Top Technical Diving Myths

By guest blogger Richard Devanney, senior TDI and SSI technical dive instructor

While some forms of technical diving do indeed demand extensive training and experience, much of the sport is also quite accessible. Technical diving myths and misconceptions keep many divers from giving it a try, although common opinion is slowly beginning to shift. Here we’ll offer an overview of the main misconceptions, as well as explain why they’re wrong. Perhaps after reading them you’ll consider trying technical diving yourself.

Myth #1: You must be addicted to danger to tec dive
Let’s put 1,000-foot (300 m) world-record depth attempts to one side for a moment. I intend to come back in one piece from every dive I do, be it a decompression dive, a wreck-penetration dive, or a shallow, easy dive. Yes, if you’re doing a decompression dive to 250 feet (75 m), there’s the potential for serious injury, so you seek training to learn how to do those kinds of dives as safely as possible. Tec divers are very good at risk management. We must always consider the best course of action to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, and have a plan of action in place should something go wrong during a dive. If we cannot reduce the risk of a certain dive to an acceptable level, then we don’t go diving. It’s that simple. Thorough dive planning, equipment maintenance, skills practice and contingency planning are inherent aspects of tec diving — you must be addicted to problem solving and planning, not danger, to love tec diving.

Myth #2: It’s all about cave diving
There are some fantastic spots around the world where you can train to cave dive, but if caves are not your thing — and for many tec divers they aren’t — there are all kinds of other tec dives you can do. Ice diving, mine diving, muck diving, wall diving, thousands of shipwrecks — there are tec dives in all these categories. Or you can just make longer dives, and add nitrox to stay longer at depth without worrying about getting low on gas before you hit your no-decompression limit. Sidemount is fast becoming the most popular way of doing all these, for a variety of practical reasons. I have trained many people that never intend to do any decompression diving, but who do most of their fun diving on sidemount because it’s straightforward and works well for them.

Myth #3 The gear is too heavy
Okay, steel twinsets are quite heavy; actually, aluminum twinsets are heavy too. You may have seen tec divers load up the boat with endless amounts of gear and try to seem as though they’re not struggling with a twinset that’s obviously giving them trouble. So where does that leave us with regards to this “myth”? Sidemount, that’s where. You can carry your dive gear around without crippling yourself. You can put your equipment on and take it off in the water (also reducing your chance of injury if you fall over on the dive boat, compared with having one or two tanks strapped behind you). The BC and harness are comfortable and lightweight, and you won’t feel over-encumbered when diving. Sidemount is changing the face of tec diving, and it works in caves, wrecks, mines, open-water pinnacles…you name it. Likewise, rebreathers are getting ever smaller and lighter, and are usable on any kind of dive.

Myth #4: Only geeks like tec diving
You may have been on a dive boat and seen a group of tec divers huddled around a laptop, pointing at a graph. Yes, this can be a part of tec diving. But people dive for many reasons. Some people are only interested in fish; some like the history of shipwrecks. Tec diving ticks all the boxes for me because I like understanding how the equipment works. I’m interested in physics and physiology, so the decompression theory appeals to that part of my brain. I love wrecks, caves, marine life, strong currents, and the potential to see something mind-blowing on every dive. I also like a challenge and get a lot of satisfaction from planning a dive and then, as we say, diving the plan. Tec diving attracts people of all ages, with different abilities and different interests. Being tec qualified simply gives you more options with your diving, and will make you a more well-rounded, safety-conscious diver overall, and that can only be a good thing.

So the next time you’re on a dive boat with some techies, strike up a conversation and hear those technical diving myths debunked once again.

 

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