Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tech 1+ Upgrade 08/11/2013

I had been looking forward to this course for some time. Jim Dixon had turned me on to it originally, as well as had Guy Shockey. The Tech 1+ Upgrade was one of the best bangs for your buck in terms of immediate value. Tech 1 limited you to only a bottom stage or a decompression bottle. That meant you had to often bring two sets of doubles with you if you wanted to do two dives. Two dives could easily be done, but they were often shorter, and the second dive could often be shortened so significantly as to not really be worth doing. With Tech 1+, you could supplement your gas with a bottom stage, as well as carrying a deco gas as well. Suddenly you could get onto a boat with a set of doubles and two aluminum 80s and get a good solid two dives in. Guy mentioned that you would quickly recover the cost of the course in helium savings, because the potential to dump residual gas was almost non-existent.

Over the few months leading up to the course I had tried to get in as much review and practice as I could. I decided not to dive with additional cylinders, and left that skill to be addressed in the course. I remember Dan MacKay saying that for one thing, you didn't want to dive outside of your certification, and also you shouldn't be expected to know everything before taking a GUE course. I was feeling pretty good when course day arrived.

I got up very early to catch the first ferry over to Nanaimo. I could have slept in a little bit, but I had missed getting a ferry reservation for the 8 o'clock one. Rather than tempt fate, I went for the early one, and slept on the ferry. It also meant that once I arrived in Nanaimo, I had a lot of time to relax and get down to Maple Bay to meet Guy.

Prior to the course start, I had met my fellow class-mates in email discussions started by Guy. Alex and Will were from Seattle, and were coming up to participate in the Wreck Fest that Jim Dixon had organized for the remainder of the weekend. We met in person finally at Guy's house, and we started the lecture portion of the class, after getting a tour of the impressive fill station that Guy had assembled at his house.

The class portion was quick, but very interesting. Guy went over the benefits of Tech 1+, and we reviewed the new procedures, as well as reviewing valve failures and some real-world examples of where you could apply Tech 1+. We found a mistake in the student notes, as compared to the latest Standard Operating Procedures, which did spark some searching to make sure which was correct.

Once all that was done, it was down to Maple Bay to do the critical skills! Jim Dixon joined us for this portion. All of these skills were done at about 30 feet, using 32%. For the first set of skills, we clipped on our two stage bottles, dropped down and shot a surface marker buoy, then ascended to 20 feet and did valve and s-drills. On that first descent, I miscalculated the extra negative weight of those stage bottles, and almost crashed into the bottom! Those extra pounds make a difference.

We had a brief discussion on the surface, and then went back down and ran a line from our SMB. During that, various failures happened. In all honesty, the failures went pretty good. guy commented later that my trim needed some work. I wasn't quite sure what happened, normally it is very good. I think it came down to laziness. Something to work on!

At the end, we dropped back down and went for a little fun dive, retrieved the SMB, and headed for the surface. Guy did another debrief, and then it was off for dinner! Will had gotten pretty cold during the dives, and we were all quite hungry. We met at the "Bad Habit" just in Maple Bay for some pretty amazing food.

All that was left was the experience dives, which we would cover during the Wreck Fest weekend that had already been planned. Quite a few GUE Seattle folks were coming up, as well as a bunch of GUE BC people, all of which had been organized by Jim. I couldn't wait!

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