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AOW student looking to take tech route- wondering how i can get the edge.

Discussion in 'Technical Diving Specialties' started by divechk, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. divechk

    divechk Angel Fish

    :) Hi there. I need help figuring out what the bar is for tech diving [generally, and with emphasis on skills]. How do I find out? I think there are probably some skills that I want to perfect and know as second nature to get the edge for tech diving. How can I figure out what these are? As for where I want to be - I just want to go really deep, but not necessarily wrecks. I have an idea what tech diving is, besides being diving that is more than rec diving. But am not sure which skills would be extremely important [I'd imagine buoyancy, nav and gas maintenance being up there]. In the meantime I'll be getting more dives in. I'm curious what folks on this board think.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  2. DivingPrincessE

    DivingPrincessE Great White

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Miramar & Fort Lauderdale, FL
    You're in an area that is abundant with possible mentors, so that would be the first thing I would do. Find a knowledgeable tech diver and dive with them as much as possible. You can also take one of the intro to tech courses through TDI or someone. I haven't taken the course so I can't speak to how good it is.

    You will also want to get tech compliant gear and finding a good mentor will help you to know what gear you need and which brands are better than others.

    Check out your regional forum to look for people to dive with.

    Good luck.
  3. AndyNZ

    AndyNZ Instructor, Scuba

    Your profile shows not a huge amount of dives, most tech courses that I am familiar with have a pre-req of 100 dives minimum, though there are always exceptions of course.

    Part of me says, hey... just go diving and have some fun. Worry about the tech route in another years time.

    Another part of me says, hey... great that you want to get your skills sorted at an early stage, go for it!

    You're spot on with some of the key skills, buoyancy and gas management. But I'd also throw situational awareness into that pot as well.

    Have a look at the GUE Fundamentals course. Whether or not you decide to "go DIR", the course is a really good introduction to the key skills needed for tech, and is designed to be what you are looking for - reinforcing the skills needed to be a good tech diver before you start doing tech courses.
  4. texdiveguy

    texdiveguy Orca Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: DFW,Texas
    Take a good Intro to Tech course and practice the new skills introduced prior to moving on.....get in a good number of quality dives and various experiences. Read a few good tech manuals to get a feel for whats ahead. Take your time and interview perspective instructors.
  5. dsteding

    dsteding DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seattle, downtown
    I'd chat with a local instructor, or one of us that has gone that route.

    One possible thing to do is sign up for this list:

    NWUE Buddy List

    There are a fair amount of us on this list with tech training, and we can answer your questions there.

    My personal experience (as a newish tech diver) is as follows:

    Into doubles around 40 dives, a seminar on using them shortly thereafter.

    GUE-F around 100 dives

    Pass GUE-F around 125 dives

    Then, around 200 dives I started my tech training with a guy we flew up from California, we did a first weekend in early June, he gave us homework, and then came back early August to complete things.

    As for skills, finding a good instructor is key in terms of figuring out the skills, or going diving with some of us (the list above is good for that). For what it is worth, you can at least observe some tech divers in the water and see where they are at.
  6. nereas

    nereas Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Expat Floridian travelling in the Land of Eternal

    Tech diving is any of the following:

    1) going into a cave or shipwreck;

    2) going deeper than 130 ft; or

    3) staying down longer than the NDL limits.

    Tech training requires finding a tech instructor, and saving up enough money from your day job to buy the extra gear and pay the instructor. The training program is normally divided up into modules variously called intro, intermediate, and advanced. It normally takes about 6 months to a year to finish all of it.

    The gear normally involves a drysuit, a 6 cu ft argon bottle with a basic 1st stage and LP hose to feed the suit with, four 1st stages, four 2nd stages, two lights, two masks, a big reel, a small spool (metal ones are best), 2 surface marker buoys (SMBs), a backplate, a wing, a harness (self-made is best and least expensive), small jetfins, a gauge-mode computer (some agencies, the better ones, require 2 of them), a wrist slate, and some kind of deco tables (either software generated or pre-printed).

    You should not start buying gear, however, until you have found your super-instructor first, though.

    Some stores let you rent the twin tanks and the two deco bottles, otherwise you will need to buy these as well.

    You are ready for tech diving if you can do the following:

    1) Plan your dive, and dive you plan;

    2) Control your buoyancy so that you can go down slowly, go up slowly, and stay level the rest of the time;

    3) Know when to dive at a spot, and when not to dive there, based on conditions;

    4) Enjoy scuba diving and stay relaxed during the dives.

