4 Things to Know Before Your First ERDI Class

First, it’s important to realize that this is not going to be like any other scuba diving course you have taken. ERDI courses are designed to save lives, recover bodies and sensitive crime scene evidence, and place divers in hazardous environments.

The Top 3 Finning Techniques and When to Use Each One

A diver should be able to move through the water using their fins as the exclusive means of propulsion to increase efficiency and minimize the impact to the environment.

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Throughout this text we will outline examples of reverse age discrimination* and its effects on the dive community.


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!

TEKDiveUSA 2014, If You Missed It

by Lauren Kieren:
TEKDive USA Friday night BBQ

Hundreds of dive enthusiasts took a weekend out of the water to take part in a groundbreaking Technical Diving Conference on May 17-18, 2014 in Miami, Florida. If you missed the event, continue reading for a recap of the weekend’s highlights.

This two day conference was composed of three elements: an exhibition, a conference, and a gala awards ceremony dinner. Participants were able to meet the true dive explorers of today, pioneering dive medical professionals, outstanding dive educators, award winning photographers/videographers, equipment manufacturers, leading dive industry professionals, and more!

It all kicked off on Friday night with a barbeque dinner allowing attendees, exhibitors, and presenters the opportunity to network, rub shoulders, and get to know one another at this casual event.

We were able to spend the evening catching up with old friends, making new ones, and talking TEKDiveUSA all evening. What more could we ask for?

Waking up after an exciting night at the kickoff barbeque wasn’t easy, but knowing we were heading to some great presentations gave us the right motivation to crawl out of bed early Saturday morning.

Upon arrival at the conference center, we quickly realized what our biggest problem was going to be. We were not going to be able to attend all of the fantastic presentations being offered! We decided to divide and conquer, and try to hit as many presentations as we could. Here is a recap of some of the presentations we attended…

Cave Explorer Panel – The organizers of TEKDiveUSA put Lamar Hires, Phil Short, Josh Thornton, Andy Pitkin, Brett Hemphill, Jill Heinerth, and Brian Kakuk (all world renowned cave explorers) together to see what would happen… They did not battle it out, but there were some great discussions about what drives this diverse group to explore; how they prep for diving in remote locations with limited options, what factors they consider during an exploration dive, what extra precautions are required of this type of diving and what fuels their motivation? For some it was the desire to conduct scientific research, for others it was the desire go where no man (or woman) has gone before. For one honest individual… It was for purely “selfish” reasons – to be the first one there! We appreciated their honesty and the good laugh to start our day.

Phantom Cave Team – Deep in the desert of West Texas lays Phantom Springs Cave. A group of enthusiastic divers from varying backgrounds came together to conduct research dives, document, explore and survey this cave. This team was able to map out over 8,000 feet of the cave and due to their determination and desire for exploration; discover the deepest underwater cave system in the United States.

This presentation covered the history of the cave, challenging logistics with diving in a remote location, challenging dive conditions (silt, numerous ascent/descents, diving in zero visibility, extreme depths, equipment failures, etc.), the sediment traps installed to study water quality, and more. This group even reserved some time to mention Phantom Cave’s resident endangered pupfish… Presenters made sure to warn us NOT to step on the pupfish!

Developments in CCR Functional Safety – Kevin Juergensen (Juergensen Marine), Leon Scamahorn (Inner Space Systems), Bruce Partridge (Shearwater Research), Paul Raymaekers (rEvo), and Martin Parker (Ambient Pressure), led by moderator Randy Thornton (CCRExplorers & Dive Addicts), sat down for a panel style discussion on improvements in rebreather functional safety over the past 20 years. The discussion was informative, entertaining, and even a bit heated at times, and gave listeners a unique insight into the minds of some of the greatest rebreather designers on the planet.

DCS in Remote Locations – Technical diving expeditions are taking participants into increasingly remote locations. Formulating a plan for management of decompression sickness (DCS) in such locations can be very challenging. In particular, evacuating a diver for recompression therapy can be costly, difficult, and a potentially hazardous undertaking. In this presentation, Dr. Simon Mitchell defined “mild DCS,” and gave his thoughts on alternative methods for treatment in remote locations. He also discussed methods behind in water recompression treatments and their benefits in remote locations.

