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DDS NAUI Intro to Tech Divers exploring the R.H. Rae off Picton in Lake Ontario

NAUI Intro to Tech Course

NAUI Intro to Tech Course

The Naui Intro to Tech Course July 2022 is a game changer, changing the way recreational divers think about their diving skills and offers the ultimate challenge along with a window into their diving future, we begin unlocking doors to the right skills, the right information, the right techniques, the right knowledge and the right equipment configuration.

Our NAUI Intro To Tech course presents new challenges for Recreational Divers, while taking a fundamental diving approach to buoyancy, trim, team diving, above and below the surface through above land problem solving and underwater scenarios that require sound solution thinking and finesse, while refining and mastering the rudimentary skills that most Divers tend to lack at the Recreational (and some Technical Agencies) diving level.

Many divers consider this course to be the turning point in their diving career because it opens divers up to the more exciting challenges ahead like Technical Diving, Wreck Penetration, Trimix, Cave Diving, Technical Sidemount, Ice Diving and Expedition Diving for future dive explorers.

Every aspect of technical diving is introduced in this course, so it offers a window to their diving future laying out a crystal clear path to ultimate perfection.

Our NAUI Intro to Tech Course is available to recreational divers in a single tank with H-valve configuration or for those divers wishing to move into Tech Diving with back mounted Doubles.

Sidemount Option: Available to those with a physical limitation that prohibits use of doubles (a poor fitting drysuit is not a real reason).  A Sidemount Team would be required, as no mixed teams are permitted. Can be combined with NAUI Tec Sidemount Diver.

Our program will help you develop better buoyancy, fin techniques, propulsion methods, all the while Improving Trim, Breaking BAD Habits, Diver Communication, Problem Solving abilities, Risk Management, Dive team Planning, Dive Equipment Streamlining, Horizontal Out of air sharing and more in backmounted doubles.

This course is available privately for individuals or groups locally or wherever you are located.

We are happy to offer this course locally or anywhere else in Canada.  DDS is a mobile shop with the ability to teach anywhere you need us.

This Program has become one of the scuba worlds Most Popular Courses for good reason. We feel Intro to Tech is the BEST Diving course on the market today, designed to challenge the diver with new skills, techniques and awareness. Step up to the plate and challenge yourself to be the best diver you can be.

Pre-requisites

For divers of all skill levels
Must be 18 or Older
Open Water Diver or equivalent
Minimum of 25 logged dives
5 dives on EANx
400 Meter Swim
50′ Underwater Breathold with Gear
NTEC Doubles Primer Completion with DDS Mentorship Endorsement

Training Agency

NAUI TEC

Additional Information:

Our Naui Intro to Tech program offers the candidate a Fundamental approach to refining and mastering the rudimentary skills such as Buoyancy, Fin Technique/Propulsion Methods, Improving Diver Trim, Breaking BAD Habits, Diver Communication, Problem Solving abilities, Risk Management, Dive team Planning and Team Communications, Dive Equipment Streamlining, Rescue Techniques, Horizontal Ascents/Descents, Valve Manipulation drills, Air Sharing and more.

The Naui Intro to Tech program also offers divers a look deeper into diving science, physics, physiology and decompression theory using zero calculation tables, the 120 Rule and NAUI RGBM and other decompression models.

Divers will be introduced to a safer, more versatile and more user friendly/beneficial equipment configuration (NTEC) allowing divers take advantage of the benefits of diving with a long hose (5-7ft), a streamlined back flotation buoyancy system which is the heart of the system, a reel and lift bag for mid-water ascents and drifting decompression stops, proper light requirements and more.

All gear is designed to be streamlined using a Hogarthian approach revolving around the KISS principal to give divers the freedom to improve their skills. Keep It Simple and Streamlined.

This course is conducted only over a period of 4 days making it a rather intensive program. Students must understand that these skills might not be able to be mastered without practice outside of the Naui Intro to Tech program.

All training dives are filmed so divers can see themselves in the water and see the learning curve from pool to open water training sessions. Dives are conducted in shallow water which affords us maximum bottom time for skill development.

This course is intended for divers of any skill level from Open Water Diver to Open Water Instructor and will benefit all who take it, especially divers wishing to progress into more serious aspects of diving requiring this type of discipline, comfort and finesse in the water.

Graduates of this program will also be able to enroll in more advanced programs with the skills and confidence to succeed in those programs including technical diving courses like Technical Decompression Diver, Helitrox, Trimix, not to mention it goes hand in hand with Cavern, Wreck Penetration and our Cave diving courses, which will build on the foundation started with Intro to Tech.

We believe NAUI offers the best scuba diving course progressions offering a little bit more than your other agencies with regards to more theory, more diving and higher standards, while our instructional staff are the countries leading Technical Diving educators and active Explorers.

If  you want a challenging course that will test your skills, knowledge and abilities, NAUI Intro to Tech is the course for you.

Cost: $650+HST (based on a minimum of 3 students) includes NAUI Intro to Tech Student Materials and Certification fees (upon successful completion).

