training required for Coolidge?

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training required for Coolidge?

Postby combers » Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:51 am

(sorry if this is posted in the wrong place - wasn't sure if it was a technical training question or a wreck question... mods please feel free to move if it is appropriate!)

I have done quite a bit of reading about the Coolidge recently, and it is quite quickly making its way to the top of my "must do" dive sites.

I have seen that some of the dive operators there will take people on "trust me" dives that really are beyond their training if they build up their experience on the site over a week or so.

That isn't how I roll. So I was wondering what level of training would make it a worthwhile place to visit for say 10 days? If anyone has been there, is recreational "deep diving" training sufficient to get you to enough interesting parts to stay satisfied? (I suspect not). Or would you start to get bored after a couple of days of mooching around near the top?

Would it be worth getting into the more technical training (adv nitrox/deco procs/extended range) before going there?

These tech courses are all ones that I want to do at some stage, so I guess that the question then is whether it is worth doing the training then doing the trip, or doing the trip, building up an insatiable appetite for more, then doing the training and doing ANOTHER trip?? :D
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Andy » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:28 am

combers wrote:I have seen that some of the dive operators there will take people on "trust me" dives that really are beyond their training if they build up their experience on the site over a week or so.


Yes, most of the operators will take people down to the stern at 60m+ on a single tank without blinking an eyelid.

I am the first to admit that "personal depth limits" are (for me) deeper in warm, clear water... but I start getting twitchy at 35m on a single tank, 60m is just plain nuts.


That isn't how I roll. So I was wondering what level of training would make it a worthwhile place to visit for say 10 days? If anyone has been there, is recreational "deep diving" training sufficient to get you to enough interesting parts to stay satisfied? (I suspect not). Or would you start to get bored after a couple of days of mooching around near the top?


With the caveat that I've never actually been to the Coolidge, but you have to resign yourself to the fact that all of your dives will be guided. The guides will take you on deeper dives, they will involve decompression and the guides will control your deco schedule. They will also be in the lead during penetration dives.

The question is - how much of that are you comfortable with?

Would it be worth getting into the more technical training (adv nitrox/deco procs/extended range) before going there?


Yes, but what I've been told is that you have to be qualified as an Extended Range diver to be able to do your own deco schedules, even then you will still probably be guided.

To a certain extent, the more courses that you do before you go... the less you'll feel comfortable doing the dives the guides take you on. There is a certain level of ignorance that is bliss!

The types of courses that I'd suggest you think about are:

1. Something that gives you exposure to diving in a twinset - for me, the golden rule of deeper diving is having more gas! Yes, you can get more gas by carrying stage tanks but for wreck penetration having the carry a stage is a pain.

2. A course that goes into some detail about decompression theory and the conduct of decompression diving

3. A course that really teaches you about various penetration techniques


There are plenty of courses around that fit the bill, but because I am so shameless I will brazenly promote our courses! :lol:

The "perfect" set of courses would be GUE Fundamentals, TDI Advanced Nitrox & Decompression Procedures and our PADI Advanced Wreck course. But this is a fairly large time/financial commitment. Doing all three does put you at the far end of the curve in terms of being aware of how much you are trusting the guides... maybe wanting a little bit of ignorance is not a bad thing so you can enjoy the trip!!!

In which case, I would suggest doing TDI Advanced Nitrox & Decompression Procedures, our one day Overhead Protocols workshop and come diving with us for a day on a decent wreck so you can get more of a feel for wreck penetration. The nice thing about the Overhead Protocols workshop is that it doesn't have any pre-requisites, whereas our Advanced Wreck course does require you to have a basic wreck or cavern course done first - more time.

If you look around, you will find other options than our courses. A well taught basic wreck course will add value, though I suspect you'll really have to look into that long and hard to make a choice of where to do it. In terms of tech courses you can look at IANTD and DSAT courses - both of which are available in NZ. Silent Solutions (Mark) is an IANTD instructor and I have no doubt that he would teach a very good course, I'd also suggest looking at Pete Mesley who teaches both DSAT and TDI. Getting your entry level tech course to be as good as it can be will pay dividends when it comes to diving afterwards, so hunt around at what options are available and get it right for you.

These tech courses are all ones that I want to do at some stage, so I guess that the question then is whether it is worth doing the training then doing the trip, or doing the trip, building up an insatiable appetite for more, then doing the training and doing ANOTHER trip?? :D


For me, this is a no-brainer.... if the courses are done well, you're not having much time to look around and enjoy the dives in a calm, relaxed manner. If I was paying $2-4k for a diving holiday then I would want to go diving, not do a course! I would make exceptions when the courses aren't available on your home turf, but if you have the options at home to do the courses in the timescale that suits you - then why eat in to your holiday time?

