My Training Background
My initial Open Water Scuba Instructor certification was through NASDS, in 1987. Since then, I have also trained divers through NAUI, IANTD, SDI, and TDI. Currently, I am an active technical instructor through SDI/TDI, and last year became certified as a SDI/TDI Scubability Instructor, for special needs divers.
I have held a surface supplied commercial diving certification for both air and mixed gas since 1983, when I graduated from the Divers Academy of the Eastern Seaboard. IAND (before they became IANTD) certified me as Trimix Diver #61 in 1992. Starting in 1998, I earned my first rebreather certification for the AURA CCR-2000, and have since been certified on fully closed circuit rebreather diving for the Inspiration, Evolution, Ouroboros, and Megalodon, as well as Trimix rebreather diving to 500 feet, rebreather diving in caves, and I am Full Cave certified.
I currently hold 200 Ton Masters certificates issued by both the United States Coast Guard, and la República de Panamá. I have operated numerous dive boats going as far back as 1987, when I worked with Bill Nagle on the dive vessel, Seeker.
My Diving Philosophy
Stress comes in multiple forms, and it is bad for divers. Understanding stress and being prepared, are the best ways to manage stress.
Years ago when I was doing a lot of deep air diving on the Andrea Doria, I discovered that when I was working hard or swimming hard, and under stress, I had a lot of narcosis, and I felt like crap. Some days it was difficult to even remember what had happened on the dive. This is despite the fact I was actively trying to stay focused. On the dives where I was relaxed, and my physical exertion was minimal, the effects of nitrogen narcosis were almost nonexistent, and easily managed. If I exerted myself as little as possible, and minimized my overall stress, I was more productive. Basically, with minimal stress I felt better and got more done.
I knew what worked, I just did not know why? More recently, science has explained what I already knew. The problem was not nitrogen narcosis, it was CO2 and CO2 narcosis. Not only does conserving energy and minimizing overall stress greatly lessen the level of narcosis, and make the diver feel better, but it also reduces the chance of oxygen toxicity and DCS. On this subject there are two brilliant papers by Dr Johnny Brian, which are required reading for my students, Carbon Dioxide, Narcosis, and Diving, and Mechanisms of Hyperoxic Seizures. My approach is working smarter, not harder. I try to impress this on my students and train them in ways to conserve energy, be prepared, be self reliant, and to minimize stress.
On the subject of decompression, my opinion it is pretty simple. There is only one single cause of decompression sickness, and that is........ not doing enough decompression. Once you have left the bottom, you need to do enough decompression for that particular dive. I train students to figure out how much is enough, by interpreting the dive.
Doing additional decompression beyond that required by the dive profile is cheap insurance against DCS, however IMHO Deep Stops, or Pyle Stops, do not work . I believe they increase, as oppose to decrease, the inherent risks of DCS. It appears that the US Navy Experimental Diving Unit basically agrees with me in their paper on the use of deep stops, Redistribution of Decompression Stop Time From Shallow To Deep Stops Increases Incidence of Decompression Sickness in Air Decompression Dives. This is another paper which I think every diver should read.
I am not a scientist or a doctor, I am a professional diver, but understanding the science behind the diving makes me more productive, and helps me to better manage the inherent risks of diving deep shipwrecks. The late Bill Hamilton used to say, “What works, works.” You cannot be prepared, without understanding how things work. It is the same thing.
Training in 2016
Although I do some traveling for work projects, my home is in South Florida, and I regularly dive out of Pompano Beach. I enjoy working with students, and I teach as much as scheduling allows. For technical diving, I offer my own version of Advanced Wreck, Decompression Diver, Basic Trimix, and Advanced Trimix. These are the Open Circuit Technical classes that I really enjoy teaching. All organized technical classes are either 3 or 5 days in duration, and we work hard to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. Prior to the start of the class, I try to prepare students with lots of information for them to review.
I also train individuals and small groups who prefer working privately with me, usually wanting to prepare for specific destinations, like the Andrea Doria or Truk Lagoon.
Author Malcolm Gladwell, has opined that we have largely come to confuse information with understanding? I try to provide my students with the later, by sharing the practical insights that have enabled me to thrive and survive in the deep wreck environment.