Extended Range Diving
Your underwater adventure continues…
Having qualified as an SAA Club Diver, you are allowed to dive to a depth of 35 metres. With further training and experience you can become a Dive Leader, whereupon you’d then be qualified to dive to 50 metres. This is greater than most training bodies allow, however, it would be irresponsible of us to say “go ahead” to a newly-qualified diver, to allow them to go to that depth without some additional training and gaining of experience. Therefore, we will always encourage members to build-up gradually before going on to more advanced levels of diving. Moving-up through to Dive Leader and on to Dive Supervisor, gives you that gradual build-up of skills and experience which is essential for advanced diving.
Having also completed your Nitrox training, is a step to give you a more serious attitude in the planning of dives. As Nitrox has depth limits, you now have to start thinking in more detail about your dive.
Any diving that goes a bit further than normal sport diving, with regards to depth and time, and in conditions requiring additional training, can be considered extended range. For example:
This is not a definitive list, just an idea of what might be involved.
Note: The internet is full of people “at war” with their definition of what constitutes extended range and technical diving, we are not here to preach, just touch on the subject.
The theory for extended range diving is in-part covered in your SAA Club Diver training, but we would suggest that you should take the SAA Deep Rescue Course, which would enhance your knowledge and some of the skills you would require.
The practical side comes from diving with the more experienced divers in the club and gaining from their experience. Planning and putting into practice the theory, which ultimately can only come from doing the dives. Extended range diving is learned from within the club and is not a “ticket” but a stepping-stone towards technical diving training (should you want to go that far) which would be carried-out by an external training body.
Planning will take place well in advance; perhaps weeks or even months beforehand. In the case of a deep wreck dive for example, where time of year, water temperature, currents etc. would be crucial in allowing the dive to take place.
Working as a team, all aspects of the dive would be planned and roles allocated; with each member of the team being responsible for a particular task: Dive Marshal, safety, surface cover etc.
Usually the first thing people think about is changing from a single tank with a pony, to a twin-tank set-up, typically twin twelve or twin ten litre tanks.
These will require two separate regulator sets, if you already have a pony set-up this will usually suffice. The tanks can be used either as independent singles or joined together with a manifold valve; which can be shut or open, depending on how you intend to use them for a particular dive. For example, if you were using the same gas throughout, you can leave the manifold open (or closed). However, if you wanted to use air in one tank, and nitrox in the other, the manifold would be kept closed and you would change your regulators in-water to breathe either gas as required. Great care must be taken to ensure you use the correct regulator at the right time.
These are used to carry additional gas, for use either as a travelling gas which may be required to get you to a depth, before using a lean oxygen mix from your main cylinders; or a higher oxygen mix to be used in accelerated decompression on your ascent.
A normal BCD may not have enough lift capacity when carrying additional cylinders, and a wing type harness with a backplate may be required.
As you will be spending longer in the water, sometimes at greater depths, additional thermal wear may be required to make the dive comfortable. In British waters this is always a consideration.
Additional kit, such as a strobe to place on the shot line, to assist your return to the shot in low visibility. A hand reel with line, to be used if penetrating into a wreck. An additional SMB, to contact the surface in case of emergency. These are some of the pieces of equipment whose use you will have to practise, and be proficient in before attempting extended range diving.