Any Dive Centre can cater for Tec Divers, whether or not their staff are experts or enthusiasts in tec diving themselves. In no particular order, here is my list of top five things dive centres may not know about tec divers.
1. Gas Fills must be accurate
Open Circuit tec divers plan their gas to be optimal at the maximum depth of the dive, so accurate mixing is essential. A mix that is too rich in oxygen is no good to us because we won’t be able to use it at the maximum depth of the dive. A mix that is slightly too low in oxygen means our decompression plan won’t work, but at least we can re-plan the dive – we can’t always change the depth of the dive! So if I ask for 28% EANx in my twinset I would like 28% EANx, but if you have to apply the +/- 1% error margin, I would prefer 27% to 29%!
Trimix fills are more complex…we get that. But for the same reasons as above we would rather have oxygen that is slightly too low than too high. Helium, on the other hand we would prefer too much rather than too little. If we don’t have enough He, narcosis may be an issue, if we have too much the worst case scenario is that we have to do extra deco, which is not the end of the world. In CCRs this is even more important, our unit will add extra O2 if the mix is too low, but it cannot add extra He and we need clear heads to run these machines!
Gas Analysis must be reliable. Buy a good analyser with a first stage to control the flow rate and make sure it is easy to calibrate and the cells are replaced when they are out of range. A friend of mine recently “caught” a gas blender holding his thumb over the end of the exhaust tube on an analyser to increase the pressure and make the analyser read what he wanted it to!!!!This makes us very cross!!!!
2. Regulator Servicing – can be a touchy subject
Lots of us can service our own regs, but most will bring them to a dive centre for servicing even if we could do them ourselves, because it is easier. However, please don’t treat us like newby divers. Ask us what we are expecting and explain what you are required to do. For example, it is a good idea to tell tec divers that you will need to replace worn mouthpieces and hoses, most tec divers have spares of these items at home and are happy to do it themselves, so warning them up front gives them the option to sort these things out first or lets them know they might have to pay for these items. We don’t want hose protectors replaced; if we have removed them it’s because we don’t want them. The same goes for SPG boots and any other bits of plastic tat! If there are non- manufacturer approved mouthpieces or other additions that you want/need to change during servicing, please discuss these when we bring the equipment in. In an ideal world the centre would do the initial assessment and then explain what needs replacing (over and above the usual service kit), rather like a car service, so that the diver can give the go ahead. Once you have completed the service please make sure we have our own first stage ports back, not a random selection from your worktop….., and that all add on o-rings, string, clips etc are replaced as they were or given back, for us to replace ourselves. We also like a little bag with the bits you’ve removed – it makes us feel warm and fluffy i.e. it adds trust. I hope it goes without saying that the set up should be the same as it was when you got it.
3. Re boat dives. If there isn’t space for tec kit please do not sell us a space on your boat – we will have more than one cylinder (possibly a lot more). If we book on to a tec dive and you are running a recreational schedule please let us know e.g. maybe the maximum dive time is one hour and the depth at the site does not exceed 30m. If we know that we can make an informed decision as to whether we want to join you.
Tec divers want information on the dive site(s) so they can plan their dives. We need this in sufficient time to get gas fills, so plan your schedule in advance.
If you have a resort style dive centre you will need to provide adequate equipment set up space and storage to attract tec divers. Some resorts have tec areas, which is great for both you and us – we don’t need babysitting so you can concentrate on the recreational divers area and we get left alone to prep our kit. If the boat is rec and tec a similar idea works well too.
During the journey to the dive site we often want an alarm call before we reach the site so that we can start kitting up and doing our predive checks. This means that the safety and dive briefings are often better done earlier in the journey or even before. We do not want you to give us a half hour briefing when we are already kitted up, unable to hear through our hoods and getting hotter by the second.
During the dive we may not want anything from you, but may enjoy guiding if you have an experienced tec diver guide. On some dives we may need a support diver (or more than one) to assist during the decompression phase of the dive. There are lots of different roles for a support diver so this should be planned well in advance.
4. We want to buy equipment!
Tec divers love shopping and will happily buy something new every time they step into your shop, providing we can find something we want.
- Black stuff – yes it is true, so make the most of it in your shop. Ambient Pressure Diving displayed a black SMB at Eurotek and proved the point because we all wanted one!
- Good quality stainless steel hardware – brass is not the same, so don’t try and tell us it is. Clips should have a good action and not be sticky.
- Spare parts – o-rings, O2 lube, bungee (black of course), replacement line for reels (most commonly #24), p-valve consumables, rebreather consumables, hardware, D-rings, clips, nuts and bolts, good quality tools will draw us back to you time after time.
- Drysuits with rock boots – guess what colour….
- Jetfins. Full Stop!
- Tec Gear – Top Spec wings, backplates, sidemount kit, regulators, lights, trimix CCR computers, deco cylinders etc. If you aren’t tec specialists and don’t stock this stuff you will get more respect by telling us the truth than trying to con us.
- Dive Gear – Cool t-shirts, Sweatshirts, hats, gloves and even jackets can make us get our credit cards out.
5. We don’t like:
- Plastic clips
- Retractor thingies to attach kit – blurgh!
- Telephone cord stuff to attach a torch – even bigger blurgh!
- Extra tat is not our thing so forget the plastic boots, hose protectors, octopus holders, padding, etc…
- Split fins, even in black!
- A-clamp regs, not even for recreational use!
If you are a tec diver, what would you like dive centres to know about catering for tec divers – I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you are a dive centre, I hope I haven’t put your off tec divers. Yes, we can be demanding customers but we are also extremely loyal and want to go diving at every opportunity.