2015! Happy New Year!

A year ago, over a year ago now that I look at the date (Septemeber 23, 2013), I wrote a blog post about my goals and aspirations for 2014. Well, it's January, 2015 now and I suppose it's time for an update. 

Let's see what I wanted to achieve. 

  1. PADI Self-Reliant Diver: 30th of December 2013. Definitely met that goal, a year early! The self-reliant class was a great one, a good precursor to technical diving and helped me develop some solid foundational technical skills. 
  2. PADI Alitutude Diver: Alas, there's not much altitude diving out in the pacific northwest and not many places teach it with a practical component therefore. Maybe a good goal for 2015!
  3. PADI Wreck Diver: Don't know why I didn't pursue this one. Probably another good one for 2015!
  4. PADI Master Scuba Diver: I needed the two specialty certifications above to get this rating, and alas I didn't make it. Not a worry though, I got a couple far better ones below. 
  5. PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer: 18th of December, 2014. This was a big one for me. It required completing 25 student certifications, which when teaching VERY part time is a solid effort. Also requires 5 PADI Specialty Instructor certifications. I have the prerequisites for some specialties that I don't hold with PADI, but did attain with TDI/SDI, and since I have the necessary experience, I was able to pick up specialty instructor certifications for the following classes. 
    1. Dry Suit Instructor: 13th of February, 2014
    2. Night Diver Instructor: 14th of December, 2014
    3. Deep Instructor: 14th of December, 2014
    4. Boat Instructor: 14th of December, 2014
    5. Enriched Air Instructor: 18th of December, 2014
  6. PADI Tec 40: 25th of January, 2015. A challenging and rewarding course, the Tec 40 course was our first real introduction to the Tec diving world. Allowing us to dive such that we incur up to 10 minutes of decompression after a dive, and use up to 50% O2 as a decompression gas, this course took some months and much more theory and practical skills work than we've had to do in the past.
  7. PADI Tec 45: unfortunately time and funding constraints limited this extra course. :-) But we'll get it in 2015!
  8. PADI Tec Trimix Gas Blender: 25th of January, 2015. A certification not on the original list, this was a fun, and long day spent learning the theory and application behind oxygen servicing equipment, parts and systems so that we can use high concentrations of (flammable) oxygen to create custom Nitrox (O2, N2) and Trimix (O2, N2, He) gas mixes. We then learnt the procedures of the gas blending system at our local dive shop and practiced using the partial pressure fill method to fill a scuba tank with a 32% mixture of enriched air Nitrox. Once I fill 50 tanks with custom gas mixtures I'll be certified to become a Gas Blender Instructor! Another good goal for 2015.

So, that's what I achieved in 2014! I had a goal to achieve seven certifications and when all was said and done I received nine! Some different than I had initially hoped for, but all useful. And diving is more than just certifications. I was also able to log 77 dives and 2,653 minutes (44 hours!) underwater, certify 14 students, and dive with a bunch of cool people. One of whom set up a new dive store this year, Bellevue Divers!

2015 will be a busy year for me as I have my own, and two other weddings to attend, as well as associated costs and time away from home. However I would like to shoot for the following certifications this year. 

  1. PADI Tec 45
  2. (Optional) PADI Master Scuba Diver
  3. (Optional) PADI Altitude Diver
  4. PADI Wreck Diver
  5. (Optional) PADI Tec 50

Attaining the Tec 50 level would be rather exciting for me as it then opens up diving up to depths of 50m/165ft and use of up to two decompression gases. But we'll see if time and money alllows for that. :-)  Certainly hitting 60 dives this year is a reasonable goal given how busy I will likely be, and even that is probably aggressive. Otherwise I intend to continue teaching students as my schedule allows, spend time at the dive shop helping out and working towards my goal of filling 50 gas mixtures, and developing my overall scuba skills. 

Should be a good year, certainly off to a great start. 

Michael

Goals and Aspirations

 I've been diving for 9 years now, and I've met most of the major milestoens for the recreational diver. I've passed through the PADI heirarchy of recreational diving (Open Water -> Advanced Open Water -> Rescue -> Divemaster -> Open Water Scuba Instructor) and I've been contemplating what I want to work towards over the course of the next several years. 

Technical diving has always been an area of great interest to me, and I love the idea of being able to dive to depths greater than 150ft, penetrate shipwrecks, and dive in caves and caverns underground, so I've decided that my goals for the next several years are going to align to those interests. 

What is technical diving?

Technical diving is defied as non-commercial or research diving that takes divers beyond the limits of recreational diving. It can be further defined as follows. 

tec rec logo new

  • Diving beyond 40 meters/130 feet
  • Dives requiring staged decompression
  • Diving in an overhead environment beyond 40 meters/130 feet of the water surface
  • Dives using accelerated decompression or variable gas mixtures

Because technical diving typically places the diver beyond easy access to the surface, tec divers undergo extensive training and use additional equipment to ensure their safety even when no easy access to the surface is available. Despite these precautions, subcategories of technical diving can still be very dangerous relative to other activities, and there is a higher element of risk involved. 

Technical Diving Progression

The certification path to becoming a tec diver is rather long and involved, but involves stages of training that build upon preceeding courses. I've outlined the courses I would like to complete by December 2014 below, and where I see myself going after this point. 

Read more: Goals and Aspirations

BCD Comparison (jacket vs. BP/W)

I've been diving since 2005 so I've experienced several different gear configurations along the way. From the classic jacket style BCD wit the Aqualung Titan series regulators when I first started (rental gear) to an amazing used set of more advanced gear wth a rear-inflation BCD and Scubapro Mk11/S600 regaulators, and settling most recently on a Hollis backplate and wing setup (bp/w), my gear selection has reflected the type of diving i've been into. 

I thought I might run through some of the major differences between the classic entry level equipment (jacket/rear inflation BCD) vs. the more advanced backplate/wing setup, in this article, and describe why I chose the particular models I use. 

Entry-level buoyancy control device (BCD)

The entry level BCD is typically a jacket style inflation device, which evenly distributes the gas around your body and has pockets and often integrated weights for convenience. These BCDs are perfect for warm water divers and entry-level divers as they are very comfortable, evenly distribute the buoyancy around your body so that your buoyancy/trim is relatively neutral in the water, and the pockets and integrated weights allow warm and cold water divers to integrate all of their gear into a single device and they allow for a less cluttered (arguably) and simpler dive experience. 

LPBuyGuide BCD WhatIsIt

Advanced BCD - Backplate and Wing

Read more: BCD Comparison (jacket vs. BP/W)

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