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!



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Safe diving buddy.