Combined Deco-Wreck Diver Course
The Deco Wreck Diver training course is a comprehensive five-day program that trains qualified divers in mandatory decompression diving, and wreck penetration. The core of this training is my personal beliefs and insights derived from my extensive experience in diving deep shipwrecks. Participating divers can earn the TDI Advanced Wreck, Advanced Nitrox, and Decompression Procedures certifications.
As a rule, shipwrecks are deeper dives, and this is especially true of Big Steel wrecks. The ability to plan and execute dives requiring mandatory decompression makes longer, more complex wreck penetration dives possible. Shipwreck penetration and decompression diving are almost inseparable. Incorporating them into the same training course is not only exciting, it is natural.
I train students to look at shipwrecks the way I look at shipwrecks. We cover fundamental skills, equipment, surveying, navigation, decision making, philosophy, and wreck penetration techniques. At the same time, divers learn how to plan and execute multi-level decompression dives with proper accommodation for contingencies and a full understanding of the limitations imposed on them by decompression time, oxygen exposure, and gas supply.
Equipment seems to be the thing that most students need individualized help with. Your equipment needs to fit you, and the way you dive. Your equipment also helps to determine how streamlined you are, and how streamlined you are impacts your workload, which impacts your gas consumption, and that determines your exposure to CO2, narcosis, Ox Tox, and DCS, amongst other things. All this stuff works together, and that is the very heart of what I want you to take away from this class.
The specific objectives of this course are to prepare the students to explore deeper shipwrecks utilizing a tactical approach, which helps them to effectively manage the inherent hazards of decompression diving and the wreck environment. At the same time, I want students to work towards self-reliance, not dependency. I accomplish all this by training students in proper perspective, preparation, evaluation, and the utilization of specific techniques.
The best ways to counter the intimidation of a mandatory decompression and wreck penetration dives is through knowledge, preparation, and experience. This builds a foundation for justified confidence. In five days, I will not make you an expert decompression wreck diver, but I will provide you with the tools to continue to learn and acquire experience in wreck diving, beyond the time we spend together.
This class is offered independently by me, in Pompano Beach, Florida. The course consists of five days of training, ideally with lecture and diving each day. There are 10 certification dives conducted two dives per day, in either the morning or afternoon, after or before the lectures. Class size is limited to 4 students, and I teach the class myself, sometimes with an assistant.
Students that complete the requirements of the program will receive the TDI Advanced Nitrox, the TDI Decompression Procedures, and the TDI Advanced Wreck Diver certifications, which certify them to 150 fsw. However, participation in the program is no guarantee of successful completion and getting a certification. Divers must earn their certification, by meeting all of the TDI requirements, including a comprehensive written final exam.
There are three class texts, the TDI Advanced Nitrox, TDI Decompression Procedures, and the Advanced Wreck Training Manuals. It is a lot of reading. Student divers will be required to read the texts completely prior to the beginning of the class. I will mail or deliver the books to you as soon as you register for the class. The books are good background, but they do not teach you everything you need to know. I will. Students will also be required to do some additional reading from material I provide you in preparation for the class.
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 student's ability to participate, this needs to be addressed with the student and his/her physician, prior to the start of class.
This is not rigorous training, and we have a lot of fun, but divers need to be reasonably fit for 5 days of technical diving. 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, utilizing all of our tools of navigation, and multi stage decompression.
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 move lecture and dive times around when we can, so you can get your dives in, but we cannot compromise student diver safety.
If the advance weather forecast is undeniably terrible, as in the case of a hurricane, I will make a decision to cancel, and we will 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 consider it. At the same time, the weather is the weather and we will try to do the best we can to get you to complete your dives. If you miss a dive, you have 12 months to complete the dives for the certification.
If you have any questions at all, please email me email@example.com
This is an entry level technical course for both the soft and hard overhead environments. It is suitable for divers who are new to doubles or sidemount, as well as divers with some wreck diving, or light deco experience who are now interested pursuing more serious dives.
- Students must be at least 19 years of age.
- Students must be certified as an Advanced Open Water Diver
- Students must be certified as a Nitrox Diver.
- Students must show a minimum of fifty logged dives.
- Students must have dive accident insurance.
- Students must possess a level of physical and mental fitness suitable for the stressors of decompression diving in the wreck environment, to a depth of 150 fsw.
As divers, we love our equipment!! Modern dive equipment enables us to do what we do. The class is a good opportunity for you to explore equipment options and then make educated decisions about what might work best for you and the way you want to dive.
Bring the minimum required, bring what you have, and bring lots of questions, but I would suggest you hold off on most major new equipment purchases until after the class, or you speak with me.
Please feel free to get back to me at any time with questions.
