The fun they had at TEKCamp

An awesome week of meeting the best UK technical divers and learning from them

Diving in The Red Sea

Warm water, clear visibility makes for a great holiday!

Malinbeg Harbour

Often, the simplest local dives are the best.

TDI Adv Nitrox & Deco Procedures – Part 3


So, having passed out TDI Advanced Nitrox exam we only had 1 dive remaining to complete the course. Now, this left Kerri and I in a bit of a pickle. We still had 3 days of holiday left and the plan had originally been to just do some diving with our new twinsets and enjoy the wonderful wrecks Malta has to offer. However, we were still unable to do decompression diving so all this gas we had with us wasn’t really of much use, so to speak. The next step on the ladder was TDI Decompression Procedures – sounds even more impressive no? We had considered doing this alongside the nitrox course but we didn’t want to task load ourselves and risk wrecking the holiday so decided against it.

TDI Decompression Procedures
Now, however, everything had changed. We had the tech diving bug. We decided it would be a complete waste if we didn’t do it and not very cost effective. We also really enjoyed the course so far, David was a great instructor and we felt really at ease with him. That was our rationale anyway. We sort of asked David if he felt we were capable of doing another course and he explained we shouldn’t have any problems, but we would need to speak to the boss Agnes and see what the arrangement would be with money and his time and stuff. So, wife-buddy and I strolled into Maltaqua and subsequently signed up for the deco course there and then. Agnes did us a great deal and some of our dives from the nitrox course could be credited towards the deco procedures. This was great news, we only had 3 more dives to do and a lot more classroom work. We got our manuals, then set off for another days diving.

We arrived at our familiar Cirkewwa dive site and continued with our new ritual of dive brief, kitting up, START drills and then the bubble check once in the water. Today we would be heading out to the P29, a Condor Class Patrol Boat scuttled in August 2007. The blue water swim was slightly longer than the previous efforts, but I was getting used to them now, my buoyancy control was improving and I wasn’t freaking out anymore. A visible improvement, I liked that and I patted myself on the back accordingly for the days achievement.

Kerri enjoying a swim through
Once on the wreck we did a circuit of the deck and visited the prop at 37.9m. This was my deepest dive ever, and buried my wrist in the sandy bottom to get the deepest reading I could in order to annoy David later, I just knew he was a little competitive. In reflection this was actually poor form by me. I had already calculated my MOD (Maximim operating depth) for the mix I had in my cylinders and it was 37m. I had increased my PO2 level – doh! Luckily my dive had been planned with a max PO2 level of 1.4, so I had a little to play with as the safety margin is 1.6. This was not very tech at all and although it wasn’t a critical mistake, I had a plan and didn’t dive it. Mental slapping for that one.

We left the wreck after a few excellent swim throughs and headed back over the reef to depth of about 14m. David gave us the signal that we needed to simulate a decompression stop and shoot our smbs. We fired up our blobs and hung on our lines and simulated an obligatory decompression stop. This was grand, the depth was easy for maintaining buoyancy and Kerri and I looked dead good just hanging horizontal in the water. David then took our spools from us and we conducted a successful valve drill. We were really on the money today. We did a further OOG drill and the dive was concluded.

Once on land we had our debrief and I owned up to diving too deep for my mix. Bad tech diver. We learn from our mistakes and I had realised the importance of monitoring depth at all times. We sat on the truck and chatted for about 45mins to allow some off gassing and then it was back for a dip in Suzie’s Pool. This is a shallow area near the shore where we would be doing some skills with our new “stage” bottles.

I have to admit, diving with a twinset was pretty cool, but once the 7l aluminium stage bottle went on I really felt the part. Bloody well looked it too. I clipped off my stage cylinder to my harness and stood up. Ok, this was getting heavy now. Mental note – go to gym when home and work on legs. I was definitely reaching my physical max for carrying kit around. Kerri was doing a great job and appeared to be suffering no ill effects from the extra kilos. I wish I’d picked a set of girly twin 10s. Ahem. Cautiously we wobbled down to the entry point and managed to step into the pool. Once in the water all the weight disappeared. This stuff really was designed for in water use.

