Any PADI/TecRec certification: PADI TecRec Instructor Trainer for Open Circuit up to Trimix and CCR, Inspiration/Evolution up to Tec CCR 100 and Poseidon MK VI
Usual Country of residence: California, USA
What is your background and current involvement in diving?
For the last 19 years I have been working full time in the dive industry as a manufacturer’s rep and a Course Director/Instructor Trainer for recreational and technical diving including closed circuit rebreathers. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively all over the world training divers and instructors primarily for technical diving and closed circuit rebreathers. My home base is in Santa Barbara, CA, where I have my own diving school Progressive Diving Institute since 1994.
How did you get into tec diving?
Early on in my diving career in 1994 I loved the idea of exploration, which meant going deeper and/or staying longer. Technical diving was just starting to evolve as another form of diving and exploration, mostly for Cave Diving, then migrating into wreck diving. In those days many of the early pioneers were still sorting out the training and how to cut decompression tables with using helium. I was fortunate to be part of that learning process including “rep”ing for a technical equipment manufacturer.
Do have any specialised areas of interest?
Closed Circuit Rebreathers, coming from a mechanical engineering back round, at the very beginning I was intrigued by the technology of rebreathers, especially for technical diving. After trying various rebreathers I settled on the Inspiration shortly after it became available in the US. Even though closed circuit rebreathers require more diligence on the diver’s part, it is absolutely amazing how well suited they are for technical diving, especially when going deeper and/or staying longer. Some of these dives would be impractical or impossible to do on open circuit.
What do think the greatest challenges are in this kind of diving?
Knowing when to say “No” to a dive or abort a dive. In the end it’s not how deep you go or long you stay, but coming safely back to the surface. This requires planning and preparation well in advance, but most of all a mind set with your ego in check. And not letting peer pressure influence your decision.
What are the most important attributes of a tec diver for the type of diving you do?
Humility, know your limitations and your equipment’s, be honest with yourself. Never do a dive beyond your training, stay within your comfort zone. Be diligent, never underestimate the risk involved, avoid becoming overconfident.
What are the most likely mistakes a tec diver can make in your kind of diving?
Becoming mission driven, where the dive becomes more important than the well being of yourself and others. Complacency or “It will be ok” when your little voice says otherwise. Don’t be influenced by others.
How do you prepare for a demanding technical dive?
Always days or weeks before the dive. Unlike recreational diving, technical diving requires planning and preparation well in advance. The more complex the dive, the more time for planning is required. Surface and in water diver support is also a critical part of the planning.
What were your best or worst tec diving experiences?
I have many best diving experiences such as diving the great wrecks, Empress of Ireland, Andrea Doria, the Jodrey, and many more. When a technical dive is completed exactly per the plan, that makes it the best diving experience.
Worst diving experiences is when the visibility suddenly drops at depth or current comes up, that can make for a stressful dive. This is a good time to call the dive.
What influences your selection of dive gear?
Performance, quality and reliability, never cost.
What kind of person do you want diving in the same team as you?
Technical diving is about teamwork and safety. Everyone on the team needs to be a 100% team player with the same diving philosophies and values.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of getting into tec diving?
It’s a commitment and lifestyle, both financially and time. Don’t do it unless you have both.