Is Helium Your Friend? – Aside from the clear benefits of helium, other differences are less well understood. It is thought that faster uptake of helium than nitrogen into the body during bounce dives results in a greater decompression obligation. Switching to air or nitrox during ascent is thought to accelerate decompression but also to risk inner-ear decompression sickness. If DCS occurs, the typical symptoms following helium-based diving are thought to be different from nitrox diving. Is any of this true? Dr. David Doolette, Research Physiologist for the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), presented his findings and ongoing research regarding the use of helium in based breathing gasses in bounce decompression dives. This informative presentation answered many questions we’ve had relating to trimix decompression schedules, and also spurred several new questions that will only be answered with time and more research.

Mars: The Discovery of the Century – Following a life-long search, Richard Lundgren and his team discovered the shipwreck of “Mars the Magnificent,” in May of 2011. Richard delivered a presentation on the recently discovered shipwreck that was lost in battle in 1564, almost 450 years ago! Mars was a Swedish unrated warship of three deck levels and was discovered in 75m of water in the Baltic Sea between the Swedish islands of Oland and Gotland. Experts regard Mars as the missing link, as the wreck presents a unique opportunity in understanding warship design and naval battle tactic developments. The presentation took us back to the brutal naval battle of 1564, followed by guided tour of the wreck site of Mars the Magnificent, a truly extraordinary time capsule. Richard shared the ground breaking research, exploration, survey, photography, and 3D modeling techniques developed throughout this project. For more info, please visit https://www.oceandiscovery.org.

Rescue of an Unconscious Diver at Depth – Dr. Simon Mitchell presented his findings while working with the Diving Committee of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society on some of the most debated topics regarding in water rescue techniques. He was able to definitively answer some of the most common questions regarding rescuing unconscious divers from depth including:

  • Should you try to replace the regulator?
  • Should you wait until a seizure is finished before ascending?
  • What procedures should be used for a rebreather diver?
  • Should you try to complete any decompression obligations before surfacing the diver?
  • Should you try to administer in water rescue breaths? And More…

For a complete description of the findings of this research, please visit The Rubicon Foundation webpage.

Myths and Misconceptions of Thermal Stress and Physiology – Diving is carried out in a tremendous range of environments and conditions. Proper preparation can make a polar diver more comfortable than a tropical diver. Dr. Pollock discussed thermal stress, thermal protection, and implications for diving health.

Why Divers Do Stupid Things – How can very smart people often make such stupid mistakes? Leading technical diving Instructor Trainer Mark Powell answered this question in an informative, very entertaining and controversial talk. He was able to explain why smart people can make such stupid mistakes and why you are at risk of making the very same mistakes while diving. Mark has a unique way of presenting informative topics to make you think about issues in a slightly different way.

Members of RTC

Members of the RTC join for a group photo at TEKDiveUSA.2014

Believe it or not… We were able to get some “work” done over the weekend at TEKDiveUSA. On Sunday morning, May 18, 2014 – the first face-to-face meeting of the newly formed Rebreather Training Council (RTC) took place.

The members of the RTC are training organizations that offer courses in the use of rebreathers. The RTC aims to promote safety and standardization in the field of rebreather training, and the group intends to work closely with the Rebreather Education and Safety Association (RESA) to achieve these goals.

Conclusion – Overall, the conference was a huge success, extremely educational, and a lot of fun to attend. The entire weekend was an excellent opportunity for divers to further educate themselves on some of the most important topics regarding technical diving today, as well as rub shoulders with some of the industry’s top professionals and leading experts. We had a great time and we’re looking forward to TEKDiveUSA.2016!

