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6 Tips for Conserving Your Breathing Gas

There are many factors that can help a diver at any level conserve breathing. The following are six basic suggestions that may help you reduce your gas consumption.

Transitioning from Sport to Tech

You must want to learn more, and take the time to become more proficient in order to remain safe, but you must always make the step into the technical world for the right reasons.

Were You a Fan of Sea Hunt?

by David Houser:

VOIT regulator

My Navy VOIT double hose regulator.

Sea Hunt, a TV series originating in the late 50’s and running until the early 60’s, captivated the audience and may have motivated many young viewers to become future divers. I always wanted to go on underwater crime – fighting scuba adventures like former U.S. Navy Frogman, Mike Nelson. Fully equipped, he always wore a VOIT green label double hose regulator.

In the early 1970’s, as an airman stationed in Austin, TX, talk would sometimes lead to scuba diving. Sears carried scuba equipment, including Navy VOIT double hose regulators (right hose for inhalation and left for exhalation), VOIT 72 cubic ft tanks, masks and fins. It didn’t take long to make a decision that would affect a lifetime. With new equipment and full tanks, our destination was Austin’s own Lake Travis. I was hooked on the first dive.

Transferring to Florida in 1972, and ready to dive, the first hurdle was learning tanks could not be filled without a certification card. Hal Watts’ store offered classes. The certification was NASDS and…WOW… did I learn a lot! My instructor quickly became a good friend and I continued diving, getting my advanced certification and experiencing Florida’s springs.

david houser and crew going into Cisteen

Early 1970’s, preparing to dive into Cisteen.

Nearly every Friday evening we would go diving. Because most of the springs (Peacock, Orange Grove, Troy, Ginnie, Blue Springs, Ichetucknee, Little River and 40 Fathom Grotto, to name a few) were privately owned, we had to hike through cow pastures and woods to reach our destination.

While diving these springs I became fascinated with the underwater cave systems, and subsequently bought single hose regulators with an alternate air source (octopus), double 72 cubic ft tanks with manifold, Atpack (to replace the horse collar buoyancy compensator), and a new SCUBAPRO dive computer. The regulator was put on the manifold in the center of the tanks. The octopus, an idea Hal Watts came up with, was put on a swivel so if a buddy needed air, he could use it.

Switching from a double hose regulator to the single hose reduced the work of breathing, which was not affected by the diver’s position in the water. Another notable improvement included, bubbles being released from under the chin instead of behind the head.

homemade equipmentCave divers needed three independent lights, a primary and two backups. Ikelite and Scuba Pro made several lights, most requiring “C” or “D” batteries. Other divers were making their own lights using motorcycle batteries, so I decided to design my own using plexiglass and an aircraft landing light. The burn time was around 45 minutes to an hour, which was great for the time. However, due to its large size, the light had to be carefully balanced around the neck when entering caves to avoid damaging it.

We trained with several instructors in Peacock Springs, doing appropriate skills and practicing silt out drills. The phrase “plan your dive and dive your plan” was used by Hal Watts, and holds true even today. We planned and executed dives in Peacock 1, 2 and 3, Orange Grove, Olsen, Challenge, Cisteen sinks (all part of the Peacock Springs system); as well as Little River and Ginnie Springs. During some of the dives we would post signs warning divers that cave diving is dangerous without proper training, and attempted to connect tunnels different tunnels.

It was a pleasure to dive and spend time with some of the true pioneers of cave diving, especially Henry Nicholson. As a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Dive team, I hold the highest respect and admiration for Capt. Henry Nicholson. *

The training was great back then, but it’s been amazing to watch how instruction and equipment has, and continues to, improve over the years.

My training and education continues today as an Instructor Trainer with SDI/TDI/ERDI and PADI Master Instructor.

Please remember, get the training you need for the type of diving you want to do.


* Henry Nicholson was Captain of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Dept. Dive Team. He founded IUCRR (International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery) along with Robert Laird, in 1999. The Nicholson Tunnel in Peacock was named after him, as was the Henry

5 Things Your Instructor Would Love for You to do Before Class…

by Lauren Kieren:

trimmed TDI diver

photo by: Thaddius Bedford

Being prepared for your next TDI diver course is critical to your learning during your progression in dive training. Whether you signed up for the TDI Advanced Nitrox/Decompression Procedures course or CCR Advanced Mixed Gas; learning at this level requires that you connect with the training and fully comprehend the theory development presented in the academic sessions, as well as actively participate in the in-water sessions.

