After years of scuba diving in UAE and other countries, I felt like I needed a new challenge. This is why I embarked on my journey of becoming a tech diver in Dahab, Egypt.
Before joing my very first tech course I knew that tech divers are considered to be the elite in the diving world, both for the depth available to them and the challenges they endure. I remember seeing tech divers finish their dive at the Blue Hole and come back after hours of diving, looking sharp in their black suits and covered with multiple tanks and other diving equipment. I admired them but at the same time I was thinking tech diving was for these tough men only, who had a very strong military and alpha male vibe to them.
My motivation to become a tech diver was simple – I wanted to dive the Arch at the Blue Hole. Although the infamous dive site has taken lives of many divers, it is a fairly easy dive to make if the diver is properly trained and equipped. Safety measures are extremely important on deep dives like this one and no diver should ever compromise it.
It was exciting to be learning again and the first tech course Introduction To Tech was a good start. The theory was quite easy to comprehend and revolved around concepts of contingency and redundancy.
Tech divers carefully prepare their equipment and have two pieces of almost everything, in case something fails or gets lost, from second stage to knives to masks. I was introduced to the twinset and had to put my gear together to fit me perfectly.
From the beginning the most challenging part was to walk with all the equipment as it was pretty heavy, the full kit weighing easily over 50 kg. I was worried not to trip and fall but luckily all went fine.
The next shock awaited me underwater- although I had more than 150 dives in my diving logbook and thought of myself as a good diver, I felt otherwise with the twinset on. I was struggling to get control of buoyancy, could not stay straight and kept rolling on different sides. I was kicking erratically in a failed effort to stay horizontal and was completely exhausted. Simple skills like removing a mask seemed to be difficult and I even panicked during the manifold shutdown exercises.
To say I hated my first tech dive would be a complete understatement. I was completely disappointed after the first dive and although thoughts of quitting started crawling through my head, I decided to stick to the course.
After four more dives and shifting some weights around, I finally gained control of my wing and had a better position in water. I finally started to enjoy diving again and was happy to spot two local turtles during a fun dive.
The next course was Advanced Nitrox and it introduced new theory revolving around using Nitrox ranging from EAN21 through EAN 100 with no staged decompressions involved. I did a few dives on EAN 32 and had to do a few new skills like. Calculating MOD or Maximum Operating Depth was another task, it was crucial to mark it on our tanks along with the Oxygen percentage. This course went a bit smoother, although I was in constant pain from the heavy equipment and under mental pressure of strict instructing. One time I broke down in the shower room, after failing to perform a skill on a previous dive. Still I stayed determined.
The last course was Decompression Procedures and I was very excited as my instructor Jamie has been preparing me for it quite well, both by being very strict on me and scaring me with decompression chamber so I’d understand the importance of properly made deco stops. The theory was very indepth as I learnt about the behavior of gas underwater and its affects on our bodies.
Advanced tables and computers helped to plan out dives in the most detailed way, with a certain speed to descend and a fixed number of minutes to be spent at every depth. Should our plan go wrong, we would have our +5/+3 plan which accounted for extra bottom time or deeper than planned depth. In case we lost our gas, we had our lost gas plan to ensure the dive would go safely in any case. All the plans were copied to our slates so we could refer to them at any moment. Thanks to freediving, new skills like swimming underwater without air and without a mask to retrieve a tank, turn it on and breath from it was pretty easy too.
To conclude my tech diving adventures, my instructor, Jamie took me to the Blue Hole where I dived to 44.9 meters. It was very exciting to go 5 meters deeper than what I could before and stay longer on the bottom. I had enough time both to observe freedivers gliding down in their monofins and to strike a selfie.
We used EAN50 as deco gas and I had more time to enjoy the local marine life when we stopped at 6m and 3 m. It was a lovely smooth dive and I was very excited to see what a long way I have come to finally become a confident tech diver. My next goal is to train and dive to 55 m so I could dive the Arch, Blue Hole but that is another story
Later during the day I shared my story along with the famouse selfie taken at 44.5 metres with the online community of female divers and everyone loved my touch of pink to the world of all black. Girls celebrated my success and shared that they too want to challenge themselves in what seems to be a mens only activity.
My next goal is to train and dive to 55 m so I could dive the Arch, Blue Hole but that is another story…
I did my course with H2O Divers in Dahab, Egypt