The Tec40 cert has been on my scuba diving Christmas list for a while now and I’m pleased to say that with the help from Tony and Janine at Southern Scuba I now have the card (and the one-of-a-kind t-shirt!). Moving from recreational scuba diving to technical diving involves a big step up in ability, it’s a big challenge but is very rewarding.
I started the course earlier in the year and dedicated a serious amount of time to reading and learning from the PADI books. There are a number of concepts and formula that as a tech diver you need to both understand and be able to calculate on the fly, such as calculating the maximum operating depth for a particular gas mix or calculating the gas volume requirement for a particular dive plan. This isn’t difficult but it’s a lot of new learning up front, especially compared to recreational courses.
After passing my tech exams at Southern Scuba I completed my first tech dives. Thankfully I had been lucky enough to dive with a twinset (a pair of double 12 litre cylinders mounted on my back) before my first dive, while this initial piece of practice certainly made things easier I struggled to complete all of the necessary skills first time around. As with the theory, there are a lot of new techniques that need to be mastered.
One area where I initially struggled was with the gas shutdown; this skill is used for when there is a malfunction on the main cylinders or regulators and it involves the diver running though shutting off the manifold (which connects the cylinders together) and each cylinder one by one whilst also swapping regulators so you always have one which is breathable. There is a time target and the skill must be performed while maintaining trim and depth. After some practice and an additional day in the water, I managed to complete it successfully within the time target. Thankfully after some additional time in the water, I managed to master it!
The next set of dives was at Vobster Quay, an inland quarry which allows for deeper dives. It was here that with Tony I managed to pass my final dives and finally get my T-shirt! At Vobster I felt much more comfortable and really enjoyed the diving, in fact, I think they were some of the most comfortable dives I’ve ever done, with my drysuit and equipment all working really well.
My Tec40 certification allows for a gas mix of 50% oxygen, 10 minutes of decompression, the use of a twinset and a stage cylinder. While this is great in order to achieve my goal of diving in Scapa Flow I think I will need to complete Tec45 too, so that I’m sure will be on my radar before long!
Thank you to Tony and Janine as ever for their instruction, I loved completing this course despite it pushing me outside of my comfort zone!