GUE Tech 1 Trip Report w/Bob Sherwood and Silent World Key Largo, FL

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StreetDoctor

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Front Range, CO
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Freshly out of fundamentals my buddy Dan and I decided to take GUE Tech 1 to give us maximum time next season for some local decompression dives. We started planning in early December and sent out some emails and decided on taking the class with the GUE training director Bob Sherwood. Bob had a reputation of being a tough instructor and as the training director and an instructor trainer how could we go wrong? After contacting him we found out Bob had a small window where he could fit us in and it worked out perfectly. We decided to do the class somewhere warm and Florida fit the bill perfectly. Bob had recently done a Tech 1 class in Key Largo so he had a lot of the logistics already figured out. Class was scheduled to be held February 2nd -8th at Silent World Dive Center in Key Largo, FL.

We decided we were going to drive down so we could bring all of our own gear and thought it would be a good idea to head down a bit early to get accustomed to our gear in salt water and work the bugs out since we hadn’t been in open water since the end of November. We decided on taking the class in our drysuits with 80’s. We left on the morning of Thursday January 28th and drove for about 1200 miles or roughly 22 hours to West Palm Beach. We spent most of the day Friday relaxing and picking up some extra odds and ends, the only thing we forgot to pack were condom catheters for our drysuits, not too bad. We found out the hard way throughout the rest of the trip that nothing works better than a proper fitting Rochester wideband.

In the previous days we had spoken to Becky from Liquid Productions and she was planning a charter on Saturday with Scuba Adventures out of West Palm Beach. Saturday morning we did a double dip drift dive on the Corridor Wrecks and Mid Reef. Sea conditions were pretty rough in the 4’-6’ range and there was a ripping current of about 2.5 knots. Being Great Lakes divers neither one of us really had all that much experience with current but we managed. The dives turned out to be awesome and we got to experience a few large sea turtles, a 7’ hammerhead, and a couple large goliath grouper. Below are a couple images Becky took throughout the two dives. Liquid Productions LLC

4349261139_7586c14d81_o.jpg


4349261159_cdfbdd5d26_o.jpg


4350009110_12be1dbf10_o.jpg


After our morning dives on Saturday we decided to pack up and continue our way down to Key Largo. We got into Key Largo in the middle of the afternoon. We booked 10 nights at Key West Inn of Key Largo (I know confusing) and got an amazing rate through Chris at Silent World. The rooms are a bit dated but they’re all suites with a bedroom/full bath upstairs, a queen size sofa bed with a full bath downstairs, a full kitchen, and a screened in balcony. I hear they’ve recently done some renovation but I think we stayed in the older section. After we got our gear situated we decided to stop in at Silent World and introduce ourselves. This was the first time I met Chris and although he sounds funny when he talks he’s a good dude. He hooked us up all week which I’ll get into later. Class wasn’t scheduled to start until Monday so we decided to do two more dives with Silent World on Sunday morning before class started.

4349280535_73fece7447.jpg


On Monday morning we woke up to a pretty heavy rain storm. We met with Bob at the shop at about 8am. We ended up getting really lucky by having Mark Messersmith also with us for the first half of the class interning to teach Tech 1. Monday consisted of lectures and we talked about our experience, why we decided on Tech 1 and what we expected to gain from the class.

4349278255_826cf0c06f_o.jpg


Tuesday was our first day in the water and to put it lightly we looked horrible. Tuesday was supposed to be a review day of fundamentals stuff and a chance for Bob and Mark to see where we’re at with our skills. Somehow we managed to lose about 30 degrees off our once horizontal trim and we were having a lot of little issues with team communication, awareness, even basic buoyancy. We did a short lecture and review after our dives Tuesday and in my head I wrote off our dives as performance anxiety.

Wednesday we suffered the same issues, I was really getting pissed off about our performance and I was starting to think this was going to be fundamentals part II. After the dives we had lunch and then met at the community pool (VERY nice by the way) to complete our swim test. The swim test consisted of a 400 yard swim in under 14 minutes and a 60’ breath hold swim. Psychologically the swim test was really tough for me because we had been doing so badly in the class my morale was low. Bob and Mark were able to motivate us and we both passed the swim tests. After the swim test we did a video review along with some more lectures. Bob and Mark were able to give us a great critique along with some things to try the following day which would later prove to get us back on the right track. During our time so far we had kept progressing forward with the class learning how to work with a reel and deal with manifold failures. I was starting to get worried if we didn’t show some potential soon we’d be lucky to leave with our fundamentals cards.


