Working as Dive Professional onboard a superyacht.

What training agency certification is preferred onboard large yachts? What else do you need to know?

For those looking to work as Divemaster or Dive Instructor onboard a large yacht (private or charter), you may ask yourself (or others), what are the requirements to apply and be accepted.

Well, there are a few requirements, which I will try to list below, not going (for now) too deep into details.

For all working personnel at sea, besides the standard STCW 2010 training, mandatory (at different depths, position/duty onboard related), and the medical ENG1 or equivalent (medical clearance under the national flag or under Bahamas, Panama, Marshall, etc.), the aspirant sailor must hold certain professional qualifications in order to officially demonstrate his/her theoretical & practical skills in performing a certain job onboard. Another course, introduced in the last few years is Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PSDS).

For a deckhand, AB Seaman, Yachtmaster, and everything in between, with extra skills in varnishing, special painting, tender driving, sailing, fishing, drone pilot, sometimes even combined with Personal Trainer or Ski Jet Instructor, is almost “a must”.

On some large yachts, hyperbaric chambers, submarines, or helicopters are common “toys”.

Flying Fox

Most of the large yachts are recruiting crew with some “seasons” of experience, but many times, “greenie” are very welcome too. On a “smaller” yacht, is easier for the newcomers to step in and gain experience.


Another position that often is found onboard yachts is the Divemaster or Dive Instructor.

Many times, confused, simply because the recruiters (or even the employer) don’t know exactly the difference between the two levels.

 You’ll find very often, a mixed position (job) as “deckhand/divemaster” or “deckhand/dive instructor”, with the remark that in general, 90% of the job is deck related and 10% is diving-related.

For the Divemaster/Dive Instructor, most of the time, you’ll find the required training agency, PADI.

IMHO, 99% of the time, this rule is simply arbitrary and based only on the very high visibility PADI is holding in the scuba market.

Unless the vessel is registered as a “diving center/facility” or the Owner is showing a direct preference for a certain training certification type, there is no solid reason to request a certain agency.

Most of the registered agencies (some with national, others with international coverage) are aligned with the ISO standards which apply to various types of recreational underwater diving training & services. The ISO standards are listed in International Diving Safety Standards Commission.

European Underwater Federation (EUF) & World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRTC) – are other references used between recreational scuba diving training agencies.

There are other regulatory bodies, which come with some extra layers of advisory and suggestions for making a safer diving environment, such as Rebreather Training Council (RTC) and The Rebreather Education & Safety Association (RESA).

You must keep in mind that there are not two training agency certifications alike.

Each training agency is created based on the founder’s philosophy and vision for approaching the topic.

There is some degree of compatibility between the same level in different training agencies but at the same time, there are differences too, either in theoretical or practical aspects or most of the time, in both. Do your own deep research, don’t believe everything is written in the cloud, look for neutral opinions (if possible), and select what fits best your needs. During your evolution path, go thru different scuba diving training agencies so you can see the academic differences, but remember, the final training flavor is given by your diving instructor.

At the very end, the only way to be ahead of the crowd(ed certified instructors) is you. You need to invest a lot in your own (diving & maritime-related) training and equipment. Just the average… is not enough! Go Tech, go above and beyond!

Working on superyachts or expedition cruise ships is demanding.

Working as Divemaster or Dive Instructor on a superyacht is not the same as working on a liveaboard. Nothing to do! Not in the amount of diving/day/month (if you are looking for numbering) and not in the level of ultra-luxury +6* services provided.

But definitely, the superyachts sector is requiring a very complex package of skills to perform at best in a very (very!) demanding and exigent environment.

Good luck and safe dives!


(ANDI Technical Instructor Trainer, SDI/TDI/FRTI Instructor, DAN Europe Instructor, DDI Instructor)

Scuba & Training

Is SCUBA diving exploration an expensive activity?

This is maybe the most common question everybody is asking: is SCUBA diving expensive? Overall, it definitely goes above the average “sports budget”, but well, it depends on many factors and criteria. And I will try to develop my ideas.

Now, as you well know, diving may be classified, in simple words, as Recreational & Technical, as either non-professional or professional (divemaster, instructor, etc). Simple, so far.