We were then subject to so many skills I can hardly remember them. The task loading was getting greater and this really felt like we were getting into some serious learning. First up was a 30m tired diver tow on the surface wearing our new stages. I grabbed wife-buddy by the valve and started finning. Hard work I can tell you; wearing my own twin 12’s and a 7l stage, towing a diver wearing twin 10’s and a 7l stage. I was highly appreciative of wife buddy’s small frame. Kerri was up next and managed to tow me along the surface, accompanied by a few expletives questioning just how far you had to be towed and in the real world I’d be on my own and she’d send a helicopter upon reaching shore. Descending to about 8m we repeated the process underwater, much easier.

Kerri looking dead tech diverish
Stage handling was next. We had to unclip our stages and stow them, go for a bit of a swim and then go back and collect them. Easier said than done. Wife-buddy didn’t appear to have any problems with this at all, I have to admit I struggled a bit finding my lower bolt snap and then attaching it to my wing, probably my "man hands" and dry gloves interfering. Yes, that was it for sure, wife-buddy has those tiny wee hands and fingerless gloves and therefore more dexterity. Either way she was doing way better than me. Nevertheless I finally got reattached and adjusted my buoyancy accordingly when dropping and retrieving the supposed neutrally buoyant cylinder.

Next up in the David torture session was regulator out swimming. I don’t have a problem taking my reg out but I knew Kerri wasn’t really impressed and always felt the urge to continue breathing, even when removed. You really only get to do that the once. So, regs were extracted and we both bolted on our 15m reg-out swim. Tough, but doable. Having said that, David made us repeat the exercise another until he was satisfied, which was on the 3rd go. Cheers for that. So with my lungs on the verge of exploding we were then signalled to gas switch. Dutifully we deployed our stage regulator, turned on the valve and began breathing our 49% nitrox mix for the first time. I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed. It was cool, what with a “stage bottle” and all, but in reality the reg was lower performance than mine, uncomfortable and the gas tasted just like any other. However, I was now on a deco stop and to hover at 6m for I can’t remember how many minutes, but it all went according to plan. With our simulated deco obligation fulfilled we had to stow our stage regs and make our way to the exit point.

It was soon clear that stages and I just did not agree. I just couldn’t seem to get control of it at all. All I had to do was tuck the hose down the 2 bungee cords around the cylinder. But no. Instead I chased the dam thing around the reef. I really looked the tech diver now; struggling, breathing heavily, beginning to sweat and verbally cursing the thing to hell and back. What was going on? Finally I managed to secure the hose and I regained my composure and sorted myself out. I looked around for the first time in what had seemed a lifetime and I was nowhere near where I had started the drill. I was met by a black mask staring straight at me with a disbelieving look of “what the hell are you doing mate?” In my frenzy I had drifted into the middle of some rebreather divers doing a decompression stop. Well, all illusions of being the awesome tech diver were obliterated then and there, what a twat. I signalled my apologies and sleeked off to catch up with David and Kerri. Kerri had her stage already secured, handed it off and was conducting a weight check with 50bar. I had to do the same and purged my primary until I reached 50bar. It was clear I was too heavy as I plummeted to the sea bed when I dumped air from my wing. The dive was well and truly over.

I just about managed the giant step onto the shore fully kitted. The extra cylinder just seemed to make all the difference. It was nice and calm which led me into a false sense of security, my concentration lapsed and somehow I pulled my arm the wrong way on the hand rail and a burning sensation shot up my should. Arghhhh!!! That really hurt. I had lost all feeling in my arm and struggled up the hill to the truck. Finally I got to the truck and got my kit off. I was shattered and my arm hurt.

We returned to the classroom for some decompression theory and I nursed my arm in an attempt to get some feeling back. Class was concluded and we headed to The Peppermill for some quality steak and chips. I managed to get a grip on my less than perfect performance, wandered back to the apartment, did my homework and finally got some sleep. Still another 3 days….