4349283505_09aafa63aa_o.jpg

Meeting Bob @ the Dock


Thursday morning Dan and I both felt that if we didn’t show some promise on this day’s dives it was going to be extremely hard for us to pass the course. Luckily the things Bob and Mark had been showing us had started to stick and we showed some big improvement. I think this gave us the confidence we needed to really pull together. At this point I was really happy we had continued to proceed forward with the class and the new material or there’s no way we would have had the time to complete everything in the time frame we had to work with. Unfortunately this was also the last day we had Mark with us. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him again in the near future in a Cave 1 class and I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from him.

On Friday we awoke to 20-30mph winds and a rough sounding marine weather report. When we arrived at the dock we were greeted by some of the crew and captain Gary who said we would be introduced to “sporty” conditions today. Today planned for a deeper dive to practice ascent/descents still on 32%. When we got to our dive site we were met with 10’ seas with an occasional 12-13’er thrown in just for fun. The crew did an awesome job getting us into the water. We were hot dropped and made a plan to shoot a bag from depth to be picked up after some mock deco. After dropping in I laughed because the weather had stirred up the bottom so much visibility was much more like what I was used to at about 10’. At the beginning of our dive during a modified valve drill I experienced a real fixable right post failure which was sorted out quickly and fixed after it being beaten into our heads for the last couple days as a practice scenario. Once we got to the bottom things opened up quite nicely and we had a great dive. I was really happy I took some sea sickness pills beforehand. We really started to pull together as a team on this dive and I was starting to feel like we were really making some progress. We got back on the boat without issue thanks in part to a great captain and our return trip was uneventful. Getting back on the boat with big grins on our faces and then seeing the other divers reactions to us smiling and laughing really made me laugh even harder. We were starting to have a really good time.

4350067818_4cacfe7393.jpg


4349283799_fef627e42a.jpg

Dan, Nick, and Bob after a morning dive

We did well enough on Friday that we went ahead and did our first dives on helium on Saturday. We did a dive on the Spiegel Grove on 30/30 with some mock deco. Besides sounding funny when you talk it’s amazing how clear headed you are when using helium. Except for the cost I’m a big fan. We were able to impress Bob enough on this dive that our homework was to plan a real decompression experience dive the following day using 21/35 as a back gas and 50% to decompress with.

Up to this point the class had gotten progressively tougher both in and out of the water and I really learned a lot about decompression theory and strategy. This was by far the most challenging course I’ve ever completed in my short diving career. I really feel like our outcome might not have been the same if we had had a different instructor. Based on our performance in the first few days of class I wouldn’t have passed myself at even the fundamental level. Bob and Mark stuck with us and probably had more confidence in us than we had in ourselves. In a very short amount of time they were able to get us back on track all while still moving forward at the same time. I believe Bob has quite the reputation on the internet but he’s by far the most passionate person I’ve ever met when it comes to scuba. He’s got a gift for teaching and he’ll really do everything in his power to see you succeed. He‘s been around for a long time (even before GUE) and there wasn’t a single question he wasn’t able or willing to answer about diving or GUE.

Our two experience dives went great and were done on the Spiegel Grove and the Duane. We had total run times of 50 minutes and 60 minutes with 15 and 20 minutes of deco done respectively. Our dive on The Duane was awesome with absolutely zero current and flat seas. I’m typing this while driving back to Chicago and seeing a foot of snow on the ground has me realizing I won’t be diving again for a month. I really do feel bad for Bob though, he’s teaching a Tech 2 class in Seattle this week.

4349333161_f2dc20ab2f.jpg


4350080950_9bc4189a13.jpg

About to splash in for our 2nd experience deco dive on the Duane

4350098722_f7464a533a.jpg


Descending to the sand on the Duane

4349350661_38035da6af.jpg


4349350587_8827642a64.jpg


4350098558_5d54dc8293.jpg

Stern of the Duane, pretty rare to be able to swim under from what I understand

On our way home we decided to break up the drive and stop at Extreme Exposure. Dan decided to get two of his lights worked on; we also went next door to GUE HQ and were able to pick up our newly pressed T1 cards in person. I had to take advantage of his Gold Member status and pick up a new “gooey” coat and a video for the long ride home.

