By Scott Foster
Last month my girlfriend Susi and I finally took the step from recreational diving to technical diving. As Emperor Diver Instructors we obviously did this through Tekstreme (the technical wing of Emperor). The courses we were to be doing were TDI Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures.
These courses increase your Nitrox knowledge and teach you how to use Decompression Procedures - for these purposes you learn to dive in a wing, back plate and twinsets. Then just as you think you're almost getting to grips with that lot, they throw a sling at you just to help you with your 'Dolphiness' dive style. You spend the first couple of days finding your way around the equipment, which involves trying to make the correct hand do the correct thing at the correct time! Trust me, it sounds easy, it even makes sense, but could I get it to work under the water?
In the classroom, the theory is good, comprehensive and interesting. Then you get a humbling feeling creeping up on you as you realise that, whether a PADI, BSAC or any other type of recreational instructor, this does not exclude you from expanding your dive knowledge. And how long is it since you were the student? In fact, the course has given my future students a more sympathetic instructor. When I've been in the classroom teaching and the next morning my guest returns saying, "Sorry, when we went back to our room we couldn't remember what you told us", I shall now take a deep breath and remember what I was like when it came to technical dive plans and the way Mickael (our technical instructor) took things in his stride. This helped me realise that the things we teach every day are made easy by repetition and the stuff you have to learn from new can take a while to sink in.
To do the two courses at once takes five days and, as always, it is better to have the materials and knowledge reviews done in advance. The skills involved are new to all levels of single tank BCD (BC) divers and the dive planning is more in depth and comprehensive.
All in all I had fun, learned more, got to use the old brain cell (not a spelling mistake) and hopefully, through the experience, improve my diving both personally and as an instructor. Can't wait to do the next course, but as we all know that could be a while. A while waiting to get the time required off work!