Thursday, August 14, 2008

So, you want to be a technical diver? Preface

If you are remotely aware of the sport of SCUBA diving, you are familiar with the image of people stuffed into wet suits, their face hidden behind a regulator/mask and a large amount of weight donned onto their back.

If you are a SCUBA diver, you know there's a love/hate relationship with your wetsuit, the mask is your window into a new world, the regulator provides you the air you need to survive and the hefty burden on your back becomes weightless once you descend into the water.

SCUBA diving is an enjoyable hobby.  It opens up a whole new world to explore and experience.  However just like every other sport, proper training, equipment and mentality is vital to keeping the sport safe for yourself and your dive buddy.

The first step in the world of diving, is an Open Water certification.  This life time certification allows you to dive within the recreational limits set by the World Recreational SCUBA Training Council.

The criteria which defines a Recreational SCUBA Dive (RSD) are as follows:

  1. The breathing gas is either compressed air, or an oxygen enriched air breathing mixes of 21-40% oxygen.
  2. Diving is always with a buddy, never solo.
  3. Diving Depth does not exceed 130 feet.
  4. Depth-Time profile does NOT require a mandatory decompression stop.
  5. No other specialized training beyond the basic open water is required.

Additionally, there are many speciality certifications designed to enhance a recreational SCUBA diver's experience.  These courses allow divers to gain more knowledge, better prepare them for different underwater environments, as well as encourages them to continue with the sport.  In actuality, these courses actually create better divers, because divers can't improve unless they are constantly practicing the skills that they've learned. 

So, what happens when you want to go to the next level?  What happens when you want to go deeper and/or longer?

It goes with out saying that advancing your dive education requires additional training;  however, additional factors also come into play when a diver wants to exceed the boundaries of  RSD.  These factors include changes or additions in regards to diving equipment, discipline, maturity and a realistic understanding of one's own personal limits. 

There is some debate on what constitutes a Technical Dive.  In general, the following types of dives or situation is universally accepted as a technical dive:

  1. Diving within an overhead environment
    1. cave diving
    2. wreck diving
    3. ice diving
  2. Diving to depths greater than 130 feet.
  3. Mixed gas diving >40% O2 (nitrox) or trimix.
  4. Diving with specialized equipment such as a O2 re-breather.
  5. Diving a depth-time profile require one or more mandatory decompression stop.

If any of diving scenarios peaks your interest, then maybe Technical diving is for you.   Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to outline all the different aspects of technical diving that I've been running into as I pursue my diving education.  The goal is to share my thoughts concerning the next level of this sport,  as well as simply journalizing my adventure.