Advanced Wreck Theory and Tactics
The Advanced Wreck Theory and Tactics course is my comprehensive training course for advanced wreck diving. It covers fundamental skills, equipment, surveying, navigation, decision making, philosophy, and wreck penetration. The specific objectives of this course are to prepare the students to explore shipwrecks utilizing a tactical approach, while effectively managing the inherent hazards of the wreck environment. We accomplish this by training students in proper perspective, preparation, evaluation, and the utilization of specific techniques. Hence the name, Theory and Tactics.
This class is offered independently by me, in Pompano Beach, Florida. The course consists of three days of training, ideally with three half days of lecture, and 6 certification dives conducted two dives per day, in either the morning or afternoon, after/before the lectures. There are 4 students per class, and I teach the class myself, sometimes with an assistant.
This is not rigorous training, and we have a lot of fun, but divers need to be reasonably fit for technical diving. At the same time, this is a three day program where we cover a lot of material, and put in some long days. We do a lot of work with the blackout mask, managing confined spaces and restrictions, dealing with entanglements, and utilizing all of our tools of navigation.
This is an entry level technical course for the hard overhead environment. It is suitable for divers who are new to double or sidemount cylinders, as well as divers with wreck diving experience who are now interested in venturing inside. The heart of this course is the process of understanding shipwrecks, which makes wreck exploration and penetration possible.
In three days, we will not make you an expert at understanding wrecks, or penetration diving, but we will provide you with the tools to continue to learn and acquire experience beyond the time restrictions of the course. The diving depths shall not exceed the level in which the diver is already trained and competent. Diving for the course will mostly be less than 100’, but will not be any greater than 120’. We are not conducting dives with planned decompression, as decompression diving is not part of this curriculum.
This program is an expanded version of the TDI Advanced Wreck course, and students that complete the minimum requirements of the program will receive the TDI Advanced Wreck certification. However, participation in the program is no guarantee of successful completion and getting a certification. Divers must earn their certification, by meeting the TDI requirements. The class text will be the TDI Advanced Wreck Diver Manual. Student divers will be required to read the text completely, prior to the beginning of the class. In addition, students will be required read several papers, and to watch several videos online, in preparation.
In addition to meeting all of the Prerequisites, students will be required to read and sign the TDI Liability Release, and complete the TDI Medical Form. Students may have medical issues which will require the student to have their doctor to sign off, prior to the start of class. The most important thing for me is the safety of my students, and if there is any doubt about a students ability to participate, this needs to be addressed with the student and their physician.
The weather is typically great in Florida, and that's why they call this the Sunshine State, however there are bouts of bad weather, and even hurricanes. It is entirely possible that we could lose one or all of our dive days. We will always do the best we can with the weather we have. If the advance weather forecast is undeniably terrible, as in the case of a hurricane, I will make a decision to cancel the class in advance, and reschedule. If we lose dive days due to weather, I will make them up with you, on mutually agreed upon dates. If you are flying to Florida, you may want to consider travel insurance? DAN now offers travel insurance, and I recommend that you take a look at it. At the same time, the weather is the weather and we will try to do the best we can to get you to safely complete your dives. If you miss a dive, you have 12 months to complete the dives for the certification.
- Students must be at least 19 years of age.
- Students must show a minimum of fifty logged dives.
- Students must be certified as an Advanced Open Water Diver
- Students must be certified in Nitrox.
- Students must be certified as Basic Wreck, Cavern, Ice Diver, or Decompression Diver.
- Students must have dive accident insurance.
- Students must be possess a level of physical and mental fitness suitable for the rigors of the wreck environment.
Bring the minimum required, bring what you have, and bring lots of questions, but I would suggest you hold off on most new equipment purchases unless you check with me. I don’t sell equipment, but I don’t want you to purchase something that you will not be happy with.
Please feel free to get back to me at any time with questions.
- Double cylinders with a manifold are the best setup for wreck penetration. Side mounts, and rebreathers are both acceptable. You will need cylinders with volumes appropriate for dives planned to 120’, considering your individual SAC rate, and future goals in diving. Cylinders can be rented for this course in Florida. All cylinders are to be labeled according to TDI Standards, which means Nitrox cylinders need to be labeled for Nitrox.