FREE Divers Alert Network Student Member Insurance

Intro to Tech is also available privately for the Diver who has limited availability for time. Cost is $950+HST local and includes the above materials. Private instruction out of town may bear other additional expenses for travel, meals, fills, etc.

If you’re interested in this program bring a USB Stick in and we’ll load it up with a wealth of information.

Start changing your diving habits for the better today with Dan’s Dive Shop and our exceptional progressive dive training.

For more information on our training check out our Blog.  Here’s a great starting point: Challenges Will Reward Your Longterm Goals

If you can’t make a local class in Niagara, we can present this program to you anywhere else you may be in Canada or other graphic regions. We routinely offer this program in Georgian Bay, Humber and other locations around Ontario and we’ve taught this course in other province and countries, so ask us and we’ll set something up for you and your group.

DDS NAUI Intro to Tech Divers exploring the R.H. Rae off Picton in Lake Ontario

NAUI Intro to Tech Course

NAUI Intro to Tech Course

The Naui Intro to Tech Course July 2022 is a game changer, changing the way recreational divers think about their diving skills and offers the ultimate challenge along with a window into their diving future, we begin unlocking doors to the right skills, the right information, the right techniques, the right knowledge and the right equipment configuration.

Our NAUI Intro To Tech course presents new challenges for Recreational Divers, while taking a fundamental diving approach to buoyancy, trim, team diving, above and below the surface through above land problem solving and underwater scenarios that require sound solution thinking and finesse, while refining and mastering the rudimentary skills that most Divers tend to lack at the Recreational (and some Technical Agencies) diving level.

Many divers consider this course to be the turning point in their diving career because it opens divers up to the more exciting challenges ahead like Technical Diving, Wreck Penetration, Trimix, Cave Diving, Technical Sidemount, Ice Diving and Expedition Diving for future dive explorers.

Every aspect of technical diving is introduced in this course, so it offers a window to their diving future laying out a crystal clear path to ultimate perfection.

Our NAUI Intro to Tech Course is available to recreational divers in a single tank with H-valve configuration or for those divers wishing to move into Tech Diving with back mounted Doubles.

Sidemount Option: Available to those with a physical limitation that prohibits use of doubles (a poor fitting drysuit is not a real reason).  A Sidemount Team would be required, as no mixed teams are permitted. Can be combined with NAUI Tec Sidemount Diver.

Our program will help you develop better buoyancy, fin techniques, propulsion methods, all the while Improving Trim, Breaking BAD Habits, Diver Communication, Problem Solving abilities, Risk Management, Dive team Planning, Dive Equipment Streamlining, Horizontal Out of air sharing and more in backmounted doubles.

This course is available privately for individuals or groups locally or wherever you are located.

We are happy to offer this course locally or anywhere else in Canada.  DDS is a mobile shop with the ability to teach anywhere you need us.

This Program has become one of the scuba worlds Most Popular Courses for good reason. We feel Intro to Tech is the BEST Diving course on the market today, designed to challenge the diver with new skills, techniques and awareness. Step up to the plate and challenge yourself to be the best diver you can be.

Pre-requisites

For divers of all skill levels
Must be 18 or Older
Open Water Diver or equivalent
Minimum of 25 logged dives
5 dives on EANx
400 Meter Swim
50′ Underwater Breathold with Gear
NTEC Doubles Primer Completion with DDS Mentorship Endorsement

Training Agency

NAUI TEC

Additional Information:

Our Naui Intro to Tech program offers the candidate a Fundamental approach to refining and mastering the rudimentary skills such as Buoyancy, Fin Technique/Propulsion Methods, Improving Diver Trim, Breaking BAD Habits, Diver Communication, Problem Solving abilities, Risk Management, Dive team Planning and Team Communications, Dive Equipment Streamlining, Rescue Techniques, Horizontal Ascents/Descents, Valve Manipulation drills, Air Sharing and more.

The Naui Intro to Tech program also offers divers a look deeper into diving science, physics, physiology and decompression theory using zero calculation tables, the 120 Rule and NAUI RGBM and other decompression models.

Divers will be introduced to a safer, more versatile and more user friendly/beneficial equipment configuration (NTEC) allowing divers take advantage of the benefits of diving with a long hose (5-7ft), a streamlined back flotation buoyancy system which is the heart of the system, a reel and lift bag for mid-water ascents and drifting decompression stops, proper light requirements and more.

All gear is designed to be streamlined using a Hogarthian approach revolving around the KISS principal to give divers the freedom to improve their skills. Keep It Simple and Streamlined.

This course is conducted only over a period of 4 days making it a rather intensive program. Students must understand that these skills might not be able to be mastered without practice outside of the Naui Intro to Tech program.

All training dives are filmed so divers can see themselves in the water and see the learning curve from pool to open water training sessions. Dives are conducted in shallow water which affords us maximum bottom time for skill development.

This course is intended for divers of any skill level from Open Water Diver to Open Water Instructor and will benefit all who take it, especially divers wishing to progress into more serious aspects of diving requiring this type of discipline, comfort and finesse in the water.