A great deal of learning will happen after you successfully complete the TDI Diver course; however, you should expect to spend an equal amount of time learning outside of class as you spend working in class with your instructor. With that said, class preparation is a vital part to your overall learning experience throughout this process.

In the event you do not prepare for your next series in technical dive training, you can place yourself and others in your class at a major disadvantage. You will put yourself in the position of playing “catch up,” versus being actively involved and thinking ahead during training.

Here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your course by showing up prepared and ready to learn:

  1. ORGANIZE YOUR EQUIPMENT – If your instructor sends you an equipment list and you are expected to show up to class with the items, do yourself and your instructor a favor by getting it organized prior to commencement of training. Lay everything out and double check your list to ensure you have the required items. This is a good time to verify the equipment actually works before you pack it in your gear bag for class. This is also the perfect time to make sure all your equipment, new or old, is labeled with your name.
  2. GET IN THE WATER – Before you start your next course, take some time to work on skills from previous courses. If all you can do is get in the pool and work on your buoyancy and trim, do it! Showing up with your basic skills fine tuned will help your technical training tremendously, especially if it’s been more than a couple of weeks since your last dive. It is common for TDI Instructors to require an assessment dive where students demonstrate they can perform skills from previous courses. If this dive does not go well, the instructor may require some remedial training that could delay or prevent the start of your course. If you are trained to dive in the equipment you will be using during your next progression in training, get in the water to make sure your equipment is dialed in; verify your harness is adjusted correctly and your hose lengths and routing are where you want them to be.
  3. COMPLETE YOUR HOMEWORK – Your instructor will most likely require you to complete some pre-course studies, such as reading the required TDI manual and completing the Knowledge Reviews. It’s possible your instructor might suggest additional text or materials outside of the TDI resources… read in advance and try to absorb as much information as possible before you start your course. A thorough pre-course review can help refresh your memory on previous course information, give you more confidence in class, and help you prepare to ask relevant questions, or make a significant contribution to the overall class by offering timely/appropriate comments. After reviewing the TDI manual and materials required by your instructor, make notes if you have any questions on the content, and hone in on the important points.
  4. HAVE AN OPEN MIND – Your next progression in technical dive training (regardless of the level) is critical to the overall safety and success of your future dives. If you already knew the information and had experience at this level, it’s very unlikely you would be participating in the course. With that said, pay attention and have an open mind. It’s important to be open and willing to receive the information your instructor is providing. If you are unsure of the information provided, ask your instructor for clarification or wait until after class to talk one-on-one.
  5. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S REST AND COME TO CLASS PREPARED – Finally, get a good night’s rest before you start training, come to class prepared, and show up on time. Arriving for your first day of class disorganized, late, and unprepared sets the tone for the rest of the day, if not the class, and could diminish the overall objective you are trying to accomplish. Being prepared means you’re on time or early, you have all of the required pre-course studies complete, and you have all the necessary equipment (in working order) to start training.

Good class preparation will help you better understand the academic and in-water sessions, keep you confident in class and allow you to make the most of your time during your next series of technical dive training.

For more information on courses offered by Technical Diving International, TDI – Click Here! OR to find a TDI Instructor near you, go to the Find a TDI Instructor Search on the website. We are always open for questions so feel free to send us a message at training@tdisdi.com.

3 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Instructor

There really is never a bad question but always think about the question before you ask it; put yourself in the instructor’s fins. Questions are an important tool for instructors when teaching, they let the instructor know what the diver is thinking and chances are good that if one person has a question, others have may have the same but are hesitant to ask.

Do’s and Don’ts of Diving Back In

by Lauren Kieren:
Dive boat on horizon

Picture a clear sky, slight breeze, warm sun beating down on flat calm seas, and limitless visibility underwater… What could make this picture perfect dive day go from fantastic to terrible? Having to skip out on a dive! If you are a new diver or this is your first dive of the season – there are a few Do’s and Don’ts to consider before taking a giant stride in and having to skip out on a dive. This list by no means covers every item to consider, but it’s a good head start to diving back in.

To start, don’t compare scuba diving to riding a bicycle. We all know the saying, “if you don’t use it – you lose it,” the saying applies to diving as well. Regardless of how many certification cards are in your wallet or how many dives you have logged, after a period of inactivity, your skills will diminish over time.

