Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back in the deep for more lovely Trouble

Dita is back (aka Trouble) sadly sans Chaos, but one is plenty for us - a wonderful woman ful of mischief and an excellent diver! Today Alan is taking Dita for a nice deep one off Gozo, getting back into the swing of things ready for the Stubborn and Le Polynesien over the next week or so!

As the recreational season starts to run at a slightly easier pace, its the perfect time for Teccies to drop in and enjoy some quiet and beautiful dives on the deeper sites of the island.

We'll fill you in on how Dita enjoys her diving this week as she goes.
For now, we're filling a whole bunch of twins and stage for the Guinness World Record attempt training taking place on the Divewise side of things.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Extending the Maltese Technical Community - Instructors Become Students Again

Its never too late to stop learning, as our latest set of students prove - they're already instructors and well experienced in the dives of Malta - but they've taken on the new challenge of learning to go deeper, longer and safer.
Sadly, its well known on the island that many divers visit depths past 40m without proper training and equipment. Its something that we don't tolerate here, and our instructor friends from around the island don't do it, of course, but with growing numbers of enquiries into these deeper sites, centres everywhere want to start showing people how to do it properly, which means enabling their staff to do it!
Techwise steps in, offering especially tailored courses to fit round the hectic schedule of those working in the diving industry - which translates to night classes and spreading the course dives over time to allow instructors to use their days off to learn more. We're flexible and just happy to get as many people diving safely as possible. We love that these instructors want to set a good example to their students and clients - everybody wins!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wild Weekends with the Lock/Fearn Franchise

More returning friends are lighting up the Techwise shop once more. Gareth and Howard slipped over for a sneaky weekend of awesome technical diving on the best wrecks of Malta. The Polynsien, The Southwald and the Stubborn graced the menu - proving that even on a long weekend you can really get some depth and see some sights!

Poor guys, they go home and only today our two Italian technical friends spotted TWO Mola Mola Sunfish off the side of the Polynesien. Jammy!

Its unbelievable how fast the season is passing - blink and you're already into next week and a new set of tecchie divers! Soon it will be Autumn already and time for a return visit from Mr Collard, one of our favourite rebreather boys!

Can't wait guys, come on back any time!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

103m Trimix Course Dive - Now We're talking!

Congratulations to James Le and Hayden Schembri, who just completed their Exploratory Trimix Course with Paul Toomer at Techwise Malta. The grande finale of the course took them to 103m (and yes there was much fighting between the Black Sheep lads to register just a few centimetres deeper than their counterparts!).

Its been months in planning as Hayden and James are long term dive partners but their international jobs have kept them apart until now! We've heard nothing but hilarious stories about skill-drill time, underwater sign-language (keep it clean boys!) and of course the dive itself.

Hayden reported feeling like being in a dream when he surfaced, and having no words to describe the experience. We know that it's something both of these divers have been yearning for for a long time - so we're really chuffed for them.

The group went to the Cargo ship, through the glassy blue waves of Malta. The photos are really something else! (Check out our Facebook group to see these!). Thanks to Alan and Robin for support diving!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Reccie - Techie its all the same now!!

Our newest family member - the Poseidon recreational rebreather! These lovely little fellas are making their way to Divewise as we type... and it could mean a whole new era for diving...

OK, so it's recreational - but look at this shiny new kit!
B E A Uuuutiful!

You don't have to be a technical diver to try this fantastic new bit of kit - you don't even have to be a diver! With the recreational rebreather you can BEGIN your diving adventure on a rebreather.

The difference between this shiny little number and conventional open circuit SCUBA is that when you breathe out on SCUBA, your exhalation is lost into the ocean - rebreathers recycle your breathe, adding just the right balance of Oxygen to let you breathe it again - less waste, less air carried - more time in the water!

Sounds good eh? We're ridiculously excited to bust them out of their boxes the minute they arrive and start getting to know them inside out - we'll keep you posted about all the neat features and benefits - our dives on them and when you too can book on to ... what shall we call it DRD? - Discover Rebreather Diving!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gozo the Great - Technical Diving on the Honey isle!