Below, I will list a few factors which will affect your budget related to diving:


This is a very wide topic, but I will not dive deep into it. It depends on what you like (wrecks, caves, deep ocean, underwater photo/video, or just relaxing and easy recreational dives), where you want to go, how much you want to explore, etc. You can start from as much as 450 euros (or less) for an OWD and go up easily to +1000… 2500 euros for a Technical OC/CCR advanced level. And on the top, you need to add your (flights/car) transportation to/from your training dive center/instructor, extra luggage (sometimes, easily exceeding 40-50 kgs, as for tech gear), accommodation, meals, extra expenses, diving boat and/or gases (depending on the course agreements), etc. Prices may vary for the same training level, sometimes quite a lot, depending on the instructor/dive center level of experience & facilities, training area/country, training agencies (fees, learning materials), etc.

Diving gear:

  1. You may rent it, in case you dive once in a while. Maybe more expensive but you have no stress in storing it, transportation, or maintenance. You may pay anywhere between 40-150 euros (or more) for gear renting only. A cheaper gear you’ll need somewhere in a tropical area and a more expensive one, in a cold area (dry suit, cold water regulators, etc).
  2. You may purchase your own diving gear. In case you dive often. It might be expensive at the first glance (regular maintenance, extra luggage when traveling, storage place, etc). But, is yours, well in control. If properly maintained, your diving gear may bring you great diving memories for a good many years. A basic full diving gear might go in the range of 800 – 1,000 euros, and expensive technical full gear can go easily up to +10.000 – 15,000 euros.


Gases – air, oxygen, helium. Prices may vary from place to place. Air is the cheapest (usually is good for car tires unless F1 where are filled up with Nitrogen). Helium price is getting lately quite high (0.10-0.15euro/liter), making OC deep ocean exploration very expensive. The future: CCR!

Service materials: O-rings, Oxygen sensors, etc – should be replaced in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.

Diving insurance:

Yes, you need one, regardless of your level of training. You can get a yearly subscription (the best option), there are multiple options and benefits. It is not expensive at all. For a sport level, approx. 50 to 75 euros/year. For the professional level, prices a higher (approx. 150-350euros/tear), but for a good reason and with multiple benefits. Just keep in mind that a single hyperbaric session may be anywhere between 300-500euros and you may need multiple sessions in case of a DCS. And a medevac by Heli can easily go up to 20,000 USD!

Sources to sustain your diving activities:

An old saying, “no money, no honey”, does apply well in our activities. Below, are a few possible resources. Take note: I am not an accredited financial consultant but just a wise thinker.

  1. Get a job. Work hard. Put (some) money aside and keep your passion alive. Is the most recommended and gratefully!
  2. Internship: find a good, reputable dive center/instructor. Gain theoretical & practical experience while offering your work in exchange. Sometimes, you may get some small financial benefits too. It is a good way to build up a strong background… if you are in the right place with the right people!
  3. Get a sponsor. A business company or a bank. Promote equipment, accessories, or goods. In general, to reach this level, you must have already some solid accomplishments in diving (or other related) activities. Nobody will sponsor you just like that unless you have some relations… or you are a famous TV (or social media) “influencer”. I highly (and only) recommend the 1st path – the professional way.
  4. Economies. As silly as it sounds, just reducing or even cutting out smoking or alcohol drinking, may bring you enough money to enjoy your passion. Not for heavy diving activities, but definitely for a monthly recreational dive.
  5. If you are lucky, a good inheritance. Or stock market investments. Or crypto. Who really knows?
  6. Get a sugar daddy. Or a sugar mommy. Less headache. Or not.

And finally, the question is… does it worth the money (and time)? And one single answer is applicable: yes, all the way! No matter at what level you are, your diving activities will take you to places not many people go. You’ll see and experience feelings, hard to describe to other “terrestrial” humans. For kids, it is a fantastic gate to discover the World.

You are an ambassador of the seas and oceans and their creatures. And act accordingly!

Dive safe and dive strong!


