Technical Diving – The phrase itself, may invoke thoughts of long dark caves, polar bear infested Ice diving, dark and haunted wreck diving or deep diving, so deep, in fact, you can actually see The Mariana Trench, first hand. Diving in any form is intimidating to the layman.
The hardest part of learning to dive is to go into the shop and ask about any particular course. The Dive industry has for years tried to make this progression easy for the beginner. Try as it may, the industry of diving, is still a little intimidating to break into.
Technical diving is becoming more and more popular and is nowhere near as difficult to get into, nor is it the elusive restricted field that it once was. You do not need to go to college and spend 10 thousand dollars on a course and work in the North Sea for the rest of your life to have a career in this business.
With more and more dive schools offering Technical Diving and Technical Instructors courses, it has never been so open before, though it can be a bit of a mine field. Of course, it is not everyone’s idea of fun. But it does have its appeal, and not only in the male dive environment, as women are getting well into the tech side of things too. Interested? more about Technical Diving courses.
Technical diving defined
Technical diving is the use of advanced and specialized equipment along with techniques that enable divers to access to depth, longer dive time, and unusual
underwater environments more safely than otherwise possible.’
Nitrox used to be considered technical diving, but with the widespread use of the mix now appearing on nearly all Liveaboards and most day boats, it is now considered more as a part of recreational diving than technical diving: unless mixed at 36% or greater.
Usually people try their first taste of tech diving using a re-breather, maybe in a local swimming pool as part of their scuba class, it is a great way of learning differing techniques to diving. Re-breathers offer different kind of operating systems with semi closed re-breathers and closed circuit re-breathers
Technical diving requires detailed training, specialized equipment before any certification. Training is offered by more and more dive shops each year, in choosing your instructor and the organisation.
It is advised that any decision on learning should be taken very seriously, and a
comprehensive check of credentials and experience of the instructor and agency should be thoroughly explored before signing up for any course.
Phuket has a fantastic history for technical diving; a new world record was set in these waters not so long ago. English diver Mark Ellyatt, a true pioneer and legend amongst technical divers, along with his crack team of support divers, which included Tec Instructor Phil Phelan, David Hansen, Mike Stark, Glen Dunkley, Monton Bumpenyu (Khun Gai) and Sveinung Skoglund, broke the previous record set a few years earlier.
In 2005 Ellyatt set a world record of 313 meters beating the previous record by 5 meters for the deepest solo scuba dive ever, right here in the seas around Phuket. Ellyatt compared the successive world record attempt to being like ‘a lonely trip, like a trip to the moon.’
Very trippy indeed Mr Ellyatt; it surely takes considerable planning, courage, drive passion and a very active safety conscious attitude to make such a dangerous dive. Make no mistake; diving to these depths is risky, no matter how experienced you are.
Apparently it took only 12 minutes to get to the depth of 313 meters; he spent another minute collecting his thoughts and markers, and then a further 6 hours 36 minutes to make the journey back to the surface.
Ellyatt chose a relatively slow ascent rate at about 18 metres a minute, stopping at 250 meters; the next 4 stops were each 20 metres apart. He planned the dive thoroughly, taking into account gas mixtures, decompression stops, water temperatures and currents as well as physical and mental health; everything had to be prepared to the letter.
Ellyatt took six tanks down with him on the descent, during the rest of the dive, had a further 2 dozen more brought to him upon depths of ascent. Someone remarked since that Ellyatt used more tanks to go 313 meters than operation Desert Storm needed to liberate Kuwait.
Ellyatt said at the end of his dive that he was ‘exhausted, but very happy’ he had dived solo, deeper than anyone had before; he had surfaced without any additional help and without any decompression illness symptoms.
This sort of diving is extreme to say the least and these sorts of depths are not reached every day by just any one. Mark Ellyatt is a full time technical dive Instructor and has twenty years of experience teaching with thousands of dives in all waters around the world; many at depths greater than 200 meters.
Tech Diving in Phuket
Most technical divers at one point or another, are asked why they want to get into this technical stuff? One of the most common answers is to go beyond the limits of scuba diving. To get away from the cluster, the diver soup of some sites, which can be plagued by so many divers at popular resort areas around the world.
Another reason is to visits the rarely seen deeper ship wrecks that lie off the limits of the normal recreational diver radar. These wrecks tend to be in a better state than those frequently visited by the Scooby Doo crowd. Whatever your reasons may be and jokes aside, there is a serious side to diving and this should be in the back of every divers mind at all times.
There are several organizations operating tech courses here in Phuket the most popular technical courses are by
- PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)
- TDI (Technical Diving International)
- SSI (Scuba Schools International)
Here in the Phuket area there are many excellent options for technical diving:
Some of the wrecks here are the famous King Cruiser (popular training ground) which sank in 1997 it can be reached by local boats in two hours from Phuket.
The Teak wreck is a fairly new wreck, sitting in 40 meters of water and just outside the port of Tablamu, situated near Khao Lak).
HMS Vestal, an old British Second World War ship sunk by the Japanese in the last days of the war and its sister ship HMS Squirrel. The marine life on these sites is spectacular, visibility depends upon local conditions, and both sites are world class technical sites.
There is also an abundance of cave diving, for example: in Khao Sok National Park have many caves to explore and train in.
Also the Sra Keaw Cave near Krabi, there are also caves near Trang(situated a little further south of Krabi). More and more caves are being found and explored each year.
There are even a few caves and caverns around the Islands of Phi Phi and Koh Haa.
There are deep water dive sites for the Tech diver to discover too. The waters off Racha Noi and Hin Muang and the famous Similan islands, all offer stunning dives and all reach depths of 60 meters plus.
They offer fantastic visibility and marine life, with large Trevally’s, Tuna’s and other Jacks plus some huge Barracuda. Also many large pelagic fish visits these sites frequently. Whale-sharks and manta rays are not uncommon here.
More about Tech Diving on board MV Giamani
Important Note: Attempting to perform Technical Diving without proper training and equipment will more than likely result in serious injury or death