Graduates of this program will also be able to enroll in more advanced programs with the skills and confidence to succeed in those programs including technical diving courses like Technical Decompression Diver, Helitrox, Trimix, not to mention it goes hand in hand with Cavern, Wreck Penetration and our Cave diving courses, which will build on the foundation started with Intro to Tech.

We believe NAUI offers the best scuba diving course progressions offering a little bit more than your other agencies with regards to more theory, more diving and higher standards, while our instructional staff are the countries leading Technical Diving educators and active Explorers.

If  you want a challenging course that will test your skills, knowledge and abilities, NAUI Intro to Tech is the course for you.

Cost: $650+HST (based on a minimum of 3 students) includes NAUI Intro to Tech Student Materials and Certification fees (upon successful completion).

FREE Divers Alert Network Student Member Insurance

Intro to Tech is also available privately for the Diver who has limited availability for time. Cost is $950+HST local and includes the above materials. Private instruction out of town may bear other additional expenses for travel, meals, fills, etc.

If you’re interested in this program bring a USB Stick in and we’ll load it up with a wealth of information.

Start changing your diving habits for the better today with Dan’s Dive Shop and our exceptional progressive dive training.

For more information on our training check out our Blog.  Here’s a great starting point: Challenges Will Reward Your Longterm Goals

If you can’t make a local class in Niagara, we can present this program to you anywhere else you may be in Canada or other graphic regions. We routinely offer this program in Georgian Bay, Humber and other locations around Ontario and we’ve taught this course in other province and countries, so ask us and we’ll set something up for you and your group.

PADI Open Water Diver Course Saturdays 2022

PADI Open Water Diver Course Saturdays 2022

Join us and Discover the underwater world with your PADI Open Water Diver Course Saturdays 2022. Have fun and learn to dive right with Dan’s Dive Shop, Canada’s Oldest, Most Respected Scuba Diving School.

Get your PADI Open Water Diver Course confined water sessions and classroom covered over two full day Saturdays from 9:00am- 7:00pm and complete your PADI Open Water Diver Certification Checkout Dives in the Spring of 2022 or join us abroad this winter on some trips.

Learn to scuba dive with one of North America’s most respected, most experienced, most progressive and visionary dive shops.  At Dan’s we teach you the right way to dive from day one, click the link for more information of our Modern Approach to scuba diving. We pride ourselves on offering you a higher level of training aimed at taking you further through the life long adventure sport of scuba diving.

For those wishing to complete their PADI Open Water Scuba Course abroad, we do offer PADI Referrals. We can help you find the best dive shop and one who may share similar values and techniques, although we teach a style of diving less than 3% of the stores worldwide are offering, so bare in mind that you will see a drastic difference in training elsewhere from gear to techniques and skills.

At Dan’s we offer you a more thorough and modern approach to your scuba diving education, as we teach how to maximize your skills to the highest level in the best equipment with the most experienced instructors in the country. DDS Divers are the most skilled and respected recreational and technical divers  in the water because they are taught to be more comfortable, utilize precision buoyancy, possess higher skill and techniques underwater, with a higher academic and team awareness.

Learn how to Scuba Dive!  Why not make this year awesome and learn to dive? Spend your life exploring exotic locations as well as diving around  Ontario and the rest of this amazing world underwater.  There are tons of great dive sites here in Niagara & Ontario with exciting shipwrecks and beautiful aquatic life.

Prerequisites?

Minimum age is 10 years by PADI standards, however we strongly recommend 12-14 years (Unless accompanied by a parent). We also recommend all youth complete a PADI Discover Scuba prior to enrollment. All students must complete a PADI Medical Waiver prior to course start date.

Logistics:

Enroll today and start you PADI Open Water Diver Course eLearn at home prior to the course start date. You can complete all the required academic portions of the PADI Open Water Diver Course at your own pace in the comfort of your own home. From there you’ll then meet at Dan’s Dive Shop on Saturday at 9am where you’ll DDS Instructor will go through additional classroom to fill in many of the gaps left unanswered with a more informative and beneficial academic training experience. You will also go through scuba gear fitting and proper assembly and then head to the pool to begin you inwater training. All in class and pool training will be completed over two back to back Saturdays.

Upon successful completion of classroom and pool sessions you will then need to complete an Open Water Diving component to become fully certified. These are held frequently over one weekend in the spring and summer.

Please note all students must be double vaccinated and will be required to show proof before entering the pool.

Training Agency:

PADI

Additional Details:

Open Water Dives are required for Open Water certification and are included in your full course price and completed locally.

Scuba courses are available 12 months of the year.

Costs:

PADI Open Water Referral Scuba Course Class/Pool Only $395+HST (open water dives completed elsewhere)

Our PADI Open Water Certification Course Cost cost is $650+HST ALL INCLUSIVE including your eLearning activation code, 6 additional classroom sessions covering academics far beyond the basic PADI curriculum, pool sessions with additional pool time above and beyond basic standards, 5 open water dives exceeding the minimum of 4 dives required, full scuba equipment rental of your life support gear (no snorkelling gear you’ll need to purchase Scuba Quality gear from us), certification fees and more.

