(Thought i would repost this from YD)
So a bit of background, I’ve been diving 6 years, a couple of years back I did the TDI Adv/Nitrox/Helitrox Deco course. Earlier in the year (march) I had an opportunity to have a go on an inspo vision and was really taken by the silence of the experience. Went home said to the wife I had to do it; she being a diver took some serious convincing, the kids (both divers) were also unimpressed (the eldest especially so!). For the next 2 months I kept an eye out for a nearly new unit, and set about grinding the family down so they understood they had it all wrong !
Unfortunately I really struggled to find a unit over the spring so it was starting to look like a new unit was going to be the only way forward. I had planned to do the course with a diving instructor friend unfortunately logistics meant that it was unlikely to happen. Next was to find an instructor I was happy with so I could get the unit ordered from AP. For me there really was only one option, my previous technical course was with Mark Powell, I had really enjoyed it along with his style of teaching. So I set about getting in contact, as it happened he was planning a course in late August, so I signed up, ordered a new unit and off we go.
After 2 weeks camping and diving in Dorset (ironically bumping into Mark on Scimitars boat!) I made my way down to NDAC during the last week of August for my MOD1! All the wife would say as I left home was good luck – you’re going to need it !
What follows is a write up of each of the dives based on the notes I made at the end of each day, I’ve covered most stuff but probably missed some bits out! I decided to do this as when I was making my mind up about whether to go CCR or not I struggled to find an end to end experience.
So below it what I went through to pass my MOD1 – I hope its of use to other considering the CCR route.
Day 1 – Monday – Surface skills, introduction to the Inspiration unit.
Kits explanation and disassembly / reassembly Drills Open / close mouth piece Pre-breathe Set point change Dill flush Watching the HUD, manual set point management using inflate and feathering the O2 valve
Dive planning with bailout, working off 40L per min. I’m planning on diving with a 7L Stage for bailout, this gives me, umm doesn’t seem that much – now why didn’t I buy an Ali80?!?
Loading weights - put as much as possible in the top of the unit. Got 6kg around the top of the scrubber. In the pouches, 4kg on rhs and 2kg on lhs. This was to balance the bailout.
When tried to sink couldn't fully so added an ankle weight to the top of the unit handle. Total 12.75kg. Note this was done without my light-for-me umbilical torch.
ADV was off.
Finned out and descended the shot line to top of the first container at 6m, wow what a weird feeling nothing like when I tried a friends unit in the pool. On descent my buoyancy was well odd and couldn't get it right. What on earth had a let myself in for !
We repeated all the drills from the day before, initially sat on the platform then then from as good a hover as I could manage. Also did a dill flush and mask clearing. All of this done at 0.7 set point but with manual management of the dill.
When Mark appeared satisfied we moved off the container and down to 10m, also over to the other two containers. I practiced buoyancy so I was level with the bars on the top, it didn’t take long to work out that changing depth wasn’t as simple as open circuit! Remember is possible swim round not over.
Took stage on and off, quite awkward to find D rings, but managed to eventually. Repeated several time. I have to say the D rings on the stock harness are a real pain when compared to my OC rig!
Flew unit manually for 10mins when set point on 0.7 and needed to keep it at 1.0 - remember short O2 bursts not lots.
Same weighting as dive one, this time entry with the stage attached.
Finned out to the 10m shot line and did slow descent on low set point. ADV was off so I needed to manually add diluent to maintain loop volume.
On the platform yet more skills repeated from dive one, practice makes perfect – and I was a long way off ! My bailout needed to be much quicker, I had a problem shutting the look and then getting bailout reg in my mouth. Probably because this was down to the orientation of the reg on the pipe, I made a note to get it swapped round.
I then practiced with handset, what weird buttons – they need to be pressed properly. Sounds silly, but it's all about the press.... Changed set point high to 1.4 then back again to 1.3.
Mark then said on all bailouts on all bailouts had to do oc switch on the handset.
We went for swim around maintaining set point of 1.0, went through tube, lost buoyancy on entry but did recover. Still feeling a bit off balance but it was improving all the time. One think I was noting was that you fin more on CC to change depth in comparison to OC where you don't!
Ascent up a shot line to 6m with 3 mins at 5m and then up in 1m increments to surface. Found very hard to stay down at 1m. It wasn't pretty but I did manage to hold the stops - hooray !
Deeper dive, got to 23m we were aiming for 20m but poor buoyancy when I got to depth put pay to that! Still more flying the unit on manual but this time to a set point of 1.3. I did some more bail outs and dill flush on the way back ok. Mark now started to throw in the dreaded cards – things were starting to get complicated !
