GUE Fundamentals Part 3: The Blue Hand of Education

DAY 3: By the third day I had stopped setting my alarm.

I figured I’d best get as much sleep as humanly possible, and rely solely on Kerri to get me up. Failing that I knew Rich would eventually come and get me.

I’m sure Wifebuddy had her alarm set, but I certainly didn’t hear it. She finally resorted to phoning my mobile from the kitchen at 8.00am to rouse me. I had also received a text message or two;

“Are you getting up?” … “Tea’s ready” … “Get up” … “Seriously - GET UP!”

It was well after 8.00am by the time I trundled down the stairs.

I had also stopped using the banister on the way downstairs, in the vain hope that any rest my arms got would aid in a full recovery before the first dive. That thought pattern was a little sanguine.

I joined the team in the kitchen and the morning ritual commenced; tea, Rich’s expensive coffee, and yet another bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.

The house was becoming a very comfortable environment, feeling more like home from home, and images of Rainbow were conjured up in my mind; Kerri was George, I was Zippy and Rich was Geoffrey. 

I guess that left Shelley as Bungle; but that seemed a tad unfair.


Breakfast done, it was straight to work and we practiced dry runs of the S-Drill. Regs were attached to backplates with cable ties, can lights donned (minus batteries) and our team of three began OOG scenarios.

Kerri and Shelley in cable tied kit

Rich slowly talked us through the procedure and we took it in turns being donor, receiver and the third man. The drills went well; it was merely a case of doing the right thing in the right order.

Shelley throws a tantrum!

In water, of course, everything changed.


Capernwray was also very familiar by now; we quickly collected our twinsets, analysed our gas, kitted up and awaited our captain’s dive briefing.

Rich explained we would be repeating the Basic 5, and then he would select one of us to demonstrate an S-Drill, followed by the team rotating the scenario, concluding with an OOG ascent.

I was also given a few more tips on my frog kick. Rich seemed really keen to improve my kick a wee bit further every dive.

I gladly obliged and tried to do everything he said as the team finned out to the 6m platform.


Within a minute of reaching the platform we got into formation and began the basic 5 drill. You could see the improvements in buoyancy control from each of us, along with enhanced situational awareness.

Kerri was number one, and rattled through without problem.

I was up next and repeated my performance from the day before; minus the face-plant. I was even becoming more stable with my mask off, which pleased me greatly.

Shelley had a few issues during her drill, developing a taste for her own light cord apparently, but she got there in the end.


With the Basic 5 nailed, we progressed to the S-Drill.

Rich levelled in front of us and our eyes darted from one another in apprehension, as to who would be selected for the demonstration.

It was Kerri!

I felt for her, she really had to up her game; the boss man needed her. Wifebuddy performed flawlessly as an out of gas diver, with Rich slowly going through the steps as the donor.

Our trio then took it in turns to donate and receive as we rotated the S-Drill amongst ourselves, with Rich adding any assistance if needed. The drills went very well, the final light cord check proving the only stumbling block.

The final drill consisted of Kerri out of gas, me donating, and Shelley in charge of the ascent.

Everything went very well until the 3m stop. Kerri and I were face to face the whole time, but unfortunately Shelley lost it a bit and disappeared from view; heading to the surface frantically dumping air from her dry suit.

The team thing confused me a little when things like that happened. What was the protocol? It hadn’t really been discussed. I decided Kerri was the “casualty” and our deco obligation was paramount, so we completed our stop and slowly ascended.

Lunch and the video debrief followed.


If I was allowed one video from our class to take home, the OOG ascent would have been the one. I hadn’t realised that Rich had been filming the entire drill, and continued with us on the ascent.

We all watched as I donated my long hose, got Kerri sorted and began our ascent. It was soon apparent Shelley had an issue, and slowly drifted out of the frame. At that stage Rich decided to focus on Kerri and me as we held our simulated deco stop.

I was really pleased; our position in the water was great, trim was good and the ascent rate was awesome.

As we hovered at 3m I clearly signalled “Where is no.3?”

Kerri responded by raising her head, obviously tracing Shelley’s out of control ascent (and pending death if the deco had of been for real), looked straight back at me and gave an exaggerated shrug of the shoulders.

It was classic.

We all burst into fits of laughter and Kerri apologised profusely to Shelley, explaining that the tone of the shrug didn’t translate so well under water.

More laughter ensued during Kerri’s display of overt compassion for the OOG diver; it was so funny. A pattern developed demonstrating that every time Kerri donated her long hose, she cocked her head slightly to one side.