What gear will you need?

All students will need to purchase their own Mask, Strap Fins, Snorkel, Boots, however many of our students prefer to purchase the rest of their kit too. You’ll want to buy the right gear, so please have a read through our DDS Student Diver PDF and learn more about the specific gear requirements and training differences we offer, as well as some incentives.
You don’t need to purchase a weight belt and weights, at DDS we don’t believe in over-weighting our students. Weight belts are an outdated piece of gear that has not been used by us in training since the late 1990’s.Our divers are taught to use little to no weight.

Many Dive Stores charge additional fees for scuba gear rentals during open water sessions. DDS has the finest rentals and we even offer a course rebate when you purchase your life-support package from DDS, so talk to our staff about how we can get you suited up with the finest scuba equipment at the best pricing possible.

Financing is available: Finance your course, snorkeling gear and even your scuba equipment package at a very reasonable rate. Ask staff for details and learn diving in the best equipment you can…..your own personal dive gear, or ours.
DDS will include all scuba equipment for the course, however, you will enjoy your diving experience much more in your own personal dive equipment.

Our Cancellation Policy: If less than 14 days notice is given there is a $100 fee to cancel or reschedule. No shows forfeit all course fees. Redeemed eLearning is non-refundable.

Cave Explorer Matt Mandziuk retrieving line in a Florida Cave

How Did I Get Into Cave Diving?

A Look Back at how I Helped Re-Shape Dive Training in Canada
by
Matthew Mandziuk

A lot of people ask me how I got into cave diving, and the truth is that it wasn’t on purpose. It was once upon a time when I was in Mexico doing some instructor updates for TDI. I was looking for a trainer that could teach me more than the people I had met or worked with in North America. 

The Internet was relatively new to me…well most of us 20 years ago, but I had found a few trainers who kept coming up on WebCrawler and whatever other search engines I used…I think AOL. What drew me to Mexico was that the Instructor was seemingly offering something different in concept. His emails were more detailed even though English wasn’t his first language and the pictures looked like the gear was a lot tidier than my setup, which in those days was a very old school New Jersey Wreck Diving configuration, so I took a chance, hopped on a plane and went to Mexico.

We reconfigured my gear, as I was fascinated by how much cleaner and more streamlined the setup we were training new students on was and I embraced it all 100%. It was knowledge that made sense and it made the diving so much more functional. (See the example of how my gear may or may not have looked at one point further down the post).

One day we were out in the ocean boat diving in 14′ waves, when I got thrown from the boat by with all my gear on. Here was as good of a spot as any to drop on the wall, so we decided to drop right were I did and we conducted a nice 300’ trimix dive. As we entered the decompression phase of the dive shallower, the surge was very strong and I started getting a little queasy. After the stops were clear, we got tossed back onto the boat by the waves and we powered back to shore, I crawled tanks and all up the sandy beach on all 4’s and and kissed that unmoving ground. I likely even told it I loved it. When my face wasn’t green anymore my Trainer started thinking about other less windy options and one of the ideas that popped into his mind was to do a deep sink hole, something I’d never seen before. I was in.

I remember the site well, Cenote Angelita. We drove into the jungle and parked a car, walked down a dirt pathway through the jungle of beautiful big trees, and we happened upon what looked like a tropical oasis in paradise. There were some tree roots we could use to walk down to the water way a little more safety and you could see down quite a ways into the water as the sun was peaking high in the sky just before noon.

When discussing the dive plan, we were briefed on the site and I got to discuss the dive with the dives I was diving with.  

We walked our decompression cylinders down to the water and tied a line off a series of strangler fig tree roots to clip the tanks to so they didn’t slip off the ledge down to over 200’.

We put our suits and double tanks on and on the surface we conducted our s-drill and bubble checks, clipped our additional cylinders on and away we went.

I remember looking into the air clear water and I could see all the way down to the bottom at 90’ where there was a hydrogen sulphur cloud and a beautiful reddish coloured rock in spots around the basin. We explored the sink which was very reminiscent of Yoda’s planet Dagobah with the steam on the surface unearthing the trees sticking through the cloud, except this was now happening underwater and was one of the most mind-blowing and interesting things I’d ever seen in my life.

After taking in my new favourite site above the cloud, we decided to go in through the cloud. As we descended through the hydrogen sulphur cloud, I could actually taste through my regulator a flavour of sulphuric “rotten egg” which is a flavour everyone talks about. As I descended, I came into the darkness 40’ deeper and into a night dive like environment environment. HID Lights were just starting to come onto the market and it was my first time seeing a Halcyon 18w HID light in action. the blue light was so amazing. I was still using a 2 section car battery pack powering a 50w Halogen lamp, so my beam was yellow.

As I took the time to take in this new environment, I noticed a lot of branches, roots, a massive hour glass shaped debris cone, just like I’d read about in the many books I’d read on the Yucatan Peninsula and the water was even clearer below the cloud that above, which we could easily see the entire length of the basin above and below over 300’ of clarity on this day.