Back from another awesome day out on the waves - today Techwise was over on Gozo getting deep and dirty - really getting inside of the 2 wrecks of the Cominoland and the Karwela. Down the stairways, through the body of these great machines - nothing can top it - and all under the careful watch of a top-notch tec instructor and dive guide.

Of course you need to be fully qualified and skilled up to perform such feats under a bit of depth - but all those courses are available from Techwise too - TDI, IANTD, SSI TEK XR and DSAT - Lots of capitals and acronyms - and lots of lovely learning to be done.

Meanwhile, Richard is slavering over the Helo 2 and considering a nice little pre pre pre Christmas treat! Love it!

Ah, but its late now and there's gases to be mixed... so off we pop, into the night... ready for more fun tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Getting Back into the Tec way

This week we had a Divemaster and Technical qualified customer roll up to our doors - he was well supplied with certs, but it had been a while since he'd been diving, even in a recreational sense. Originally he only wanted to dive recreational, but after seeing the places that our tec divers were going out to - the bug suddenly bit once again!

So how do you get back into the Tec way after a bit of a break? Luckily for us, we're flexible, even up to the last minute - originally booked for a recreational , our customer was able to dip in on the reef with some other tec trainees and bust out a skill circuit or two. This is really essential - to get back in to complicated manoeuvres and specialized skills within the safety of the house reef and a great group of friends and instructors - there to help should you struggle.

From then on its just edging your limits back up to your previous standards - start night and easy with a shore dive at Gozo maybe - take in the Inland sea as you simulate deco-stops on your way up from the reef. Then when you're ready for something meatier - check out the Blenhiem Bomber or the Stubborn, and finally whip-cream topping your week with a jolly on the Poly! Well - we'll see - he has a wife on holiday with him after all!

This array of diving makes Malta JUST the island to tempt teccies back in after a stay away... and luckily for them Techwise is JUST the centre to get them back into the swing of things safely!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tying up your Technical on a bit of Tickle

Ok hands up, I've been neglected the blog a little! You just can't believe how busy we are! We have Richard right through from Deep course into Tec levels all the way to Tec Deep, and even finished his course with a trickle of tickle in his tank - as per the new standards and course arrangements can allow! Now he's onto his IANTD Normoxic Trimix! Talk about a voracious appetite for learning!

Felix is visiting for some skills circuits and is being joined by Marco who is having a bit of a technical scuba review, just busting out some drills on the reef. So we can look forward to a week of excellent technical dives to get those two into the swing of things!

We've also become part of yet another training association - widening the range of course we can offer to our customers. Our new friends at SS Teck XR will be featuring more and more on Techwise website in the future as we start to offer their courses along side those of TDI, IANTD, DSAT & Paul Toomer Rebreather Training.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Respect the Tec! - Customer Service in the Technical Diving World

Today we are off to Gozo with some Technical divers from the Netherlands, who walked in on the recommendation of another customer.  We'll be having a nice long dive off the Blue Hole of Gozo, possibly followed by a little pootle on the wreck of the Cominoland.

Its been a really busy summer for Techwise so far.  Lots of bookings for holiday makers and locals alike.  I think its also a sign of the growth of the Technical Diving community that we are now welcoming walk in customers for Technical diving. A quick check dive of drills and equipment on the house reef, and we are ready to go! 

In the past it was so selective and niche a market that customers had to really research to find technical services for their needs. Now with expansion of technical diving businesses - you can shop around on holiday - with many centres within walking distance of each other - all offering technical diving. 

This is fantastic for the sport.  The scarcity of this service once meant that if business owners were tempted to be awkward, lazy or give bad service, customers were likely still to put up with such problems because there was no other place to go. Now they have choices, all business are being kept on their toes in the customer service department - and also evolving to realise that there is no such thing as a 'typical' techie - receiving females, young, old, large build and small - and everything in between!

