My start in Tech diving

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Rickk

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I recently completed TDI AN and DP courses.

I came to Moalboal Philippines just before the pandemic and decided to just stay here until it is over. I had been rec diving a few times a week but after a while wanted something a little different. I signed on for the two TDI courses Prior highest certification was PADI rescue and SSI Science of Diving. I have ice certification, nitrox and deep and have dry suit experience. Started the course at about the 300+ dive level.

I felt like a minnow, an absolute new diver first few dives with twinset. I thought I had good skills, and without too much bragging I was better than most rec divers. With the twinset I had floaty fins so put the RK3s back in the dive bag and bought a pair of ScubaPro Jets. That sorted the main buoyancy issues, To make a long story short, I spent several months and 75 to 80 dives before I was fully comfortable with the Twinset, frog finning, back finning, deploying DSMB, precise trim, etc. Most of those dives was just me and a dive master on a recreational dive, often with other rec divers, where I could practice the skills but Phill Jennings of Cebu Dive Centre here in Moalboal took me through the necessary practice sessions, It was several months to get to the point where he was comfortable starting the dedicated course, by that time I had done most of the skills piecemeal but the final 7 or 8 dives put it all together. Even now, I still practice the basic tech skills on recreational dives, no matter if I am diving single or twinset.


Tech diving takes commitment. You will discover that you have developed a LOT of bad habits in rec diving, ones that still put you in the top level of rec diver skills but must be unlearned prior to getting to the meat of tech diving. You will need additional equipment. I had a BPW for single tank rec diving and all the other gear but ended up buying a second Perdix (first is AI), second PBW, dedicated fins, two new regs, different DSMB, manifold valve and tank bands. (Borrowing tanks from the dive shop or there would be another 20k peso, $US500.) Even with some used equipment, and some I already had, it was over $US3,000 in additional equipment.

It was well worth it. I consider myself a much better diver, more informed and knowledgeable on the science of diving, much better more precise skills than before. But for me, the payoff is that I have started to master a new skill set, one that not many people have done. I will go on to Trimix and Advanced Trimix. If I ever get somewhere with a good TDI Wreck instructor and some wrecks, I will take that path as well.


Anyone reading this and trying to decide between Dive Master and going Tech as a next step beyond Rescue should really consider what their goals are. If you want to get a job in diving then Dive Master, if you want to become a better diver then go Tech.


There are other threads here that discuss the various differences among the agencies. Just as with basic OW, it is the instructor that matters not the agency, the skills are the same, the science of the dives is the same, about all that changes is a little of the way the instructor has to teach the courses, TDI appears to give the instructor more freedom in the sequence of the skills, PADI mandates a set order more than TDI. Also TDI can be a little cheaper than PADI because you can use a library text book and PADI insists that you buy their book. (I have never opened any dive course book after getting the card.) I cannot really comment in the other agencies as I have not been exposed to them in the tech world.


Find an instructor that will work with you throughout the process.


Unless you have the necessary fundamental skills to start the course, do not think you can take a tech course on a short vacation. If you are rescue then find a tech instructor to get you started on twinset or side mount first, then master that, then think about the actual courses. Talk to some tech divers, watch the YouTube videos and see what tech diving looks like, master trim and buoyancy skills, learn frog kicking, back finning etc.

But most of all have fun and be safe.
 

beester

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Very nice write up! But may I ask... what are your goals... you only list stuff like, I want this or this certification. Certifications are not interesting, what you want to do underwater is... like:

- I want to dive the Britannic, I want to dive the Repulse... I want to..
- I want to participate in underwater archeology projects
- I want to dive this or this wreck in my neighbourhood
- I want to ...

The cert is just a means to dive, not a goal :p
 

Wibble

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Arguably the certification is irrelevant; only your skill matter and they only matter when you’re diving.

Meaning, a certification card isn’t going to get you out of a mess when you’re diving, it’s your skills.

Also remember skills atrophy if they’re not used. Thus practice is key.
 