TDI Adv Nitrox & Deco Procedures – Part 2


The next morning we woke early and headed to the dive shop for the days tech diving lessons. We got our twinsets rigged and with the aid of a very expensive yellow thing we were taught how to test our gas. When you become a tech diver the stuff in your cylinder is no longer called air, even if it is. It’s called “gas.” I’m all about these new terms, made this me feel even more like a tech diver. So gas tested, we would be diving 32% nitrox.

Malta Shoreline
We arrived at the dive site, dropped the tailgate on the truck and got our kit together. We were taught our new tech diving buddy check – START. This is a relatively simple procedure which is really just an extension of the standard PADI pre-dive checks. I did learn to smell my gas from now on though. I had a vague recollection of having to sniff your reg pre-dive when I began my open water course, but I had got out of the way of it and subsequently forgotten completely. This was really the only part of my pre dive checks that I had trouble remembering to do. So, scratch and sniff then on with the new START check.

S-Drill: Out of gas drill (dry and in water) and bubble check (in water only)

Team: check gear of you and buddy

Air: check gas matching with buddy and that computer is set properly to the mix

Route: check entry / exit points and dive profile

Tables: depth, duration and schedule, bail out plans

So, with all our checks done we headed to the entry point. There was a little bit of swell on the surface which we weren’t used to, it was a bit daunting jumping into what I thought was rough seas. It was fine once we were in and we descended about 2m and did our bubble check which consisted of a quick once over each other’s manifolds to check for leaks. To be honest, this does require decent buoyancy control. I found once I began concentrating on something I tended to sink and then I had to readjust my wing to compensate. Frustrating. This was something I focused on the rest of the week and it definitely improved with practice.

David jumped in and with his single 10 litre cylinder, he appeared to need so little air it was just plain irritating, gave us the OK and we began the dive. The water was 15C and I was pretty comfortable, if a little too warm. We swam along the reef and then headed out into the blue in search of the Rozi shipwreck. I later learned this was called a “blue water swim.” This is basically when you follow a bearing into practically vacant space, holding your depth at a set level until you reach your target, in our case the wreck. To my annoyance i not only found it hard to maintain constant depth, but it also freaked me out a bit. It seemed floating in the middle of nothing was a bit disconcerting, almost agoraphobic. I kept my head and out of nowhere a wreck loomed out of the darkening blue. It was fantastic, I wasn’t used to diving in this sort of visibility, in the UK waters I tend to bang my head on a wreck before I see it!

We reached the deck of the wreck and I switched on my trusted can light, as I could see dark swim throughs that had to be investigated. We swam into the wheel house and through some other short openings in the wreck. I had a little narcosis, I think, as I felt a little insecure at 30m which was my deepest dive to date. I don’t know why, I just did. I gave Kerri the “buddy up” signal and we closed in and within 30s I was back on track after getting some quick reassurance from wife-buddy.

Approaching The Rozi
After 20 mins we headed off the wreck back and into the blue and finally hit the reef again. I did feel a little relief in seeing the familiar sight of the shore and we ascended to 14m and David gave a signal that we would be doing some drills. I knew the good parts were over, well, kind of. OOG was first up and wife-buddy and I successfully donated our long hoses. I was quite enjoying the drill and felt a lot more comfortable with the technique involved. Next up was the valve drill. I could read Kerri’s eyes and I knew she was totally focused on getting it right on this one. I found my drill simpler than the previous day and had it completed in decent time. Kerri unfortunately was still struggling with her isolator, the final part of the drill. She was so close but had to give up in the end.

We surfaced and went for some lunch at a nearby diner and conducted a dive debrief. Kerri was happier than I had expected which was always positive. The fact she was so close seemed to spur her on even more to get it on the next attempt. I was feeling quite positive about the whole thing. Having so much “gas” with me was both a comfort on the deeper dives and fantastic due to the extended time in the water we were getting. David had kindly loaned me a higher spec computer and we were able to work out our SAC rate for the dive, for me it was 18l/min. I was improving. Good. Lunch done and 2.5hr surface interval we were good for a second dive.