Do participate in a SDI Inactive Diver or refresher course if you have not been diving within the past 12 months. It’s better to go through a tune up in a pool or confined open water setting under the guidance of an active dive professional versus trying to figure everything out during your initial descent.

Don’t forget your certification card while prepping for your dive trip. Nothing is worse than having your gear packed while you’re getting excited for the dive, and you get turned away during check in for not bringing your certification card. If this happens and the location has internet access, you can verify your SDI Certification online without missing the dive and order a replacement card.

Do check in early for your dive trip. You might be able to pick the best spot on the boat or find an empty bench if you’re shore diving. Allow yourself some time to set up your gear without rushing and verify all of your equipment is on, functioning, and ready to dive.

Don’t be “that guy” (or gal) on the dive boat or at the shore site with a suit case full of scuba equipment exploding all over the place. This can cause people to trip over it and it can be invasive to their personal space to set up.

check listDo make a checklist of necessary dive equipment for the day, lay everything out before packing it, and only bring what you need. If you are diving off a boat, store your empty gear bag under the bench and be attentive to keeping your equipment streamlined and confined to your space.

Don’t get yourself in trouble or put yourself at unnecessary risk of Decompression Sickness (DCS) by not paying attention to your personal dive computer (PDC). Don’t be “that guy” (or gal) who ends up back on the dive boat or shore location with a screaming dive computer sounding like a fire truck coming down the road.

Do keep an eye on your PDC and pressure gauge during the dive. In addition to your depth, time, no decompression limits, and air consumption rate. Get to know the functions of your computer and learn how to read the displays before making the dive. Take the proactive approach to safety in the water and be aware of your limitations. Your first dive of the season or after a period of inactivity can go by very quick! Pay close attention as the time may sneak up on you.

Don’t ascend faster than your bubbles.

Do CYA… Computerize Your Ascent. Your dive computer is a necessary piece of equipment; no different than your mask and fins. It’s a fantastic tool to utilize to enhance the safety of your dives. During your ascent, pay close attention to your computer. Most modern day computers have an ascent alarm to warn you if you’re going up too fast. If your computer does not have an ascent alarm, watch your depth and time to ascend no faster than 18M / 60FT per minute.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Do give us a call or send an e-mail to tell us about your dives. While we’re stuck in the office, we want to hear about your fun, exciting experience underwater!

Did you like these condensed Do’s and Don’ts for your first dive back in? Feel free to pass these on to your dive buddies and share it on Social Media. If there are specific Do’s and Don’ts you want to see, let us know in the comment section below. We will continue to add more Do’s and Don’ts lists in the future so keep an eye out for the next round to come!

Advanced Certified or #AdvancedDiver

by Sean Harrison:

advanced dive buddies

photo credit: Santiago Estrada

As divers who catch the “bug” we are always looking for the next reason to go for a dive or to meet up with other divers and start building our list of dive buddies. Building this network is a must so when the urge hits and the conditions are right you can send that text, email or make that call, “weather is perfect for a dive…you in?”. One of the greatest forms of networking is continuing education, hanging out at your local dive shop is not too bad either, and the logical course to take after Open Water is Advanced, or is it?

The first question you need to ask yourself is, am I getting advanced certified so I can show my “advanced card” or so I can truly be a more capable diver? These are two very different things. The commonly referred to advanced certification (by most course requirements) is an introduction to five different types of diving and in most cases, two of the five introductions are core requirements such as deep and navigation. While this course provides you with an introduction, basic knowledge and additional dives, it does not truly provide you with in-depth knowledge on any of the five specialties or an opportunity to apply the knowledge you have learned.

Just like any learning experience, knowledge learned under the guidance of an instructor is only part of the equation. Taking this new knowledge and the skills associated with it, you need to get with that group of dive buddies and apply it. Furthermore, figure out what works and does not work for you, then take that feedback and give it to your instructor or dive center and have them coach you through what will make your diving experience better. All of this takes time and cannot be accomplished in five dives, in the same conditions, with the same instructor and the same dive buddies.

