Why do the Deep Diver specialty?
Aaaah, the rapture of the deep… The fascination of those sunken wrecks and mysterious dark blue reefs, those strange and magical creatures that lurk below…
Enough reasons for doing your PADI Deep Diver speciality? Undoubtably, but there are more (yes, yes!)
Of course, the first reason most people do the Deep speciality is that they want to have access to all the dive sites available to recreational divers. They often have in mind one specific site with a special feature at 40m that they’d like to go explore, that amazing canyon, cave or pinnacle.
For others, it’s the call of the wreck. A lot of sunken ships lie just a little bit deeper and getting that extra depth allows you to see the details close up and explore the area in full. Many of the best-preserved wrecks are way below 18m where the effects of swell and oxidation have less impact.
What people seldom realise is that doing the PADI Deep Diver course is also going to make you a much better diver. Why is that? Because you are going to the limits of recreational diving, so you have to be spot on with your safety and planning. You’re now going to start using techniques that tech divers use. After all, a small mistake and you might be doing an emergency decompression stop.
An important aspect of the deep diver course is planning, and planning is essential for safe diving. When you dive deep, you’ll want to plan your objective (explore the wreck for example), you will plan your bottom time and max depth, you will plan your general dive path, you will plan your ascent and safety stop techniques. All this is pretty standard some might say. What you may not have touched on before is planning your air consumption and planning for a backup air supply in case of an emergency decompression stop. You will also plan to look out for the effects of nitrogen narcosis.
When deep diving you check your air frequently and confer with your buddy that you still have plenty of air to finish the dive safely. Calculating your air consumption is not a standard in the PADI Deep Diver course but it can make your life a lot easier. You can work out your Surface Air Consumption rate and apply it to your dive profile. It’s fun and it’s standard in any tech course. You can compare with your buddy and see if your calculations match your actual consumption.
You also plan for mistakes, so you have a stage bottle waiting for you where you can easily access it if you need to do an emergency deco stop. Depending on the dive, this could be on a rope beneath the boat (hang tank), in a safe protected place on the dive path or attached to you. Doing the dive with a stage attached to you is good practice for buoyancy and very safe. You can have fun practicing sharing air with your buddy from a single stage during a safety stop. This will fine tune many different aspects of your dive skills, counting your breaths, buddy breathing, keeping good buoyancy, staying calm, watching time and depth, watching air consumption. Reviewing how to behave in the event of having to do emergency decompression, with or without a stage, is always a good thing. It’ll remind you how your computer helps you run through the stop and how to do it.
You also learn how to plan for the effects of nitrogen narcosis, there are fun ways to check how impaired you are, instructors have plenty fun timed tasks to check you. Narcosis will of course have an impact on your navigation skills, and correct compass use is a performance requirement of the course. Narcosis can impact all aspects of your diving and can be a hazard so getting used to recognising the symptoms in yourself and checking with a buddy will make you a much safer diver.
So apart from all the incredible dives you will be able to do after you’ve completed this course, you will also come away feeling more confident in your diving and abilities, more autonomous and more independent in your ability to plan a dive and to react in the event of a mishap. Happy big deep bubbles!