We kept following the debris cone downward towards the bottom which I could see getting closer and closer and we stopped at a cavern entrance with a beautiful speleothem hanging and all of the divers lit up the entrance with their high tech HID lights and my halogen lamp.

I was mind blown and the entire dive had eclipsed all of my best dives in quality, uniqueness, clarity of water, cool things to see. I’d gone from never diving a sink hole to never seeing spelotherms, to being thrown into a new world of let’s discover what else is out here and a trip that was only supposed to be 1-2 weeks lasted a month, as I so excitedly and enthusiastically ascended after our decompression ended and smiling ear to ear they asked how I liked that site!? My reply was that it was the best dive ever. They later replied, if you like that we have some even bigger and better treats for you “Farmer” (in response to being seasick and kissing the sand the day before).

We did a second dive at Angelita was just as good, but a bit shallower as we broke 200′ of depth on the first dive. We had even more time to swim around and play in and out of the hydrogen sulphur cloud. It was very memorable.

An Example of full columns in a Cave Photo by Matt Mandziuk

Upon feeling renewed and excited, we did a bunch of other fun dives in the area and all these big deep sink holes just made me more curious about what else was inside them.

One day I was asked to teach a decompression lecture for a bunch of cave students and was convinced to join on the open water skills dive on day 1 of these students working on their cavern skills. It was pitched to me that I could learn how to use a reel better and it would help make the best wreck diving class in the world.

The day we did the class, then we started working on dry land drills and having never actually been taught to run line and only reading from the old NSS-CDS and NACD cave books, I was excited to see how they did things, so I sat and watched and when the students were done, I too had a chance to play with the reels and line following and then I joined the group during the simulated air sharing while blindfolded and communicating during “touch contact” and I thoroughly enjoyed being blind and feeling the way the line in my hands moved left and right and up and down and how I could use the sense of touch to feel the plastic navigational markers as a way of knowing roughly where I was and what direction was out.

I was done all of my TDI Technical Instructor upgrades and lectures by this point and it was time to immerse myself into something new. Cavern Diver Training!

My first cavern training dive was in 20’ of open water at a cent called Car Wash. It was the most intense dive of my life because I was taking everything so seriously. We have a great Cave 2 Skills Video summary of some of the skills online if you’re interested CLICK HERE.

For those who know me, I’m a pretty OCD and very thorough person when it comes to diving. I’m hypersensitive to things and usually very very aware and I liked this because it was challenging me in a new and different way.

For those who have done a Wreck Penetration, Intro to Tech, Cavern or Cave class with me, I’m sure you’ll remember our 20-30’ dives too. The shallow skills development dives set the bar for things to come.

On my Cavern Training it was not different. We spent 1.5 hours in 20’ of water doing air shares with and without visibility, with and without a buddy, we simulated a lost guideline deploying a safety/backup reel and had to relocate the line, tie-off our safety line and follow the mainline until we found an arrow marking our exit and make an exit in the proper direction. 

DDS Divers Working on Line Handling and Awareness

While many people find a dive like this to be intense or intimidating, it just made me want more. As a matter of fact, I took the next dives so seriously that it took me 20 minutes to even realize we were in a cavern because I was so focussed on the team, the communication, the line placements and etiquette, among the other pre-dive rituals we had ahead of the penetration into the cavern.

Once we tied into the main guideline I was able to break a sigh of relief that we found it and then I was able to stop and take it all in and this cavern became something that allowed my body and mind to slow down and take it all in as the stillness was enhanced, my breathing rate lower than the last 20 minutes had been and and I heard every heart beat, the sound of every breath flowing through my long hose towards my mouth and the lights all cascading a beautiful array of light patterns around this magical limestone paradise that were created millions of years ago.

As the divers began to signal the turn and exit and somehow one at a time had “equipment failures” with masks being removed, primary lights failing, people running out of gas, etc., I was watching and waiting for my time to exit and don’t really remember if/what the problems I would’ve encountered were, but again after sorting our gear back out when the scenarios were over, and our safety stop completed, we ascended into another monumental emotional diving bliss moment as we were all smiles and ready for the next challenges.

The thing I loved most about the cave diving training were the beautiful caves we were training in. Seeing the ice-age looking formations that resemble the frozen icicles at a waterfall were hypnotic, as were the stalactites and full columns (once I was able to start enjoying them and paying less attention to the main guideline or the equipment that I knew was going to “fail” on the exit).

The skills that we had to do on the class were addictive and I even “died” on my lost line drill, which is a survival skill we do as we simulate losing the primary line and having to tie off our safety spool on a rock and blindly feeling for the primary line, hoping to hook it with our reel, or even our equipment or body. 

Skills that like were very sobering and they drove home the importance of paying attention to the team and surroundings at all times.

Learning to navigate a jump from one line to another cave line was another wonderful skill too, as it extended our range into these cave passages.

What I loved most about cave diving were the rules and how organized cave diving made me feel. I used to always say Wreck Divers used brawn and Cave Divers used brains. I’m a big advocate of diving smarter, not harder and Cave Diving was something that just made sense.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Mexican cave sites was the haloclines, a phenomena of waters of different density and temperature that can create a visual disturbance like mixing fresh water into a glass of saltwater resembling how a road shimmers in the hot summer heat.
Here you’ll notice the fresh water layer on top pushing, mixed water in the middle with the salt layer along the bottom.