I expressed to David I was a bit freaked out about the blue water swims so he suggested we repeat the morning dive as I knew it and therefore wouldn’t be as stressed. This was a splendid idea as far as I was concerned and really made me feel a lot better about the pending dive.

Back at the entry point we donned our suits and gear, did our START checks and headed for the water. Concentrating more on our buoyancy Kerri and I had a better S-Drill but we still needed to work on it. We gave David the OK and headed into the blue again in search of the wreck. In the process we also went through some interesting natural tunnels in the reef. These were just a little too tight and a little too dark for my liking. The constriction was bearable but once the natural light faded I felt a little on edge. It was a relatively short swim through, it just felt longer as I was concentrating so much, but it was fun and confirmed everything I knew about myself and I would never make a cave diver.

Kerri wreck diving
We reached the wreck and investigated the wheel house again and conducted some more challenging swim throughs. I was really beginning to enjoy swimming in and out of the holds and wheel house with my torch illuminating now abandoned rooms and corridors. It was eerie, but inviting. I could really begin to understand why untrained divers venture into wrecks and end up very dead. The urge to just have a quick look down one more corridor and accidently lose sight of the exit was very strong. But, being a highly trained tech diver I resisted and as a result am very much alive.

We left the wreck and I attempted some horrendous underwater photography as we caught sight of the reef once again. We knew what was coming next and I was fully prepared for the drills that would surely follow. Like a conductor David signalled at us to begin our OOG drills. We were definitely getting more comfortable with the long hose system. Then the valve drill was to be done again. This time I thought I would try and focus more on my buoyancy and awareness whilst conducting the drill. Fine in theory. I tried my best to stay flat in the water and reached the valves no problem. I scanned my surroundings as David was attentively watching Kerri as she closed her main valve and a little fish swam by. I then realised I had no idea if my reg was open or not. Great. Now I was going to drown. I switched reg and it soon tightened and then nothing. Turned out I hadn’t opened it again. Well done Andrew; in a real situation you just killed yourself. Wife-buddy and the ever increasing cat army would be enjoying my house alone from now on. My only option was start all over again.

I finally completed my very aware and awesomely controlled shut down then drifted above Kerri just in time to see her complete her first ever shut down drill! High fives and underwater applauding followed this momentous achievement, I was thrilled. A good day out and I knew Kerri would be over the moon and I was guaranteed a pleasant evening. The dive came to an end and we survived the rather slippery exit and made her way back to the truck and finally, to the dive shop.

We were then quickly ushered to the classroom having emptied the truck and rinsed the kit. Next up was the TDI Advanced Nitrox exam. We took our papers and got to work, utilising all our new fangled, ever increasing, tech diving knowledge base. I was a little disappointed in the lack of multiple choice. This wasn’t going to be as straight forward as I had hoped. Nonetheless I answered everything as best I could, with Kerri scribbling ferociously beside me, covering her answers with her hand as she knows I’m a cheating bastard.

We passed - I Are Tech Diver.

TDI Adv Nitrox & Deco Procedures – Part 1


Ok, here we have it. I have successfully completed some tech diving training and survived! Who’d have though it? I decided to go with TDI and the first step on their very tall ladder is TDI ADVANCED NITROX. Sounds very tech doesn’t it? - I thought so and knew everyone would be suitably impressed.  So, here’s a step by step account of my experience of TDI Advanced Nitrox training courtesy of Maltaqua in Malta.


So, avid tech divers in the making, Kerri and I landed in an airport in Malta somewhere at 1pm. I don’t know where exactly as I leave all that boring arranging holidays and stuff to Kerri, I just nod and follow. We doffed the plane, I nodded and followed, retrieved our luggage from the carousel and headed into the foyer. On cue, a rather handsome fellow (Will) from Maltaqua was holding my name on a placard. This felt rather nice, an element of fame and importance upon my arrival, I hoped this would continue. Will led us to a small truck, our gear was stowed and Kerri and I were escorted straight to the dive centre. No messing here, this was straight to business.

