Five Things I wish dive centres understood about tec divers.

Preapring for a TecRec dive
Preapring for a TecRec dive

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.

Open and Closed circuit tec divers
Open and Closed circuit tec divers ready to dive

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.

Presenting First Poseidon Se7en Rebreather in Russia
Olga Volgina with the first Poseidon Se7en rebreather in Russia


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.

We like:

  • 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.
  • P-Valves
  • 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
  • BCDs
  • 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.


23 Replies to “Five Things I wish dive centres understood about tec divers.”

  1. I wish more dive shops would be willing to accommodate tech divers in general. I fell in love with diving and became a tech diver only to find that it’s near impossible to go on a tech dive charter without personally buying out the captain. It’s not like there is any lack of tech divers here or places to dive (I live in Hawaii), so I’m at a loss to explain why more shops are not responding to the demand. My best guess is that they just don’t want to put forth the effort. Tourists just want to see tropical fish and a turtle; local tech divers are more demanding and know what they are doing. I suppose a loyal customer base and all the revenue they could generate from us wanting to dive all the time just isn’t enough of an incentive.

  2. I agree with you but to be honest, if you want Nitrox 28 you actually need 21/35 🙂

  3. I love tec diving but DO want to see more colour. Black is the absence of colour 😉
    And splitfins are great for bad knees – the rubber ones, not the plastic ones.

  4. Yeah I’m a solo diver. When I turn up at a dive site. I intend to dive alone. I’ll have cleared this with you before hand anyway so there’s no discussion to be had.
    If you want to get the best from me. Involve me in the dive brief by allowing me to listen. Do not patronise me. I’m the quiet one who’ll be on the twinset for a recreational dive because I do do redundancy that no instant buddy can always give.

    Don’t ever try to force me to buddy up with someone and certainly don’t ever, ever touch my rig or else you’ll get an ass wupping you’ll never recover from. It’s my rig and I’ve built it especially for my needs. Not dir/ padi/ bsac/ or any other shite. It’s the Frank sinatra principle. My way. End of!

  5. But there’s a flip side to this, too – don’t be an arrogant arsehole. Our kit _is_ different and that often causes curiosity. I am ever and always happy to answer questions from rec divers about my kit – why this, what is that, etc.

    But on the other points – I do agree. And no, I neither need or want a snorkel as Mark said above…understand that they get in the sodding way. 🙂

    But like I just posted on FB – buying twins, backplate, wing and nitrox/trimix computer (especially a monochome LCD screen/’watch style’ eeeeuk!) does NOT make a tec diver. And even though it’s true – we love black – neither does painting all your gear black make you one! 🙂

  6. Some salient points but could i please put a few observations from the centre owners/skippers perspective.

    1. Black smb’s. If you think these are a good idea then you need your head testing. Forget all the crap talked about contrast etc etc. In the real world they dont work. Hi viz smb’s are the best. The clue is in the title. If you still think black is a good idea then sit in the wheelhouse for a while and you will change your mind.

    2. It is the divers responsibility to check their own gas so get your own analyser rather than depend on the centre’s one. The gas blender is human. Humans sometimes make mistakes. Its your life. How much do you value it.

    3. Include the skipper/crew on your dive plan and make sure they know it. Local conditions might make your plan impossible. If in doubt then ask. Remember if/when it all goes pear shapped then they are the ones that will be left to pick up the pieces. 30 miles offshore is a very lonely place when dealing with an emergency.

  7. 🙂 All valid points and all should be standard… i’m amazed its not as they are all very basic requirements and basic expectations. If anyone is coming out to Cyprus to dive the Zenobia give http://www.alpha-divers a shout as they tick all the boxes.

  8. Great article Vikki! Good issues to bring to peoples attention. All depends on good communication and good attitude. This type of information needs to be circulated to dive centres and resorts. Perhaps an article for the arrogant tech divers too on how to be nice an open?

  9. Oh I agree with the anit-black DSMB argument. My dive buddy and I were chatting about this with a dive boat captain and he pointed out at an orange buoy several hundred metres away – easy to see, even in the (admittedly low) swell.

    Then he pointed to a black and grey one, considerably closer – it was all we could do to actually see it.

    Night dive? I’d like to be able to shine my light onto my nice orange DSMB thanks. Try doing that with a black one.

    We do have our own O2 analyser. With a recently brand new cell…it often reads differently to the fill stations’ ones. Not by much, but enough.

    And…and this isn’t just tec diving…I want a full fill please. 190 before it’s even cooled is NOT a fill.

    I think we’re spoiled in the UK when it comes to tec diving in the sea. The majority of skippers tend to dive and they also tend to be tec divers themselves so they just get it. Their briefings usually end with – “…max dive time of xx mins guys. How long does your plan keep you down for?…”

    On a boat of 12 now it’s usual to see a couple of CCR’s and two-four singles but the rest is usually twins and stages etc.

  10. Per standards, when teaching or leading, I’ll keep my black collapsible snorkel on my person.

    (In my right thigh pocket, underneath all of the other safety gear I’m more likely to need.) 🙂

    Nice post, by the way!

  11. I known my rebreather has a flashing red light on it while on the bench, it’s supposed to … and please don’t disturb me while I’m going through my check list.

    1. My point was that a snorkel isn’t appropriate on a twinset and hog rig. If I’m DM’ing for PADI then it’s a single on a BCD and has a place – albeit usually in my pocket.

  12. Why is it that retailers and charters in the states are so reluctant to host techies?

    I have worked for a few different companies and have the equipment and training to conduct dives to 230′ which these charters actually happen about twice a year for me locally. Yet the owner of the business get very nervous, and he has never had an accident with techies, about 2-4 a year with recreational divers, typically they haven’t dove in 10+ years and had an equipment failure compounded with poor physical health. And the cost is nearly double for the deeper dives, and we bring about 4-6 divers and tip very generously for leaving us to our own planning. Yet he’d rather have 8-10 over weight about to have a heart attack divers on a trip to 70′ with the same general conditions, 1-2knot currents, FL east coast.

    Any Ideas?? Just plagues me!

    One note, why would I want 21/35 to dive 5 ata? 28% is better, 27 if we add too much air :-0

    Spent more time on the line ??

    1. Hi Nick, Personally if 27% is the ideal nitrox for a dive I wouldn’t use 21/35 – I would use 27% oxygen but may add a splash of helium to reduce narcosis and breathing effort if it was available – for open circuit – if I was diving a rebreather it would be different again. Vik

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