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Tech diving in Pacific Northwest

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Aug 9, 2003
I'm looking to get into tech diving, but I most definitely do not want to take the PADI courses. I live in Portland, Oregon so I'd like some place not too far away. I also just graduated from college, so money is relatively tight, so I don't want to be forced to buy gear, rental is preferred while training. I've been an instructor for 5 years and can spot a bad one from a mile away. Any recommendations would be great.
I would take a look at Fifth Dimension in Kent, Washington. I haven't had any experience with them yet, but plan to take my "formal" tech training there. Only heard good things about the level of instruction and facilities. They offer most GUE courses. That being said, GUE will require you to own a BP % Wings, and various other equipment. Tech Diving and "trusting" rental gear are two practices that dont always go together. Be prepared to spend a great deal of money in equipment and training if you really have your heart set on tech diving. IF some one offers "Cheap" or "Discounted" instruction chances are they're cutting corners someplace. Tech = extended range life support training. don't take any shortcuts. and stay away from DSAT :head If you're going tech - get trained by the best, and after a few years of Reading, interviewing and research, I've found my choice to be with G.U.E. . Get taught by the people who are out DOING the dives, and making headlines. After diving with GUE trained divers there is no one else I would rather dive with - all pro.


Check out the GUE website, might be an instructor near you.


Good Luck, Willer
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I'll second that, unless your diving a doubles tank configuration right now your probably going to outlay for gear. Tech dive training is reasonably specialized so not much is available for rent. Second if you aren't used to diving doubles, backplate, drysuit etc etc prior to going to the tech course your going to spend your time trying to readjust your bouyancy, and trim and not learning how to perform the skills.

also I have to agree with Colin about the washington dive shop they've got a great reputation. Best thing to do is probably to call them and see what they think your best options are.

Short story though is that technical diving requires a fair amount of specialized and expensive gear to be done safely. It might be better to pick up the gear slowly over a period of time before investing money in training you won't be able to use for lack of equipment.
Having been an instructor in the PNW for a few years, I've accumulated quite a bit of gear. I currently have a SeaQuest Black Diamond which I know supports backplates. I also have about 5 very high quality regs. I've been diving a USIA drysuit with Weezle undergarments for a few years now and was a volunteer diver at the OCAQ for a few years (we had to have great buoyancy control).

Based on anybody's experience, should this work with some mods, or am I going to have to go buy a whole new setup?

Is this the one?

Black Diamond

Not my personal BC of choice for getting into Tech. too many "points of Failure". remember - plastic is the enemy. there is a reason why the serious tech types are going Backplate and wings. simplicity.

Anatomy of a Tech Diver

Have a good read of the above link. I thought my kit was up to the task once-upon-a-time too. turns out it would "work" but with inherent risks that I'm not willing to take. unfortunetly most of the jacket style wanna-be BC's are just that - wanna-be's. they're great for Rec divers that are looking for a back infation design, but don't cut it when you want to get serious.

if your regs are yoke, think about getting them switched to DIN. it's fast becoming the industry standard for the deep'n'spooky, and thos yoke knobs are line magnets.

I consider myself to be a rookie in the world of Tech, still have so much to learn and a lot of equipment to aquire.

check out the Mossman site. he has a lot of good info and one helluva diver.

Get ready to spend some cash there Nick. The stuff that you have won't cut it in real tec diving. You'll need areal backplate and wings, not a seaquest bc. You'll also want to get a new drysuit set-up, though you might be able to work with yours to start with.

Fifth Dimension has a great reputation around the country. THe owner actually came to Wisconsin this spring, and will be back this fall, to run some DIR- F classes for a shop that some of my friends own.

You should start by taking their fundamentals class, with the gear that you have now, so that you can see what you will need to buy, and why. It will also give you an idea of what your going to spend in the future.

After taking the class, where you will learn a lot, and pricing everything out, which will add up as you dive deeper, you may just decide that freediving is a better way to challenge yourself in divingm which is what I have decided to do.:D

Either way, you have a great shop up there to train with and there are also some nice deep wrecks to dive on when you are ready.
I agree with Jon, the best thing you can do is go take the DIR-F class it's a prerequisite to all the GUE tech courses anyway so it will be a neccessary step if you go the GUE route.

It will allow you to evaluate the neccessary equipment configurations without having to be at risk at depth on a real tech course. It will also allow you to evaluate the DIR style which you may not find meets your needs. Likely the instructor will compare the DIR setup to that offered by TDI etc., so that you will be able to contrast the different styles and the reasoning behind them.

Another, idea is to find someone local who would like to try tech diving with you. You will quickly find that you are constrained by the weakest team member when tech diving, and, if you don't have a tech trained diver that you know in your area you won't be doing much diving. If your lucky and do know folks in your area who already tech dive, try to hook up with one of them. A mentor who dives with you constantly is, for my money, a lot better investment than a three day course.
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