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February 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 34, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Why Technical Training is Worth Your Time

from the February, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Let’s face it, the standard openwater certification has its limitations. Unless you’re content gazing at moray eels in a coral reef for the rest of your life, your options to explore wrecks, enter caverns and dive deeper or longer simply are severely limited. Today, courses like advanced nitrox, extended range, advanced wreck, decompression procedures, doubles training, and trimix are plentiful. It’s a natural progression to open new doors and tackle new challenges as long as they’re within your comfort zone, which you can expand greatly with increased training. I’ve found that whenever my diving zest ebbs, the remedy is a new certification course.

Cavern and cave courses literally open up a new world of diving. For closer looks at marine life without bubbles getting in the way, take rebreather training. These courses are more expensive than their openwater counterparts, however, and require the purchase of dependable and topquality equipment you must maintain.

Learning some technical skills is a good idea for any serious diver. If you’re not interested in decompression diving, consider taking a wreck diving course. This training will teach you how to get safely inside the wrecks where the real exploration begins. For the deeper wrecks, get your advanced nitrox certification. You’ll learn how to sling a decompression bottle on your BCD, and what nitrox mix to use at what depth. A decompression “hang” can be shortened immensely by using nitrox. The next course is called “decompression procedures.” Other variations to consider are, depending on the certifying agency, “doubles training” and “extended range.” Trimix (basically the addition of helium to further lessen the DCS risk) and advanced trimix courses would complete the curriculum. These courses cost between $400 and $1000, even more, but your deep-water welfare is worth the expense.

Technical Diving International lists dive centers worldwide that offer courses from Advanced Wreck to Trimix. Go to and click on “Find a Dive Center” to locate those teaching a specific course in your area.

Charles Ballinger is the author of An American Underwater Odyssey: 50 Dives in 50 States. His website is www.dive50states.

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