A dive to 40m is generally considered to be at the limit of recreational diving. Advanced recreational divers have never really been given a sensible approach to diving in this range other than go down, have a quick look, and get out fast. Technical divers, on the other hand have always had helium, decompression gasses and double cylinders to manage dives in this range.
The typical recreational equipment configuration also leaves a lot to be desired – a single 15L cylinder filled with air, and maybe a 3L pony as a contingency leaves things a little thin if things go wrong.
The aim of GUE’s recreational diver level 3 class is to offer a RECREATIONAL solution to diving in this depth range, without employing the rigours or complexities of a tech dive. The simple way to do this is to reduce the exposure (or amount of decompression) to which the diver is exposed, and provide a training path that reflects that exposure.
The training begins in shallow water with critical skills. How to manage a free flowing regulator, how to deal with simple manifold problems, how to share gas, switch to a decompression gas, send up a surface marker. This is, as with all GUE classes, is done with a strong focus on teamwork.
Next we move into slightly deeper water, 20-30m, and work on precision ascents. A fast ascent from 40m is never pretty, so its a great confidence boost to know that your control and skills are in good order before we move into the experience phase of the course.
The experience dives are done using trimix 21/35 and a 32% nitrox for decompression. Max depth is 40m, with a maximum decompression time of 15 mins, and we have a lot of fun exploring the wrecks and reefs in this range. The benefits of using helium become quickly apparent, application of the theoretical parts of the course (gas management, decompression strategies) are all put to the test, and a lot of fun is had. Got to be better than a 15L and a pony!