Fundamentally Speaking of Course: GUE-F

In December of last year I wrote “The Master Plan”; which was basically all my diving goals and objectives for the pending 12 months. Needless to say, as with all best laid plans, it’s falling apart. Long story short, I’m ‘possibly’ changing jobs, career in fact; as a result my available time for training and trips has been obliterated.

The casualties have been TekCamp and Normoxic Trimix; it is simply impossible for me to attend.

Normoxic will be rescheduled, but unfortunately TekCamp will continue without me; obviously without success due to my absence.

I jest of course, I can’t recommend TekCamp enough; we had an awesome time last year, and i am truly gutted I can’t go.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. 

I have managed to salvage two of my major plans; RedTec liveaboard, with the tattooed South African Paul Toomer; and GUE Fundamentals with Rich Walker

I also managed a sneaky trip up to Malin Head the other week, in a vain attempt to retain some of my tech diving skills.

So, first up for 2012 will be Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) Fundamentals class with, GUE Technical Training Director, Richard Walker - sounds impressive doesn’t he?

Well, we’ll see how he copes with us for a week.


Fundies” as it’s compassionately known, is basically the doorway into the GUE style of diving; focusing on the very basics of diver training and encouraging the ‘thinking diver.’

That’s my interpretation, but here’s what they say:

The GUE Fundamentals course is designed to cultivate the essential skills required by all sound diving practice, irrespective of level or environment. A prerequisite for all GUE classes, save Recreational Diver level 1 course, GUE Fundamentals performs a three-fold function:

• it provides the recreational diver, who does not desire further diver training, with an opportunity to advance his/her basic diving skills, thereby developing more comfort, confidence, and competence in the water

• it provides the diver with aspirations of more advanced diver training with the tools that will contribute to a greater likelihood of success

• it provides non-GUE trained divers with a gateway to GUE training.

The ‘thinking’ bit concerns me slightly, bearing in mind most of my dives are spent with an inner monologue consisting of; “Whao! – how come that fish isn’t getting blown about the current like I am?


I first encountered GUE a few years ago. I can’t recall how exactly, but I basically ended up watching some you tube videos of a GUE instructor demonstrating in water skills; smb deployment, flutter kick, mask removal – stuff like that. 

If you’re not familiar you should go and check them out, it’s inspiring stuff. 

The thing that got my attention was the level of control. The skills on display weren’t anything out of the ordinary; I learned them all myself during my PADI Open Water, but not that way.

In short, the GUE divers perform all tasks in an extremely controlled manner - a very flat position, mid water column, with their back legs sticking up, fins horizontal.

After watching a few more videos, I reflected how I looked in the water performing similar tasks. The answer was simple – not like that. My mask removal was conducted on my knees on the sea bed, smb deployment the same, and OOG drills were an in water debacle.

I wanted to be better. I wanted to look like that.


I quickly learned that the divers in question were members of Global Underwater Explorers; a non-profit scuba agency based in Florida. 

It evolved from a bloke called Jarrod, a very American looking fellow who likes to dive caves. He decided it would be better if all divers adopted a Hogarthian style rig, standardised equipment and procedures. There’s obviously a bit more to it, but that’s the bread and butter of it.

Somewhere along the line the style got penned “Doing It Right” – the now iconic acronym ‘DIR.’ The term DIR get’s a bit of bad rap, as it implied everyone else was “Doing It Wrong.”

I don’t quite get why a lot of people get all annoyed about it; I’ve been diving for years without GUE training and never felt I was ‘doing it wrong,’ but there you are.

Anyway, GUE appear to have distanced from the three letter curse irrespective, so nobody needs to be offended anymore. You read it here first!


A bit more research, which basically meant typing “DIR” into the magical Google, led me to the DIR Explorers internet forum.

DIRX is a fantastic resource for any diver, more so for those interested in the GUE mind style of diving. It was a massive help for me in gaining a better understanding of the system.


Over the last couple of years I have been embracing the gear configuration encouraged by GUE. There really isn’t much to it; back plate, wing without bungee, one piece harness, a long hose, short back up and non split fins. 

It was a bit of a departure from my split fins and BCD, but I’d already fallen out with my BCD by that stage anyway.

I love scuba gear, and have thoroughly enjoyed re-configuring my equipment. By, “reconfigure” I mean putting all my gear on ebay, and buying a whole load of new stuff.

Buying scuba stuff is great; I don’t know any diver that doesn’t like getting new kit.

At that stage I was still diving recreationally, and despite appearing ‘technical’ in nature, I found the gear worked splendidly for the 20m dives I was doing. 

My single tank set up

It must have been, as within 6 months even Wifebuddy had adopted a similar system; despite numerous proclamations, “You’ll not catch me in a back plate and wing; i love my BCD!” 

Whenever Kerri and I began our technical training the configuration really began to make sense. To dive a twinset; all I had to do was slap on a larger wing, an additional first stage and I was ready to rock.

Surprisingly the migration to technical diving was the least expensive transition of all my diving. Go figure?


Post TDI course, I was still very interested in doing some GUE training; unfortunately there are no GUE instructors in Ireland. I had emailed a few UK instructors back and forth over the last couple of years, but the logistics became confusing and it kind of fizzled out. 

To complicate matters, Wifebuddy wasn’t totally convinced about the whole thing. She too enjoyed me buying her a new wing etc, but didn’t entirely see the need to take a class.

Then TekCamp happened.

During our week at Vobster we got to meet Rich Walker in person, and upon manipulating the system slightly, we ended up completing 2 days solid training with him. We also became part of his human centipede… but you can read about that in your own time.

Having met Rich and experienced his instruction first hand, both Kerri and I were sold; and we booked a GUE-F class there and then.


In short, I want to be a better diver.

I am a qualified technical diver; this means I have acquired the ability to really hurt myself. Obviously, any diver can get hurt, but as I continue to conduct decompression dives the risk increases. I am capable of the diving I do, and my TDI training was excellent; but personally I could do with improving my basic “platform.”

I want to know, that if I have to deal with a problem at depth under a virtual ceiling, I can deal with it effectively, efficiently and prioritise objectives accordingly.

I have been striving to improve my diving on my own; attempting better buoyancy, improving skills, buddy awareness, by diving as regularly as possible, and by accompanying more experienced divers. This has helped, but I am still not at the level I want to be. I am hoping GUE training will give me the knowledge to learn what needs improving, and provide me with the skill set to do so.

I don’t know if I will progress with GUE, but I am hoping this will give me opportunity to make an informed decision.


Either way, Wifebuddy and I are off to the UK to spend an inappropriate amount of time with Rich Walker, freeze our asses off in a quarry in an abortive attempt to obtain proper trim, and ultimately have some diving related fun.

As a result there will be no blog next week, but a ludicrously in depth report will follow thereafter.

Anyone else done a GUE-F course? What are we in for?

I’m scared…


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I are excited! GUE-F is just brilliant. Hard work. Often embarrassing, uniquely frustrating, but finally extremely rewarding. Best bet? No expectations, just be well hydrated and look forward to working hard and being pretty amazed...

  3. Good advice Susanne.

    The hydration thing was something I completely overlooked, and I ended up totally dehydrated by the end.

    It's certainly something I learned not to let happen again that's for sure.

    Brilliant class though, can't recommend it enough.


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.