EDIT: Oooops, sorry..... misread what you wrote! I thought you were talking about doing the training whilst on the holiday. You could certainly split the courses so you do some before you go, and some afterwards... it may be an option to find the right balance between ignorance and paranoia for your first trip! The real question is do you think you'd go back? I do want a trip to the Coolidge, I also want to go to Mexico, to Bikini Atoll, to Chuuk Lagoon, toe Scapa Flow.... and don't forget you have the Lermontov practically on your doorstep!
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Cameron_R » Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:35 am

Andy wrote:...
They will also be in the lead during penetration dives.

...

you have to be qualified as an Extended Range diver to be able to do your own deco schedules, even then you will still probably be guided.


I have done the Coolidge, and Andy's right, you have no choice. Unless you want to break the law, you will be guided on EVERY dive. Penetration or not, Deco or not, deep or shallow, regardless of your certification level you will be guided. If you don't follow your guide, you won't be allowed back in the water.
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby petemes » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:01 pm

Hi Sean,

I have been to the Coolidge now 5 times and it is a great place to dive. in terms of getting the most out of your diving there Adv eanx and Deco procs would be an absolute minimum. You say that you are thinking of getting this anyway so why not do the programs because this is EXACTLY the reason for doing the course.

Average depths on the wreck will be about 35-45m. Forget about the stern - waste of time and considered "Ego" dives. Dont need it there is so much to see on the wreck without destroying a dive to say that you have been to the stern. Pool in 55m of water. Engine room 45-48m. Deep air diving is really not promoted these days but you still can get away with it in the tropics. 50m on air is pretty much frouned upon nowdays but hundreds of thousands of dives have been done on the coolidge. So I guess its your call.

But on a single tank dive penetrating the wreck - MADNESS!!!

As for non guided dives, they say that all dives have to be guided but this is simply not the case. Noone wants people who dont know what the hell they are doing to go out alone and kill themselves. So non guided dives is something that happens on the day once they get to know you. So its your call to install confidence in these guys. All the dives I did were non guided dives with our team. But again I was responsible for them.

The best thing to do is get trained, get some practice at these depths here before you go, get dive fit. Then when you go TRY to go with someone of similar experience and training or better so you have a buddy (you will be lumped with some numpty of you go alone!) Dive the wreck and talk to the guides and say that you dont want to see everything on the first dive and like taking it easy. Dont swim to keep up with the guides take it at your own pace.

Then after a few days THEN request to do your own stuff. but penetration without a guide in those depths is really not wise. Unless you are working a single area for a period so you get to know it. Many people have died in the Coolidge and mainly Instructors!!!! It may be in the tropics but it is still a hazardous wreck.

I am running an Adv Wreck Pen course in Feb, can do the Adv eanx and Deco before that. I promise you will enjoy your Coolidge trip 1000000% more when you are in control of your deco and gas managment etc etc.

They have some strange deco profile that they make everyone do. When asked where it comes from they all say "we have always done it!" but noone knows.

Pete Mesley


combers wrote:(sorry if this is posted in the wrong place - wasn't sure if it was a technical training question or a wreck question... mods please feel free to move if it is appropriate!)

I have done quite a bit of reading about the Coolidge recently, and it is quite quickly making its way to the top of my "must do" dive sites.

I have seen that some of the dive operators there will take people on "trust me" dives that really are beyond their training if they build up their experience on the site over a week or so.

That isn't how I roll. So I was wondering what level of training would make it a worthwhile place to visit for say 10 days? If anyone has been there, is recreational "deep diving" training sufficient to get you to enough interesting parts to stay satisfied? (I suspect not). Or would you start to get bored after a couple of days of mooching around near the top?

Would it be worth getting into the more technical training (adv nitrox/deco procs/extended range) before going there?

These tech courses are all ones that I want to do at some stage, so I guess that the question then is whether it is worth doing the training then doing the trip, or doing the trip, building up an insatiable appetite for more, then doing the training and doing ANOTHER trip?? :D
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby combers » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:05 pm

thanks guys... this is exactly the sort of info I am looking for.

This is one of those bucket list things... not something I will be doing anything about (in terms of courses, etc, OR the trip) until at least 2011... but it is great to have the information.

i will definitely be coming back to pick your brain some more Pete before I get on any plane! :)
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby petemes » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:17 pm

BUCKET LIST!!!!!???? Sean you arent THAT old!!!