Scuba & Training

5 tips before starting a SCUBA diving training course

Following years as a diver and instructor, being constantly on both sides (as a diver-student taking training courses and as an instructor – teaching sport & technical diving courses), I’ve made a short list of 5 tips strongly suggest you to adhere:

  • 1 – make sure you exceed the minimum requirements for the course you are enrolling in. This is in fact, just a number. Varying from agency to agency, from level to level. Make sure YOU are comfortable with that level you are now, and you are ready to move on to the next level. Ask a good diver-friend for an honest opinion and advice to improve, if necessary, before you enroll in the next challenge.
  • 2 – give time between your course in order to assimilate, understand, practice, and master the skills & knowledge just learned. A strong pyramid is built with a strong foundation! Crocheting the classes without a break is not always a good idea. You may tick the boxes of requirements, but certain levels, especially the technical diving ones, need time.
  • 3 – be very comfortable in the diving configuration you are intending to perform. Sidemount, backmount, dry suit, DPV, CCR, etc – know your gear as per your present level before moving forward to the next one. And get ready to perform not always in perfect conditions, weather, or especially if some gear is rented (cylinders, harness, etc).
  • 4 – be in a good (as a minimum) physical & mental status. If you need to lose some weight, do it in advance. Do it anyway! If you need some cardio – start moving. If you need some extra strength – start working out. Be honest with yourself and take action. Do it under proper supervision, with a fitness trainer or dietician. Quit smoking, will be your best health decision ever.
  • 5 – know your instructor in advance. For the technical & overhead diving courses is almost a must. You have social media as a powerful tool. See what he/she is doing, and how is performing. But… don’t let yourself entrapped into the well-made-up marketing. Empty your brain and get ready to fill it up with knowledge. And most important – you need to resonate with your instructor as much as possible.

Dive safe!


Scuba & Training

Wreck Diver – a deeper analysis of the training options & market

The wrecks represent a point of attraction for many divers, a peak of their professional training, and a unique diving experience. Once full of life, the wrecks have a sad history, most of them being the result of either navigational errors, dirty sabotage decisions, or ugly military conflicts. In recent years, some countries have begun to sink ships intentionally, creating artificial reefs and thus attractions for diving tourists. Of course, the ships are “greened” first and then sunk as planned.

The wrecks have an attraction that can be fatal. Treated disrespectfully or arrogantly, wrecks can be real deadly traps.

Often, you have seen on specialized forums or in various materials published on the net, discussions, and comments on the topic: who is better: “the wreck diver or the cave diver” (Cave vs Advanced Wreck; Caves vs Mines; note: caverns would be the equivalent of a basic wreck) or “which dives are more dangerous/heavy: those in caves or those in wrecks” etc.

A pool started in July 2019 on Wreck Divers Awareness & Exploration Club® group on Facebook, revealed the following:

as of today, out of 73 votes, 12% voted for Caves while only 4% voted for Wrecks. A vast majority of 63% agreed that all (cave, wreck, mine) are dangerous.

ps: dangerous, is the term used in the general marketing concept, otherwise, we, as divers, talk about difficult & complex overhead environments!

Wreck Divers Awareness & Exploration Club®

The truth is that just as every recreational dive has its peculiarity and no two dives are alike, diving in caves and wrecks has its peculiarities with its “pros” and “cons” points.

Unfortunately, cave marketing works much more efficiently, which makes cave diving have average supremacy over wreck diving. Probably many of those who paved the way for (overhead) technical diving many years ago had the opportunity to dive mostly in caves (those in Florida and Mexico being the most famous) and therefore did not bother too much with the wrecks.

Often, the logistics for diving at wrecks are much more complex, especially if the wrecks are deep and the distance from the nearest port (safe heaven) is big. Also, the weather conditions are more difficult to control (even if the weather forecasts have fairly high accuracy and real-time monitoring).

And, let’s not forget… the seasickness… a pretty solid reason to keep in mind too!

Caves are always classified in “closed spaces – overhead” with independent courses (TDI, GUE, ANDI, UTD) while diving at/in wrecks has the status of “specialization” (PADI, SDI, RAID) and less dedicated “overhead course”. But there are agencies (ANDI, TDI, IANTD, SSI, NAUI, UTD) where there are dedicated overhead courses for “cave” & “wreck”. In some agencies, the definition of “wreck” does not appear at all (GUE). Instead, the courses of other agencies (BSAC, CMAS) must be followed with caution because the standards are somewhat outdated or far too simplistic. PSAI goes directly to the level of advanced wreck diver (with Sport Wreck Diving non-penetration level as pre-requisites!).

Some levels of certification can be confusing: for example, SSI Wreck Diver has as course enrollment requirements – Open Water Diver, only 2-course dives are performed in real conditions (and an optional dive in the pool), and the guide wire is optional. Even if is listed in “Advanced”. Anyway, there is Extended Range & Technical Wreck for proper advanced levels.