All in all I think this week is my most memorable event related to scuba diving to date and I definitely made some new friends that I’ll hopefully be diving with in the near future. All the crew at Silent World were great- Chris, AJ, Gary, Bob, Avery, Mike all did a great job blending gas and crewing the boat for us, and also making sure we had everything we needed for class. Chris also has some great prices on gear in his shop and I’ll be keeping him in mind for the future. Our class length averaged 10-12 hour days and more often than not we were in the shop after business hours doing lecture or video review. Chris has a nice setup in the corner with a couch and a big plasma TV. He also kept the coffee flowing from either Starbucks or the Cuban place next door. His new place looks like it’ll be even nicer and I look forward to making a visit. I can’t see visiting the upper Keys and diving with anyone else other than Silent World. Feel free to ask me any questions publicly or privately about the class I’d be more than willing to help with any information I can offer.
-Nick

4350117622_12296e0750.jpg

Blue water S drill

4349369693_66b1821d29.jpg

Dan deploying an SMB
 

ScubaInChicago

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Nice write up.....I'll add that having Mark Messersmith added a little bit (actually, a lot) to the performance anxiety, but the wealth of knowledge between the two of them was priceless....It was like having a two for one special....

A big THANKS to Bob and Mark for having patience with us throughout the week. And thanks to Chris Brown of Silent World and the crew who made the weeks diving logistics possible and without a single setback.
 

Sloth

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When's the first trip for tech 1 level dives in the great lakes and more importantly can I come? :)
 

TSandM

Missed and loved by many.
Rest in Peace
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Congratulations! Looks like you had a great class and even managed to have fun doing it.
 

ScubaSam

Sister of Shenanigans
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Great write-up on the class. Thank you for posting it.

Congratulations to you and your buddy Dan!!!
 

keithdiver

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Freshly out of fundamentals my buddy Dan and I decided to take GUE Tech 1 to give us maximum time next season for some local decompression dives. We started planning in early December and sent out some emails and decided on taking the class with the GUE training director Bob Sherwood. Bob had a reputation of being a tough instructor and as the training director and an instructor trainer how could we go wrong? After contacting him we found out Bob had a small window where he could fit us in and it worked out perfectly. We decided to do the class somewhere warm and Florida fit the bill perfectly. Bob had recently done a Tech 1 class in Key Largo so he had a lot of the logistics already figured out. Class was scheduled to be held February 2nd -8th at Silent World Dive Center in Key Largo, FL.

We decided we were going to drive down so we could bring all of our own gear and thought it would be a good idea to head down a bit early to get accustomed to our gear in salt water and work the bugs out since we hadn’t been in open water since the end of November. We decided on taking the class in our drysuits with 80’s. We left on the morning of Thursday January 28th and drove for about 1200 miles or roughly 22 hours to West Palm Beach. We spent most of the day Friday relaxing and picking up some extra odds and ends, the only thing we forgot to pack were condom catheters for our drysuits, not too bad. We found out the hard way throughout the rest of the trip that nothing works better than a proper fitting Rochester wideband.

In the previous days we had spoken to Becky from Liquid Productions and she was planning a charter on Saturday with Scuba Adventures out of West Palm Beach. Saturday morning we did a double dip drift dive on the Corridor Wrecks and Mid Reef. Sea conditions were pretty rough in the 4’-6’ range and there was a ripping current of about 2.5 knots. Being Great Lakes divers neither one of us really had all that much experience with current but we managed. The dives turned out to be awesome and we got to experience a few large sea turtles, a 7’ hammerhead, and a couple large goliath grouper. Below are a couple images Becky took throughout the two dives. Liquid Productions LLC

