So, you have decided to be a tech diver. You have picked your instructor with great care and you feel confident about your future. Now all you’ve got to do is pop down your local dive centre and get yourself some shiny new kit. How hard can that be?
Well you are faced with a few problems. If you are heading down the rebreather path, 90% of dive retail staff will spend an hour telling you what an idiot you are, can they have an invite to your funeral, “my Grandad wore a rebreather in the war putting bombs on Jerry boats”, etc, etc, blah, blah.
If you are going down the open circuit route those same staff will tell you what a pile of bollocks tech is quoting such memorable lines as “I went to 60 metres on a single ten in Sharm last year,” “All that planning and f**king about for a 60 minute dive, I went to Wraysbury last week and did 62 minutes on a single ten!”
And a lot of the time whether you are CCR or OC the shop geezer has no idea what the fook you are on about when you ask for specialised equipment anyway.
OK, so I’m exaggerating just a little bit. Or am I?
Seriously though, more and more dive shops are embracing tech and will have more than a basic knowledge of as technical divers requirements. They will also look after you and give you the guarantee that if the kit is not up to the job they will replace or fix it. A lot of stores will actually help you build your kit, and these are the primary reasons I buy most of my kit in stores rather than the Internet. I’m sure you’ll all agree that buying recreational gear is hard enough without some serious advice and help from the shop dude……so just imagine tech!
In this article, let’s have a serious laugh at all the technical equipment names and what they actually refer to so we can impress the person behind the counter (or know when he or she is pulling a fast one).
- Twinset with manifold with wide bands – two tanks stuck together with really fat (and I mean ‘PH’ PHAT stainless steel bands) with a knob in the middle to turn one side off (kind of).
- Back Gas – Normally this refers to the twinset or actually the gas carried in it.
- Environmentally sealed, balanced adjustable regulators for back gas – high quality regulators for the twinset. Shiny new regs compliment the wing. Very techy! You will need two sets, one primary and one backup. It’s all about redundancy. You don’t need an octopus on each set though! And you only need one gauge.
- Long hose – this is a 2 metre hose for the primary regulator. You’ll need a P-Clip attached to this hose so refer to P-Clips further down.
- Short Hose – this is the backup regulator that is worn around the neck by means of a bungee tied around the mouthpiece.
- O2 Regs – regulators that are Oxygen clean so they don’t blow the back of the boat off when you turn them on (Running O2 through a dirty regulator can have catastrophic results). Unfortunately, in Europe they will probably come with a nice new M26 thread instead of standard DIN attachment. This thread is F’ing useless as it presumes that all divers are idiots and can’t manage to put the O2 regulator on the O2 tank. Typical Brussels and all it’s bollocks. Get a standard DIN if you can and f**k Europe and its directives!!
- Wing – a flying SMB? No, it’s a BCD that only inflates behind the diver, like a wing. Wild, eh? Wings have better buoyancy control, nice and flat and clean, less drag, and Jedi looks. BCD’s are soo betamax! They come in single or double bladder. This means that you have a primary inflator on a single and a primary and backup inflator on a double. Again it’s all about redundancy. The regulators on the twinset feed both inflators. You do not need a double bladder wing if you dive drysuit, as the drysuit is your buoyancy backup in the event of a wing failure.
- Plate – A Stainless Steel, Aluminium, Polycarbonate or even Titanium plate to which the twinset is attached. The reason we use a plate is to provide rigidity for the diver.
- Harness – This is webbing and D Rings attached to the plate. There are many different styles of harness available but they all do the same job, they just have different features. The beauty of having a wing, plate and harness is that there is no clutter around the diver making him or her very streamlined.
- Umbilical lights – This is a canister light with an umbilical wire that leads to the light head. If you are serious about diving, this is the style of light for you. Available in HID or LED. LED is now the standard as the bulb has an incredibly long lifespan and is highly shock resistant unlike the HID light, which is quite fragile and immensely expensive to replace. The design allows a small light head to be worn on the hand and still allow the hand to be free to work (unlike a standard hand held torch). These are good for tech, good for rec.
