TECH 1 Course report

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beester

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[h=2]TECH1 or how TEAM TIGER TURNED DIG-HEAD

[/h]
QUE CAZZO!!!! Literally YOU DICKHEADS (Thank you Roberta Dezi for the translation)

Below is not a factual report of our Tech 1 course, taken in Croatia (Krnica Diving) with Mario Arena as instructor. There is some artistic license involved. Not when it comes to our performance… NO the way we sucked is actually very true. What isn’t true is my description of Mario Arena… I will use some parabole to describe him while in fact he is a very very friendly man, a walking bible of both practical and theoretical diving knowledge, respectful but full of passion for “his wrecks”, diving, our way of diving and girls. J
The same goes for Maurizio the owner of Krnica diving. Apparently the more he likes you the more profanity is used, so beware if he’s very polite… not a good sign!

PREVIEW
I’m waiting on a sunny boulevard in the industrious town of Koper, Slovenia, close to the Croatian border, I’m waiting already 2 hours which is quite strange for an impatient guy like me, the reason is very simple… during my drive to Koper it became apparent that my VW GPS doesn’t know Croatia, the road simply stops at the Croatian border which is very funny when you don’t have any route-description or maps in your car.
Not that my 2 hours sitting on a bench didn’t go by very fast, because I was accompanied by a guy who must have been around when this area was still Austria-Hungarian. A guy who spoke no Dutch, English, French, German or Spanish. After more than 1 hour of very dedicated communication we were able to talk very nicely… my vocabulary increased to:

  • Harbor/port = Luca/Porta
  • Dog = Samec (or Samech I don’t remember)
  • Koper = which I presume is the city of Koper
But I digress… my buddy’s soon arrived and with their valiant Audi A3 they guided me to a small Croatian town called Krnica. There awaited Maurizio, who made us feel very very welcome from the first second.
“Apartment is over there… here are the keys, you can park your cars in the small garden a bit further… do you ****-faces want to dive tomorrow? Be at the dive-center tomorrow at nine and we will arrange!”
Of course we did..

KRNICA WARM-UP DIVES…RIPPING A NECK-SEAL ON DIVE 1 AND HOW LINGUISTIC ERRORS COULD GET YOU SHEEP SEX.

Next morning we settled in, put all the diving gear in place and promptly did a morning dive on the “reef”. With some good directions of Maurizio we managed to swim in the wrong direction :dork2:

When we were getting ready for dive 2 of the day on the wreck “Lina” (depth 20m-55m) I noticed my neck seal was ripped. Nice start of a Tech class I would say, specifically since the neck-seal could not be replaced (some technical mumbojumbo which is not relevant but explains this nicely). No problem, Maurizio provided a nice Santi E-lite which fit perfectly… nice except for one minor point…. NO PEE-VALVE!!!!!!! (something I would regret in a very pain-full way in the coming days).

On the LINA we were accompanied by a joined Russian-Ukrainian team who were doing warm-up dives for their T2 course. No cold war was going on so at least in the GUE community the Crimean crisis is less important than drinking and diving :D
Maurizio is very well known for being a real foodie in a Croatian way. All Krnica goers know this and have fond memories about his famous BBQs. (one of his bottle-monkeys told me that when he started out he gained 8kg in the first month because of the 23 BBQ’s Maurizio organized in this time span… on which Maurizio promptly replied “I prepare the food… I don’t force you to eat it!”)

Instead of a BBQ we were taken to a nice restaurant with the joined Russo-Ukrainian team… the food was very nice and copious but the starter was a bit strange… “Prosciutto and cheap cheese”… by the time we found out that cheap cheese is sheep cheese and sheep sex is cheap sex we were quite plastered.