At Techwise, we have always felt that great service is of utmost importance - whether your customer can vote with their feet or not! We like to think that's why we receive so many bookings - and even more tellingly - repeat bookings!

To all of our customers - thanks for making our work so easy - we love diving with you! To all our customers not yet known - come on down, you'll find a ready welcome!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Diving the Southwold, Polynesian and... the Britannic???

Techwise is a flurry with divers this week. As I sit and type, I'm up keeping our gas blender 'sanity-company' while we work magic with the molecules late into the night. Demmand is so high for technical gas fills and rentals that a bit of midnight mixer panel mischief is actually neccessary!

Its great to see the rising interest in Technical Diving in Malta and around the world. Frow what we see here, it is spanning generations and genders too! Only today we certified yet another female Tec diver on the first rung of her IANTD ladder. Meanhile, reporter-photographers Gareth and Howard are checking out the Southwold, with the Polynesien lined up for tomorrow - using their technical skills not just to go deep for deepsake, but to spend time getting great shots and helping to show the world what's down there.

Of course, we've got plenty worth reporting coming up too! Paul Toomer, out rebreather expert has been invited to make a dive on the legendary Britannic! Eons of planning preparation go into a project such as this (and it is a project, a mission and much bigger than a simple dive) so we'll be keeping you up to date with progress as we hear all about - so will you!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Rebreathers Return!

The infamous Paul Toomer is back on Maltese shores and beginning a new rebreather course today with a fresh faced student.

There are many reasons why people use rebreathers, with a system that cleans your exhaled air and makes it breathable for another use - only small amounts of gas can be made to last for hours. This is a real plus when you're diving deep and expect to be hanging around in deco for quite some time.

There's also the more gentile benefit that in closed circuit, no bubbles are produced. This means that you are less offensive to the sensibilities of underwater organisms that might shy away from open circuit divers.

Whatever the reason you decide to go Closed Circuit, it's a heavy investment in time, equipment and education, so make sure to take your time in preparing for this transition. Then, when you're all set - give us a call and get the best training in town!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Poly by Golly

Ohhhhh yeaaaaah. Techwise just got back off the Poynesian and everyone is beaming as usual. This is the kind of dive that makes the trials fothe Trimix course allllll worth it!. At 60m, Trimix training is a must. But down there waiting for you are Barracudas amongst other wildlife and a fantastic wreck.

Joanne Simms of Odyssey Dive Centre Manchester dropped in with us and had a blast. There was a bit of moment of madness. Jo looked down to perform her NOTOX switch and found the 'permanent' marker had rubbed clean off during the dive! Luckily a bit of back up masking tape with biro revealed the mix and all was well!

A little bit of current made the team glad they'd set their deco mixes to the partial pressure to allow for a little exertion, butall in all, everybody agreed that it was a great morning. No doubt this was compunded by a leisurely lunch in Marsa Skala before returning.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Shiny on Trial!! Could this be it for the VR3?!

Oooohoooooh! Shiny! Yep, folks, Alan's lovely new Helo2 Computer arrived for testing yesterday. So far, all our Technical Trimix divers have been VR3 converts, but when we heard about a near challenger coming out, we had to take a sneaky peak.

The review is so far that after re-adjusting to the Suunto button use compared to other models, the display is fantastic and its a cracking little piece of kit for your advanced technical diving.

We'll be letting you know more about its performance as Alan gets out and about with the Helo2 strapped on.

For now, we just thought we'd rub it in that the water is warm and we're off for some long deep dives off of the beautiful isle of Gozo today. Well done to Chris Hardy, who passed his Tec Trimix and all the best to Steve, who will hopefully be completing dive 12 of the Tec Deep Diver course today!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sweet and Stubborn!

Oh my goodness me... so forgive me in advance because I'm about to gush.

This week, as a newly qualified Tec Deep Diver, I was taken with some of our customers and highly experienced tec diving staff to enjoy a pleasure dive on HMS Stubborn of the beautiful Maltese coast.

