January 21, 2016
SCUBA diving falls into two broad categories: recreational and technical. Those who kick around reefs or maybe chase lobsters are participating in recreational diving, while adventurous wreck and cave divers are stretching into technical diving. Here’s a quick look at both:
Recreational diving is defined as diving at depths no greater than 130 feet, no decompression is required and the diver always has direct access to the surface (nothing overhead).
A recreational diver may hold Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Dive Master, Open Water Instructor and/or Nitrox certifications.
When it comes to equipment, a recreational diver typically has a mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit, regulator (one first stage, two second stages), BC and a single air tank.
Basically, anything beyond the limits of recreational diving is considered technical diving. Diving deeper than 130 feet could require decompression so the body can properly “off gas” absorbed nitrogen from breathing compressed air. Divers going to these depths are at an increased risk of decompression sickness, also known as the bends, if proper procedures are not followed. Additional knowledge and training is necessary. Those who fully penetrate underwater wrecks and caves also are considered to be participating in technical diving, because the divers do not have direct access to the surface. Again, this requires divers to have more specialized training and experience.
Thus, technical divers may require one or more additional certifications to the ones recreational divers hold. These include: Introduction to Tech Diving, Cave 1, Cave 2, Side Mount Diver, Technical Decompression Diver, Helitrox Diver, Trimix Diver and Rebreathers.
Because the diving environment is different, the equipment varies significantly as well. Technical divers may wear a different harness for side mounting air tanks. And going to greater depths may mean carrying two steel air tanks instead of a single aluminum one. Technical diving may mean using two first stage and two second stage regulators. Finally, you get to leave that annoying snorkel behind, as it is useless in overhead environments.
The staff at Bill Jackson’s can answer more detailed questions regarding recreational and technical diving. Our shop offers Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Nitrox and Rescue Diver classes for recreational diving, as well as Trimix and Technical Decompression for more adventurous divers.