TECH 1, TEAM OF 3, TEAM OF 4, TEAM OF 3, how we met a lanky white head called Mario (DAY 1)


The next morning we finally met Mario Arena… and a German guy called Volker, Ullrich, Hans or Adolf (I don’t remember). Apparently something went wrong with the registration meaning Mario thought we were only a team of 2 and he had accepted a 3rd team-member. Since a technical course can only be thought as a 1 on 3 during the in-water part this posed a problem. Mario had told VUHA that he would be able to teach a course with 4 people but it would mean the course would take 1,5 days longer because the in-water part would be only 1 on 3 so much more dives.

VUHA wasn’t very in to that, although I did try to convince him to join our merry TIGER team, so he departed, but left us a nice present in quantities of German lager. THANK YOU VUHA!

After saying good bye to our German friend we started with introductions and some theory. In which I tried to convince Mario that we as a team are very much into wrecks and history. Ben then succeeded in fully sabotaging this by going on a 2 hour monologue about project Baseline in “Put v Ekeren” (a belgian lake)… so we were labeled “Lake divers” J.
After the theory we set up our kit and went in for a lazy 2 hour dive @6 m to have a gentle look at our fundamental skills and rescue attempts. In short we passed but he told us with some humor:

  • Mario: “Wannes (C1)I saw-e you-e getting very cramped doing the flutter… so tomorrow dives you will only use flutter” YELP!
  • Mario: “Serge (C2), you were-e very focused on the valve-drill… next time don’t break the KNOB”
  • Mario: “Ben (Fundies Tech), if-e you ascend too fast… YOU WILL EXPLODE!!!”
PS: The only thing that almost exploded was my bladder after 120min in the water without a P-valve.
After some nice beers we called it a late day because it was already getting quite late.

THE KNOB, FLUTTER and EXPLODING MAN REALLY **** UP… QUE CAZZO!!! (DAY 2)

Next morning after some theory we went to the dive-center to practice line-laying. Serge being C2 of course was already quite proficient at this but me C1 (done in the LOT with gold-line everywhere almost up to the surface) and Ben FT didn’t so we practiced and practiced and practiced until Mario told us this was sufficient… LET’S GO DIVING!
So in the water we went… this time a bit deeper (10m) and with a specific task… lay line, and focus on team, and situational awareness, some failures might happen J. Let me just say very quickly that this went very badly and we first encountered a strictness in this friendly man underwater… asking us in no unclear bubbles what we were doing…during the de-briefs after every time he tried to make us show us our lacks in awareness and what to focus on but the next dives were unfortunately not getting any better.
In the end he was not very happy with our performance and gave the following choice:

  • Tomorrow we repeat the dive of today, because I think you need additional training… this will have no impact on the course but you will lose 1 experience dive.
  • Tomorrow we go to the ascend drills, but this will be difficult and if it goes bad there is a risk the course goes down the drain.
No need to say that we were firmly put with our feet on the ground after this conversation. So we didn’t enjoy the nice BBQ and Kiril curry as should have, being focused more internally on our messy dives. After reviewing the theory and dive-planning we went to bed.

GOOD DIVES… AND THE PHRASE NINJA DIVERS!(DAY 3)

The next morning we were really focused on getting it right… First some theory and dry-runs on gas-switching and then THE DIVE. Reviewing the plan:

  • Dive 1: Descend to 6m without reference and perform V-drills and S-drills while staying stable in the water-column and team in form, ascend sharing gas.
  • Dive 2: Descend on shot line to 30m, drop stage, pick up stage, ascend to 21 m, stops till 9m then every few m gasswitch and clean up
  • Dive 3: Descend to 30m, lay line, some failures will occur, ascend, 21m gasswitch, stops…
The focus was there and the dives went well, getting back on the boat we were de-briefed by Mario:
“Guys, you performed very well today… of course there are issues to be handled but your ascends and in water drills were good… we can proceed with the experience dives!” You have to become NINJA divers! Something for which unfortunately we will have to aim for quite some time.
On the return to harbor… we were already planning the wreck dives of tomorrow, but a beautiful Italian girl called Renate made us lose focus… so we did it again in the evening.