- IMHO, back mounted double steel cylinders with a manifold are the best primary cylinder setup for Open Circuit deco diving. Side mounts, or Twin K Valves will also work. You will need cylinder(s) with volume(s) appropriate for dives planned to 150’, considering your individual SAC rate. All cylinders are to be labeled according to TDI Standards, which means Nitrox cylinders need to be labeled for Nitrox. An O2 clean Deco Cylinder is required for the class, rigged to carry. Bring whatever size you want, but most students use aluminum 40's. Typically, I will utilize an AL72 for classes. Twin Faber LP85's, and HP120's cylinderswith an Aluminum deco cylinder can be rented for this course here in Florida, through me. Complete cylinder Rentals for the 5 Days - $80
- You will need a Primary and a Primary Backup regulator on your Bottom Gas supply.
- You will need an O2 clean deco gas regulator.
- You need a SPG connected to the first stage regulator, for each gas supply.
- One of your second stage regulators needs to be on a "long" hose that is 6' or more in length. If you do not already have a long hose, you can borrow one from me, for free.
- You will need a “Necklace” or some other way to hold your backup second stage regulator in place around your neck. I prefer using simple 1/8" bungee and not the rubbery, store bought ones where the regulator keeps falling out. A bungee necklace just works better.
- You need a BCD suitable for the Open Water environment, for 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. Trying to respond to a Wing failure is time consuming, and we don't have time to screw around on deep decompression dives. Divers using a single bladder BCD, need a plan for alternate ascent in the event of a catastrophic BCD failure. A dry suit, lift bag, or SMB are all acceptable, but you need to know how to use your specific contingency device, and practice deploying it.
- For this class, I am making a Shearwater Dive Computer You also will need a backup computer or depth gauge. In class, we will download your dives on the Shearwater, and dissect them. This makes the Shearwater a valuable learning tool for you, and it will make a definite difference in the way you dive. If you do not have a Shearwater, and do not wish to buy one, I will rent you one for the five days of class - $35.
- You will also need a means to plan your dives using your dive computer, Smart Phone, laptop, or tablet. The algorithm of your planner should match the algorithm of your dive computer. Examples of popular dive planners are IDeco, Ultimate Planner, Baltic Planner, and Multi-Deco. You can link to the MV Planner free download
- You will need a Primary dive light. Canister lights are acceptable, however IMHO they are expensive dinosaurs, and not good in wrecks, 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, handheld 1000 to 4000 lumen lights, and love the Big Blue 4500.
- Strobe lights are an important piece of navigational equipment for wreck divers. I give you a brand new Tektite Strobe 6 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. Personally, I love the Apeks 150' Spool, the simple Dive Rite Slide Lock 250' Reel, and the Carter 35# SMB. Bring everything you already own, but don't buy a bunch of new reels, spools, 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, and/or anchor line, is preferred.
- You will need a Jon Line. If you have one, great, but don't go and buy one. I have one for you to keep.
- A usable underwater slate, wrist slate, or notebook, and a writing implement are required. I like the Pilot Croquis 6B pencil. I don't like tiny little Miniature Golf pencils. We will use the slates for recording important elements of our dive plan.
- You need a working Underwater Compass. I prefer wrist mounted, and use the Shearwater Petrel 2with the digital compass.
- Bring a spare double dog clip, for attaching accessories, but no gate clips.
- You may need to keep your head warm, but more importantly you also need protection from the wreck environment, especially when we are doing Blackout Mask drills. 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 suits with attached hoods like the Aqualung SolaFX, 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, with the smooth polyurethane coating, not the crinkly ones.
- You need a comfortable mask, and a backup mask with a way to carry it, which is typically a pocket. I just buy a pocket, and glue it on my suit. I like the Apeks WTX, with a zipper. I am not a fan of Velcro. If I glue one on the front thigh, if helps to hold my (BFK) knife on the side.
- You also need a comfortable pair of fins. I love the Mares Power Planafor wrecks.
- If you need to wear lead weights, make sure you bring a belt, harness, or system to hold the weight.
The cost of this program is $1800 per student. This includes all of the training, the 10 boat dives, 4 class texts, three certifications from TDI, Advanced Wreck, Advanced Nitrox, and Decompression Procedures, and the Tektite Strobe 6.
There are no additional class costs, however students are responsible for supplying all of their own equipment, maintaining their gear in working order, cylinder rentals (if required), as well as all the Air/Nitrox fills for the dives. In addition, students are responsible for gratuities for the dive boat crew ($10 per diver per day is customary for reasonably good service, $20 for exceptional service). Of course, students will be responsible for all their own transportation, meal, and lodging costs as well.
Prospective students who meet all the requirements, may reserve a place in class with a $900 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 $900 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.