Wednesday, December 23, 2009
On a fairly regular basis I am asked about women and technical diving. The questions vary but most are focused on these few questions. I am often asked: Is technical diving difficult to learn? How do you work with all of that heavy equipment? Is technical diving really worth it? What do you see? Why do you want to dive that deep? Are you technical diving to keep up with the guys?
Let me answer the last question first. By no means is technical diving an out and out competition with men. This is not a statement of "I can do anything you can do better". Nothing could be farther from the starting point than that statement. I have attributes that make me a better technical diver than some and a learning curve that makes me competitive with others. I think you have to realize we are all learning, working to push our individual limits under the guides of understanding diving discipline, depending on your buddy for support and guidance and perpetually diving to apply learned techniques and knowledge. After all, the corner stone of the DSAT program is that we teach redundancy in equipment and teamwork as divers. Two brains are better than one.
Am I competitive? Most definitely! In everything I do I play to win. With technical diving my competition is individual, I want to push my individual limits, but at my pace, and only when I am ready for the additional responsibilities of deep technical diving, greater depths, and overhead environments. But, I too am having a lot of fun learning and experiencing.
Technical diving is not a guy or a girl thing...it is a technical diver thing.
That being said, I also know that developing as a technical diver means you have to dive. I am pretty fortunate in that regard as I get to dive on a regular basis. After all, to be good at diving you have to get into the water. Structured education is the corner stone to developing as a technical diver. As a DSAT TecDeep Instructor and DSAT Tec Gas Blender Instructor, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide array of divers with various talents. Education, whether it is obtained through practical applications, textbook learning and or research projects is absolutely priceless. You really need to be able to understand all aspects of technical diving. Gear configuration, gas management, diving physiology, and most importantly decompression theory and procedures are just some of the basics of technical diving.
Is the equipment heavy? No way around that math problem, yes it is, sometimes very heavy. But that is generally from the back of the truck to the beach, or from the dive rack to the dive door on the boat. Once in the water this type of equipment is no more difficult to move and manipulate than most dive equipment configurations. Certainly no more difficult than my rebreather.
In fact I enjoy diving my twin tanks (I dive high pressure 100's) as much, if not more than diving a single tank. I tried the high pressure 80's, but found them to be very difficult to set down and pick up on the boat or in back of the truck due to the short bottle. Deco bottles can be added after you have entered the water from the beach. I really like leaving the boat with all my toys in place. When I enter the water off of a Bandito boat or from Kal's skiff in Sechelt I really like to have all of my toys with me. At the end of the dive, team members from these outstanding dive charters are always there to help me out. Climbing the ladder with a set of twin tanks most assuredly will make your knees wobble. But then again it is only a few steps and Rick or Kal or a crew member are right there to help. To answer in a nut shell, yes the equipment is heavier, but it is so cool to be able to do this type of diving.
Let me see if I can give you a vivid example of what I am talking about. Last year we did a 215 foot dive off of the Pine Trees in Kona, Hawaii. Ken Pfau, Terry and myself entered the water with our deco bottles. We were on a relatively small boat so opted to enter the water one at a time. We did our bubble safety checks and then left the mooring ball behind in 20 feet of water and began swimming down to our depth. Out past the shallow reef and over the ledge.
We were amazed that the bottom dropped away as radically as it did. On this dive we were treated with the experience of diving with a school of nearly 100 False Moorish Idols, we found a pink coral tree and we saw healthy vibrant coral all the way down to 215 feet. To me it was almost immediately evident when we left the area of 100 feet, that divers had not been in this area before. It felt like we were the first divers to visit this depth at this location. The fish weren't concerned, we saw a lot of fish faces, vegetation appeared healthy and undisturbed, and we were exploring.
We completed our dive of 215/20 minutes and began our ascent to the surface. A little over an hour and a half after we left the mooring ball we returned to the surface. This was a wonderful dive full of memories and experiences. I could not have completed this dive without proper training, perpetual diving, and of course disciplined dive buddies.
We all agree training is the key to survival. And when we dive at these depths we dive as our lives depend upon it. Our equipment is maintained, we train often, and we share all aspects of planning these types of dives. We are all on the same sheet of music. We may differ in stature, but we are all technical divers.
