Technical Diving: What Is It All About?
You’ve probably seen them at your dive center, sat in small groups with laptops, paper, slates, and pencils.
Talking about things like gradient factors, deep stops, deco, lost gas, and bottom mix, while they “plan” their dive.
You may have run into them on a dive boat, where four of them have got enough gear and tanks to occupy half the dive deck, leaving you and the other 16 divers with little space to move.
You wonder ‘why on earth are these guys wearing dry suits’, it’s like 38 degrees outside and the water is 28 degrees, this is shorty weather!
These guys are technical divers, or “techies”… So; what on earth is technical diving?
What Is Technical Diving?
To most divers, the words ‘technical divers’ conjure up images of a bunch of guys obsessed with diving deep.
Whilst this is true of quite a few technical divers, the art of technical diving doesn’t limit itself to just that.
Technical diving is, put simply, any diving that is set outside of recreational diving limits. It allows a diver the freedom to explore and dive beyond the traditional diving limits.
A good example of this is cave diving, which is some of the most challenging and dangerous diving around today.
However, quite a few of these extreme cave dives do not exceed 20 meters depth, so it’s clearly not just about depth.
What’s The Difference Between Tech and Recreational Diving
So what makes tech diving different from recreational diving? Whilst hundreds of pages could be written about this, it can be summed up in a few brief points:
Tech Diving Skills
First on the list is skills; there really is no room in Tech for ‘good enough’ or ‘just about do it’. All skills and your level of comfort in the water should be above reproach.
Skills can mean the difference between life and death, so they have to be razor-sharp.
Tech Diving Rules
Next comes gas planning. Generally, when you recreational dive, you put your kit on and dive till you hit 100 bar or so, then turn around and head back.
Alas! Things are not so simple in Tech diving, since you can’t ascend directly to the surface because of your obligatory decompression stops.
Normally, when you dive recreational, you are always within the no-decompression limits, so you can ascend to the surface at any time you wish.
Unfortunately, it’s not the same in Tech, where you must know how deep you are going and for how long. Every extra minute you spend down there adds a lot of time to your decompression obligation.
Overstaying would make your dive schedule, and gas management redundant.
Tech Diving Equipment
The last big difference is redundancy and equipment.
Going into the water with only one item that your life depends on is a seriously bad idea.
Basically, you have to work on the principle that if you have a catastrophic loss of one system, it’s not a major problem since you carry a backup with you.
Finally though, when it’s all said and done, whether you dive recreational or technical, the bottom line is the same: you dive for the love of it.