong. I think it's really good if someone hasn't scuba dived in a long time and a refresher course should be mandatory in that case. You don't want a dive buddy who could endanger you because he hasn't a clue about what he's doing. However when checking the websites from PADI and SSI they mention the refresher courses, but when reading the text it definitely doesn't sound mandatory. To be honest... If you have scuba dived only once during the last six months, is that really a better situation than someone who hasn't dived in that exact same period? Still in the first case you wouldn't need a refresher course...
I know... You're asking yourself know... How do you check all scuba divers and if they are telling the truth?! Creating a false logbook page to escape the extra costs for a refresher course is easily done. The same about filling in a form about your latest scuba adventure or borrowing a dive computer... Smart?! No, but who claims people are wise and smart?!
This subject does raise questions. I know the current system is easily circumvented, but a system is better than no system. Also it's near impossible to create a fully functional system which controls all scuba divers. Maybe in the future of scuba diving, when all dives are logged digitally it will become easier. However we should never forget that a scuba diver should hold some responsibility for his own safety!