Fork in the road.

For a while now I have been wanting to start technical dive training, however I was faced with the usual stereotypes and confusion about the path to tech, so I’ve decided to write up this report about the journey I am currently on.

After completing my rescue cert through PADI with just over 70 dives under my belt, I faced a big decision in my diving ‘career’. Do I continue up the recreational pathway and get my dive masters and eventually my instructors, to lead a life of underwater babysitting and lugging other people’s gear around but have endless job opportunities all over Australia and the world, or technical diving where I would be going deeper and further than most recreational divers would ever go, but be faced with the more serious side of diving where death can be just one mistake away.

Faced with such appealing choices, I needed some inspiration to help me decide and needed to know for sure if I was even destined to progress any further than I had. So, it was time to make multiple phone calls and emails, and browse through hundreds of forums and dodgy Internet sites to read up on other people’s fame, misfortune and regrettable decisions.

As I suspected, being a dive master and instructor just didn’t seem like my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some cracker dive masters around who really know their stuff and who love their job, but for me it just didn’t seem like enough of a challenge and adventure. Diving all over pretty reefs is fun and enjoyable, but it was getting to the stage in my diving where an hour dive on a reef would morph into my own personal training session and I would proceed to rip off all sorts of gear and simulate failures and emergencies just to keep myself entertained for the whole dive.

Diving with one cylinder also seemed like a massive limitation to what I could achieve on these dives, and as with any young ambitious diver, I had dreams of diving deeper and further; and there was only so far you could safely go with one tank of air. The stories of Andrea Doria, a pinnacle dive in the eyes of many extremely well trained technical divers and the burial place of many others; was among some of the diving goals on my bucket list as was cave and ice diving.

So why technical diving and not just enjoy being a run of the mill recreational diver? Why the burning desire to progress?

Technical diving will not only enable me to dive deeper and further than I have ever done before, but also to dive safer and have a greater understanding of the theories of decompression and how to respond to diver emergencies. It will also expand the range of diving I can achieve, from diving in wrecks like the Andrea Doria in deep, dark turbulent waters to the penetrating underwater caves in yutacan Mexico where the visibility is often hundreds of meters and the only way out is the way you came in.

So I decided to find out what I could about technical diving to make sure it was what I really wanted to do. I scheduled meetings with two different instructors within Brisbane to get their point of view and see what I could accomplish through them. It was not an easy choice as both instructors had so much to offer and it was quite a difficult decision to make. Twin backmount diving with GUE or Technical Sidemount with TDI?

There are multiple avenues to enter Tech diving with and most agencies and dive shops will have some technical courses on offer, but I was after the best instructor to suit my needs and take me where I wanted to go.

After two coffees, a grill’d burger and several hours of unrelenting interrogation on my behalf, I eventually made up mind and decided to pursue Technical Sidemount Diving through Daren Marshall of Blue Label Diving.

Daren has been a purely technical instructors for many years and has an outstanding reputation amongst the Tech community within S.E QLD. Having a very deep tech diving background and a broad range of diving systems and gear configurations under his belt it is safe to say he is a very experienced diver and instructor. After consulting some diving friends who knew of Daren, I was sure I had made the right choice.

After discussing many different ideas, I finally came up with a plan of attack which is best suited to my ambitions. This plan is not for everyone, nor is it set it stone. I’m taking this one step at a time to build my experience levels between courses which will hopefully enable me to be the best technical diver I can be.

Step one: Technical Sidemount.

Step two: Advanced Nitrox.

Step three: Helitrox (an alternative to Decompression Procedures).

Step four. Advanced wreck.

Step five. Cave course in Thailand!!!

Step six. To be continued…………

This is only the start of what I hope to be a long and challenging diving career where I can achieve my own personal goals. If it is your dream to pursue Technical Diving then I would highly recommend you contact a Technical Diving Training Agency near you and get started!

Stay tuned for course reports and to follow my progress!


G'day! I'm a local Brisbane diver who can be commonly found lurking at the GC Seaway at high tide. Always free and happy to dive!!!

Trere are 3 comments on this post

  1. Profile photo of Bruce Muir
    Bruce Muir June 24, 2014, 9:19 am

    Nice write TractorSon, may your journey begin… 😀

  2. Daren Marshall June 24, 2014, 9:38 am

    I’m blushing a little Michael ! Thank you very much for placing your confidence with Blue Label. It means a great deal.

  3. Nick Kermode June 24, 2014, 11:38 pm

    Great article Michael! I can tell you from first hand experience that you are embarking on a fantastic diving journey with the courses you have chosen and also the instructor. With your intelligence and skill in the water you will get so much out of working with Daren as he will never let you coast through finding things easy.
    One you left out of your plan that is invaluable though is “Solo Diver”. I know the tech skills you have learnt and will learn are all about redundancy, self rescue, self reliance etc and after passing tech sidemount you will feel like it’s back to kindergarten but it is a cert that lets you enjoy your other certs. Many operators will have to see it before allowing you to go solo even though tech sidemount is way beyond the “Solo Diver” course. For instance you want to do a long dive on The Brisbane in your sidemount and don’t have a buddy. A solo cert allows you to say to the operator bye bye see you in 2 hours and use your quals instead of being paired up with someone who is diving on air not a best mix, and you just know is going to signal 50 bar after 30 or 40 mins.
    Congratulations on your choices and good luck with your journey. Would be happy to have a dive anytime.

Leave a comment to this post Required fields are marked *