4349261139_7586c14d81_o.jpg


4349261159_cdfbdd5d26_o.jpg


4350009110_12be1dbf10_o.jpg


After our morning dives on Saturday we decided to pack up and continue our way down to Key Largo. We got into Key Largo in the middle of the afternoon. We booked 10 nights at Key West Inn of Key Largo (I know confusing) and got an amazing rate through Chris at Silent World. The rooms are a bit dated but they’re all suites with a bedroom/full bath upstairs, a queen size sofa bed with a full bath downstairs, a full kitchen, and a screened in balcony. I hear they’ve recently done some renovation but I think we stayed in the older section. After we got our gear situated we decided to stop in at Silent World and introduce ourselves. This was the first time I met Chris and although he sounds funny when he talks he’s a good dude. He hooked us up all week which I’ll get into later. Class wasn’t scheduled to start until Monday so we decided to do two more dives with Silent World on Sunday morning before class started.

4349280535_73fece7447.jpg


On Monday morning we woke up to a pretty heavy rain storm. We met with Bob at the shop at about 8am. We ended up getting really lucky by having Mark Messersmith also with us for the first half of the class interning to teach Tech 1. Monday consisted of lectures and we talked about our experience, why we decided on Tech 1 and what we expected to gain from the class.

4349278255_826cf0c06f_o.jpg


Tuesday was our first day in the water and to put it lightly we looked horrible. Tuesday was supposed to be a review day of fundamentals stuff and a chance for Bob and Mark to see where we’re at with our skills. Somehow we managed to lose about 30 degrees off our once horizontal trim and we were having a lot of little issues with team communication, awareness, even basic buoyancy. We did a short lecture and review after our dives Tuesday and in my head I wrote off our dives as performance anxiety.

Wednesday we suffered the same issues, I was really getting pissed off about our performance and I was starting to think this was going to be fundamentals part II. After the dives we had lunch and then met at the community pool (VERY nice by the way) to complete our swim test. The swim test consisted of a 400 yard swim in under 14 minutes and a 60’ breath hold swim. Psychologically the swim test was really tough for me because we had been doing so badly in the class my morale was low. Bob and Mark were able to motivate us and we both passed the swim tests. After the swim test we did a video review along with some more lectures. Bob and Mark were able to give us a great critique along with some things to try the following day which would later prove to get us back on the right track. During our time so far we had kept progressing forward with the class learning how to work with a reel and deal with manifold failures. I was starting to get worried if we didn’t show some potential soon we’d be lucky to leave with our fundamentals cards.


4349283505_09aafa63aa_o.jpg

Meeting Bob @ the Dock


Thursday morning Dan and I both felt that if we didn’t show some promise on this day’s dives it was going to be extremely hard for us to pass the course. Luckily the things Bob and Mark had been showing us had started to stick and we showed some big improvement. I think this gave us the confidence we needed to really pull together. At this point I was really happy we had continued to proceed forward with the class and the new material or there’s no way we would have had the time to complete everything in the time frame we had to work with. Unfortunately this was also the last day we had Mark with us. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him again in the near future in a Cave 1 class and I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from him.

On Friday we awoke to 20-30mph winds and a rough sounding marine weather report. When we arrived at the dock we were greeted by some of the crew and captain Gary who said we would be introduced to “sporty” conditions today. Today planned for a deeper dive to practice ascent/descents still on 32%. When we got to our dive site we were met with 10’ seas with an occasional 12-13’er thrown in just for fun. The crew did an awesome job getting us into the water. We were hot dropped and made a plan to shoot a bag from depth to be picked up after some mock deco. After dropping in I laughed because the weather had stirred up the bottom so much visibility was much more like what I was used to at about 10’. At the beginning of our dive during a modified valve drill I experienced a real fixable right post failure which was sorted out quickly and fixed after it being beaten into our heads for the last couple days as a practice scenario. Once we got to the bottom things opened up quite nicely and we had a great dive. I was really happy I took some sea sickness pills beforehand. We really started to pull together as a team on this dive and I was starting to feel like we were really making some progress. We got back on the boat without issue thanks in part to a great captain and our return trip was uneventful. Getting back on the boat with big grins on our faces and then seeing the other divers reactions to us smiling and laughing really made me laugh even harder. We were starting to have a really good time.