Halocline Formation in a Mexican Cave During NAUI Cave 2 Class

A thermocline can get more brackish as your pass through the layer and it creates a greater mix of the salt and fresh water which can obscure view of the main guideline. Learning how to dive in Halocline Formation is important.

I learned some valuable lessons on the cave class as well and helped reconfigure my equipment, as I maybe had some “wreck diving” equipment, but not stuff gear that was as streamlined or as functional as the gear I ultimately embraced. Even a little think like the importance of a good pair of fins. I was an advocate of Mares Quattro’s for years, they were a fantastic pair of fins, but couldn’t figure out why I was having to kick to keep up with some of the other divers, given I was running 5 km’s/day, my friend Nick said to me straight up “it’s your fins. They’re too big, bulk and too inefficient”. I switched to Jet fins after I got to try them minutes later and never looked back.

Technical Diving at DDS Looked Reminiscent of this in the ’80’s and ’90’s. Lots of Gear and Task Loading with hoses ,tanks and gauges galore. Be Blessed You’re Learning the Right Way from Open Water On. This is Why Divers Come From All Over North America to Train with DDS.

The importance of the right equipment that suits the team’s mission and members best is very important and another favourite aspect of cave diving, as those team members can help with the line tension, retrieving arrows or cookies if asked, while having their gear rigged the same way in the same location always.

I remember on one of my first cave trips back to Mexico, I got to dive in one of my favourite Mexican cave, where we navigated through 3 different cave systems on 1 dive! Now of course each cave once it’s connected becomes part of the biggest cave system, but once upon a time they were 3 separate cave systems.

With proper dive planning, great gas consumption and the right safety gear, cave diving can be one of the most enjoyable and stimulating styles of diving ever.

Cave Diving is Not Dangerous. Breaking the rules, exceeding your level of training or experience is. The caves have been here for thousands and millions of years before divers started exploring them, they’re not the hazard, human error is.

In Cave Diving they use the expression “There are Old Cave Divers and There are Bold Cave Divers, but No Old Bold Cave Divers”. Having lost friends diving, it’s not fun, but at some point a rule was broken or a training limitation in the majority of the losses I’ve had to endure. Thinking of your friends and family first will act as insurance in wanting to return home safely, so that you don’t make unnecessary risks and you can keep your mind in the game.

Don’t Make Unnecessary Risks, it’s not worth it.

Diving at the Cenote El Pat (The Pit) a Deep Sinkhole with several
caves including one over 300′ deep we were diving in 2015.
Sun lit Jungle in Mexico on the trail topside to the world's largest underwater cave system. Sun light beaming like subtle lasers through the tree branches
The Sun light beams gently kiss the jungle as we make our way to the dive camp during the World’s Longest Underwater Cave Expedition in Mexico.

From Student to Teacher and Explorer

My cave training opened me up to a lot of amazing adventures, but the faster approach to the training was something I wasn’t as keen on. 

Many divers do a “zero to hero” cave class in certain places, it’s not to say it can’t be done, I did it, however, I was the only diver who knew how to frog kick, turn or fin backwards along with 2 students who’d done open water and advanced with the same instructor in a backplate/wing, but reverse frog wasn’t a required skill, nor was any previous experience in doubles and this is still the case in a lot of the more mainstream agencies.

I really felt like the other students could’ve benefited from a foundational skills class which really was just starting to become a thing 20 years ago. It was rare that divers would have learned the foundational skills and have proper horizontal trim. A Cave Instructor in Florida one day told me they are there to teach a student as much as they can in a week so they don’t die in a cave. Many have never worn doubles, been horizontal or frog kicked, so they do the best they can and they offer them the opportunity to re-take the course within 6-12 months of they practice and get the diving in, but what they really should do is teach them the foundational skills first and then focus on the cave skills/training next. On my cave class the others were new to all the gear and techniques and the open water dives we had done prior to the cavern dives were designed to try and teach them the basics of modern diving.

Cave diving was a lot more mental for me than physical, having to think of the procedures to lay a clothes pin (now we use cookies) or when to arrow and where, as I felt we were hit with a series of navigational decisions and there was a lot of additional gear thrown in like stages and so on.

Complex Navigation involves multiple navigational decisions, entering and exiting in different places, doing circuits, T’s, traverses, set-up and clean-up dives to execute the dive properly.

It wasn’t until I got out on my own exploring new caves, some known, some undiscovered cave sites that I started to gain or retain the knowledge and apply it. I had the skills, I could do the drills, but putting them to practical use was really what made me feel like a cave diver and made me a better diver.

Many divers are quite content just following the main guideline in and out, it’s enough for some people and definitely how you’d want to start off if you haven’t done a cave dive for a while. Ease yourself into the dives doing easy navigation or what I often call diving like a “pedestrian cave diver”, as the simple tour is a nice way to reacquaint yourself with the caves and running the reel and tying into the main guideline, you can assess the conditions and note the navigational jumps or places of interest for future dives.

