Technical Diving – An Introduction is a comprehensive discussion on all aspects of technical diving. This book provides a wealth of technical diving knowledge. The aspiring technical diver will be able to make clear decisions regarding their training and the type of diving they wish to pursue. Existing technical divers will find guidance on techniques, training and the multiple options to expand their skills.
The modern technical diver is faced with a myriad of options with regard to training, equipment, procedures and choices. For new and even experienced technical divers it can be difficult to decide which options are best for your style of diving. Mark analyses the options available in a clear unbiased manner. Each topic is discussed in plain English and the pros and cons of each side of the topic are discussed and presented. Readers will benefit from Mark’s considerable experience as a technical diver as he provides counsel and advice where necessary to guide.
FOREWORD by Michael Menduno/M2
Depending on how you count it, technical diving quietly turned 30-years old last year, marked by the anniversary of Dr. Bill Stone’s extraordinary Wakulla Springs Project 1987, the first major mixed gas diving expedition conducted by sport divers. Once considered the radical fringe, technical or ‘tech’ diving has now taken its rightful place as the vanguard of sport diving and its influence has been widely felt across the recreational diving industry.
Today, nitrox is nearly ubiquitous among sport divers and helium mixes are the gas of choice for deep diving—deep air diving is no longer considered acceptable. In fact, several training agencies are even beginning to introduce helium mixes for recreational divers conducting exposures in the 30-40m range to improve diving safety.
Recreational diving equipment has also felt the influence of tech. Backplate and wings that enable divers to better maintain their trim & buoyance are gradually replacing old-style vest BCDs; recreational divers are beginning to opt for a long hose versus an “octopus” for their secondary regulator to aid gas sharing, and nitrox and mixed gas dive computers are commonplace. What’s more, “tekkies” now represent the largest user group of rebreathers on the planet, surpassing the combined militaries of the world.
It’s no wonder then that there is considerable interest in technical diving among avid recreational divers, which is what makes technical diving educator and shipwreck diver Mark Powell’s latest book so timely and important. While there are several books that plunge into the geeky depths of technical diving, they tend to be outdated, too detailed or aimed at divers who already have their tech credentials. Instead Powell, the author of “Deco for Divers,” provides interested divers with a thoughtful overview of the field including its historical and philosophical underpinnings, equipment configurations, fundamentals of mixed gas technology, the required attitude and skills, practical considerations and the issues that tekkies care about most, especially staying alive.
Powell begins by examining the origins of tech diving, what it is and what it is not. Back in the early 1990s, the difference between technical and recreational diving was stark. That’s not the case anymore and Powell does a great job of describing the continuum of the activity that is now sport diving: from the holiday snorkeler lazily finning across a reef to a dedicated team of tekkies making a 150-meter jump on a newly discovered shipwreck. Along the way he explores why tech diving has become so popular, what it takes to become a tech diver, and offers practical advice on how to go about making the transition.
From the beginning, technical diving has been all about improving diving safety and performance enabling divers to conduct exposures that were beyond the limitations of early recreational diving. Accordingly, Powell discusses the increased risks of technical diving, and the mindset and requisite skills such as value shut downs and bail out strategies that tech divers employ to mitigate these risks, including expecting the unexpected, and what to do when things go wrong.
Powell offers a detailed discussion of the diving systems or platforms used by technical divers specifically; back-mounted twinsets or doubles, sidemount systems, and rebreathers, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each. He delves into the fundamentals of mixed gas technology, which is at the heart of tech diving, along with practical considerations such as sizing cylinders and stage bottles. He also discusses decompression diving including the use of mixed gas dive computers, trending topics such as the efficacy of “deep stops,” and what to do for missed decompression.
An important consideration in tech diving is whether to dive as a team or as a solo diver. Powell provides an in-depth examination of the various approaches to team diving, including diving as a team of one, and their pros and cons. He also discusses the special considerations involved in diving in cave and shipwreck environments, and in expedition diving.
Taken as a whole, Powell’s “Technical Diving” provides recreational divers wanting to know more, with a working understanding of technical diving, and what is required in terms of equipment, attitude, knowledge and skills to make the transition. The author has distilled his considerable depth of knowledge and experience into a highly readable and easy to understand opus that represents the latest thinking in the evolving field of technical diving.
1. Introduction to Technical Diving
2. What is Technical Diving?
3. Why has it become so popular?
4. Moving into Technical Diving
5. What makes a Technical Diver?
6. Fitness for Technical Diving
7. Technical Diving and the Internet
8. Comfort Zone
9. Expect the Unexpected
10. What went wrong?
12. Equipment Configuration
13. Twinset configuration questions
14. Side mount
15. Backplate, Wing and Harness
16. Hogarthian Equipment Configuration
17. Reely important equipment
18. Staying Comfortable
19. How many cylinders do you need?
20. Dive Computers
21. What’s in your Argon bottle?
22. Buoyancy Control
24. Finning Techniques
25. Reaching Your Valves
26. Shutdown Drills
27. Individual or Team Diving
28. Team Sizing
29. Problem Solving
30. Technical Skills
32. Rebreather configurations
33. Extending your diving – Longer rather than deeper
34. Decompression Diving
35. Nitrogen Narcosis
37. Oxygen Toxicity
38. Dive Planning
39. Wreck Penetration
40. Cave Diving
42. Missed Decompression