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Tech Wreck Diving


Paulo Vincenzo Toomer

The Mile High Club. Ever heard of it? The 100 Metre Club. Ever heard of that? Which one is more risky? Which one is more achievable, more probable, more plannable?

Well it isn't the Boeing 747 option with the toilet roll holder stuck up your bunghole and a pair of tights strangling you and one stray big toe constantly hitting the attendant call button.
London School Of Diving
Getting to the Big One Hundred takes far more courage and a lot more planning, it's a hell of a lot less risky and a lot less embarrassing if you get caught doing it. It used to be only deep explorers that went as deep as 100 metres, now 100m divers are high-tec divers and without diminishing the achievement of planning and executing a dive of this calibre, a little bit more common. It is still a very exclusive club, one that I would like you all to join. There are no guarantees that you will be able to get there (in terms of your ability) but with the right understanding, desire, training and experience, I do believe that the 100 metre club could be a lot bigger. The funny thing here is that many of the girls reading this article are thinking that it's a waste of time to read further. Well, in my opinion, you are the future big deep hairy (and I'm not referencing armpits, legs or Brazilians here) tech divers. Girls struggle less with peer pressure, they are calm under fire and most importantly, they breathe a whole lot less gas. More gas means more time. More time means more exploration.

So how exactly do you get there?

In previous articles I have written about choosing the instructor and training agency, also whether you are going to be an Open Circuit or Closed Circuit technical diver. The most important decisions after those are, do you need to go to 100 and why? I don't believe in just doing a dive to 100 metres for the hell of it, I believe we should have an objective. For me, that usually means a wreck or some beautiful topography, as I'm afraid to say it is not teeming with fish down there. If you will never use the skills learned on this course again, then it seems like a real waste.

Doing the dive

You do not need to dive to 100 on your training course. In fact, some agencies do not allow it, but I believe that it is a very good thing to do. My reasoning is empirical really. I have qualified a fair few trimix divers now and when a divers depth timer/computer hits triple figures, there is something that changes within that diver, as recounted by Alex Griffin of Diving Leisure London, "As a reasonably experienced diver and instructor I find that the most excitement I draw from recreational diving comes from either diving in environments or places substantially different from those I've dived before or from seeing the enjoyment in the faces of those that I teach. In some ways I've come to miss that nervous excitement that comes from being on a boat heading out to a dive, knowing that your limits and abilities are about to be challenged.
When I recently completed my IANTD Trimix course with Diving Matrix in Malta I perfectly re-captured that feeling as I went out to complete my 100m qualifying dive. This is an experience that you know is going to be monumental. I enjoyed the anticipation of knowing I was about to do something I'd never done before, that was a major challenge but also knowing I was capable of pulling it off.

The dive itself went without a hitch. The sensation of looking at your computer and seeing 100m on the display is pretty mind boggling. We also had the privilege of completing the dive on a massive unidentified cargo ship and we had a few minutes to explore the bow. That was incredible; to actually be at a 100m and 'doing a dive' was, for me, the highlight of the experience. The decompression schedule was surprisingly light and the whole dive took only an hour, I returned to the surface feeling a mix of awe, triumph and extreme happiness.

Going back in to harbour I realised that this is why I love scuba diving so much; no matter who you are or how much experience you have, there is always something new to see or do that will keep you feeling just like you did when you first put your head under the water."

I believe it is best to experience your first 100 metre dive under the watchful eye of an experienced deep trimix instructor, so pick your trimix instructor with as much caution as you chose your entry level instructor as you are about to turn your world on its head.

What about the training?

The training is actually not that hellish. You will have to go through a series of courses before you get the prerequisites for full trimix. I can assure you of one thing, every one of the courses is an absolute blast.

Beginning with Advanced Nitrox (and Deco procedures, depending on agency), which teaches you basic twinset, long hose and stage cylinder management. This course teaches minimal deco and about a 40 odd metre depth maximum. Next you have an Extended Range (Tec Deep) or Normoxic (breathable at the surface) Trimix. On this course deco is dramatically increased and a max depth of around 60 metres can be achieved. And finally you are eligible for full blown trimix. This is an unlimited deco, multi stage 100 metres maximum depth programme (some agencies like DSAT are 75 metres).

On completion of the dive I do believe that life changes a little. Something in your soul lights up like a little beacon. I felt like I had journeyed to another galaxy like an extreme explorer, and I suppose I did. Not that many people even peer underwater using mask and snorkel let alone dive to 100 metres, so I guess I had been to another galaxy. I certainly looked like I was going into space. Sadly, the world's media were not there to meet me when I surfaced grinning like a Cheshire cat. I was not put into the hall of fame along side Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. But there is a champagne bottle in my local pub, The Eagle in Clapham that has 11 ATA (11 atmospheres) printed in silver along it's side on the top shelf as you walk in the door. All my friends came out to celebrate with me and for a few fleeting moments I became the explorer I had always dreamed I would be.
Become all that you want to be that's really all this article is about. If you fancy doing 100 metres then go out and talk to an instructor and let them help you realise your dreams.

You can email Auntie Toomer with any of your dive queries and you might also like to check out The Diving Matrix.
Diving Chamber Treatment Trust

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