Its been an event filled few years since embarking upon the professional diving path late 2012 when the local dive shop invited me to join a rescue diver course. I had no real desire to become a scuba instructor then, my focus was diving for crayfish and abalone driven by my hunter gatherer interest. I had been a certified diver with PADI since 2008, but had made many dives prior from my initial experience in 1994 with a Cairns based dive operator diving Michaelmas Cay. It was this adventure that captured my attention to scuba, strong impressions and deep currents coursed within and I had be caught in the enchanted spell of the ocean. My passion and my love for the sea and its creatures have forged a life time relationship.
The instructor path seemed a good fit for me, I liked the company of other divers and the enjoyment of being instrumental to a new diver. Being a scuba instructor has been a wonderful journey. I have gained many friends and a treasure of experiences along the way. It’s encouraging when I see a diver I have taught enter and exit a dive with smiling confidence and share their dive story with enthusiasm and passion.
I’ve never settled for mediocrity. Challenge and reward are my constant passengers. The technical diving curiosity and a few good diving related books ignited the ambition to seek further training and experience while researching the various nuances of deep technical diving. As I pursued this developing passion I donned a new side-mount diving rig to add that subtle complexity to my technical training. I am now a technical side-mount instructor along with being a technical deep instructor teaching divers accelerated decompression diving to 50 metres / 165 feet. My training was over a number of months and in three locations, Menjangan Island Bali, North Stradbroke Island, and Adelaide dive sites. Some tec divers complete the final training dive on our navy wreck Ex HMAS Hobart as it represents sufficient challenge and run time to deliver skills requisite. The Hobart is an Adams class guided missile destroyer 133 metres long resting upright in just over 30 metres of water purposely decommissioned and scuttled as diving wreck. It is great preparation for international dive destinations like Chuuk Lagoon, Bikini Atoll, Tulagi Solomons, Santo Vanuatu. If you want the best out of these diving extravaganza’s get some tec training and spend some more time on the wreck sites. I have been to Chuuk twice now and plan to go again in 2018. The diving there is spectacular with the wrecks ranging in shallow depths to trimix levels. I find this type of diving and the setting of WW2 an alluring attraction for the budding tec diver.
The challenges of teaching a quality tec course to a student are many and varied. I have a series of books that I like to give as back ground reading for each student. Stories around the sunken cruise liner Andrea Doria are quite compelling and educational. Deep Descent, The Last Dive, Shadow Divers, Setting the Hook are quite engaging and intriguing when it comes to diving accidents and fatalities. As one of my tec students replied, “it teaches you how not to die”. I like to commence courses with a fairly informal getting to know each other forum of discussion relating diving experiences and how tec diving sparked interest. When possible and practical have a non-training dive to assess the level of in water skill and confidence. Attitude plays a fairly big role, tec diving is not for cowboys shooting from the hip or for the loud over confident type. Essential traits are; humility, open-mindedness, analytical and competence. You cant know everything, listen to others ideas and viewpoints, realistically evaluate technology and procedures and be confident in ability and fluid in methods. When I can have these ideals in the course, we can get a lot more out of the theory and practical and develop a team diving concept. Delivery of theory content is administered in classroom with open discussion encouraged. Addressing misconceptions and fostering progressive thinking around techniques for problem solving and evaluating diving scenarios grants insight and understanding of student knowledge and experience base. The feedback becomes part of the education loop where Instructor and students can work together in developing the tec diver mentality and cognitive skills. Confidence and competence to logically analyse and instinctively problem solve are essential to survive threatening diving scenarios. Being able to respond deliberately from a solid mental map and execute accordingly with fluid and calm motor skills prepares the diver for a variant range of adverse diving situations. We cant foresee every plausible incident, but we can have personal and collective resources to respond in a manner most appropriate.
Confined water sessions are invaluable for setting up gear configurations. Twin back mounts are usually fairly straight forward however side-mount needs thoughtful hose routing, tank connection and bungee systems that are suitable to course requirements. The various S-Drills, line and equipment handling skills along with trim and buoyancy are practiced and instinctive responses are learnt to handle problematic scenarios.
Time in the ocean to review and consolidate skills and the world of tec diving begins to distill and form in the mind and motions of students. The embarkation to dive beyond previous recreational limitations provokes sound processes of thought, planning and execution. Just like the planning of a deep technical dive, the future goals and aspirations of tec students should weigh in the balance of training. It’s the role of the instructor to discern, direct and meter training appropriately. Too much too soon can have some bitter consequences and I don’t wish to have those haunting “if only” questions plaguing my conscience. Every student is unique as is every course in its outcomes.
The process of delivering a tec diving course requires patience, empathy, vigilance, method, consideration and a positive, present application of acquired diving intelligence and know how. We all profit together as I learn how others learn and how I might improve on my delivery and tuition. My goal is to see divers reach their goals, all being sensible, practical and achievable.
I’m still excited and passionate and still learning and continuing my own education. Tec Trimix is in my training schedule. I can only teach to my own level of diving and even with the re-breather market bubbling away there are divers that want the deep open circuit progression.
The tec diving market is not big in comparison to the recreational market, but it is growing and good tec instructors are retiring. While there are students who desire tec courses I hope to share the knowledge I have gained and meet the needs of divers who want to go deeper and further into the blue abyss.
Keep on diving
Scuba Steve, Tec Deep Instructor 339863