Instead, SDI Basic Wreck vs TDI Advanced Wreck Diver is clearly delineated in training and competence. Despite that, SDI is stating: “This course may be taught as a non-penetration, 2 dives required, or as a limited-penetration course, requiring 3 dives” but no clear notification is made on the CC to identify the training level. Therefore, is up to the diver to acknowledge and admit their own training and skills before planning & approaching a wreck!

ANDI Wreck Diver moves to the next level and classifies wreck diver certifications based on the Open Water (depth, gas(es), equipment configuration) and depth of penetration into the wreck (related to the guidewire and deviations from the guidewire – jumps) in L2 to L5.

ANDI Exploration Trimix Wreck diver

ANDI diversifies the specializations for penetrations in wrecks, including in various combinations: OC, CCR, Sidemount, etc. On large and/or deep wrecks, DPV is also utilized for more efficient dive time.

Obviously, an advanced penetration into a wreck at -55m (TDI Advanced Wreck) is not the same as one into a wreck at -25m depth. But even in this case, there are lots of other factors (visibility, thermocline, off-even keel, state of degradation, type of cargo, type of construction, access areas, etc) which may “upgrade” the difficulty of the -25m wreck to/or even above, the level of -55m.

Each combination of equipment and penetration involves risk assessments, configuration and penetration techniques, swimming techniques, and buoyancy that must be controlled to perfection! Basic knowledge solidification courses – Fundamentals / Intro to Tech – offered by GUE, TDI, are highly recommended.

Tek a Rec®

T101TDO® created Tek a Rec® – a customized concept for introduction to the tech world, which combines personal experience and the basic principles of other agencies, offering flexibility and dynamism in equipment, approach, training & attitude.

However, final certifications differ from agency to agency, even if they refer, at least in theory to (relatively) the same level of wreck dive execution. Therefore, in general, it is very difficult to make a table of equivalences between courses on different agencies, because each agency has its pluses and minuses at depth limits and diving/decompression times, gases used, standards, academic teaching methodologies, etc. …

Let’s not forget that the final “flavor” of the course and training is given by the experience and ability of the instructor to provide the necessary information and to push the limits of the diving student to progress.

The Advanced Wreck Diving handbook

Coming back to our wrecks, on Andy Davis’ blog – Scuba tech Philippines, a well-documented material – The anatomy of an effective wreck diving course – was recently published, which I recommend you to read.

Also, Gary Gentile’s book – “The Advanced Wreck Diving Handbook” can be useful, even if you are an experienced wreck diver.

The six skills and other discussions
Staying alive

Steve Lewis’s books – “The Six Skills and Other Discussions” & “Staying Alive” will help you a lot in consolidating some very useful general technical information in sports and technical diving.

Any theoretical material is very welcome for enriching your baggage of knowledge. But, before you venture to dive “at” and “in” the wrecks, take a proper course! Only in this way will you fully understand the beauty and hardness of a wreck. Don’t let your ego and ignorance dominate you.

And stay within the limits for which you have been certified and trained. Even if the temptation is great, life has priority.

If you are certified/qualified for an advanced level (OC / CCR, wrecks/caves/mines), don’t let routine dominate you. Challenge yourself from time to time to other courses, in other environments, with other teams so as not to be overwhelmed by the feeling of superiority acquired.

And a few more pieces of advice before enrolling in an (overhead) wreck diving course:

  • “spy” your intended instructor (you have social media as a good tool, but not always an entirely accurate tool!). Check his wreck diving activities, protocols, and behavior. Is he diving wrecks for his own fun/exploration too or rather is doing it just for business?
  • verify under which agency your intended instructor is training. Is true, that the personal “flavor” of each instructor is very important, but the backup academic materials are important too. Out there are lots of training agencies, with ISO & EUF certifications but with copy-paste standards, written by individuals with close to zero or purely, no experience whatsoever in what standards they “create”!
  • make sure you, as a diver trainee, are up-to-date in your training & skills (as per your latest certification level before enrolling in the overhead activity), diving gear, fitness, medical, diving insurance, etc.

The wreck diver courses and training that I offer under the standards of the ANDI & TDI agencies are the following:

  • ANDI SafeAir Wreck Diver L2: -40m, light zone; NSR, RBS as BO.
  • ANDI Exploration Wreck Diver L4: -40m, No limit, gases: SafeAir®, Deco RT as required.
  • ANDI Technical TriMix Wreck Diver L3: -50m, 45min deco, minimum of 16% He.

