Whew! What a weekend. I taught an Intro to Tech course this weekend and I think it may have been the best group I’ve had to date.
All three students are experienced recreational divers but not really experienced Great Lakes divers. Two of the guys are relatively new to drysuits and none have ever dove in doubles. We started out Friday evening at Marshall and Renee Allan’s house, home of Bad Frog Divers, and where most of my equipment resides when I’m not actually underwater. Two of the guys wanted to try doubles, so we spent Friday night on equipment rigging. Marshall graciously offered to load all the equipment into his nice enclosed trailer and pull it out to the quarry Saturday so we could use it as our base of operations.
Saturday morning found us at White Star quarry in Gibsonburg, OH. We started with some “classroom” work followed by our first dive. Having two thirds of my class in doubles for the first time could have been quite a challenge. I figured they’d descend and impale themselves into the bottom like a lawn dart. Much to my delight, they both descended in a very controlled fashion and adapted to well to the new equipment config. On dive one we mainly focused on buoyancy, trim and propulsion.
After a break for lunch and a dive briefing, it was back in the water for another dive. This time we tried manifold drills for those in doubles, did a timed swim to calculate consumption rates and deployed lift bags. The liftbag drill was definitely a learning experience. We did accomplish the task, but suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty!
Sunday was a beautiful day; sunny and mid 80’s. We again started with some classroom briefing and swapped out some gear so everybody had an opportunity to try different equipment set ups. We got into the water and and again checked buoyancy and trim by swimming through the PVC diamond obstacle course. I also threw some OOA scenarios at them when they least expected it. I think the students learned the value of a 7′ hose during that set of exercises. We also did some mask clearing and other basic skills. We also did liftbag deployment again. This time it went much more smoothly. Students deployed bags and we reeled up to 15′ where we hovered for our safety stop.
After our exit, we debriefed he dive and were ready to head for home. I really enjoy introducing people to some of the principles and techniques of technical diving. I think it’s a valuablr experience for these students to get a taste of tech diving before committing to an Adv. Nitrox/Deco course and they really enjoy and appreciate the chance to try different equipment styles and configurations. I really enjoyed diving with these guys and hope they continue to get more involved in Great Lakes diving.