No worries bud. Take it easy and enjoy your diving!

pete


combers wrote:thanks guys... this is exactly the sort of info I am looking for.

This is one of those bucket list things... not something I will be doing anything about (in terms of courses, etc, OR the trip) until at least 2011... but it is great to have the information.

i will definitely be coming back to pick your brain some more Pete before I get on any plane! :)
cheers
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Cameron_R » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:14 pm

petemes wrote:They have some strange deco profile that they make everyone do. When asked where it comes from they all say "we have always done it!" but noone knows.

Pete Mesley


Hey Pete, Aquamarine were using the Candian Navy tables (DCIEM) when we were there in 2008. The schedules were pretty conservative, and were tailored to the dive you were doing.


Also, Sean, you can do at least a week on that wreck without going inside it if you want. It is soo huge, and just so amazing that you can swim around it, and into those parts that are 'Open' to the outside (eg pool, cargo holds) for many many dives without getting bored at all.
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby NEMES1S » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:15 pm

Sean...as you might know Pete and I are currently doing the TDI Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures courses back to back.
And I can tell you I absolutely reccomend this course,and also having done the GUE Fundamentals course (Recently got my "Tech pass" as well :lol: ),I can assure you that these 3 courses will definately up your skills and knowledge and general dive awareness and really get you "Thinking".
(the "Thinking" aspect is what Andy refers to in regards to "ignorance is bliss" because these courses teach you to be far more aware of exactly what you are doing.)

The TDI courses Pete and I are currently doing with Jamie are just fabulous,in fact the Wreck Course,and GUE-F and this course have all just been absolutely off the board,the training and skills that these courses have really focused my diving in a manner that has seriously increased my enjoyment and understanding of this art of diving we all love,I enjoy these courses because the TDNZ team challenge me every time we train,and each time I walk away knackered but knowing without a doubt I have not only learned something.....but know I have progressed in my diving.

However there are people and agencies that will just run through the course by the basics and hand you a bit of plastic at the end of it,so sure you just go through the motions....but with Pete Mesley and the likes of the TDNZ crew they will give you a course with a quality and challenge so you will learn and progess.
But at the end of the day a huge chunk of it is how much YOU put into it,Pete and I have gone absolutely headlong into the TDI courses and I can see Pete has just taken to it like a duck to water,my adjustment to twins and trim etc wasnt easy but Pete has really shone as did a few of the others.
We are putting 150% in and in my opinion we are getting 200% out of it....

I think the SRD course has started the ball rolling... "thinking" and you allready have the bug....its all uphill from here dude... :lol:

Next stop for me "Cavern Diver" then "Extended range" then "Tech 1" of "Cave 1" ....MEXICO...!!!
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby petemes » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:49 am

Wow Rob! It is great to see such enthusiasm. This sort of keenness is contagious so DONT STOP! Jamie and Andy are great guys and have the right attitude when it comes to proper training. Its what everything is based upon!!

I hope to bring some exciting diving opportunities available for everyone (experience levels) both locally and internationally. So watch this space.

ITS ALL ABOUT THE DIVING!!!!!


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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby combers » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:14 pm

Your passion is infectious, guys.

I had a feeling even before doing the SRD course that I was opening up a whole new can of worms.

i sense some fun and challenging learning and diving ahead of me! :D
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Cameron_R » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:53 pm

Sean, I think the enthusiasm for training and getting trained everyone is showing on this thread is commendable, but my philosophy is that training is a means to an end. Not and end itself. If you have an opportunity to go do the Coolidge next month, GO!!! Don't wait 4 years just to get through 5 different courses because it will enhance your experience (even though it will), because the Coolidge will blow your mind right now, and you will come back buzzing with more enthusiasm than ever before.

I was very very luck early on in my diving to get to some once in a life time locations, and looking back now, I don't remember them thinking 'damn I wish I was better trained', I think 'Damn, what an amazing place that was, I am a lucky guy to have dived there at all' !!!!

I'm not for a second saying that training is not a good thing, as all who know me, know that I have done, and continue to do my fair share. I'm just saying that life is too short, and the oceans contain too many wonders to deprive yourself of the experience when the opportunities arrive (and you are able to do it safely!).
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Cameron_R » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:24 pm

Pete wrote:
Cameron_R wrote:(and you are able to do it safely!).


There in lies one of the key concepts of training.

I do agree though, sieze the day with what you have within the limits of your training, experience and ability.


Agreed Pete.

