By Caroline Manie
When I first started diving I couldn’t imagine myself ever wanting to go deeper than 18m. I used to look at divers with multiple tanks and drysuits talking about their deep dives and think they were obviously a little crazy. I’m still not completely convinced that I was incorrect in that assessment, but these days I am happy to join the ranks of those who are a little crazy.
It didn’t take long for me to realise I wanted to go deeper, do longer dives and see more of the underwater world. My first taste of diving beyond 30m was in Sydney Harbour on the Cooloolli, where due to a good dose of narcosis, I didn’t really remember much of my first dive. Soon after, I was lucky enough to travel to the Solomon Islands to dive some of the most spectacular reef and wreck diving in the world. We dived World War II wrecks sunk in battle, reef systems and ocean caves. I ascended from every dive with a massive smile on my face. It was in the Solomons that I discovered my love of wrecks and caves. Some say you’re either an F & C (Fish & Coral) diver or you’re a wreck & cave diver. I love both, but I must admit my heart belongs to wrecks and caves.
The first time I descended the line and saw the ghostly outline of the massive ship beneath me, or walked through a paddock to a seemingly shallow water hole to look beneath the surfaces at crystal clear water and spectacular rock formations, I knew this is where I wanted to be. It was at this stage I realised my bottom time, depth and opportunities to explore were severely limited by my training and gas reserves. So the obvious answer was, of course, that I needed more tanks and more training! A new approach to my diving was born. I immediately started looking in to all sorts of tec courses, invested in a drysuit and booked my first cave course.
I decided on the PADI TecRec system for a number of reasons, I had attended a PADI conference where the new training system was outlined and I was impressed by the developments and approach, I was also working as a part time instructor for Abyss and ideally wanted to complete my training with them.
I completed Tec basics in the middle of last year. There is nothing like changing your set up and learning an entirely new approach to diving to make you feel like a beginner again. There were extra regulators, extra tanks, and so much to learn, both in water and out. I was wearing a standard backmounted twin set up, which I soon discovered was not the ideal set up for me as I could not safely and efficiently manipulate the valves. I moved towards the sidemount set up, and have since completed my CDAA/TDI Deep Cavern & Sinkhole course and PADI Tec 40 Course in this setup.
I have already learned so much and can’t wait to continue my training. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete Tec 45 and 50 within the next year, and go on to finish the CDAA and TDI cave courses.
I would encourage anyone with an interest in deep diving or overhead environments to do, at the very least, the introductory levels of Tec. It has made my diving safer, increased my skill set, improved my existing skills and taught me so much. I have been lucky enough since starting my tec journey to dive the beautiful sinkholes and caverns of Mount Gambier, and the wrecks of Chuuk Lagoon. I was able to do both safely and enjoy every minute. I’m always planning my next trip(s) and destinations. I really can’t wait to travel the world, diving my bucket list of caves, wrecks and reefs. First stop Mexico, or Thailand, or Bahamas, or Florida… not sure yet, the list is constantly growing.
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