There we go ninja’s :cool2:

MY WRECKS…. I FOUND THEM! (DAY 4-6)

With great expectation we started what the course is all about… WRECK DIVING… putting our heads in little holes, fantasizing about how the wreck went down, trying to recognize part of the wreck, doing nice dives…. And then FAILURES… To be perfectly honest I don’t remember exactly in detail what went wrong in which dives… the nice wrecks are what is set in my mind.

We also had quite a lot of theory which I really enjoyed.. there were some real eye-openers on deco-theory and how to put it in practice… Mario elegantly answered all our questions in good time, which practical examples and reasons why something works or not… Having translated and published “Deco for divers” in Italian coupled to his vast tech experience, we were never closer to the source of diving-gold than this week.

DCS was of course also covered in detail… but not in the theoretical CMAS way but with very practical tips on how to act and especially not over-react. This we saw in real practice during a dive on the SS VIS when a T2 diver had a type 1 hit.
Luckily we didn’t explode...

Nonetheless some highlights of our screw-ups:

  • Dropping in the water with much current and a buoy line 80m away (three other boats anchored on the same line one after the other)… by the time we had cleaned up our **** we had already drifted another 80m… J
  • Not noticing that Mario had “lost” his deco-gas until the ascend phase J
  • Drifting away from the shotline on ascend until it was totally gone, luckily Mario has an acute sense of navigation and direction J
  • Valve failure were we still managed to not noticing the isolator was closed… so someone suddenly had a very low gas consumption but luckily found out after 5min.
  • Drifting to close together or too far away
  • Gas sharing ascend where we totally skipped the deep-stop phase before finally putting the brakes on at 24m
  • Going under MIN GAS… TWICE!!!!
  • And some more…
To the wrecks!! (all wrecks ref. www.wrecksite.eu)

SS BARON GAUTSCH 30-40m, runtime 56min: A very famous passenger liner (the Titanic of the Adriatic) part of the Austrian Hungarian Lloyd. Just like the Titanic its sinking was a combination of human incompetence and just simple bad luck. During the beginning of WW1 it was mustered as a troop-transport and used to ferry troops from Triëste to Kotor (now Montenegro). It was warned that the Austrian navy would lay mines in the vicinity of Pula, which was on it route. Never the less she crossed a mine field that was being laid at that moment by Minelayer Basilisk. And although Basilisk tried to warn the famous passenger ship it struck a mine and sunk within 6 min taking at least 177 persons with her.
Mario gave us the grand tour of the wreck… dropping down in the passenger area’s of 1st class, going via the cargo holds. Visibility wasn’t that great and there was some current but it was a nice dive.

TA-35 Guiseppe DEZZA 30-37m, runtime 63 min (HE FOUND THE WRECK :D)

This wreck was a Italian MR torpedo-hunter, which was taken over by the Germans in 1944. It sank with part of it’s complement of 71 sailors when it struck a mine (some say torpedoed by British aircraft). It lies on its keel and is broken in 2 (2 parts are about 100m apart). Both guns, FLAK vierling (AA 4 guns) and depth charges can be found on the stern part. Interesting to note is that Mario found this wreck!
The plan was to dive both parts and do the deco while swimming in the blue back to the first part (buoy line). Mario showed us all the interesting parts on the stern and then we set course to the front of the ship about 100m away… on this path we found a lot of debris and even some remnants of the mine-anchors which might have sunk the ship. After an intermittent failure we arrived at the front part of the ship laying on its side, mast and campagne clearly visible. All in all a very nice dive.