We were introduced to the head shed of Maltaqua, Agnes, a very friendly Maltese woman who owns and runs the centre with her Scottish born husband Mike. They have been doing this since the ice age so we felt immediately at ease and confident they could make us tech divers!

We got our apartment stuff sorted, signed some forms and went for lunch in the nice wee café conveniently found next door, "The Peppermill".  Whilst we were having a ludicrously inexpensive lunch we began discussing what our instructor would be like. I imagined a very serious, stern, Special Forces type guy dressed in black, with deco tables tattooed on his forearms.  At that moment a polite, very English sounding, steel haired guy in his forties, not any taller than me walked into the café. We just knew this was the guy. Not what I was expecting I have to admit, this guy seemed pretty normal. He wandered over to us, raised a hand and a smile, introduced himself as David, and explained he was our instructor. I replied, “We were just hoping it wasn’t you!”  He gave a laugh and I knew the week was going to be a lot of fun, probably at each other’s expense. I was right.

Again, no messing, we were escorted to the classroom and straight to learning to be tech divers. We already had our manuals and had been revising all week, but we started at the beginning and David talked us through the manual, chapter by chapter, going over the knowledge reviews at the end, then asking additional questions and answering any we had.  It was clear this guy knew his stuff.

It was after 5pm when we finished and we headed back to the Peppermill for extraordinary cheap food and beer then headed back to the apartment for some well earned sleep.


The second day was all about getting wet. I was really looking forward to getting into the water, all this talk of scuba and no action was getting to me. Kerri and I brought our gear round to the shop and David met us with 2 twin sets and told us to get our kit together. Now, I had never actually dived twin 12’s before and was pretty shocked at the weight of the things. I knew they’d be heavy but this was mental. Kerri opted for twin 10’s in the end, but to be honest they were still pretty heavy.

Wings and regs were hastily put together in the hope that we didn’t look like prats in front of the jedi master watching over us. I did quite well I thought, David wasn’t hugely impressed by my hose routing initially but I explained I used it this way at home on my twin 7’s and he was happy enough. Poor Kerri had fallen at the first hurdle. The twin 10’s had strange spacing between the bolts which didn’t fit the Frog backplate spacings. So there was all kind of struggling from her and David as they relocated the fixings then all was well again in the tech diving world.

We then went for our first dive at Sireens, a shallow 6m dive in which we could check our weighting and do a few drills. Drills? You serious? We’re only here and we’re gonna have to do stuff….already? Apprehension was now setting in. There was talk of valve shutdowns, mask removals, trim and buoyancy control.  I’m sorry – what?

The Sireens Pool

David gave a thorough brief of what we were going to be doing and showed us our entry and exit points. This was all grand aside from the metal ladder we would be using to haul ourselves, and said twin sets, out of the water. I wasn’t totally convinced I was fit for this, but it was the standard procedure so I guessed I’d be ok. One giant stride later my twin 12’s and I were plummeting to the sea bed.

This was amazing. The twinset sat wonderfully on my back, held firmly in place buy my trusted Halcyon backplate and webbing.  Buoyancy was fine too, the 12’s just seemed to nail me in the flat position I strived for so much when diving at home. Kerri was in next and all seemed to be grand with her too. Another good day out for Andy and Kerri. We finned about a bit while David scanned over us, I could tell he was in awe of my fabulous trim. Then he made me do mask flooding. Not so fabulous. 

I hate mask clearing and removal. My eyes do not agree with salt water, as soon as they make contact they sting like a jellyfish. Having said that I know the skill and can perform it fine, all be it kneeling on the sea floor scrunching my eyes closed over and over again waiting for the burning to recede. In the mean time Kerri and successfully flooded and cleared her mask in true PADI fashion in less than 30 seconds. Thanks luv.

