Too many divers are trying to fast track something which should be approached with the utmost caution, experience does not necessarily mean how deep you have been or how many dives you have done.
- Name: Peter Herbst ( BigB)
- Any PADI/TecRec certification: Tek Rec TX IT, Tek Rec RB IT, Tek 100 CCr
- Usual Country of residence: South Africa
- Date originally published: 13/03/2013 on PADI.com
What is your background and current involvement in diving?
I am a PADI Course Director, TecRec IT and the owner of Reef Divers, one of the oldest PADI dive centres in South Africa.
How did you get into tec diving?
I listened to a talk about Nitrox one evening in 1996, immediately signed up for the course and became an advanced Nitrox instructor 6 months and 100 dives later! Never stopped training – I am certified to teach instructors on 4 types of rebreather, two of them to 100 m! The last course I did as a student was less than 4 years ago –my In-water Recompression training – and I still haven’t stopped updating my knowledge (2021).
Do you have any specialised areas of interest?
I love cave diving, even though we do not have the greatest variety in South Africa. My other passion is Rebreathers, doing slightly deeper dives and sharing my experience by teaching what I love.
What do you think the greatest challenges are in this kind of diving?
Knowledge, respect and experience. Too many divers are trying to fast track something which should be approached with the utmost caution, experience does not necessarily mean how deep you have been or how many dives you have done, but rather how you have conducted these dives and what you have learnt from them.
What are the most important attributes of a tec diver for the type of diving you do?
Humility and the ability to recognise your own limitations. Respect for the environment you are in.
What are the most likely mistakes a tec diver can make in your kind of diving?
Overconfidence and trying to save money.
How do you prepare for a demanding technical dive?
Early planning and lots of it! I try and relax as much as possible –even if that means getting away from my business. I love listening to Mozart’s requiem just prior to a dive. On the way to the dive site, it’s Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin however!
What were your best or worst tec diving experiences?
My best Tec experience was doing a solo 80 m in Boesmansgat – hanging alone in the darkness with no reference other than a shotline in one of the largest water-filled voids on the planet was a life-changing experience.
My worst experience was almost losing one friend and then recovering another’s body at the same place.
What influences your selection of dive gear?
I want simplicity and functionality in my gear, it must also be able to take hard knocks and I want exemplary back up service from my suppliers. And it must be black…
What kind of person do you want diving in the same team as you?
I want someone that fully trusts in me and my abilities and whose abilities I can trust in completely. I don’t want people that take themselves too seriously – a good sense of humour is very important to me. We analyze our dives afterwards and adjust accordingly – hence I don’t want divers that already know everything.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting into tec diving?
Read. Good books and manuals have been written by giants that came before us. Find a mentor that you trust and LISTEN to them, really LISTEN ! It worked for Luke Skywalker and the Karate Kid – it will work for you.
Don’t be a cheapskate – good quality equipment is expensive. Servicing that gear regularly will cost money. Helium is expensive. People die trying to save money on technical dives…