GUE REC2 Course review, Anchorage Alaska (2/14/14 - 2/23/14)

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GDimery

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GUE – Rec 2 (Rescue/Triox)

To do or not to do GUE rec 2 (Triox)? This was the question that I had been throwing around for a few months. My diving goals include a recreational level 3 pass with GUE, which includes 21|35 with 10 minutes of deco to a max MOD of 130ft. This is the perfect certification for diving in South Central Alaska, where I live and do most of my diving. The only requirement for rec 3 is a recreational pass in fundamentals, doubles, a primary light and a stage bottle (all of which I have)­­­­­­. While I don’t have the desire to go with Tech 1 just yet, I don’t think I am ready; Rec 2 may bridge the gap nicely to rec 3 (rec 3 isn’t being offered for another 7 months).

Living in Anchorage, I have the benefit of a dive community that has a GUE Dive center, Dive Alaska, with our very own GUE instructor, Scott Anderson. Over the last 6 months I have had many discussions with Scott about how the Rec2 curriculum was being over hauled and was going to be ready for prime time in early 2014. I just could never see the benefit, I already had a PADI Rescue Cert (taught by a GUE instructor) and a fundies rec pass. The rec2 curriculum has a heavy rescue component. The triox component is a 30|30 O2|He mix with a MOD of 100fsw (any deeper the standard GUE gas is 21|35). I couldn’t help but wonder what the benefit was going to be, after all I don’t think I get narced at 100fsw on 32%. Late January 2014 I get the phone call from my instructor/friend, so Gareth, are you or are you not going to take Rec 2.

After a relaxing trip diving in southeast Alaska, I come back all ready to take my second GUE course. I decided I am going to do it and see what rec 2 has to offer. I show up to class with fellow dive buddies from the local community George and Marc. George an army officer who is also going for a Tech rating on his fundies cert, Marc a surgeon, and myself a FAA software specialist. A lot of the classroom material the first day was a repeat of Fundamentals but with a surgeon in the class we got a lot more in depth with the medical stuff. Some of it was over my head, but I definitely picked up some new knowledge. Next we start discussing the helium and the benefits. When we all realize the Equivalent Narcotic depth of 30|30 at 100fsw is going to be less than 60fsw we all start getting excited and can’t wait for our experience dives. Can’t we just skip to dives 8 and 9 and dive triox tomorrow?

Day 1 in the water was a repeat of fundies. The big difference was, George, Marc and I all knew what was expected of us as a GUE diver. Dive 1 we drop down to 20 ft and start knocking out the skills. George nails a beautiful Valve Drill in doubles and is well on his way to the Tech pass. Our S-Drills are a little rushed but we eventually calm down and get it right. We all demonstrate that we still remember our fundies material, our back up kicks are stronger, the team cohesiveness is second nature, and our propulsion techniques (when we remember to demonstrate them) are on point. I come up from the first dive think that was easy, minus my v-drill that needs a lot of work. Scott on the other hand critiques the dive and tells us what we need to work on. At this point I am dreading the video debrief. Dive 2, line handling. Not entirely new for everyone but definitely not 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] nature. We struggle to find stations to tie of too, we drop spools and we come up with some creative tie offs. All in all we come up from the dive thinking we blew it, but the video shows otherwise we adapted and overcame. We worked as a team and we got the task done. End of day 1 and we are content with our progress. We had back to Anchorage and start the video debrief.

Day 2 starts out early, as does every day diving in Alaska because of the long commute to the dive site, Whittier. The goal today is to surface an unconscious diver from 20ft with a stop at 10ft. George looks at my setup and grumbles at me because my gear was setup on double 130s instead of my smaller double 100s. Anyway, the first dive was rough. We all struggled with the concept. However after a surface interval, we go down and repeat the dive and get the concept. A typical class day of diving.

Our third dive day proves to be the most challenging. The team component for mid water accents is essential. Find 40fsw, thumb the dive, and do a minimum deco accent while shooting a SMB, simple right? What happened to our team formation? It was a mess. After some coaching above the surface, it’s time to go back and hold 20 ft in a group formation. Now remember, this is Alaska in February, the instructor has heated gloves and a heated vest so 36*-37* water is no big deal. We get to 20ft on a minimum deco accent and he cuts the drill and has us hold mid water for what seems forever. Motionless at 20ft, I froze! We weren’t supposed to move, just keep our triangle. The day ends and we are all feeling a little down let a lone cold. This was our first real introduction to mid water accents while being task loaded.