For additional information, on planning and diving at the wrecks, do not hesitate to contact me.

The above text does not intend to be an ultimate and final description of the wreck divers training options. Is just a general guideline & overview. Over time, agencies are modifying their web pages, standards, and protocols. Therefore, please check with your instructor and/or desired training agency for the latest updates.

T101-Technical & Diving Ops®

this is the updated (August 2022) and English language version of

SCUBA gear - review

ScubaForce PowerLight 1 – the mini for maxi underwater exploration

PowerLight 1 is a high-end underwater diving light, based Cree high-intensity XP-L HI LED chip.

Over the past years, diving lights technology improved a lot. From bulky canisters with limited energy storage and incandescent bulbs to small size, ultra-portable, hours of running time, and impressively bright and efficient LEDs… we live a technological revolution.

I am not a big super-fan of canisters & floating cords. For certain dives and activities – works.

I am an explorer wreck diver. Therefore, the KISS principle should apply at all times.

For my diving activities (wreck diving), I’ll rather take something small but efficient. I keep the front chest clear, I have enough power and run time, and I can use my left hand (holding the light) to do whatever I need to do with stages, bailout, CCR cylinders, etc.

The tested light comes from Scubaforce – a german manufacturer, focused mostly on technical diving equipment (rebreathers – backmount & sidemount, dry suits, wings & sidemount, regs, and more).

ScubaForce PowerLight 1

Its name: PowerLight 1

With 3 levels of power 20%-50%-100% out of 1200lumens (at 6000K – 6500K), you can use it easily outside an overhead environment, for signaling, as well as for darkest places deep inside a wreck. If the backscattering is disturbing you at full 1200lumens, you can reduce it to 240lumens from just an easy-to-operate back button.


  • 90 – 120min (battery type 18650)
  • 180 – 240min (battery type 26650)

4 hours… should be more than enough for the vast majority of our dives. In case of extensive explorations, you may have easily taken another one as a backup in your pocket (… you should have at least one backup light in any case at any given time).

Maximum depth? IPX8 200m/600ft. Unless you are planning to break some World Records… should work in almost any situation.

It comes with a soft handle. Good for tropical gloves. Or you can easily attach the light to any goodman handle.

It comes with nice packing and everything you need to run it right away (soft handle, battery, charger with USB cable, etc).

Overall, ScubaForce PowerLight 1 is a good & solid option, from sport to technical diving. You will like it 🙂

Dive strong, and stay safe!


ANDI Technical Instructor Trainer

TDI Technical Instructor (Trimix, Advanced Wreck, Gas Blender, etc) |

SCUBA gear - review

Garmin Mk2i… a weak beast.

Garmin is no doubt about it, one of the best (sports watch) brands in the World. They cover a wide range of products, from marine to aviation professional equipment, from “terrestrial” sports to scuba diving.

Being the owner of a few “terrestrial” watches (Forerunner 945, Fenix 6 Saphire), I decided a few months ago to move further and purchase their latest beast, Mk2i.

I did not choose “i” version for the Air Integration function (I am not a big fan of this system in general) but for the blue color of the buttons. I know… weird, right? 🙂

As a sports watch, it covers almost everything a user can dream and do. Same as 6 & 7 versions. The extra functions are related to SCUBA diving. Single Gas (Sport OC), Multi-Gases OC (Technical), CCR, Apnea… lots of functions and alarms, Gradient Factor flexibility in settings. Not bad at all. Usable as a sports & office watch (with super fast replaceable QuickFit bands), it sounds like a good option overall when you have to look into the vast options of diving computers.

So, I did a couple of good dives, in CCR mode. Fully geared, with my 2 beasts: JJ-CCR & SF2eCCR (with a Shearwater Petrel 2 as the main dive computer controller on my left hand) and a Shearwater Predator (oldies but goodies mo-fo) as a backup computer. Plus an underwater navigational compass, and a self-check mirror. All on my right hand.

This makes me look like I am going to Mars. Or something like that.

Despite the good overall functions, my first impression… is not positive. Not at all! With multiple devices in my hand, the computer’s buttons are easily pressed and self-changing the displayed options.

  • Very unpleasant to find yourself during a CCR dive that your mode was switched to OC. Or the setpoint changed from 0.7 to 1.3 or vice-versa… Had this issue not just a single time but repeatedly! Really bad!