AJ

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I felt like a minnow, an absolute new diver first few dives with twinset. I thought I had good skills, and without too much bragging I was better than most rec divers.
Could you elaborate what these skills are? I'am very curious.
 

doctormike

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Arguably the certification is irrelevant; only your skill matter and they only matter when you’re diving.

Meaning, a certification card isn’t going to get you out of a mess when you’re diving, it’s your skills.

Also remember skills atrophy if they’re not used. Thus practice is key.

The OP is excited about tech training and posted their experiences, not sure what you are telling them. Certification is definitely relevant, it's documentation of training, which is important. It's not an either/or thing. And you certainly can't get skills and experience without the appropriate card in 2021 - it's not the 1980s.
 

boulderjohn

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AJ:
Could you elaborate what these skills are? I'am very curious.
I am pretty sure he means the same thing I would have meant if I had written it. When I started tech, I was already an OW instructor. On my first day with double steel tanks in a swimming pool, I felt like I was in a rodeo--was I wearing the tanks, or were they wearing me? It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

Now as a tech instructor, I see a whole range of new doubles diver experiences. Some adapt reasonably well. Some absolutely struggle. In one case, the student had been cave certified in doubles long before but had not done any of that kind of diving in more than a decade. We did a dive together to start the class, and he could not stay level---he kept rolling over to one side or the other. He said he was humiliated. It took him several dives, but suddenly he had it and could continue with the class.

You see the same thing with OW instruction to a much lesser degree. When some OW students, wearing AL 80s, first swim on the surface, they keep rolling over. It does not take too long for them to find their balance. The same thing happens with some people with doubles, but the effect is much greater.
 

Wibble

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The OP is excited about tech training and posted their experiences, not sure what you are telling them. Certification is definitely relevant, it's documentation of training, which is important. It's not an either/or thing. And you certainly can't get skills and experience without the appropriate card in 2021 - it's not the 1980s.
Of course.

My point is the same as what my father said to me the day I passed my driving test: well done, now you can learn how to d(r)ive.

Keeping up with the skills is the other point; being able to do a shutdown once to pass a course is all well and good, but doing a flow check**/whatever on every dive means those skills are continually hammered home.

Certifications have their uses, but few people do courses for the specific of just getting a certification; most people do courses to get the skills they're going to use diving and the certification demonstrates the standard at that point in time.


**Checking that the valves are open on a twinset/doubles or sidemount.
 

doctormike

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Of course.

My point is the same as what my father said to me the day I passed my driving test: well done, now you can learn how to d(r)ive.

Keeping up with the skills is the other point; being able to do a shutdown once to pass a course is all well and good, but doing a flow check**/whatever on every dive means those skills are continually hammered home.

Certifications have their uses, but few people do courses for the specific of just getting a certification; most people do courses to get the skills they're going to use diving and the certification demonstrates the standard at that point in time.


**Checking that the valves are open on a twinset/doubles or sidemount.
Absolutely, that all makes sense. But I was responding to the statement that "the certification is irrelevant". Especially when we have a new tech diver who is excited about their class enough to post here.
 

broncobowsher

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For reference I my start went something like this...

Wreck in 60-100 FSW. All the work to get to it, such a short dive on it, half of that was clock watching so I could be back on time. There has to be a way to stay longer.

There is a cool plane wreck at 135 FSW. What does it take to visit the plane?

Fast forward my research, want to visit places like Truk and Bikini. Rebreather will be my future.

I skipped around in borrowed doubles and sidemount for a little bit. Got the rebreather and am settling into enjoying it at the level I want to be at. More levels to go? Sure. But I want to enjoy where I am at now for a while longer. Lots of good stuff above 200' and 3-hour run times are enough for now.
 

Lorenzoid

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OP has been living in the Philippines. I’m thinking it goes without saying he’s looking at diving some WWII wrecks. It would be interesting to know if the prospect of a particular wreck was the inspiration.
 
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