The last dive day, TRIOX! This was what we had all been waiting for. We meet at 7am at the dive shop to analyze our gas. Mine reads out 30.1 for O2 and 29.7 He. I pressurize my rig for the cold trip down to the dive site and I can help but breath of my reg and talk to see if I sound funny, “Primary Reg, Check”. Sure enough I sound like roger rabbit. We get to the site, we review our gas plan (minimum gas, turn pressures etc) that we had calculated previously in the class room. Next we are all suited up and sitting at the bottom of the boat ramp, Time to do the GUE EDGE. Scott speaks up, and the main goal today is to enjoy our experiences dives. He offers to lead us out to 100ft to enjoy the sea whips/sea pens. A little nervous, we start the dive and I fumble the tie off for the dive flag. I get some reassurance from Scott and he tells me to calm/slow down. I had done this dive previously on 32% but wow all I can say is what a different experience a 100 ft is on He. I saw more, I processed more, I could remember more. 97ft max, 50 ft average for almost 60 minutes. We come back up and we were all comparing the narcosis feeling to previous dives at 100ft. George speaks up and says, that was awesome that was my first dive below 70 fsw. The instructor is thrilled, his first 100fsw dive was on the right gas. The second experience dive was just as epic, we went to a sunken crane, more sea pens, saw a wolf eel and lots of other invertebrate life. That was it I was hooked. I have a new gas for 100ft dives.

As we surfaced on the boat ramp, we got the congratulations from our instructor. We passed the diving portion of rec2. We still have the written final to take. George also got a tech evaluation on his fundies cert, congratulations! If your ever wondering if you should take rec2, the rescue component is solid and 3030 gas is a wonderful tool to have when diving around the 100ft range. I can’t wait to take Rec3.
 

waterpirate

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1. Alaska? BRRRRRRRR cold
2. Good on you for continueing your GUE experiance
3. Welcome to the wonderfull world of helium, expensive but worth every penny.
4. Congrats on your new cert.
Eric
 

BluewaterSail

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Thanks for the detailed writeup! Sounds like a good course.
I wonder why more instructors don't offer Rec 2.
 

GDimery

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Thanks for the detailed writeup! Sounds like a good course.
I wonder why more instructors don't offer Rec 2.

I know the class wasn't offered for a few years and the material was only just re released. It's still not on the GUE website under recreational classes. Also I think its a tough sell. I would imagine most people taking rec2 probably want to take rec3 (A little deeper, mild deco obligations and 21|35). Prior to rec 2 I would just do the 100ft dive on 32%. Lets face it, with the price of He, its not like I am going to do every 100ft dive on 3030. The only pre requisit for rec 3 is a rec pass in fundies and expierence in doubles.

However Rec2 does have a strong rescue component (missing in other GUE courses), an introduction to Helium, mid water accents and as with any GUE course a strong focus on team awareness. It is deffinitly a nice bridge to Rec 3 for those wanting to take small steps.

1 question I still have from the course is why GUE capped the MOD at 100ft and not the MOD of the 30|30 gas, 120ft. The explanation in class was because GUE was trying to stay with standard gases. The standard gas in the 100-120ft range is 21|35. It might also be because we planned the dives as if the gas was 32% nitrox.
 

TSandM

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My guess is that the reason the MOD is 100 feet is that GUE uses 1.2 for max ppO2 for bottom time.

Glad to read a recap of this class. I've never seen it taught. It sounds like a good bridge between Rec 1/Fundies and either Rec 3 or T1. I think I would have taken T1 if I'd had a bridge available like that.

One of the best days of diving I can remember was supposed to be tech diving to 150, but we missed the wall and ended up doing a 110 foot, followed by a 70 foot dive on 21/35. Everything was sparklingly clear. If helium cost the same as Nitrox, I would never dive with anything else.
 
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