Re: If you had the chance to do it again

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Posted by Karl S. on January 11, 2003 at 16:46:18:

In Reply to: If you had the chance to do it again, Nitrox, Re-breather, Eanx, Other posted by Art Francis on January 09, 2003 at 19:55:43:

About the only thing I wish I had NOT done if I could do it all again, is buy a lot of gear that I didnt need.

I would start by purchasing a back-inflation B/C that has alternate sized wings interchangible. For cold water recreational diving, a set of wings with the lift capacity equal or slightly greater than the total weight of your lead weights plus the negative buoyancy of your tank(s) works best. If you can interchange a larger set of wings onto your B/C, that would then save you a ton of money, since you wouldnt need to buy 2 B/Cs, one for nontech and the other for tech. Zeagle makes B/Cs in the Ranger/Tech models that have interchangible wings.

I would also buy a trilaminate drysuit sooner than I did, and spend less time diving in a wetsuit, getting more accustomed to the drysuit, which is indispensible for long, cold deco hangs.

I would start with a used wetsuit, rather than a new one, and make the switch to the drysuit as soon as I had good buoyancy with the B/C of my choice. With a drysuit, there is one more thing to think about, in terms of suit squeeze on descent, buoyancy control at depth, and venting air on ascent. Then after I became good with the drysuit I would throw the wetsuit away, or donate it back to the dive store rental dept.

All my gear purchases would be aimed towards the goal of filling up requirements for tech diving. Eventually you will need 5 first-stage regulators. Two of them, the one you use for your argon bottle, and the one you use for shallow deco, dont need to be high performance, so a ScubaPro Mark 2 or similar unbalanced reg is fine, and saves money. Only one of these two regs needs to be O2 cleaned, and not right away, not until you start to use 50% or 80% or 100% O2.

You will need 3 high performance first stages. None of them needs to be O2 cleaned. Two will be used on your twin tanks, and the third will be used on your lean mix deco. These should be balanced regs. You will be breathing on them at the deepest portions of your dives, and also at around 105 fsw for your lean mix deco start. So I would build up my gear, from the start, with those requirements in mind.

You will need two of almost everything. Two knives, two lights (not big lights), two high performance second-stage regs (so dont waste your time with a cheap octo or an Air2), two reels (one large, one small), two masks, two computers with a gauge-mode read-out (or a bottom timer in addition to your dive computer). Talk to other divers who are diving tech to see what they use.

Halcyon makes the best small lights, OMS the best SPGs, NewYork Divers the best reels, Suunto or NiTek the best computers, in my opinion. But see what your friends are using locally.

PADI is just getting into "tec rec." They dont offer much. Tec rec is a joke, another ploy to extract money and Put Another Dollar In, in my opinion. PADI's strength is international recreational shallow water diving (less than 60 fsw). Nobody is better or faster than PADI at that.

NAUI in Orange County and San Diego each offers a great tech diving program, kind of rigorous however. You need to swim about 1000 yards per day to be in shape for it.

TDI is almost everywhere, and not as rigorous as some other agencies.

GUE believes in "screening" and so after you pay your money you may end up getting screwed out of your tuition without a certification when someone tells you that you werent cut out for tech diving. You will also be required to buy their brand name Halcyon gear, even if you already have your own Abyss and Ocean Mgt configurations already. You may end up certifying with TDI even though you started with GUE. It will be expensive to do this double dip payment, and to unlearn all the GUE brainwashing.

Take your pick. TDI is easy, NAUI is harder, GUE is highly uncertain and very inflexible.

Here are two things to always remember, if you go down this road, called tech diving.

First, the most likely thing to kill you underwater on a tech dive is breathing the wrong gas at the wrong depth. So mark everything, tanks, gauges, second stages, hoses clearly.

Second, the second most likely thing to kill you underwater on a tech dive is your so-called buddy. So be careful whom you dive with. Dont be buddy dependent, and dont dive with a buddy dependent buddy.

Thats my 2 euros worth of advice.

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