I got the send up an smb from depth signal, that worked ok but I had a small free flow from the reg on the bailout! The ascent was way too flow, but hey it was only my third dive. We continued to the platform at 10m, doing lots more skill from Day 1. Bailouts started to improve !
Loads of rain and run off –the viz was really starting to deteriorate badly.
Still running with ADV off, but this time I was allowed to let the unit run in auto. Improved ABCs both in and out of the water, in water check found that the O2 hose had become disconnected – I guess that’s one of the reasons for doing it. Yet more cards !
We planned to descend the line to 10m however viz was so bad we went down further to 20m then along and up the slope.
On the shelf viz was very poor - couldnt see anything – we came off the bottom and I became dizzy (this is something i personally tend to get) - Mark led us to the platform where we did computer drills and more bailouts (good for the soul)
Attempt to put an SMB up was an utter failure - got it tangled up and had to release it. Second one was better, then did ascent up the line to 6m where we did a 5 min simulated deco stop. Did the ascent on the bailout to 6m all ok but it all seemed a bit odd going back to oc !
Then went back onto the loop for the deco stop at 1.3 ppO2, switching to 0.7, finally ascending up in 1m increments up to surface, not moving up until Mark was happy.
After the dive I did weight check with empty bailout, got to 6kg in top of unit and then 4kg of integrated and 0.75 of ankle weight. This time I did have the torch on. But still at least I managed to drop some weight.
Finally got to run the unit in full auto with the ADV on - hooray. What an interesting effect having the unit add the dill, its kind of like a long range regulator!
Dive plan - descend to the plane then the swim out to the heli via the double decker bus. We swam though the bus from front to back, my buoyancy was improving every dive.
We rounded the Heli and returned back. 25m max bottom with 30 min bottom time before ascend. Dec plan was 1 min at 12m, 1 min at 9m and 7 mins at 6m.
Now Park started to throw in more cards, I did several drills, the recognition was ok but the time to bailout when required was too slow, about 20-30 seconds, he wanted it to be 10 secs from seeing the card to being on the reg. I needed to work on it more in later dives.
At 28mins SMB went up better but not enough gas in it. Ascent up the line was better but still not 10m per minute. Should have taken 1.5 mins and actually took 2.5 mins. But this was better than the day before. The simulated deco stops were good, no issues.
Then practised many drills, put up another SMB which was much better, oh how I wished I had a co2 cartridge SMB.
Next I practised using bailout but controlling a simulated free flowing regulator. With finger on purge button, you need to feather the cylinder valve, breathe in on the open and finish breathing in just before you shout the valve. I remembered doing this on my adv nitrox / deco course. This went on for 3 mins, it didn't seem that long ! At the end I had cramp in my left hand. It's not ideal but if you need to still do you deco on a free flow it would work.
Final skill before ascent was running the unit as pure O2, as ended to 4m, shut off the dill cleared the gas in the pipe and then maintained volume on just using O2 manual inflate. This wasn't very difficult - which surprised me !
Last ascent was up in 1m increments with 2min stop at each full metre !
Meant to be a skills dive from 25m shelf up to the shallows of the SMB for rescue drills. Expected run time of 60+ mins..... But we didn't get there !!
Descent good, swam over to the plane and through. Manual set point change on reaching depth, communicated to mark and all went well. From plane swan north, was presented with several cards which were handled ok apart from the last one !
Bail out was ok, handling it was better, time to bail out for all the drills was nearer to 10secs but still not quick enough. Struggled to get the SMB stowed. The another card low ppo2, bail out was quick (11secs), SMB out and ascent up the line to 6m from 20m, used 70bar. 490 litres.
Up the line in reasonable time but... On return to the loop, it wasn't shut !!!!! What a idiot i was !
We went over to container to check what was going on decided it wasn't in the scrubber but in the exhale counter lung, I could certainly hear it gurgling!. We continued with the dive but I a more upright position.
Now it was onto rescue time, we did two lifts one an OC diver and then second of CC diver. On the second one we went all the way to the surface. This went off really well, but I had hoped it would given the number of PADI rescue courses I had assisted on !
On disassemble there was loads of water in the counter lung but none had got into the scrubber, for sure this was a testament to the design of the Inspiration unit.
Mark then gifted me the exam and told me to do it that night along with planning the first dive on the next day, it had to be within the bounds of my equipment. It was looking like it was going to be a long night back to the Huntsman !
Finally at midnight I turned the light out completely exhausted!
First dive of the day – the deep one to gain a 45m certification i had to dive deeper than 30m. Following planning overnight – we set out to do a 35m max dive for 12 minutes…. Famous last words… I was warned there would be multiple cards to be dealt with at depth – and the obligatory bail out ascent from depth -hooray!