- Red Bag – Red SMB (Surface Marker Buoy). Using one of these properly will make you a better recreational diver as well.
- Yellow Bag – You guessed it but this time it’s yellow.
- Dry Bag – This is not a dry SMB, but a drysuit. Must be black otherwise you’re not going to be recognised as being serious. Will keep you warm, so you can dive year round, and you will be amazed at the buoyancy and trim you will achieve in a drysuit.
- Gators – Nothing to do with big crocodile type animals found in the Everglades. Gators are much like climbing gators; they stop the material on the calves flapping about. For a diver, this means we are streamlined and also, you don’t have to wear ankle weights, as the air simply CAN’T get to your feet. I reckon that 90% of divers using ankle weights in drysuits can benefit using gators and heavier fins.
- Jets – Lovely small bladed rubber fins that will allow you to frog kick, helicopter turn and reverse fin with ease. Perfect for tight overhead environments. I wear them, but I can do all of these fin kicks in Mares Quattros so don’t get too carried away. Split fins will NOT cut it I’m afraid. Get some duck tape out and put them back together how they were meant to be, instead of that manufacturing defect that they have convinced us is an enhancement.
- Reel – A pile of string on a spool with a handle. Some are awesome; most are suicidal in the wrong hands.
- Spool – A pile of string on a spool with NO handle.
- Z-knife – This is a plastic frame that holds a razor blade in a preformed C- section. Z knives are used for cutting while pulling.
- Depth Timer – A digital depth and dive timer.
- Multi Gas Switchable Dive Computer – This is a computer that can handle the rigours of mixed gas diving. Suunto, Scubapro, Hollis etc all make multi gas computers. Most modern dive computers will allow you to select and switch two different gases while underwater; perhaps you are already wearing one? However, there are many machines available now that are able to store and switch many different gases. These computers can handle Air, Nitrox and Trimix and can even bounce between Open and Closed Circuit. A Multi gas computer is fast becoming standard equipment for tech divers.
- P Clip – get that shit clipped away…. When the shit hits the fan, you know where it is. A P-clip is like the clip you would use to clip (a gated clip with a swivel) a leash to a dog collar but bigger and of higher quality. They come in many different styles and we use them primarily to secure the primary regulator when not in use and also the SPG. Stainless Steel is the choice for most tech divers as brass clips ‘gum up’ quite quickly. Plus – Brass rhymes with arse.
- Double ended P Clip – Same as above but two gates and no swivels. Used on stage bottles, reels, spools and we generally have one attached to our kit for emergency use if another clip were to break.
- Snorkel – I am still trying to work out how to breathe through this appendage underwater. If anyone has any clues, I am willing to try, but in my experience the only thing it’s good for is getting alcohol into your mouth really quickly, whilst being laughed at by all your friends. If you want to have a laugh, take one of these in a cave programme.
Now you have a basic idea of some technical jargon. Hopefully you have got the idea that tech is really not that complicated. I believe that most divers are put off doing tech training as we make it out to be so complicated and dangerous. It isn’t! Maybe it was once but now things have moved on and most people can actually participate.
For those techies reading this, I have written it with a recreational diver in mind. I want divers to come over to the dark side and have a go. We all know that once you get to the dark side, we normally find it’s really sunny.
Paul is the Director of Training at RAID. To find out more about the courses that RAID offers, visit www.diveraid.com.
Sealife Micro 3.0 Camera and Light Gift Set Popular at DEMA Show
The new Micro 3.0 Underwater Camera & Light Gift Set from Sealife was very well received during the recent DEMA Show in New Orleans. The Set is an ideal item for the 2023 Fall travel and Holiday season.