    Tech diving opens new depths for you, down to 350 ft for open circuit (tanks) scuba, and/or cave diving with lights, and/or decompression diving where you must wait additional time before you can come back to the surface.

    If this is what you want, you should start now to find an instructor. The instructor will be affiliated with one of several agencies:

    1) IANTD

    2) TDI

    3) NAUI Tech

    4) GUE

    5) etc.

    Which agency does not matter that much. What matters is that you get along great with him/her. Try to meet several instructors before you make your choice. The instructor is your most important decision, since this person may or may not get you killed, may or may not teach you false principles that later get you killed, etc.

    The instructor(s) will ask you a lot of questions too. He/she/they want to know if you are the kind of student who is going to get them killed. Answer honestly.

    The training starts with getting your underwater configuration and set up alligned so that:

    1) you are horizontal underwater;

    2) your weighting is not 1 lb heavier or lighter than perfect;

    3) you can change depths easily and stop at any depth;

    4) you dont scull your hands nor kick your fins unnecessarily;

    5) you can drift effortlessly and hold that depth while drifting;

    6) you can send up an SMB on the line of your spool and use it to egress slowly;

    7) you can use the reel to mark your course through a wreck or cave;

    8) you can use the reel as a backup spool;

    9) you can handle a single deco bottle with EAN 50 in it;

    10) at all times you stay off the bottom so that you don't silt up the site;

    11) etc.

    After this, you then normally begin to train on more progressive gas mixes, such as nitrox first, then norm-oxic trimix (TMX 21/40), then finally hypoxic trimix (TMX 15/50 etc.) together with EAN 50 and 100% O2 for deco.

    Then there are valve drills where you need to reach back behind your head and shut down your twin tanks variously. There are also air-sharing drills that are slightly different than what you were taught for basic open water.

    You will also be changing your mask underwater with your spare in your cargo pocket several times throughout the training, so I hope you are already good at this. One agency will actually rip your mask off by surprise (I do not like those who do this, because I believe it is counter-productive and unsafe).

    Give all this some serious though. Otherwise, you could be wasting your time and a lot more money.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  7. Clammy

    Clammy Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Los Angeles, CA USA
    I've been asking around about tech as well from various instructors. I've been told on more than one occasion that if someone comes up to them and says "I just want to go really deep." they are very inclined to refuse instruction. The instructors I've talked to are very goal oriented in their tech diving and I guess they are wary about people just doing things for the sake of doing it without some goal in mind.
  8. dsteding

    dsteding DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seattle, downtown
    Nereas forgot one really important piece, and that is mindset. All of the skills he mentions are important because they free up bandwidth to deal with much more complex diving. Remember how simple things like checking your SPG caused you to lose track of what was going on around you? Think about how that would stress you out.

    You need to cut out the stress because stress will eventually lead to panic in most divers. Panic, quite frankly, is what kills technical divers.

    Therefore, you need to learn to control the panic button, and to remain cool when the crap is hitting the fan around you. In the recreational world, heading back to the surface when things go wrong is always an option, in the technical world, not so much.

    Understand where your panic buttons are, and work to conquer them. Lots of instructors will task load you beyond belief in class, not because you are going to some day lose your mask while sharing air with a buddy on an ascent, and then have that buddy's deco bottle disappear, but because it is a good way to simulate task loading in the real world.

    All that means really understanding your own mind and the way you react to stress underwater. It also means really asking yourself why you want to do what you are seeking to do, and whether you have the ability to go there.

    Since you are local, also consider limited visibility diving, and the cold water. We did a dive in the lake tonight to 150 ffw with good vis for the lake, maybe 8 feet or so. Sound appealing?
  9. ucfdiver

    ucfdiver DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Orlando, FL
    I find it amazing these threads come up about tech diving, and no one mentions buddy awareness as a sign of being prepared. I'll dive with a buddy who's aware of my actions and ready to help me of something goes wrong, even if his trim isn't perfect, but not the other way around.
  10. ppo2_diver

    ppo2_diver Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Chicago Area (Naperville to be exact)
    Focus on mastery of fundamental diving skills. Being able to comfortably and confidently handle failures while maintain position in the water column (and in good trim) is the foundation for sound diving (rec and tech). Don't worry about tech skills (i.e. gas switch, etc.). Instead focus on being able to control your position in the water column and awareness of your surroundings and dive team. Focus on comfort, competence, and confidence with fundamental diving skills.

    Oh, and have fun!!!

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