- You will need a Primary and a redundant Backup regulator on your bottom gas supply, with a SPG on at least one of the first stages. Sidemount divers will have an SPG on each cylinder. You will need a “necklace” or some other way to hold your backup second stage regulator in place around your neck, and one of your second stage regulators needs to be on a "long" hose that is 6' or more in length.
- You need a Buoyancy Compensator suitable for the Open Water environment, and your particular cylinder setup. A typical "Wing" setup for doubles will have 40-65 pounds of lift, however IMHO you are better off with something in the 45# range, like the DiveRite Rec in 45# with the dual bladder. For deeper dives, you really need a dual bladder.
- You need one Primary Dive Computer, plus a backup means to measure depth and time. Regardless of your system, you should be intimately familiar with the operation of at least your primary computer. My recommendation is Shearwater, for a variety of reasons.
- You will also need a means to plan your dives using your dive computer, Smart Phone, laptop, or tablet. Examples of popular dive planners are I-Deco, Ultimate Planner, MV Planner (which is a free download), Baltic Planner, and Multi-deco.
- You will need a Primary dive light. Canister lights are acceptable, however IMHO they are overkill for shipwrecks, but this is up to you? You also need a Backup Light. Pistol grip lights are not really suitable for wreck diving, because they cannot be used with a reel. I like the small 1000 lumen lights.
- Strobe lights are an important piece of navigational equipment for wreck divers. I give you a brand new Tektite 3500 Strobe Light, which is included in your tuition. This is the best strobe made today, IMHO. If you want to bring more strobes, be my guest.
- You will need to bring with you at least one Reel, or spool, with a minimum of 150' of line on it, and a minimum of one SMB that is around 4-6' in height. I prefer open bottom SMB's that allow you to fill with your BCD. Serious wreck dives typically require multiple reels, spools, and SMB's, however I have a few different types of reels, spools, and SMB's for you to try, if you like. Bring everything you already own, but don't buy a bunch of new reels and SMB's ahead of time.
- Two (2) Line Cutting Devices are required, and they need to be sharp. At least one knife suitable for cutting monfilament fishing line is preferred.
- A usable underwater slate, wrist slate, or notebook, and a writing implement are required.
- Bring a spare double dog clip, for attaching accessories, but no gate clips or carabiners.
- You need a working Underwater Compass. I prefer wrist mounted.
- You need a wetsuit or drysuit, suitable for the water temps for the dates of the course. Feel free to call me for a better handle on water temps and further advice.
- You will need to keep your head warm, but you also need protection from the wreck environment. You can use a neoprene hood, a skull cap, a do rag, a helmet, or some sort of other head cover for the wreck environment, regardless of the thermal considerations. I prefer hooded vests, or attached hood, for a variety of reasons.
- You need gloves to protect your hands. You can use neoprene dive gloves if you like, but rubber coated work gloves are adequate for the warm water environment. My favorite, Dyneema gloves by Hammerhead.
- You need a comfortable mask, and a backup mask with a way to carry it, which is typically a pocket. You also need a comfortable pair of fins. Inside the wreck, longer fins are less advantageous.
- If you need to wear lead weights, make sure you bring a belt or harness to hold the weight.
The cost of the class is $1100 per student. This includes all of the training, the 6 boat dives, the class text, a Tektite 3500 Strobe Light, and the certification. There are no additional class costs, however students are responsible for all of their own equipment, maintaining it in working order, gratuities for the dive boat crew ($10 per diver per day is customary for reasonably good service, $20 for exceptional service), and cylinder rentals (if required) as well as all the Nitrox fills for the dives. The use of Nitrox is required, to maximize bottom time. In addition, students will of course be responsible for all their own transportation/meal/lodging costs.
Prospective students who meet all of the requirements, may reserve a place in class with a $550 non-refundable down payment. I will invoice you through PayPal and you can pay by credit card, check, or of course PayPal. If you have any doubts about your ability to participate in this class, please do not make a commitment until you are sure you are going to be able to attend. The balance of $550 is due on the first day of class. Checks, cash, credit cards, and PayPal are all accepted. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.