Rich summed it up beautifully;

“Kerri, when you donate your long hose you don’t need to empathise. I can almost hear your thoughts underwater ‘Aw, you’re out of gas; that must be dreadful – here, take mine.’”

Bless; must be the nurse in her.


After lunch we moved to valve drills.

Kerri a bit chilly before dive two

I really like valve drills, and had been preparing mentally for it all week; as the procedure was slightly different to that of my TDI training. At the shore we ran though several dry runs, then hit the wet stuff.

We loyally frog kicked our way to our platform, lined up, and Rich demonstrated.

It was encouraging to see Rich go through the same set up as I did when preparing, just much faster. I was getting concerned it was taking me too long to sort my “platform,” getting the adequate amount of gas in my suit, and making sure it was all where I wanted it to be.

My valve drill was pretty damn good. Buoyancy was perfect, but I was slightly off the horizontal when turning the valves; about 10 degrees Rich reckoned. It felt good.


The rest of the team didn’t have such a good day out.

Kerri held trim and buoyancy but seemed to struggle with her left post. A little misdirected aggression got her through, but Rich had to intervene on occasion to keep her right; his blue dry glove seemed to come out of nowhere, adjusting the odd valve here and there.

Shelley just didn’t appear to have the movement required to get at the valves, and after a few valiant efforts, repeated assistance from the blue hand of education, she gave up.


Diving done for the day we headed back to the Rainbow House for a video debrief and lectures.

We re-watched the S-Drills, purely to laugh at the infamous “shrug” and “empathy nod” from Wifebuddy, moving on to debrief the valve drill.

My valve drill looked pretty good, but I could clearly see I was moving a little ‘heads up’ when manipulating the valves. Rich explained I really needed to ‘lean into it’ and really stretch my chest out. He seemed convinced I could get it done in perfect trim.

I stashed the knowledge for the next dive.

Kerri’s recording produced another classic video moment.

As the blue hand of education shifted Kerri’s centre post to aid her shut down, Wifebuddy lifted her head and gave Rich a very distinctive look of death. Kerri explained she only looked up to see what was going on, Rich and I concluded it was more likely; “Get off my valve you ****!”


The evening lecture was on decompression. The GUE-F course is a recreational class, so decompression doesn’t really factor into it excessively. However, knowing our background, Rich was happy to go into a little more detail, which was brilliant; he did say it was turning into a bit of a Tech 1 class!

I especially enjoyed the “demonstration” of saturation rates; comprising of a cup of tea poured onto the beloved whiteboard, and a tissue. I’ll leave that with you…


Lectures concluded early and we all headed back to Capers to witness Rich in all his glory. That evening Mr Walker was giving a talk on a Project Baseline operation he is involved with.

We enjoyed dinner and pints as Rich set up his projector.

The crowds gathered and began a chant;

Rich stormed onto the stage, enjoying his fans, whipping them into frenzy, and finally began his talk on Project Tiger; … or something like that…

All joking aside, the talk was excellent. Project Tiger is a poignant tale, and I urge you to attend if Rich is in your area giving a presentation.

I’ll not go into detail, but I was a little concerned to find out BSAC own a tank.


The talk concluded at 9.00pm, by which stage we were ready for bed. We explained to Rich we were retiring early and headed back to the cottage leaving him with his fans.

Once we got in I enjoyed a quick beer; but not without taking advantage of Rich’s absence, royally taking the piss out of him and his whiteboard.

I hit the hay and prepared for the final day of our class. I was sad.

DAY 4 loomed.


  1. Love it! Thanks Andy :)

  2. I'm really enjoying reading of your exploits! I'm a little curious, do you plan to dive GUE-style herein, or are you using the course as further education and selectively incorporating the 'good' bits?

  3. Hey John,

    That's the million dollar question! To be honest, I'm not completely sure yet.

    GUE-F is a recreational course, or an entry point to further GUE training if you like.

    Recreationally i will dive as per the course. The standard 32% gas etc really does make life easy and has many advantages, and a bottom timer is more than adequate.

    However; i'm also partial to some baby tech diving - as per my TDI course (45m max) along with my 2 gas computer.

    I don't possess a trimix cert so i can't dive GUE standard gases below 30m; i have to make a decision to:

    a) not dive past 30m
    b) continue to GUE Tech 1 level
    c) dive as i do now - air and 50% stage to 45m max depth

    I think i'll do an additional post after the course report and discuss it.

    Thanks for the inspiration! ;)

  4. HI Rich! - My pleasure mate! :D


Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it!

Safe diving buddy.