I'd probably gotten into Tec diving for a less than fantastic reason - working in various diving centres, I'd acquired a lot of equipment in lieu if payment during harder financial times (dry suit, 2 regulators). Add to this some suggestive gifts from an old flame who wanted to convert me (back plate and harness) and a loaner from friends who were hell bent on me enjoying the deep quarries of Britain... I was sat with a whole tec set bar the twins!

I love to learn, and after becoming an Instructor, I felt it was time to become a student again (for the rest if anything!). Continuing to learn is so important for instruction - it gives you new enthusiasm, more skills and knowledge and also an empathy for those who are meeting challenges on their courses.

And that's how it began. I liked all the ideas behind Tec Diving - highly organised, backed-up and always in the aim of utmost safety.. but I wasn't sure how it was going to reward me in a sense of something to be passionate about. I'm not a massive military history fan, and cold, dark boxes of slate didn't thrill me either.

Despite this, I began the course with close friends both as my buddy and instructor. Even if I never Tec dived after the course, I will always treasure the fun we had on all those weekends of drilling and straining - learning to dive all over again!

I made it to Tec Diver Level 1 just in time to move to Malta for a summer of fun. Under the expertise of Techwise staff, I reached Tec Deep Diver and enjoyed the change from 4 degrees and limited viz, to a warm 20 on the temperature and metres of blue to enjoy. We'd seen the beautiful scenic dives around Gozo's Blue hold and Inland sea - but everyone kept telling me the best was yet to come. I wasn't sure how – wasn’t one wreck just like another - a place for life to grow into an artificial reef?.

So I had my doubts as we powered out to the site by boat. Would it be worth the fettling and equipment tinkering, the analysing and the sweating in a dry suit on the surface?!?!

The answer, of course is an elated YES! Absolutely amazing and now I can't wait to return! The beautiful rush of 'sky diving' down into the blue and watching the great hulk of the HMS Stubborn silently appear from a misty outline turning to a real and beautiful sight to see. The peaceful empty ocean surrounding us. The feeling of sneaking a peak where so few others have been, and even better to share it with close friends. This is a dive I could never have done on recreational gear - those who have I would call crazy. Barely a minutes view of the wreck and all of the danger added! Who would do that!? But now the effort of the training paid off, 20 lovely minutes wander up and down its length, the fish flitting by our eyes as we scanned the carcas of this wartime machine, perfectly preserved by the seas cocoon, almost untouched by time, but for the growth of pretty algae.

Even as we left, we continued to grin and enjoy the commradery. Nine of us floating effortlessly at the deco lines, smiling and signalling how great the dive had been! I saw it now... darkness and cold didn't really bother me. Bravery I can do... but not bravado... here we were all equal - newbies and old hands, all alike in our joy and wonder at the treasures that the deeps hold, and the joy of diving!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gas Giddy

The Techwise boys are out to Gozo today to dive the Blue Hole and the Inland Sea. They are clocking up Tec Dives 10 and 11 for students on their Tec Deep Diver Course. Its a truly beautiful place to dive deep, white sandy bottom, then up folling the reef with an amazing array of colourful coral and algae. As you enter into the passage to the Inland Sea, look out for John Dory Fish.

As they prepare for the dives, the shop floor is a flurry of activity. People mark their slates, while others analyze their gas mixes in stage cylinders that will help them to exit the water a little quicker after loading Nitrogen at such depths.

Understanding the behaviour of gases and their relationship to your body during dives - its an essential component of Technical Diving, even more so as you progess to Trimix Courses and dives. It requires an almost paranoic care in checking and rechecking the mixes for your safety at depth. Analyzing the mix of gases is each diver's personal duty, just like on the Enriched Air Diving Course from the recreational specialties.

One way to understand gases in a more intimate way is to take the DSAT Gas Blender Course, which enables you to mix TextEnriched Air, and - with an extra course - Trimix. You understand better the way that gases interact with each other, their characteristics and considerations. It also means that if you decide to be ultra-careful, you can even see the making of your gases from start to finish, giving you full control of your safety.

