As an active dive professional for the last 15 years, I often ask myself if most recreational divers were to encounter problems diving at the edge of the limits, whether it be disorientation, loss of buddy, out of air, overstaying limits, or even entanglement, would they be comfortable making it safely and slowly back tot he surface? Would they have the self-sufficiency and redundant equipment that might help save their trip down under should something go amiss?
In most entry level dive programs, divers are typically outfitted with a single tank of air or nitrox, a jacket style BCD, and a regulator with an octopus. This equipment is standard and rarely evolves within the recreational diving realm. As divers gain experience and dives deeper, few might carry a spare air or pony bottle. This is more the exception than the norm.
Enter tec training. When recreational divers think of technical diving, the image of a 250 pound male with double steel 120 cubic foot tanks on their back, dressed in black, and with enough gadgets to be the envy of a newly decorated Christmas Tree, springs to mind. Many may shy away thinking it too much. Too much gear, too much time, too much money.
However, there is a program that any recreational diver, who wishes to dive in the 100 ft/30mt-130ft/40mt range, should consider. PADI course, Tec 40, offers additional training which can boost confidence and refine skills for deeper recreational diving without the time, cost, and equipment commitments of a full blown technical course. Divers benefit from increased confidence in solving problems at depth including loss of air, entanglement, narcosis, buddy separation, and making it back tot he boat safely. Tec 40 also focuses on equipment necessary for diving in the deeper recreational range, how to plan dives beyond time limits, and effectively using your dive computers in these situations.
Divers in the PADI Tec 40 course can choose to take training with double manifold tanks on their back, in a side mount configuration with a tank on each side of the body, or maintain the standard setup and BCD while carrying a stage tank. Students work with their instructors to find the best set up for them. In each arrangement, the diver will have a redundant air supply at depth. The spare tire.
So why take a tec course for recreational diving? Safety, confidence, and possibly getting that once in a lifetime photo op which may have not been possible with out Tec 40!
Director of Professional Training-Utila Dive Centre, Utila, Honduras
Tec 40 is the first of a series of PADI Technical courses that include Tec 40, Tec 45, and Tec 50. Please see http://www.utiladivecenter.com/class_course.php?uuid=5 for more information.