Returning to my main “scuba” display, I found it not easy, sometimes really annoying. Navigating into the diving menu while diving… not so intuitive. Buttons are a bit too small for dry gloves (or thick wet gloves). If your age is requiring some eye aid to see smaller characters… you are in trouble… Though the alarms were responding well and screen visibility quite well (despite my low-intensity setup).

Despite the sapphire crystal glass and Dimond-like Carbon bezel… is getting scratched quite easily on both. If you plan some heavy technical dives, look for some extra protection to extend its beauty.

Overall impression?

As a sports dive computer (Single Gas, Apnea, Gauge)… I will give it a “go”.

As a technical dive computer – so far, “no go”. Still need to test it and find the best option to integrate it into a complex diving configuration. Later update: NO. End of story!

It is expensive (top range of the prices), but mainly due to the sports option. If you are planning to not use it extensively as a sports watch and you buy it just (or mainly) for diving… then you have much better options (in price and operational way). You have dive computers from Cressi, Mares, Aqualung, Scubapro, etc. And of course, Shearwater Research is the top quality option.

Again, look for and understand the algorithm used. Not only the price and fancy functions!

If you want a small size “office style” dive computer but to still integrate it into technical diving, Shearwater Teric.

Be safe, dive safe and have fun!


ANDI Technical Instructor Trainer, TDI Trimix/CCR/Adv. Wreck/Adv. Gas Blending Instructor, DIRrebreather Instructor

Scuba & Training

Mistakes, errors, and poor judgment in scuba diving

Mistakes. Errors. Poor judgment. Who never does them, step aside.

Well, I guess, we all, at a different level of impact, did some mistakes during our diving careers. As professionals or non-professionals. We have all been in the yellow-orange part of the above chart.

What is important is to learn from our mistakes (even better, from others’ mistakes) and to not repeat them!

See Gareth Lock and his “Incompetent and Unaware: You don’t know what you don’t know…” blog. Good read about what we know or what we think we know!

In the following few blogs, I am intending to reveal a few of my past experiences, for your general knowledge and a “don’t do it at home” list. If you can pick up some ideas and apply them to your diving activities, it will be great! It means, I reached my goal.

I will start, with my last interesting and unexpected experience.

2022, January 2nd. We usually ran an activity called “New Year Dive” (in the 1st week of January) in which, we gather together, have some good talks, drink some soft drinks, have some good sweets, cookies, and Christmas cakes, and yes… dive. The easy dive site, 6-8m depth max. Is our “house reef”, the underwater sunken city Tomis (the wall and archaeological treasures). In the summertime, is rich in sea life. Gangs of seahorses, pipefish, schools of baby fish, and so on. Sometimes, is quite impressive!

In the wintertime… not much sea life. But the water tends to be clear, due to the lack of algae and of course, low water temperatures. From the +25… 27degC in the summertime (with huge and sometimes brutal thermoclines at the depths – in differences of 15-20degC between the top & bottom water layers), is dropping down to 4..7degC during the wintertime. Anyway, the latest research says that the winter the Black Sea average temperature increased by +3degC during the past 70 years. Not sure if I would really like to have tropical waters around or I will rather stick to our old Black Sea…

Anyway, long story short… We gather together, have some good chats, and finally, got dressed and ready for dive. Most of us in drysuits, few “macho mans” in wetsuits…

For this dive, I chose to let rest my beast rebreather JJ-CCR and dive recreational OC with my lovely Oceanreef Predator.

Is a beast in its sector. Not the latest (as the Oceanreef Neptune III, launched September 2021), but still… top of the line. Great for cold waters, contaminated water, underwater comms, SAR operations, underwater research, guiding groups, etc!

So… here I am. Well dressed and equipped (drysuit SFtech with hood and dry gloves, RBS, good OMS Slipstream fins, underwater camera…)

part of the team, the others already by the seaside…

So… ready to go. After about 150…200mtrs of walk (good testing of cardio & overall fitness level 😈), we reached our destination and were ready to enter the water and dive. Water temperature… 6-7degC. In fact, not so cold.

And from here onwards, starts my droplist of small misjudgments.

Firstly, I miscalculated my ballast weight by about 1.5 kgs. Tropical undergarment, polar undergarment, double ten liters, stage(s), rebreather CCR, recreational configuration… sometimes, we forget the exact weight we need for each configuration. Not end of the World as the shore entrance is full of various sizes of rocks. Problem solved. Not in the most elegant (technical) manner but… I filled up my drysuit pockets with a few rocks and… problem solved. I was able to descent. Hooray!