When it came time for me to be teaching Cavern Diving, I had no interest in teaching Cave Diving. I had a few friends in Florida and Mexico who I’d send friends to dive with and train and that was good enough, but none of them really stuck with it and my local divers were getting more and more keen to go to see these amazing springs and cenotes.

All of the years I spent in Florida and Mexico started mounting up, I started seeing the masses who were cave diving and they were destroying the fragile stalactites in Mexico or breaking the limestone features of the Florida caves.  My favourite decoration in Ginnie Springs got destroyed last year I named it “Scooby Doo” Rock and one day someone decapitated Scooby likely with Doubles or a Run Away Scooter.

scooby-doo-rock
Scooby-Doo Rock before some ass decapitated him. Below is the after math of a beheaded Scooby

As more years went by, I started seeing people flutter kicking even in a no flow cave in Split Fins destroying the visibility, hand swimming and vertical diving habits, along with people pulling hard on the cave guidelines which should never be pulled or heaved on, and only held with caution letting the line slip effortlessly through your fist as you grip it in a touch contact hand position. Most divers didn’t know how to run line properly or at all, while some people were just running a single long line for 200’ into the caves and tying in to the main line with no regard for the other lines, divers, teams or anything.

During those days, it was our Divers loved ones who were telling me that they didn’t trust anyone random person to train their loved one’s and they insisted when their loved one was ready to step it to the next level that I’d be teaching them because if I was the only one they trusted 100%, which was flattering and I accepted eventually, which turned out to be a great move.

For the last 13 years I’ve enjoyed teaching caverns and caves, but finding a cave agency I could relate to and enjoy working with was a serious decision too. I teach for 5 different agencies, but what I wanted out of an agency was a brand that suggested divers get more diving in between each level, much like I had wished I’d done vs the “Zero to Hero” approach, so I looked at all the agency standards and all of the prerequisites that each agency insisted on and none of them were requiring experience in doubles, or a foundational skills series of skills such as fin kicks or horizontal trim, posture, buoyancy, which is why I looked at NAUI as my preferred Cave Diving agency. Seeing the NAUI Standards was a game changer for me.

NAUI allowed divers to dive a 1/3 of their gas in, out and exiting with 1/3 for reserve, while the majority were doing 1/6th in/out and 2/3 let for exit. No jumps off the mainline, or 1 at best. Being able to participate in multiple navigational decisions was also a great offering, as was the depth limit of 100’ max, no stop limits and insisting certified Cave 1 Divers had to log 20 logged Cave 1 dives after their certification above and beyond their cave training dives, obtain a technical certification before engaging in Cave 2.

There were gaps left in my basic cave training that I saw as a bit of a short coming with some of my dive buddies on my cave class not knowing how to fin using a modified frog kick, not having experience in doubles, trim, reel handling or line awareness prior to a NAUI Intro to Tech Class, no experience with stage/deco/ bottles prior to being handed them in a cavern/cave setting, lack of familiarity with canister lights and back-up lights, rescue diving scenarios dealing with oxygen toxicity and more.

Cave Diving has given our Divers another way to keep their skills sharp during the winter months and while most divers fade in and out of the recreational diving spectrum, I do find that those who commit to an Intro to Tech/Cavern course and actually pass, never stop diving, as Cave 1 and Cave 2 become their next classes and then as it’s been now 11 years later many of those Cave 1 and 2 divers are still joining us on our trips today.

Cave Diving offers some amazing exploration opportunities, some great personal challenges and some different opportunities for photography and other offerings too.

Cave Diving Explorers Nick and Matt Mandziuk assemble a decompression habitat on a deep cave diving expedition on Cenote el Pat in Mexico
Setting up a decompression habitat as part of a cave diving expedition project in Mexico

Avoid Trying to Rush Through Training and Into The Trendy Toys

There is never a substitute for experience.  Getting your skills in place and your hours up are the only true way to become a proficient diver.  It doesn’t happen easily or overnight.

Surround yourself with a group of Divers you can learn from.  We use a mentorship mentality that helps prepare new DDS Divers who aren’t trained in the DDS philosophies and we encourage our “home grown” Divers to stay as active as they can and to get involved as much as they can.

We are trend setters and people that were responsible for helping establish many of the protocols and procedures now taken as the bible of diving.

We innovated the most modern Sidemount Configuration before anyone started diving long hoses and embraced the most modern CCR Rebreather Configuration with back mounted diluent and off-board O2 before it was the norm.

A lot of divers jump into certain concepts because the wrong people are promoting the wrong progressions, maybe it’s because they themselves couldn’t dive the right gear for a physical reason like shoulder surgery or bad back, but nothing is better off a boat or driving a scooter than doubles.

Sidemount is a tool to get you into a place you can’t fit on singles or doubles or for shore diving. It is better suited after Cave 2 when the divers have extensive cave experience, the ability or desire to do tighter passages or “no mount” passages even. Sometimes caves are not accessible on doubles, so Sidemount is the Correct Tool Here.