To build your comfort in the water you need a few things: different environments (ocean, fresh water, currents, boats, shore, to name a few); different dive buddies, some with the same diving abilities, some that are better; and most importantly… you need DIVES! Becoming a competent and efficient diver takes time and dives, and isn’t that why you wanted to learn in the first place, so you could dive?

advanced certIn short let’s go back to the original question – are you taking your advanced diver course for the card or so you can be a better diver? If your answer is so you can be a better diver, and I hope it is, consider this: take your time, take more courses, spend time in the water with your instructor, and more importantly go diving with your dive buddies and log some dives. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll see cool stuff, meet fun like-minded people, and you’ll become a better diver!

SDI’s Advanced Diver Development course starts the minute you finish your Open Water Scuba Diver course and in fact, includes the four dives you did during your course! The philosophy is pretty simple, earning credits for your fun dives mixed with training from an SDI instructor.

Follow this link then go to your local dive center and map out the best path for you to become a better diver and a better dive buddy. Don’t forget to pick-up some marine life identification books too so you can identify all those great things you are going to see.

Deep Diving is an Experience, Not Just a Number

by Dr. Thomas W. Powell:

TDI Diver Bill Mac

photo credit: Bill Mac

In the diving world, a unique few choose to push their personal limits. This may include diving deeper, penetrating wrecks, or even diving with advanced equipment. With that being said, one may view going deeper as setting a new depth record. While some divers want to set private or universal depth records, most divers choose to go deeper for the experience. They may be seeking to discover what exists at depth, or they may want to see a wreck that sits outside of recreational diving limits. The truth of the matter is, actual depth is often not the real objective. Instead, depth is a factor the diver must understand and recognize during planning. Divers who love this sport focus on the experience, not just a number.

Despite technical diving being a complex realm, any diver can enter into it. However, one must keep in mind, factors such as the equipment, training, planning, and even price tags are different. These changes are all part of the “deep experience.” To begin, one must look at the equipment. Deep or technical divers often need more gas, bottles with mixed gas, multiple regulators, items like manifolds and doubles bands, mixed gas computers, side-slung or side-mounted cylinders, and redundancies across the board. This need for gear leads each individual diver to search for what works best for them, in regards to the most desirable items and their configuration.

Second, a diver seeking to go deeper and have more technical experiences may(should) seek out advanced training. This training introduces mixed gases, extended range capabilities, equipment configurations, as well as oxygen-based physiology and how it relates to decompression. To accomplish this training, a diver will often research what facilities and instructors he or she can best learn from. (Find a TDI Facility/Instructor here) This again, is all part of the “deep-diving experience.” Dive professionals and dive shop owners must remember that the experience does not just take place underwater. If the dive professionals involved work to provide the best possible experience, the diver will remain happy, the business may recognize more profit, and that same diver may become a loyal customer.

Third, the planning changes for the deep/technical diver when compared to recreational diving. During training, technical divers learn that emergencies may involve hard or soft ceilings. For this reason, the diver must learn how to “bail out,” or safely return to the surface using gasses carried to depth. This need requires the diver and his partner or team to develop a bailout plan for specified depths throughout the dive. If an instructor teaches the diver to be competent and comfortable in this task, the diver is more likely to enjoy it, and look forward to planning deeper dives. Again, quality and competent training will build a better diver who seeks to actively use the knowledge he or she has gained

Fourth, the price tag associated with technical diving can grow in comparison to the prices seen in recreational diving. The experience provided by instructors, boat operators, shop owners, and even other divers will make the expenditures less painful. However, if the diver develops a passion for technical diving, then the cost is justified.

Finally, technical diving skills open up a whole new world for divers. The diver can go places and see things that other divers may not have the knowledge or capability to safely see. Hidden wrecks, deeper marine life, and unique underwater formations become available for technical divers. In certain cases and with proper training, technical divers may even be able to explore places that others have never ventured. “Deep” is a factor related to technical diving, but only part of the overall experience.

Technical divers maintain a certain pride factor within their personalities. They have taken a step that few others choose to take, and for this reason, they enjoy the adventure of deeper technical dives. They also enjoy using complex planning and specified gas mixes to get to these deeper depths. Rather than just enjoying the marine life, diving becomes a complex adventure that demands close attention to detail, extensive planning, and thorough training. If the journey is positive from start to finish, the diver will get the complete experience. This “experience” is what keeps divers wet and encourages them to move forward within the world of scuba.


– Dr. Thomas W. Powell, Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

Perfect-Trim-scuba

The “Perfect” Trim

Check out these tips and tricks for the ideal trim!