Secondly, I did not ask for sufficient assistance prior to diving. Adjusting a full face mask, with dry gloves and a thick hood, may be challenging. Therefore, my Predator did not seal properly and I had a very small but continuous leaking of air (thru the top side of the mask). I thought I could manage this small inconvenience during the dive so, I kept diving. Well… of course, my plan did not work as planned. Therefore, after about 10 minutes into diving, I decided to switch back to my backup regulator (attached with a bungee at my neck) and use the spare mask (placed in my drysuit pocket).

And here it comes the moment (and feeling) I did not expect that much. As already mentioned before, one of the greatest benefits of diving an Integrated Diving Mask is the fact that, is sealing the entire face from the cold (and possibly contaminated) waters. Your lips, eyes, cheeks are sealed from the unfriendly & hostile outside cold environment. Which is really good! Imagine, diving in +6degC water, and in fact, your face is sitting in almost +30degC air (body temperature is between +36… +37degC, as you may already know… “thanks” to the covid19 temperature readings).

So, here I am. Spare masked removed from my pocket and getting the last good breath from the IDM and start the changing procedure. IDM removed and… shock. #%$&#*$*ˆ*#ˆ%ˆ&&*… Of course, the cold water shock. From +30degC over all your face to +6degc in a matter of seconds… is bad. So uncomfortable that almost I could not breathe properly, despite my good quality cold water regulator set (Scubapro C370). Being in full mental control, I did try to regain breathing control and fit my tiny (low volume) spare mask. Not much luck… my brain was heavy fighting the freezing status of my face… Did some (many) cold Black Sea water dives in the past, when at the end of +1h dive could hardly speak and move my lips due to the anesthetic feeling… but this thermal shock (+30degC to +6degC) was quite something! So… did a slow and controlled ascent to the surface, enjoyed the dry (but still cold 7-8degC) of the air, a few breaths, and back to the depths with my 2nd configuration, and continued my dive for the next 45minutes.

Moral of the story?

My errors? And solutions?

  1. Miscalculating the ballast weight. I keep tracking my diving weight. In my logbooks. And memory.

Maybe a separate checklist file (as I have checklist/splash-list for the CCR, OC Tech & Sports activities) to take a note of the diving configuration, gear, water & weather condition, and weights used.

2. Spare mask… way too low volume. Very good as spare in my drysuit pocket but obviously, bit too tiny for my face… especially when the thermal shock was pressing me to move fast. Used this low-volume mask in the past (in various drills), when I was always switching from a standard diving mask to another standard diving mask or from an IDM to a standard diving mask in temperate waters… but not in so cold water!

Having a spare mask adequate for the face size. The space saved in the pocket by a low-volume mask vs a regular size mask… does not worth it.

3. Not asking for proper assistance to adjust the mask and hood prior to commencing the dive. I have been asked for but did not take full advantage and attention. When somebody is there to assist – use that help. If not, take an extra minute to make sure you are up-to-speed.

4. Not taking into account, while diving a (very) cold water, the huge thermal difference between the inside of IDM and the classic diving mask. Well… that is something which, I guess is hard to predict unless you experiment with it…

Always plan properly your dive. Take carefully into consideration all possible alternative options (plan B, plan C).

Coldwater diving… is a serious activity! Most of us, when we think and talk about cold diving, we focus solely on undergarment protection and electrical heating (if applicable). Plus hood and gloves. And we almost never take into consideration face protection or what if something is going wrong with the drysuit sealing or electrical heating, especially if the dive is requiring and long trip back or decompression stages till we safely reach the safe haven.

Conclusion word… we keep learning. Always! There are never two identical dives. Keep your mind calm, keep training & learning and dive on!

Stay safe!

Costa /

Adventures & Expeditions Scuba & Training

SCUBA – Intro to Tech… fad or necessity

Sport (recreational) SCUBA diving is one of the activities which gives us a very wide selection of paths to follow after the initial Open Water Diver level certification.

We can choose to stay inside of recreational (-40m depth max, no deco) limits, we can extend even here with enriched air nitrox or sidemount, underwater photography, or full face mask. Or, fortunately, we can move further.

And there is a long and exciting path of adventures and explorations, leading to great personal & social achievements, to self-enrichments & progress: Technical Diving

To dive deep open water reefs, explore outside & inside unknown wrecks, visit stunning caves or mysterious mines… in Open Circuit or Closed Circuit Rebreathers, with DPVs and extensive deco plannings, the options are almost endless.