Down to the end of the pontoon, all checks good, entry good and descended at good speed to 35m, manual set point changed at 25m no issues. Swam along the wall and back for the expected 10m, had a couple of manageable cards. Coming up on 10 mins Turned to Mark R. and said I’m cold lets ascend, he gives me the ok, I turn to Mark P and am about to say the same when I’m presented with the “You’ve got a headache” – fantastic my favourite, no faffing here, bail out was perfect, less than 10 seconds, buoyancy bang on. I give both Marks the thumbs up – but then it all goes a bit pear shaped….
For some bizarre reason I decide “hey what the hell – lets deploy my smb” – I can only put this down to the narcosis and that on every other dive from day 2 onwards I did a deployment from max depth. So off I go, bag out, open it up, start to inflate from my reg (no easy inflate!), and what a result the reg free flows.
So I mess around for a good 30 seconds, until Mark R has had enough and comes over and stuffs his long hose in my mouth – thanks – I was really needing it by that time. I switch off the bailout and we ascend together to 20m all good. Then back on the bail out to check its ok. Once we confirm that its back on the loop.
From that point on the rest of the dive was a bit of a blur – more cards and finally out on 60 mins.
What did I learn, well narcosis definitely makes you do stupid things. Whats the first thing Mark said to me, why didn’t you swtich it off and then do the quick open/close on the valve ? – doh I said – I wasn’t thinking ! But I sure thought about it long and hard after that.
So final dive, post dive scores all starting to look good, what’s the plan ?
Off we go again back to the end of the pontoon, Mark says because I didn’t do as the ascent from depth on my own bail out I had to do it again – fair enough I say, then because I didn’t manage the free flow effectively I had to do a good 3 mins of it at depth! Its good for you he says! Then we plan to work our way back to the shallow end of the quarry throwing in all the skills covered on the course, then with some final skills doing SCR on the platform in the shallows..
In we all go, straight down to 35m, yet another card for bailout, nice and smooth sub 10secs, mark gives me the ok – at last! Now time for 3 minutes of simulated free flow; managed manually by working the valve, this went well.
Up we go, good ascent speed, over the brow and onto the 20m shelf, back onto the loop, bail out stowed again. More cards all covered nicely, I even remembered to cancel the battery warning! At the shallow end bag up , good ascent up to to 8m, over to the platform for SCR. Mark demos, I follow suit, all seems to go quite well, I did it for what seemed ages. Then we moved off the platform to swap bailouts over…
All going good, then I notice, I’ve no dill left! Oh great, right – let’s not stuff this up, what’s a way out ? we’re half way through an exchange, I’ve just got Mark Rs tin his has a LP inflator on it, great – no problem, connect it up to the dill and all is good. But for some reason it won’t fit, I calm down – no it definitely won’t fit, what way out ? Ok I could but do I need to ? We’re only at 5m, ok big decision; I check the O2 level – all good 130 bar. So I opt for using the O2 as dill, so I can ascend to surface on the loop. In with the O2 all good, buoyancy back good, I’m at 6m. I give Mark P the thumbs up, he gives me the head shake and sign to have a think. OK – next option, take a breath from the bail out and push it into the loop venting some of the high ppO2. That works, the ppO2 goes down – which is good as my buoyancy has gone to cock and I’m at 8m ! At last all stabilised, still at 8m, we swap tins a couple more times and then I’m given the thumbs up and we’re done.
So what did I learn on dive 8, stop, think, act, don’t rush and remember to look at your gauges more! There are many ways out if you get into a problem.
It’s fair to say I was done – well and truly !
So over 5 days, 8 dives, well over 9 hours of bottom time, and a couple of Huntsman mixed grills thrown in for good measure.
Only one final thing to do; review the exam paper; I had made a few minor hiccups but all in all ok – until we noticed that I had missed an entire sheet of questions, I quickly knocked them off and we completed the review fine.
At last we were done, I had completed the course and Mark signed me off MOD 1 with deco – 45m max !
I left NDAC at about 7.30pm it was all a bit of blur that 140 miles home!
I want to say a huge thank you to Mark Powell for his patience and instruction over the week it, this was the most intensive course I have ever done and he made it really enjoyable and interesting, I’m already looking forward when its time for my MOD2 – hopefully some time next year in the autumn and hopefully he will have me back !
I also want to say a big thanks to Mark Rowe of DiveBritain who acted as safety diver, it was a pleasure diving with you, give me a call when your done on the IDEST course and we can go for a dive!
So I’ll end with – was it worth it ?
Yes – no question – the more I dive the unit, the happier and more comfortable I am. I still dive OC with the family, but am hoping to get to my MOD 2 late next year.