TDI HQ crew

The TDI World HQ staff reminding everyone why we all got into diving in the first place… It’s supposed to be FUN! From left to right: Sean Harrison, Jon Kieren, Lauren Kieren, Cris Merz, and Darren Pace

Tips & Tricks for a Successful Drift Dive

by Lauren Kieren:

2 drift divers

Photo Credit: Becky Kagan Schott

Drift diving is like flying underwater. When you are soaring along the bottom contour, neutrally buoyant, guided by a gentle current, watching the marine life; it gives you a perspective of the underwater world that is difficult to obtain any other way.

Depending on where you dive, Divemasters (DM’s) and dive operations may use different techniques for drift diving. In many cases, drift dives are conducted off a boat while a DM guides the direction of the dive while towing a Surface Marker Buoy (SMB) to mark the divers’ location in the water. Meanwhile, a boat might be following the group to pick up divers as they surface (keep in mind, drift diving from a boat requires a skilled boat operator to conduct drift diving procedures properly).

Prior to participating in drift diving activities, you should be extremely proficient in your diving skills. If you have not participated in diving activities for a period of six months or longer, we highly encourage a diver to go through the SDI Inactive Diver Course before considering this type of advanced dive. Setting up a drift dive can be a fast paced activity that requires your diving skills and techniques to be dialed in – the ascents and descents can be challenging but once you are on the bottom… It’s your time to cruise along the ocean floor.

So what should you consider before drift diving? Here are a few tips and tricks before you hit the water:

STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME – Prior to entering the water, ensure all of your dive equipment is on, functioning, and you have completed a pre-dive safety check. Make sure you are properly weighted so you can descend with the group. If you are having difficulties equalizing on the descent – signal to your buddy and be aware of the divers’ location on the bottom, and the surface marker buoy signaling your location. If conditions allow (good visibility and manageable current) slow your descent to catch up with the group. If conditions do not allow for this and you cannot catch up with the group, surface with your buddy to abort the dive.

GO WITH THE FLOW – Once you are on the bottom, it’s important to “go with the flow.” Avoid swimming against the current, as this will increase your work load and air consumption rate. Streamline yourself and your gear to glide effortlessly through the water. Keep an eye out in front of you to plan your moves accordingly. If you see obstructions ahead of you – whether it’s a coral head, a wreck, or a cluster of fishing line – it’s important to plan your moves ahead of time to avoid a collision.

SELF AWARENESS – As previously mentioned, the descents of a drift dive can be fast paced. It is extremely important during all dives (especially drift dives), to monitor your depth gauge to ensure you are staying at a consistent depth versus drifting downward or upward without realizing it. Also, keep a close eye on your no decompression limit (NDL), as you glide along the bottom your air consumption rate may be reduced due to the lack of physical exertion required during this phase of the dive. Remember, just because you have ample an amount of cylinder pressure remaining, does not mean your NDL, or bottom time hasn’t exceeded the limits. Finally, check your tank pressure early and often and make sure you will have an ample supply of breathing gas to make a slow ascent, conduct a safety stop, and safely surface with some remaining tank reserve.

surface marker buoyMAKE YOURSELF NOTICEABLE! – No, we’re not talking about wearing flashy dive gear… Prior to ascending, make sure to keep your eyes open and your ears tuned for boat traffic. If you and your buddy are surfacing before the group, ascend in sight of the SMB the DM is towing. Once at the surface, deploy your own Surface Marker Buoy, give yourself some distance from the SMB marking the divers underwater, then signal to the dive boat for pick up. If necessary, carry a whistle or audible alarm to be heard from a distance if you are not seen. When the boat makes its way towards you, stay put and do not swim towards the boat unless instructed by the boat operator.

Drift diving is a fun and exciting way to explore the underwater world, however, it can also lead to increased stress and anxiety if you are not prepared. This text is not intended to replace proper dive training, nor does it cover all aspects and requirements of drift diving. Following these tips along with proper training will ensure you get the most out of your drift diving experience.

For more information, contact your local SDI Dive Facility to sign up for the SDI Drift Diving Course.

The “Perfect” Trim

Check out these tips and tricks for the ideal trim!