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A techie type, not rebreathing. Photography by: Anne Marie Walters, www.amwphotographyandsculpture.co.uk


Tech Sensible for Rec The Beginners Guide and the Jargon Destroyer

Paulo Vincenzo Toomer

So, you have decided to be a tech diver. You have picked your instructor with great care and feel confident about your future. Now all you've got to do is pop down to your local dive centre and get yourself some shiny new kit. How hard can that be?
Well, you are faced with a few problems. If you are heading down the rebreather path, 90% of dive retail staff will spend an hour telling you what an idiot you are; can they have an invite to your funeral; 'my Grandad wore a rebreather in the war putting bombs on Jerry boats', etc, etc, blah, blah.

If you are going down the open circuit route those same staff will tell you what a pile of b******s tech is, quoting such memorable lines as, 'I went to sixty metres on a single ten in Sharm last year'; 'All that planning and f**king about for a sixty minute dive; I went to Wraysbury last week and did sixty-two minutes on a single ten!'

And a lot of the time whether you are CCR or OC, the shop geezer has no idea what the fook you are on about when you ask for specialised equipment anyway.

OK, so I'm exaggerating just a little bit. Or am I?

Seriously, most dive shops will have some idea about tech and they will look after you and also give you the guarantee that if the kit is not up to the job they will fix it. A lot of stores will actually help you build your kit and these are the primary reasons I buy most of my kit in stores rather than the internet. I'm sure you'll all agree that buying recreational gear is hard enough without some serious advice and help from the shop dude...

So, just imagine tech!

This month, let's have a serious laugh at all the technical equipment names and what they actually refer to, so we can impress the geezer behind the counter. Or, know when he is pulling a fast one.
Twinset with manifold and Agir style bands
Two tanks stuck together with really fat (and I mean PH PHAT stainless steel bands) with a knob in the middle to turn one side off (kind of).

Back Gas
Normally this refers to the twinset or actually the gas carried in it.

Environmentally sealed, balanced adjustable regulators for back gas
High quality regulators for the twinset. Shiny new regs compliment the wing. Very techy! You will need two sets, one primary and one backup. It's all about redundancy. You don't need an octopus on each set though! And you only need one gauge.

Long Hose
This is a two metre hose for the primary regulator.

Short Hose
This is the backup regulator that is worn around the neck by means of a bungee tied around the mouthpiece.

O2 Regs
Regulators that are oxygen clean so they don't blow the back off the boat when you turn them on (running O2 through a dirty regulator can have catastrophic results). Will probably come with a nice new M26 thread instead of standard DIN attachment. This thread is F'ing useless, as it presumes that all divers are idiots and can't manage to put the O2 regulator on the O2 tank. Typical Brussels and all it's b******s. Get a standard DIN if you can and f**k Europe and its directives!

A flying SMB? No, it's a BCD that only inflates behind the diver, like a wing. Wild, hey? Wings have better buoyancy control, nice and flat and clean, less drag, longer dives and Jedi looks. BCD's are soo Betamax! Comes in single or double bladder. This means that you have a primary inflator on a single and a primary and backup inflator on a double. It's all about redundancy. The regulators on the twinset feed both inflators, one on each side.

A stainless steel, aluminium, polycarbonate or even titanium plate to which the twinset is attached. The reason we use a plate is to provide rigidity for the diver.
This is webbing and D Rings attached to the plate. There are many different styles of harness available but they all do the same job, they just have different features. The beauty of having a wing, plate and harness is that there is no clutter around the diver making him/her very streamlined.

Umbilical lights
This is a canister light with an umbilical wire that leads to the light head. If you are serious about diving, this is the style of light for you. Available in HID or LED. The design allows a small light head to be worn on the hand and still allow the hand to be free to work (unlike a standard hand held torch). These are good for tech, good for rec.

Red Bag
Red SMB (Surface Marker Buoy). Using one of these properly will make you a better recreational diver as well.

Yellow Bag
You guessed it, but this time its yellow.

Dry Bag
This is not a dry SMB, but a drysuit. Must be black otherwise you're not going to be recognised as being serious. Will keep you warm, dive throughout more of the year, even recreationally, and you will be amazed at the buoyancy and trim you will achieve.

Nothing to do with big crocodile-type animals found in the Everglades. Gators are much like climbing gators; they stop the material on the calves flapping about. For a diver, this means we are streamlined and also, we don't have to wear ankle weights, as the air simply CAN'T get to your feet. I reckon that 90% of divers using ankle weights in drysuits can benefit using gators.

Lovely small-bladed rubber fins that will allow you to frog kick, helicopter turn and reverse fin with ease. Perfect for tight overhead environments. I wear them, but I can do all of these fin kicks in Mares Quattros, so don't get too carried away. Split fins will NOT cut it I'm afraid. Get some duck tape out and put them back together how they were meant to be, instead of that manufacturing defect that they have convinced us is an enhancement.

A pile of string on a spool with a handle. Some are awesome; most are suicidal in the wrong hands.
Travelling Diver
A pile of string on a spool with NO handle.

This is a plastic frame that holds a razor blade in a preformed C-section. Z knives are used for cutting while pulling.

Depth Timer
A digital depth and dive timer. Uwatec have really set the industry standard as they have a three hundred metre unit that is super cheap. We all have one of these somewhere in our dive bags.

Multi Gas Switchable Dive Computer
This is a computer that can handle the rigours of mixed gas diving. A simple D9 is a multi-gas computer, as you can select two different nitrox mixes and you can switch the gases on the computer underwater. However, something like a VRx/VR3 is able to store ten different Winter gases. They can be air/nitrox and trimix. It will also handle rebreather diving. A multi-gas computer is fast becoming standard issue/requirement for tech divers.

P Clip
Get that shit clipped away... When the shit hits the fan, you know where it is. Quite simply a piston clip (clip with a retractable gate) on a swivel. They come in many different styles and we use them primarily to secure the primary regulator when not in use and also the SPG.

Double ended P Clip
Same as above but two gates and no swivels. Used on stage bottles, reels, spools and we generally have one attached to our kit for emergency use if another clip were to break.

I am still trying to work out how to breathe through this appendage underwater. If anyone has any clues, I am willing to try, but in my experience the only thing it's good for is getting alcohol into your mouth really quickly, whilst being laughed at by all your friends. If you want to have a laugh, take one of these in a cave programme.

Now you have an idea what technical jargon is all about. Hopefully you have got the idea that tech is really not that complicated. I have wanted to write this article for ages, as I believe that most divers are put off doing tech training as we make it out to be soooo complicated and dangerous. It isn't! Maybe it once was, but now things have moved on and most people can actually participate.
The Underwater Channel
For those techies reading this, I have written it with a recreational diver in mind. I want divers to come over to the dark side and have a go. We all know that once you get to the dark side, we normally find it's really sunny.

In the next issue we will look at each item of tech kit and how the basic rig is assembled. We will also have a discussion on setup, the reasons why we set it up this way and choice of gear for the job.

(I hope you were not all waiting with baited breath for part two on rebreathers that I began last quarter. There are going to be a few new CCRs released very shortly so I thought I would hold it a while and let you have the article when we have some major news. Sorry!)

I would like to thank my advisors Kirsty Westwood, Jarrod Craik, Annie Walters Alan Whitehead, Alex Griffin and BOWKER for helping me make this article a little less geeky.
Diving Leisure London
Photography by: Anne Marie Walters.

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

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