RM CESARE ROSSAROL (LIGHT CRUISER) 42-50M, runtime 52min (HE ALSO FOUND THE WRECK :D
)
The Cesare Rossarol was an Italian Regia Marina light cruiser which sank in 1918 with more than 90 of it’s crew when hitting a mine. One of the largest losses of life for the Italian RM.
We descended the buoy line and dropped down straight on the big 10,2cm naval gun, down to the right propeller, then back up the wreck to view the auxiliary steering wheels, compass holding, engine telegraph… more forward towards the big telemeter tower, then back to the sandy bottem where we found a lot of munition and even munition cases. And then my right valve started blowing @ 50m which we solved… followed by me running un-explicably out of gas a minute later :wink: Sharing gas, (going for the guy with the least amount of gas… good going Beester) and then our ballistic ascend… yikes, gas-switch and a further 30 min deco.
https://www.google.be/url?sa=i&rct=...inNFS1HZTSdzNqIBmq4NH3iA&ust=1399734113648277
LAST DIVE OF THE COURSE…. VIS VIS VIS!!
SS VIS (FREIGHTER) 48-60m, runtime 56 min
http://www.google.be/url?sa=i&rct=j...JBExepeabeQJrQoen7YshU-w&ust=1399736205090929

This freighter sunk in 1946 when it hit (typically) a mine! She rests on her keel in 60m water. According to some T2 guys the vis on the Vis (cheeky joke I know) had been very good the previous day so Mario decided to show us a human bone (femur), the propeller shaft and the reserve propeller in the 3rd cargo hold.

Again there was current… and the vis had dropped down on the Vis after a rainy night. We were joined this dive by an Italian friend of Mario called Nicola, so we descended as a team of 4… At about 38m the contours of the wreck starting to appear in the blueish gloom… the wreck was covered in fish netting which gave it a ghost like appearance. Of course the dive was over way too soon at this depth and after another 30 min of deco we arrived at the surface.
After a nice lunch, we headed back to the apartment for some more theory, then finally the evaluation and the swim test (Phew… we all wished Mario would forget about that).
So the final result was a pass for Ben and me and a provisional for Serge, with the open invitation to come back in a few months to fine-tune some aspects. It was of course sad that we didn’t pass as a team, but after some contemplation and a beer or 2 all our spirits were up again… because the next day we would dive again as a team!!

RETURNING HOME AND SOME CONTEMPLATION!
After diving the last day of our holiday on the SS Varese (34-42m, runtime 63 min), we unfortunately had to clean our **** up, pay the bill to Maurizio and the land-lady and depart… missing out on an I’m sure great BBQ organized that evening by Maurizio.
In the car I had time to go over my experience the last couple of days… what to say!
I knew going into this class that there would be a lot to cover both theoretical and in water, after all I already experienced a GUE tech course (C1), it's the nature of GUE courses. The instructor will throw a lot at you… and then some more, you have to improve not only yourself but also as a team. That coupled with the material that needs to be covered and the logistics of the course (boat-rides, tank-fills, getting to other locations) can make it hard on the students.

Having an instructor that has such a boat-load of experience (excuse the pun) that he can not only keep track of the course but also how everybody is doing individually is great. Shoving us gently and sometimes not so gently in the right direction but at the same time having a ball doing it, knowing when someone needs some re-assurance and when someone needs a stern look. Sharing jokes and stories, showing the little details of the wrecks and when you least expect it (during deco) suddenly hanging feet high @ 9m while turning a pirouette showing how much fun diving is :D
We laughed and learned a lot!

  • ASCENDING IN THE WATER COLUMN DOING A LOT OF STUFF… CHECK!
  • DROPPING IN THE WATER WITH ONE FIN, OTHER IN HAND, MASK OFF, REGULATOR CLIPPED OFF, STAGE IN THE OTHER HAND… CHECK!
  • RECALCULATING AVERAGE DEPTH, TIME AND DECO ON THE 21 M STOP… CHECK!
  • SHAPING THE DECO CURVE… CHECK!
  • KEEPING THE TEAM TOGETHER IN CURRENT, NOT LOSING TRACK OF THE LINE… CHECK!
  • TRYING TO SPEAK ENGLISH WITH A FAKE ITALIAN ACCENT… CHECK!
  • TALKING IN FUNNY DONALD DUCK VOICES… MMM THIS MUST BE AN 18/45 MIX THEN…CHECK!
  • EATING TOO MUCH PIZZA… CHECK!
  • BEING CALLED A ****-FACE BUT GETTING A BIG BEAR-HUG AT THE SAME TIME… CHECK!
  • CHEAP CHEESE OR SHEEP SEX… CHECK!