When my vision finally returned I was being given the ok signal by the man in blue marigolds. Did I forget to mention that this very serious tech diving instructor dives wearing blue marigold washing up gloves? Well he does, and although this was a grave concern for me I had other issues running through my head as he gave me the “valve drill” hand signal. Oh shit. Here we go, not only am I going to drown whilst diving, but it’s going to be effective suicide as I turn off MY OWN air supply. I began the exercise shutting off main valve, breathing down the reg, switch to back up reg, turn it back on, switching off the back up reg, breathing it down, switching reg, turn it back on, then open and close the isolator. Phew. It wasn’t pretty. There I was, on the sea bed, flat on my knees flailing and swatting at my valves in the hope not to drown. I did it!

Kerri was up next. After her flawless mask skills it appeared the shutdown drill wasn’t going to be as pleasant. At the risk of being divorced I’ll just say she struggled. Kerri is also stubborn beyond belief and it wasn’t for lack of trying but in the end she had to give up half way through. I felt terrible for her. I knew she would really go to town on herself about this and want to quit diving and most likely go home immediately. She gave me the international signal for, “I’m pissed off” and we swam around a bit longer.

At this stage we had been in the water nearly an hour and David gave us the signal to launch our smb’s.  I have a stupidly expensive Halcyon smb, and to be honest, I’d never used it. I’d never needed to, and wasn’t 100% sure when you needed the things anyway. Oh Christ. Nonetheless I, just about, got it out of my leg pocket and, remembering a video I watched on you tube, inflated and deployed the orange blob with the aid of my spool. Flawless. Kerri had also managed to get hers up as well, a massive buddy smb that’s about 4ft tall. Well done. We were amazing again.

We surfaced right at the ladder, David got out first while Kerri and I just about managed to haul the big steel twinsets onto dry land under his watchful gaze. Then we had our debrief. Our buoyancy needed work, smb deployment was good and we both did really well on our valve drills. Needless to say Kerri wasn’t convinced and still tortured herself about the shutdown drill even though David explained it was her first dive in a twin set and did really well.

Back at the truck we got our kit off, stowed and headed back to the classroom for more studying and further debriefing of the dive along with a little well earned banter. Again 5pm came too quickly and we were released to the Peppermill for dinner and a beer. By 9pm we were safely back at the apartment sound asleep.

This was tough going, and we’d only started.

New facebook page now online!

I Are Diver facebook

In the age of social networking i thought i would add an I Are Diver facebook page. Add to your favourite pages to keep up to date with new postings and stuff!

I Are Diver facebook

Dive safe folks!

I Are (Tech) Diver - maybe....

technical diving madness
Having completed over 70 dives i felt that my diving needed to move to a new chapter - Technical Diving.

As a result of this moment of enlightenment i found i had to ask myself a few questions:
  1. What is tech?
  2. What makes a diver suddenly decide to turn tech?
  3. When is a diver ready for tech? 
  4. What tech course should a diver take? 
  5. Where should a diver go to do it?
  6. Once course is done, when are you ready to do some tech diving?

I have been pondering these questions for last 6 months or so. I have answered them all, mainly due to the high intelligence level i have gained driving a truck Monday to Friday, and more so, the amount of time it gives me to think.

Or have i?

I don't really know, but i can explain my rationale to decide to progress my diving in said fashion. So in my head i broke down all the considerations, then my inner monologue and I discussed it at length.

1. What is tech?

I have often heard and read the term "Technical Diving." It interested me on many levels. With the correct training it enables a diver to experience greater depth, longer bottom times, go in a wreck, go in a cave or dive under ice. It also entails a more thought out mode of diving, the rigging of equipment, managing cylinders and of course, it always looks so damn impressive, thus bringing me one step closer to looking like a member of the SAS. I knew i would put all my black kit to good use some day.

However, it also frightens the life out of me. Diving gets proper dangerous at technical levels if you make a bad decision or a mistake or are badly educated, and you may only get to do it wrong once.

So, Technical Diving to me is anything that strays outside the recreational level of diving i know and love, i.e. everything outside of my basic PADI training to Rescue Diver, ... and is dangerous as hell! (i jest of course.)

