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Technical Spearfishing Technical Scuba diving is generally defined as going deeper than 130 feet. You must have the proper training for this extreme aspect of spearfishing.

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Old 02-14-2013, 08:37 AM   #1
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Take the Cotton from your ears and put it in your mouth

I posted this over on the Decostop but thought some of you may find it interesting that aren't on that forum, enjoy.

Sometimes the hardest part about continuing your education is having to suppress your ego long enough to learn something new. This is especially true with hobbies or sports, after our first couple of years in any endeavor we all know for a fact that we have the perfect swimming stroke, we’re the most skilled triathlete, best diver, rock solid target shooter, etc. Thus, when we sign up for an advanced course or training, we often approach it with the thought that “we know more than the instructor” but we may pick up a useful tidbit or two.

Such was the case with taking GUE’s Fundamentals course taught by Errol Kalayci. Having been diving since 1975, having achieved dive master/assistant instructor rating, and full trimix certification, I knew for a fact that although it was a good course, there would be little I would need to learn. Really, I was already a “great” diver!

This course would be my first diving class since 1997, so some time had passed since I was in any type of formal training. But I approached the class, or at least attempted to, with the mantra, taught to me by my Trimix instructor from 1997 (who incidentally was also my Fundamentals instructor); “Take the Cotton from your ears and put it in your mouth”.

I was taking this class for a technical pass and the other student was taking his for a recreational pass. We were strangers when we started the class on opposite ends of the diving spectrum, with my curriculum vitae above and he being a PADI advanced diver with just a few years of diving under his weight belt. But by the end of the call we were not only diving buddies, but good friends, an added benefit not mentioned in the GUE class curriculum.

The academic side went well enough. One whole day and part of a second was spent in the class room, lots of great information and the shocking realization that many of my dives in the past were done without an adequate gas supply, that is, if I intended to do any sort of minimum decompression. Cleaning out the cobwebs and rust from my gray matter and doing math was formidable but enjoyable, especially considering that I had become quite accustom in daily life to having programs do all my math. But the true challenges emerged when I jumped in the water. About the only thing I was solid on was my gear, since I have been diving a back plate/ wing for more years than I would like to count and have been rigging my equipment in a GUE compliant manner for some time now.

Upon entering the pool I quickly realize that my trim and kicks may not be as solid as I once thought. And so began two sessions and a “painful” 4 hours total in a cold pool. But Errol was extremely patient and his goal was clearly to teach us the tools to pass the course rather than to proudly flunk us and build up his own ego. Lap after lap, turn after turn, basic 5, valve drills, Errol put the two of us through the paces. Flutter, frog, turn, back up, kick and back to the surface again to critique and encourage us. Vent our wings and under we go to try it all again. Each time making just a little progress. I can’t count how many times my darn light cord would wrap the long hose, I swore it had a mind of its own and its function was to torment me! At one point, with my cord hopelessly tangled again the thought passed my mind that maybe I should just quit this class, I was doomed, but Errol got me squared away, gave me some encouragement and back to the bottom I went. The day of diving ended and after the swim test, we dragged our water logged bodies from the pool, it was then off to the class room for the humbling experience of watching it all on video. Unfortunately, for us, the video does not lie. It was a tough drive home with the thought that maybe I should take up golf.

After a day of rest we had our next skills class, this time in deeper water in Key Largo. What a difference a day makes, and a good instructor. My buddy and I were hitting the skills and just a few times did Errol need to have us surface to give some instruction or guidance. Shooting our safety markers, valve drills, lots of kicks and swims and the ever fun S-drills filled our morning. We even had fun during the rescue drills pulling each other off the bottom in a controlled manner. After two dives, totaling 3 “short” hours in the water, both myself and buddy felt ready for our final dives.

Our final day’s weather could not have been any better, it was perfect, sunny and cool with light winds, seas flat and awesome visibility. On the boat ride out to the reef we reviewed our final written test and set up our equipment. The captain tied the boat into the reef mooring buoy and we prepared our dive. Errol watched as my buddy and I did our GUE-EDGE, then we all splashed. This is where it got interesting; we were now having to perform in an open water environment, current, fish and the ever present risk of failure. We practiced our drills, made some mistakes, corrected and kept pushing. After taking a break and my buddy switching tanks, the “test” was on, we did our turns, backwards kick, different kick strokes and valve drills, all while holding our proper depth. The finale was when we did our S-drill, shot our marker and ascended performing all required stops. Before we knew it the class was over. My buddy and I were released from the class and we wound down while swimming among the fish and coral still wondering if we had done enough to pass.

I had the same feeling I did after taking the Florida Bar Exam to become an attorney. The class was so taxing, mentally and physically, that I really felt as if I may not have passed. But not “taxing” in a bad or negative sense, pass or fail, there was the exhilaration having been really challenged to move beyond my comfort zone. Without a doubt, of all the advanced diving classes I have taken, this class was the most rewarding. Interestingly enough, a close second was my NAUI Sport diver course I took in 1977, taught by an old Navy diver, but both classes forced me to dig deep personally.

As my new found dive buddy and I stood on the bow of the boat on the run in from the reef, Errol approached and gave us the news, we had passed! But with passing was the realization that this class, unlike all the others, was just a beginning. We were given the tools to continue to improve our skills. It was not just a C-card, “here you go, you are done”, but an opportunity to hone our skills on every dive and continue to get better. Thanks GUE and Errol.

So what is my advice to all you barnacle encrusted, silver back technical and advanced divers that have never bought into the GUE/DIR philosophy? It is well worth the money and time invested, it will sharpen your skills, give you some new skills and teach you some cutting edge decompression theory that has worked successfully for 1000’s of dives in some of the most demanding environments throughout the world. Like any knowledge, once learned, you may do with it what you please. Use it or don’t use it, but never stop learning.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:50 AM   #2
Burg John
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Re: Take the Cotton from your ears and put it in your mouth

Great read, I have a tec buddy who has seen the other side of 500 feet but still likes to take a fundies class every year or two. I'm hoping to get my tec fundies in when it warms up a bit and always like to hear the reviews.

Thanks for sharing.
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