4350067818_4cacfe7393.jpg


4349283799_fef627e42a.jpg

Dan, Nick, and Bob after a morning dive

We did well enough on Friday that we went ahead and did our first dives on helium on Saturday. We did a dive on the Spiegel Grove on 30/30 with some mock deco. Besides sounding funny when you talk it’s amazing how clear headed you are when using helium. Except for the cost I’m a big fan. We were able to impress Bob enough on this dive that our homework was to plan a real decompression experience dive the following day using 21/35 as a back gas and 50% to decompress with.

Up to this point the class had gotten progressively tougher both in and out of the water and I really learned a lot about decompression theory and strategy. This was by far the most challenging course I’ve ever completed in my short diving career. I really feel like our outcome might not have been the same if we had had a different instructor. Based on our performance in the first few days of class I wouldn’t have passed myself at even the fundamental level. Bob and Mark stuck with us and probably had more confidence in us than we had in ourselves. In a very short amount of time they were able to get us back on track all while still moving forward at the same time. I believe Bob has quite the reputation on the internet but he’s by far the most passionate person I’ve ever met when it comes to scuba. He’s got a gift for teaching and he’ll really do everything in his power to see you succeed. He‘s been around for a long time (even before GUE) and there wasn’t a single question he wasn’t able or willing to answer about diving or GUE.

Our two experience dives went great and were done on the Spiegel Grove and the Duane. We had total run times of 50 minutes and 60 minutes with 15 and 20 minutes of deco done respectively. Our dive on The Duane was awesome with absolutely zero current and flat seas. I’m typing this while driving back to Chicago and seeing a foot of snow on the ground has me realizing I won’t be diving again for a month. I really do feel bad for Bob though, he’s teaching a Tech 2 class in Seattle this week.

4349333161_f2dc20ab2f.jpg


4350080950_9bc4189a13.jpg

About to splash in for our 2nd experience deco dive on the Duane

4350098722_f7464a533a.jpg


Descending to the sand on the Duane

4349350661_38035da6af.jpg


4349350587_8827642a64.jpg


4350098558_5d54dc8293.jpg

Stern of the Duane, pretty rare to be able to swim under from what I understand

On our way home we decided to break up the drive and stop at Extreme Exposure. Dan decided to get two of his lights worked on; we also went next door to GUE HQ and were able to pick up our newly pressed T1 cards in person. I had to take advantage of his Gold Member status and pick up a new “gooey” coat and a video for the long ride home.

All in all I think this week is my most memorable event related to scuba diving to date and I definitely made some new friends that I’ll hopefully be diving with in the near future. All the crew at Silent World were great- Chris, AJ, Gary, Bob, Avery, Mike all did a great job blending gas and crewing the boat for us, and also making sure we had everything we needed for class. Chris also has some great prices on gear in his shop and I’ll be keeping him in mind for the future. Our class length averaged 10-12 hour days and more often than not we were in the shop after business hours doing lecture or video review. Chris has a nice setup in the corner with a couch and a big plasma TV. He also kept the coffee flowing from either Starbucks or the Cuban place next door. His new place looks like it’ll be even nicer and I look forward to making a visit. I can’t see visiting the upper Keys and diving with anyone else other than Silent World. Feel free to ask me any questions publicly or privately about the class I’d be more than willing to help with any information I can offer.
-Nick

4350117622_12296e0750.jpg

Blue water S drill

4349369693_66b1821d29.jpg

Dan deploying an SMB

Great report, looks like you had a blast.Cna not wait to take my class.
 

StreetDoctor

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It's been brought to my attention that I left out a very important detail that might have triggered the turning point for us to be successful. After every dive the crew had a well stocked cooler filled with every flavor of Kool-aid you could imagine to rejuvenate us. At the end of the class we were even given a demonstration on how to rejuvenate with said Kool-aid while still in the water. :rofl3:
 

ScubaSam

Sister of Shenanigans
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It's been brought to my attention that I left out a very important detail that might have triggered the turning point for us to be successful. After every dive the crew had a well stocked cooler filled with every flavor of Kool-aid you could imagine to rejuvenate us. At the end of the class we were even given a demonstration on how to rejuvenate with said Kool-aid while still in the water. :rofl3:

:wink: Oh, gotcha, so you literally, and figuratively, drank the Kool-Aid. :rofl3:
 
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