So as the final strips of gaffer-tape marks the mix and MOD, we wish the Techwise staff and students all the best and the greatest success on their course dives.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trimix - Techies and Tickle...

Do you remember 10 years ago, maybe a little more, when the word Nitrox began to trickle down into divers' vocabulary? People said, 'it's the way forward' about the benefits of Text Enriched Air diving, despite the extra education necessary.

You may find pretty soon that the same might be being said of Text Trimix diving, which is becoming so popular in technical diving that for many, it is considered the natural compliment to the Text Tec Deep course and is taken soon after achieving this.

Trimix, just like Enriched Air Nitrox has its own unique set of benefits and limitations or considerations. It requires highly accurate and rigid decompression stops, with less distance between stops, resulting in more stops before surfacing. Just as with Nitrox, different schools take different approaches to educating divers about this new set of skills and tools.

Here at Techwise we teach DSAT, IANTD and TDI courses, covering a range of these different approaches and disciplines. We figure the more options available, the better we can accommodate students to let them pick the perfect mix for their diving. And as you might know by know, when we're talking Trimix, getting just the right mix is pretty important!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Deeper Meaning...

As we start a new week with a new class of DSAT Tec Deep Students, its gets the cogs whirring about just what it is that makes the course so special.

Perhaps its the challenge. Some might suggest that there's a delight in holding your achievement over others - even at recreational levels most divers have come across this sort of person. But really, your only competition is yourself in technical diving. Your actions must be driven by a value that you cherish, it has to be worht the effort and the risk. You improve only to beat yourself, to further yourself. And at depth, in reality, you must be able to rely on just yourself. Holding outside opinion in to high a priority can only act as a distraction, detracting from your sole focus of achieving the dive in safety.

In order to do this, we become students once again, a joy in itself - learning new skills in theory and also in practice. Of course there is also all the lovely new shiny equipment to enjoy too! Maybe we miss the feeing of excitement and achievement that we felt so long ago when we took our first breath underwater?! Diving on a twinset and wing does mean that we almost learn to dive all over again, with different limitations and possibilities. We must relearn motor skills so that we reach to the right place instinctively - and this is not always the same place that we reached to on our recreational kit. We even learn a new language, different jargon and references.

And of course there is the temptation that taunts every human - to explore, to reach dive sites that were previously barred to us by air and decompression limits. There is something profound about pausing to absorb the quiet beauty of an untouched part of the world. To feel a deeper meaning, a connection that only those who will put in the time and the work can feel...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Summer Start Up

We're already having a fantastic year so far here at Techwise, and the Summer is starting to warm up perfectly. You can feel it in your bones round here that it’s gonna be a good'un.

As more divers want to push themselves further, acquiring new skills and achieving new heights (or depths!) in their diving, Technical Diving is something that people are becoming more and more familiar with and curious about.

Rebreather diving is also growing in popularity and for both of these kids of diving, Techwise are perfectly placed to help newcomers to do their best in this arena, with years of expertise and experience. We currently offer TDI, DSAT, and IANTD training as well as Paul Toomers (Diving Matrix) Rebreather courses.

So far this month we've already had a great laugh and a lot of learning with Sentinel Rebreather student Al Rogers, as well as some 'think pink' moments as our magenta-headed summer staff, Lucy completed her DSAT Tec Deep. You really can't loose out here, whether you finish your course on the Stubborn, or through the awesome natural features of Gozo's Blue Hole and Inland Sea.

This week we also wrapped up an Advanced Nitrox course, and we're also just waiting for the wind to die down a little in time for a dive on the Polynesien. This wreck is a little bit deeper than deep, and we'd really recommend Trimix Training for a clear head on such a dive.

But all the challenges and training that we go through to reach these beautiful places make the achievements of such dives all the more satisfying. To dive a wreck is one thing - but to do it in a safe and accomplished manner really takes your enjoyment to the next level - and that's what Technical and Rebreather Diving is all about - the next level!