The camera is the latest and third generation of its popular permanently-sealed Micro camera series. The camera is leak-proof with no O-rings to lube or maintain, so there is never a worry about flooding the camera. Like its forerunners, the Micro 3.0 features an ergonomic, compact design with easy to-use controls and menus. The camera has a 16-megapixel Sony® CMOS image sensor and offers 4K ultra-high-definition video. The camera’s ease of use starts with the three wide Piano key type buttons that are easy to locate and control, even with dive gloves on. The intuitive camera’s Easy Setup feature quickly guides you through the correct settings based on the shooting environment, depth and lighting accessories being used.
For a limited time through SeaLife’s USA dealers, SeaLife is offering the Micro 3.0 Camera & Light Limited Edition Gift Set that will include a Sea Dragon 2000F Photo Video Light.
The complete camera and light set price will be the same price as SeaLife’s Micro 3.0 Camera regular selling price (alone). Availability will be early November through SeaLife’s dealer network and while supplies last.
The camera & light gift set will also be available in other countries; however, prices may vary depending on location.
While the Micro 3.0 takes away the fuss and fiddling with camera controls that plague most underwater cameras, the Micro 3.0 does have an easy option for fine-tuning underwater images with manual white balance adjustments and the ability to capture images in RAW format, for those that want to edit their images later. The built-in wide angle 100° lens allows the diver to get close to the subjects while still keeping everything in the picture. The Micro 3.0 offers WiFi sharing ability, so you can wirelessly preview, download, and share pictures & videos to a smart phone or tablet with the free Micro 3+ app available at Google Play or Apple App stores. The Micro 3.0 “Explorer” Gift Set includes the Micro 3.0 camera, the Sea Dragon 2000F photo/video light, Flex-Connect Micro tray and Grip, light battery & charger, wrist strap, USB adapter, 3’/90cm USB cable, camera pouch & lens cap.
Find out more at www.sealife-cameras.com/micro-3-0-sets.
Dive into Festive Fun With PADI
Marina Scuba School’s Santa Splash Discover Scuba Experience
Join the festive fun at Marina Scuba School’s Santa Splash on the 16th of December in Crosby. While the real Santa may be busy, Marina Scuba School’s staff members will be dressed up in festive attire for a 2-hour DSD with a Christmas twist.
Open to adults, families, and children over the age of 8, this festive dive is jam-packed with Christmas treats.
The festive fun begins at Marina Scuba School, where you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and some delicious Santa snacks. During the 2-hour Discover Scuba Diving session, you’ll have the chance to learn essential skills required for scuba diving, all while searching for some Christmas goodies hidden beneath the surface.
This holly jolly dive experience takes place on the 16th of December in Crosby and only costs £40 per participant.
To book this exciting dive contact the dive centre by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vobster Quay in Bristol is thrilled to announce the return of the Vobster Santas, a spectacular yuletide diving event that promises to make waves for a cause. This festive fun is open to all levels of divers and invites participants to don their Santa gear and dive into the holiday season in style.
Scheduled for the 10th of December, the gates to Vobster Quay will open at 7:30 am, with a comprehensive dive brief at 09:30 am, leading up to a mass dive at 10:00 am. The goal? To surpass the previous record of 185 Santa divers in the water simultaneously, promising a visually spectacular and undoubtedly jolly spectacle.
Vobster Santas isn’t just about the joy of diving; it’s a mission with heart. The event serves as a vital fundraising opportunity for two esteemed charities, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Help for Heroes. Both hold special significance for Vobster Quay, and participants are encouraged to secure sponsorships through JustGiving to support these worthy causes.
Since its inception, Vobster Santas has successfully raised over £40,000 for these charities. This year, the bar is set higher, and Vobster Quay is committed to leading the charge. To kick off the fundraising efforts, Vobster Quay has generously donated £1000 to each charity, igniting the holiday spirit of giving.
For more information, sponsorship opportunities, and to download the event poster, visit: Vobster Quay – VOBSTER SANTAS 2023
Photos: Jason Brown
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