And I guess my main point is that the Coolidge is a dive site that IS within Seans competence level already. There must be 10's of thousands of dives done on that wreck every year. It is serviced by two very professional dive centres who will tailor dives to your wants, and abilities. I concede that the more experienced you are, the more there is to do on the Coolidge, but by golly, there is a lot to be done for every experience level.
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Cameron_R » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:34 pm

Can't fault your logic Pete :)

I'd take the opportunity as soon as it arises, because you never know if it will come up again.

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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Andy » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:05 pm

Cameron_R wrote:Sean, I think the enthusiasm for training and getting trained everyone is showing on this thread is commendable, but my philosophy is that training is a means to an end. Not and end itself. If you have an opportunity to go do the Coolidge next month, GO!!! Don't wait 4 years just to get through 5 different courses because it will enhance your experience (even though it will), because the Coolidge will blow your mind right now, and you will come back buzzing with more enthusiasm than ever before.


Why do I always end up finding myself sitting on the fence???? :lol:

I agree with the sentiment, Cameron... the courses aren't the end, they are the means. It's a decision making problem with a number of variables - total cost, "fun" return and time. I think the challenge is finding the right combination of courses and trips to get the best experience overall. There will many solutions to the decision problem that on paper are equally valid - it's just getting the right one for the person making the decision.


Cameron_R wrote:And I guess my main point is that the Coolidge is a dive site that IS within Seans competence level already. There must be 10's of thousands of dives done on that wreck every year. It is serviced by two very professional dive centres who will tailor dives to your wants, and abilities.


You've got to define "professional". No disrespect to the guys out in Vanuatu, but in my book taking people on deep dives on single tanks is not professional at all - it's damn stupid. Of those thousands of dives, I wonder how many are close calls with divers chugging through a single tank in next to no time at all.

Of course, you can choose to not go that deep - there must be enough in the <40m range to keep anyone happy for ages. But sometimes choices are not always rational when on holiday. In terms of finding that best trade-off solution to the decision, having a twinset would boost the "fun return" without putting the total time and cost up too much.
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Re: training required for Coolidge?

Postby Cameron_R » Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:55 am

Sorry I have been silent ... not ignoring you. Have just been away for the weekend. (Andy I like your fun factor :) )

Andy wrote: it's just getting the right one for the person making the decision.


Very true Andy. Sometimes I need to remember that not everyone is as gung ho as I am and that stress can ruin some holidays.

Andy wrote:You've got to define "professional". No disrespect to the guys out in Vanuatu, but in my book taking people on deep dives on single tanks is not professional at all - it's damn stupid. Of those thousands of dives, I wonder how many are close calls with divers chugging through a single tank in next to no time at all.

Of course, you can choose to not go that deep - there must be enough in the <40m range to keep anyone happy for ages. But sometimes choices are not always rational when on holiday. In terms of finding that best trade-off solution to the decision, having a twinset would boost the "fun return" without putting the total time and cost up too much.


Maybe Professional was the wrong word.

Everyone has different standards. You and your training organisation need to set the bar so you have a differentiator against your competition - that is, other instructors. A dive operator in a tiny pacific island who's bread a butter is putting people in the water diving, and who has some very strong competition 100m down the road may tend to slide a little down the scale - enough so that they can take peoples money for the big ego dives (as Pete M says) and still try and make sure people don't kill themselves all the time.

What I meant by the word was;
- they gave amazing dive briefs
- they were very strict on who was allowed to do what dive i.e. they have a progression of dives you need to go through with them, getting slightly 'harder' each dive eg they won't let you go into the cargo hold to see the trucks, until you've done the bow. They won't let you go to the pool until you've done x + y + z. (I think you get the picture?). If you are there long enough, or can prove yourself somehow, I am sure they'll leave you to do what ever you want as Pete M said.
- they always ensured you only did one deep dive per day, and only ever two dives in one day
- from what I saw, their hire equipment was in top condition.
- I asked if they'd let me dive with Tri-mix, but as I didn't have a cert, I got a pretty stern NO.
- they always had truck loads of bottles with reg's, clipped at several points on the ship and back on the reef/sand, so that anyone at all who needs it, can take it and use it.
- they tried very hard to tailor the days/dives/locations (remember they also have Million Dollar point) to our wants

My summary (and this is for Sean again), is that the Coolidge is a very safe place to dive. You could drive trucks through some of the open parts of the wreck - in fact there are several trucks in the cargo holds !!!! It is very open in places. It is usually quite clear water, it has warm water and a huge variety of options for you to choose from.

What you choose to do is your call. Ali and I never went inside the wreck once, apart from those areas with open exits always visible (eg cargo hold) and we had an AMAZING experience. I dont' feel like I missed out on anything.
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