There are many caves that are simply too tight to get into with doubles, so once you’re familiar with all the cave diving has to offer, Sidemount becomes another tool you can use for expeditions where you don’t know if the cave will widen or narrow further.

Sidemount is a horrible choice when diving off a boat, especially if people are diving an unrefined Sidemount configuration which is typically what we see locally from most shops/instructors/divers who are not cave divers.

Sidemount is for places where doubles aren’t available for rent, doubles don’t fit, doubles, or for those who medically can’t reach their valves due to spinal or shoulder injuries.

Rebreathers with small little 2-3 litre cylinders are also an issue we have. Most Cave Divers Do Not Carry Enough Bailout Gas. A Cave Level 1 Dive = 140ft3 bailout minimum. A Cave Level 2 Dive = 225ft3 bailout Minimum. This means said Cave Diver Needs to be excellent with multiple Decompression Cylinders. In NAUI Cave 2 Divers Learn to use 3-4 additional bottles plus doubles.

Get Good on Stages and Doubles Before Venturing into Sidemount or Rebreather. Once you’re proficient in those styles of diving You can do DPV Overhead/Cave Course which may be safer on a CCR for gas time and efficiency as you’re travelling further back in the cave, but you should always swim it first on Open Circuit First and See how many cylinders it takes for if/when the DPV fails and you may swim on out of it for real.

Taking the right training, buying the right gear, putting in the right amount of time practicing is essential for any divers success. Don’t Rush into caves, technical diving, rebreathers, sidemount diving.  Don’t Take Shortcuts in Your Training.

There are so many amazing dives sites at every depth level and ever training level you succeed at. There is always a next deepest, and next best as well.

Don’t even attempt to dive a Rebreather in a Cave unless you can hover motionless for 5 minutes no skulling horizontally, Knees Up, Fins Up, Arms Out in Trim and complete all the Foundational Skills with 2 Stage Bottles On. I say this because several people have been unsuccessful in Intro to Tech with us and jumped into a Rebreather and somehow got Normoxic Trimix certified standing and kneeling on the bottom, ascending holding the anchor mooring lines and flutter kicking silting out the ships just like their Instructors do.

Your Best Option for a Rebreather is Manual not electronic, so you’re in charge of your PO2 and can control your ascents easier without the set point screaming at your as the PO2 reduces on an automatic unit as it goes shallower while still trying to achieve it’s constant PO2. Run it at a .6 PO2 on ascent or manually. On Deep Cave Exploration a constant mass flow valve or needle valve modified from the original KISS Rebreather design is another great option.

Matt Cave Diving in Mexico with the White Arrow Explorer CCR Rebreather
Matt after a CCR Cave Dive in Taj Ma Ha Puerto Adventuras, MX

Cave Diving is for Divers Who Have Elite Skills and Discipline and a Desire to be the Most Polished Divers They Can Be.

Spending a lot of time in Florida, Dominican, Mexico and enjoying the recreational and exploration aspects of cave diving have been very fulfilling. I throughly enjoy expedition style diving, having been featured in magazines, YouTube videos, agency and personal expedition projects, including helping friends map the largest cave system in the world, just a couple of years ago, in a land so far away from this Covid pandemic are what keep me motivated and keep me going forward.

If Cave Diving Interests You, Do it Right. Take a Foundational Skills Class with DDS. If you’re curious about doubles, take a NAUI NTEC Doubles Workshop with Us, which will start you down the right path in equipment configuration basic foundational skills, while our NAUI Intro to Tech Course is the best Foundational Skills Class there is. It offers the right skills, information and adventure. Intro to Tech dovetails seamlessly into Cavern/Cave 1 too, so do it right and take the best training path. Don’t leave gaps in your training. Don’t Rush and Never Accept a Certification Card You Yourself Do Not Feel You Earned.

Our Cave, Wreck, Overhead and Technical Diving Courses are The Best in the industry! No other training agency offers a more through and complete Cave Diving Education and having such a small number of Cave Instructors keeps the quality high and the demand high.

Going from a Left Post Breathing Hose Stuffer to one of the First DIR Based Diving Instructors was the best move we made as a shop. Divers come for the best training offerings from around the Canada, the USA and other countries. I’ve been a Top Certifying Technical Diving Instructor over the last 20+ years and with your help will continue to offer the Highest Calibre of Recreational, Cave, Technical, Sidemount and Rebreather Training Possible.

Seeing the benefits of Divers learning in backplate/wing from open water, encouraging continuity in gear configuration, improving team diving communication and functionality and being able to up the game whenever possible are just some of the ways we’ve helped set the standard higher.

I am frequently involved in cave and shipwreck and other random dive expeditions of known and unknown entities and we continue to challenge myself and others through new environments and equipment whenever possible.

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There is nothing more fulfilling than running new line through a virgin cave emptying your spools Sistema Sac Aktun Expedition 2017

If You Want to Learn More About our Modern and Progressive Training Offerings, CLICK HERE

Thanks For Reading, Let’s Go Diving Soon!

Matt Mandziuk

Follow Me On Instagram @divesith and @dansdiveshop