Technical Diving – it’s Black or White

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As a young man I had very opinionated views regarding life – I knew what was right and what was wrong, I knew who to vote for and who not to vote for, I knew how to manage money and I also knew that my parents were wrong.Life was a simple canvas – black and white with a very thin grey line down the middle. As I grew older my parents’ intelligence increased exponentially, my perceived monetary skills disappeared, together with what meager funds I had, and the grey line became a lot wider…

Technical diving is the exact opposite. As a newbie diver I ran around from Instructor to Instructor and centre to centre trying to get the best price and the quickest training, trying to fill my logbook with quantity and my wallet with certification cards. Diving was a grey canvas with a thin black line on the one side and thin white line on the other… anything was ok and everything worked. As I progressed with technical training from longer to deeper dives and from that to caves and eventually to Rebreathers, I realized that technical diving is white or black – it’s either done the right way or not. The grey line down the middle of my tech canvas is so thin it almost disappears…

Tech diving is disciplined diving, not the adrenaline fueled rush of a surf launch or the imaginary fear inducing thoughts that go through your head when you see shapes moving fast in murky waters, its cold calculated planning and precise execution. There is no place for silly fears or unthinking actions.

Equipment is either the right gear, and correct configuration, or just forget it. The grey line is much, much thinner and the canvas is black and white only.

Equipment configuration has been “perfected” by tech divers pushing the envelope – in some cases pushing too hard and losing their lives – the quality equipment needed has been developed by divers through the years diving on the edge, sometimes building their own gear, fixing,  complaining to manufacturers, altering gear and configurations until only the best remained. This is the equipment and configuration the modern tech diver has access to today. This is the gear that recognized technical brands sell today.

Choosing the correct gear is simple; there is a very limited choice of quality technical gear and an even smaller choice of configurations! Trying “something new” simply does not work when it gets to this level! (Unless you are very experienced!) You either Do It Right (DIR) or don’t do it at all.

Technical training procedures and standards has developed based on mistakes – simply put if someone died a rule was put in place to prevent the next diver dying, the same principles are still used by recognized training agencies when they decide to  change their training standards or training methodology.

Tech instructors MUST have experience – if your Instructor suddenly becomes a Tech instructor and you have never seen him in a twinset before, remember that it’s either black or white – there are no grey areas here!

Article by Peter Herbst: PADI Course Director, IANTD Instructor Trainer, Rebreather Instructor, Cave Diver