The past few years there has been quite a bit of talk about Tec Diving or Technical Diving. Just what do they mean by this? Before we can answer that question we really have to ask what is scuba diving? Scuba Diving is diving underwater with a cylinder of compressed air. You need to be certified as a Scuba Diver in order to purchase scuba equipment and go out on dive boats.
The beginning scuba certification level is the Open Water Diver. Here a diver is taught the basics about scuba diving and taught to dive to a depth of 60 feet. Once a diver completes the Open Water course he or she can then take the Advanced Open Water Course. During the Advanced Open Water course the diver is taught to dive deeper to a depth of 100 feet. They are also taught underwater navigation and several other advanced skills. If the diver were to take the Deep Diver Specialty they would be taught even more about deeper diving but would have a maximum depth of 130 feet, which is the recreational diving limit.
Recreational Divers are all certified and all of their divers are to 130 feet or less. In addition the length of their dives conform to strict adherence to dive tables know as the Recreational Dive Planner, known as an RDP. The RDP tells the diver exactly how long they can stay at any given depth and still return directly to the service without risk. Staying longer would put the diver in what is known as Decompression Diving and would require stops at various depths to off gas absorbed nitrogen before going to the surface. If the diver did not make the stops while surfacing they would run a very great risk of decompression sickness or the bends. Thus all Recreational Divers stay within these time and depth parameters while diving.
Technical Dive Training involves training diver to dive deeper then the 130 foot maximum that Recreational Diver adhere to. In addition Tec or Technical Divers are also trained to stay longer then the Recreational Limits and to end their dives with a series of Decompression Stops, which are beyond the scope of Recreational Diving.
Technical Diving is not new. The first of the Technical Diving Courses – Cave Diving started in the 1960′s and 1970′s. Since that time Technical Diving has continued to evolve and today many Scuba Training Agencies, such a the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the largest scuba certifying agency in the world offer Technical Diving Courses. PADI’s Courses are called Tec Rec and Tec Deep. There are many other agencies offering Technical Diving Courses such as TDI and others.
Tec Diving not only has more risk, but it requires significantly more effort and discipline and equipment. It is not for everyone, and you can be an accomplished , avid top-notch diver your entire life without ever making a tec dive.
That said, there’s a cadre of individuals who want to visit places underwater that relatively few people can. Many spectacular untouched wrecks lie at depths well below the recreational dive limit. Some people enjoy the challenge and focus technical diving requires. Still others love being involved with the cutting edge technologies. These are all reasons that Technical Diving is growing in popularity.
You start by finding a Dive Center that you know is reliable and offers the programs that you want. Many PADI Dive Centers, like Aquatic Adventures Scuba Academy, in Alexandria, Virginia, a PADI 5 Star Instructor (IDC) Development Dive Center offers Technical Diving Courses.
Once you find your Dive Center and verify that they offer the scuba diving courses that you desire you need to make sure that you possess the prerequisite background experience. The Tec Rec course requires participants to have completed not only the PADI Advanced Open Water Course, but the PADI Rescue Diver Course, The PADI Deep Diver Course and the PADI Enriched Air or Nitrox Course as well. In addition the diver must also have logged over 100 scuba dives.
What Technical Diving Courses Do I Take?
Once you have completed the prerequisites you can then enroll in the Tec Rec course program. Divers usually start by taking Introduction to Technical Diving, which is a pool experience where you can test the equipment used in technical diving to see if it is something that you like. Once you decide that it is you then start with the first course Tec 40. Tec 40 means you are training to dive to 40 meters or 132 feet using Decompression Diving Techniques. This course is is followed by Tec 45 (148 feet) and then Tec 50 (165 feet). While many divers will take all (Tec 40, 45 & 50) many divers will take just Tec 40 or Tec 40 & 45 and then stop. Not everyone wants to go to 165 feet. That is the nice part you take the ones you want – you do not have to take them all.
The diving equipment that you use as a Technical Diver is much the same as that of a Recreational Diver. The Technical Diver, however, used two to five regulators, a dive computer, and several scuba cylinders. Redundancy is the word. Everything is backed up in case of an equipment malfunction. The costs involved are greater then that for a Recreational Diver, but since at greater depths an equipment malfunction can be much more hazardous then it is for Recreational Divers the extra precautions are well worthwhile.
Once you have completed the training a whole new world awaits you. There are many ship wrecks and dive sights that await you. While the training is fun and enjoyable the diving once you are a Tech Diver is a whole new world!