2. What makes a diver suddenly decide to turn tech?

For me it was what it would enable me to go and see. Here in Ireland there are a number of fantastic wrecks, both visually and historically. However, most are deep. Now i don't mean 100m or anything too crazy, but they often lie at 40m or so which is the limit of recreational diving and if you check your PADI tables you quickly find the NDL is a bit limiting. I needed more air to do this and that in turn brought other considerations.

Lately i have been diving twin 7l cylinders which has been a lot of fun. This little twin set had given me a taste for tech diving. Now, I could just go out and buy twin 12's and see how i got on, but i figured i'd best get a professional to show me how to handle the diving they would let me do.

So a tech course appeared to be in order.

3. When is a diver ready for tech

So, i then opened up the trusty fountain of knowledge and began surfing the interweb for all the technical answers i needed. I found some basic tech courses and started my never ending quest to have all the information about everything.

Of course, as with all things this is a bottomless pit. The limits of technical diving and fairly broad to say the least, but the initial training is pretty standard amongst all agencies. You have to get into a twin set, learn about gas mixtures and then maybe onto decompression.

I then read on to find out exactly what the hell that included.

A lot.

The reading material isn't that light and some of the in water skills are nothing short of pure frightening and seemingly impossible.

Am i ready for this? Is anyone really ever ready for this?

To be honest i wasn't totally sure. I had more than the minimum requirements, but did i feel like i could handle more?

I guess i just thought i could. If not, i'd bin it and keep diving the way i was and maybe try again later.

Cautiously, I read on.

4. What tech course should a diver take? 

True to form, when you type in "tech diving course" into google you get a million results showing great offers of tech diving stardom and the occasional chance to make your penis more appealing to all women around the globe.

Thankfully i also read dive mags from time to time and i knew of the main players when it came to tech training. After some more reading and surfing my personal list included IANTD, TDI and GUE as the final contenders.

Now, in the process of all this Kerri had decided, despite professing for years that she would never don a harness, never mind a twinset, would become a tech diver with me. This was great news, Kerri is awesome at arranging things. She could help decided who we should go with and how many courses we could do in one go to become the top gun of the technical diving world.

Initially i wanted to go GUE. Kerri wanted to go IANTD.

We went TDI. Work that one out.

TDI are one of the only training agencies in Northern Ireland so it seemed like the best idea. They are also reasonably priced to get you started and decide if this is really the way you want to go. Fine, we would earn all the Technical Diving International certification cards and be at 199m by the end of the month.

First on the ladder is TDI Advanced Nitrox. This would allow us to use mixes of Nitrox to 100% and set us up for a greater understanding for decompression diving. Sounded great.

5. Where should a diver go to do it?

This is the best thing about diving, you have to go to a hot place to learn. Well, perhaps that's not entirely true, but we had already done all our PADI training in the dark, cold, uninviting UK waters so why couldn't we go somewhere nice and have a bit of holiday while we were at it.

This was a marvelous idea.

Another positive was that the actual courses are cheaper abroad, so the money we saved not learning at home would pay for the holiday bit. Splendid.

In conclusion, we needed a decent climate, clear water, stuff to look at and the TDI Advanced Nitrox course.

The answer of course was Malta. Malta is a great place to learn; apparently sporting blue waters and some fantastic wrecks. It also has loads of dive schools with all agencies, cheap expenses and most of the diving is done off the shore - another plus as Kerri tends to vomit when put on a boat.

So off to Malta we would go. If Jack Ingle can teach there, we could happily learn. If it's good enough for him ; it would bloody well do us.

Maltaqua tec
Maltaqua would be our school of choice, it's been going about 500 years and is one of the most recognised on the island, and Jack teaches from there so it couldn't be that bad.

To be honest i had let Kerri take over all this bit and i focused mainly on what stuff i needed to buy before i should undertake some tech diving, and then move swiftly on to panicking about all the skills i would need to perform once there.

6. Once course is done, when are you ready to do some tech diving?

I'll answer this question once i've completed some training...

Expect some course reports over the coming weeks!