If you are thinking about technical diving don't let the guy /girl thing slow you down. Get out there and explore. This is an equal opportunity sport and I enjoy the challenges of technical diving...I really like all of the gear too!
After all- it is all about the toys! Big girls love toys too!
Wrecks, Wrecks, and More Wrecks!
Terry & Donna Miller have put together a technical dive trip to Truk Lagoon and you are invited to come along. We have only 12 spaces for this trip so signing up early will be an advantage. You can travel for the diving or travel for the training. Better yet do a little of both and travel for the diving, training, and fellowship.
We are offering two options for this adventure. Option 1 is as technical diver. You can continue your dive education in Chuuk. The water will be warm, clear, blue, and no there will be no sand. You can complete your technical diving in the warm clear water of Truk Lagoon, diving some of the world's famous ship wrecks. Can you think of a better place to do mask drills, gas shut-down drills, SMB drills, neutral buoyancy drills, and out of air drills? Now I have to admit that Truk Lagoon may not be the most fun place to take a written exam...but it will be warm and the sunsets are just off the scale. So bring your calculator, manual, and pencil, with an eraser. Starting your technical diving education in Seattle is fun and exciting, finishing your training in Truk completing dives 7-12 in Chuuk is just plain cool. You can train with Donna or Terry on some of the most interesting wrecks in the world.
Option 2 says that you have come to Truk Lagoon to technical dive, enjoy friends, dive, take in the beauty of the islands, dive, enjoy great food, dive, have a beverage of choice, sleep and dive. The pool is open and your diving is entirely up to you.
Included in the $2,945 cost of this trip is your diving, all of your air, meals, drinks, 02 and sleeping accommodations. We are not arranging for airfare as many people have indicated that while in the South Pacific they may want to extend their vaction. Some say they may want to stop off in Guam or Hawaii on their way home, and yet others have air miles they want to use to maybe get a better seat on the plane. Ken likes to ride up front with the pilots...so we will meet in you Truk Lagoon.
For this trip you may want to budget for treasures. Realistically there are not a lot of places to shop in Chuuk, but you can buy a T-shirt, a really cool book about Truk Lagoon, and some jewelry.
What to bring...your technical dive gear, lights, cameras, some clothes (but they are really overrated and you spend a lot of time in shorts or wet suits) a tropical wet suit 3.5 mm is recommended and a long suit is highly recommended as there as some sharp corners on these wrecks and a few jelly fish...well more than a few. Bring a save a dive kit inclusive with tools; once on the boat dive repairs are left to the divers and the crew, and the crew is not a well stocked dive center. The Blue Lagoon Dive Shop is a long ways away.
Interested in diving Truk Lagoon? A $1,000 non-refundable deposit holds your space. We anticipate this trip to fill up quickly as it is advertised throughout the diving community world wide. So secure your space and let the wreck diving adventure begin.
Questions on expectations? Give us a call at 206.396.9221
Posted by Miller Diving at 10:42 AM
Thursday, December 10, 2009
To stage or not to stage, that is the question we want to address with this article. To most technical divers this statement will be the start of an interesting and often times lively discussion. Some will tell you that you should NEVER take a gas deeper than the depth you can breath the gas. Say you and your dive buddy plan to make a dive to the depth of 185 feet with a bottom run time of 40 minutes. You are planning to use 50% enriched air mix and oxygen as your decompression gases. Keep in mind that your total run time on this dive will be at least 111 minutes. If you elect to to stage your bottles this means you would leave one bottle behind at 20 feet (oxygen 1.6 ppo) and the another at 70 feet (50% nitrox mix at a 1.56 ppo). Generally speaking this is a not a problem if you are very familiar with your dive location and you are absolutely positive you can find each bottle on the way back home. Remember your life depends on you and your team being able to re-locate your decompression cylinders.
Posted by Miller Diving at 9:01 PM
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It is a lot of hard work and some very long hours. But, we have fun and learn a lot about DSAT Technical Diving.
Posted by Miller Diving at 3:49 PM