But for everything, there is a start.

Intro to Tech – is compiling the basics of technical diving, is the building of fundamentals for a good future to be a technical diver.

From the basic but well-selected diving gear, finning techniques, trim & buoyancy, diver skills etc, the Technical Diving Instructor is there to show you the proper way of your 1st stepping into the Tek World.

Of course, there are divers which are preferring to “discover” by themselves the above-mentioned steps.

Or others who are directly entering the technical diving courses, under professional guidance & training.

For those divers short-cutting on their own (nothing against the self-study or autodidact process!), there is a list of great disadvantages:

  • not purchasing the right gear adapted for your diving target. There is NO universal diving gear set-up configuration, good for everything and everywhere! You might purchase brand new diving gear, you are super proud of it… it is totally useless in technical diving.
  • understanding the theory, with gaps or misinterpretations. Reading here and there, sometimes from not very trustfully sources, without proper real-life application, can lead to unpleasant situations.
  • underwater skills & gear set-up – is crucial! A bad diving behavior is hard to be removed and replaced with good ones. Even good skills are available in various forms in order to achieve the final target, depending on many factors (diving profile, diving gear, diving team etc).
  • assessment, attitude & approach: technical diving is as beautiful, attractive & captivating as Pandora’s box. But everything must be done in the right way. Is like building a pyramid, from (a solid) bottom to (a durable and long-life) top.
  • all the above, in conjuncture with Mr. Murphy… can lead to unwanted situations, even tragic ones.
  • and yes… nobody (Dive Center or Professional) will dive with you unless you show your proper certification (which should demonstrate that you pass the minimum agency requirements). Or even not renting technical diving gear!

And to conclude… yes, I strongly recommend to every sports diver to do at least an “Intro to Tech” level. To better understand the differences and benefits of good diving gear vs any diving gear, to enhance safety as a diver and as a team, and to improve in-water skills and diving protocols. For diver’s own good, for environmental’s good.

Stay safe and dive safe!


ANDI Instructor Trainer #170

SDI-TDIFRTI Instructor #15172


Recreational Diving Medical 2021 Screening – survey

Following the new diving medical form, published 2020 and updated 2021 (January 21, as of the time of typing this message), here is a one-question anonymous survey, with “yes” or “no” options only. Time to complete – less than a minute!

The question is:

Do you follow question #2 (“I am over 45 years of age” – go to Box B) and “Physician’s medical evaluation required” to all your clients answering “yes”?

Thank you & stay safe!

General Scuba & Training

Fitness for SCUBA Diving

Diving is an activity with a high level of physical & mental stress. Sport (recreational) is stressful, technical diving is even more! That’s why we need to be in an appropriate status all the time in order to enjoy diving in a safe manner, return to our family and friends and plan further adventurous activities and explorations trips.

Signing the 2020 medical screening self-declaration form is a good practice but does not really protect you as a diver but the professional (Dive Center, Instructor, or Divemaster).

Depending on the country and local legislation, the validity of your medical form can be of 1 or 2 years. Anyway, keep in mind that, as with any medical check, your medical fitness level is certified as “good” at that present moment and it may alternate in the future. Therefore, is your responsibility to stay up to date physically & mentally by regularly practicing exercises and following an adequate diet.

As I always say, SCUBA diving insurance is highly recommended but does not make miracles, and maintaining a good fitness level IS in your hands only. Knowing first response procedures is very useful but again, a good fitness level will be always a bonus for the provider (and especially, from Rescue Diver level up).

Consult with your physician and keep him updated with your medical status in order to get best medical advises and treatments.

Maintaining a good physical & mental level is at the end, a moral obligation. Is for you (and your family and friends) and is for your diving team or dive buddy. If you are in troubles in-water/underwater due to your poor medical fitness, you will affect the entire dive team and even the entire dive operation.

Performing a medical check (diving and non-diving related) is not just for the signed paper. Being proactive, you may discover in advance some hidden or not-yet developed medical issues and you may have a good time in advance to correct and even improve the situation!

Diving is fun but is in our hands to make it, and fitness level is one of the cards from the overall puzzle (ANDI’s ATKEE principles).

T101-Technical & Diving Ops® provides customized fitness training & nutritional coaching thru its dedicated DeepFit® concept.