In the end the final respect we can show Mario is the following. When we were diving the SS Varese we were on the boat with Russians who would start their T2 course with Kiril the next day. We did our EDGE and dropped in the water and did our dive… When we were back on the boat they were pointing to us and talking among themselves in Russian. So I asked them what they were saying.

“They thought you were very good getting in the water and in formation underwater… I told them you were trained by Mario Arena.”
 
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beester

beester

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He was very tired and because of this he lost focus and team awareness.
 

Cyprian

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Nice, funny and informative report, sir. I'm still on the fence as to whether or not to take T1 or C2 as my next class. T1 seems to be the logical step as I still have plenty of C1 diving to do. :)
 
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beester

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I fully understand... I was also evaluating this... specifically because I'm 40 cave dives in and pushing / exceeding the C1 limits. But still (even being IANTD Normoxic TRX) I thought this class and this specific instructor could level my game both on the theoretical, dive practical but also dive technical level. And it did... to be honest this class was harder for me personally than C1.


My main goal was two-fold:

- To leach Mario's brain when it comes to decompression practice and theory (and he is somewhat of a guru on this, having for example published and translated "Deco for Divers").
- To get totally comfortable in blue-water ascends while taskloaded and without any visual reference. This has something to do with how I "grew up" as a diver. My local circumstances are bad vis, big current shore dives, so I'm always close to the bottom. Only during summer-time do we do a lot of North Sea wreckdives which are still not total blue water ascends because we would pop an SMB and ascend this line drifting.


In any case for me it was a very good course.
 

Cyprian

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......

- To get totally comfortable in blue-water ascends while taskloaded and without any visual reference. This has something to do with how I "grew up" as a diver. My local circumstances are bad vis, big current shore dives, so I'm always close to the bottom. Only during summer-time do we do a lot of North Sea wreckdives which are still not total blue water ascends because we would pop an SMB and ascend this line drifting.

....

I hear you loud and clear on this one! If you braved the length of my original Fundies report, you may already know this....but zero reference ascents are what put us in the rec pass category on the first go 'round. We are typically low vis lake divers and stay close to the bottom for most of our diving. When we ascend, we typically follow the lake profile and hug the shoreline, finally arriving in shallow water (read: avoiding boats...lol).

Our first S-Drill in zero reference (blue or green water) was not pretty at all during Fundies class. By the end we were doing much better, but we were in the 5' window instead of the 3' window on S-drills. So guess what we worked on for the next few months....yeap, zero reference S-drills in the murky green lake water. It paid off with the tech pass. We continue to work on this skill set pretty much every time we dive....and it paid off again in C1. So now it's time to add a deco bottle to the mix and start working on more task loading in zero reference waters. I expect T1 to be challenging, just like all my other GUE courses. And, you are not the first to tell me that T1 was harder than C1. Sounds like fun. Blood, sweat and tears fun that is...lol.
 

TSandM

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I'm in the same boat, so to speak! The vast majority of my diving is shore diving in low viz, where we deliberately maintain a reference to the bottom. I so rarely do direct ascents that I lose facility with them.

Years ago, Joe Talavera told me that, if he had to choose one kind of diving to do for the rest of his life, it would be Mexican cave diving. I asked, "Because they are so beautiful?" And he answered, "Because it's so EASY!". You have walls to give you direct, and a floor and a ceiling to give you reference, and if those all fail, you have a line . . . open water has more variables and gives you less information. There's a reason I'm Full Cave and never did T1 . . .
 
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