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Wreck Penetration

Discussion in 'Q and A for Scuba Certification Agencies' started by jlcnuke, Nov 10, 2018 at 12:31 AM.

  1. jlcnuke

    jlcnuke Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: acworth ga
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    So, I have a strong interest in eventually doing wreck penetration diving (it's one of the most interesting things to dive I can think of). The thing is.... finding out what the appropriate training path to ensure I'm properly trained for it can be a bit difficult to understand.

    All of my recent training is through PADI. I'm rescue/deep/nitrox/drysuit/ppb/etc certified. I have a cavern diver course scheduled for the near future as I think that will provide me with training in some of the basics required for such an undertaking (and cave if I decide to go that route). PADI wreck diver seems to be non-penetration, however, so I'm wondering what path forward would provide the best training/certification to get me to a point where I could safely, confidently, and "trained properly" do wreck penetration dives. Any advice?
     
  2. dcg69

    dcg69 Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Netherlands
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    Hi Jlcnuke,

    in the PADI wreck dive specialty it's possible ( not mandatory though ) to make a penetration dive in the 4th ( last ) dive of the course..
    According to the PADI standards, these are the three conditions to penetrate a wreck ( copy/past from my wreck specialty instructor manual ):

    - Edge of light zone – You should never penetrate a wreck past the point where you can see the natural light of the entrance. For this reason you do not make penetration dives at night or in water so deep and murky that there is little or no natural light visible from inside the wreck.

    - Linear distance of 40 meters/130 feet –- The maximum total distance you enter a wreck should not exceed 40 meters/130 feet from the surface, even if you’re still in the light zone. Example: If the wreck is 30 meters/100 feet deep, the absolute maximum penetration is 10 meters/30 feet.

    - One-third of air supply – Wreck penetration uses the rule of thirds for air planning. Use one-third of your air to penetrate (which starts when you descend), one-third to exit and keep one-third in reserve. If that's enough for you to start on wreck diving,

    I would discuss with your instructor whether he/she plans wreck penetration as part of the course assuming there are wrecks in your area allowing to stick to the three rules above mentioned..

    You will learn the techniques for dive penetration, but - as always - there is no dive police in the water, it's up to you whether for recreational dives you stick to the rules or not.

    Cheers,
    dcg69
     
  3. Caveeagle

    Caveeagle Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: High Springs, FL
    1,112
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    I think cavern training you have planned is a good start. You should get lots more exposure to line drills and ooa, lost buddie drills, plus more actual in water time than what is usually possible diving from a boat.

    I will add a couple points to what dgc69 said..

    For overhead environments you really need to add redundancy. I know many people teach cavern in a basic open water kit, but if you are eventually seeking wreck penetration dives, past the daylight zone, why not get into the right gear from the start. (If funding permits)

    You need a high quality primary light and at least two appropriate backup lights. (Only one backup is required for cavern, but I would get used to having 2)

    Totally redundant regulators and gas supply. Sidemount seems to be all the rage, but for wreck penetratraton from a boat, BM doubles is better. (IMHO). I know If might seem like a big jump up in gear/cost, but if you are really going that route, you are going to have to buy the gear anyway, and you will get added benefit from starting your overhead training in the right configuration. And a good cavern instructor will probably appreciate your commitment and be happy to get you squared away with the right gear.
    **and if you are coming to North Fla for your cavern training, you can easily rent/borrow the gear you need if you don’t think you are ready to buy everything. Many instructors will have loner or demo gear you can try if you ask.
     
    Mary Maryland and dcg69 like this.
  4. Marie13

    Marie13 Great White

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Great Lakes
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    TDI has an Advanced Wreck course that teaches full penetration.

    As part of my advanced course, I took the SDI Wreck class that teaches limited penetration (within light zone) on the (optional) third dive. We also we taught reel handling and line laying.

    The TDI class has the prereq of a recreational wreck class.

    SM can be done from boats. Not ideal, but it can be done (I’m doing SM due to bad knees, there’s no way I could get on/off the boat in a twinset). I did it this fall as an experiment to see how it went (took up SM this year) and had an interesting time of it in 3ft chop on Lake Michigan.
     
  5. Gareth J

    Gareth J Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: UK
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    I know this isn't about the OP, sorry.

    Marie

    Don't they fit lifts on your boats?

    In the old day's we, used to use ladders. When I started 'technical' diving, we started dekitting in the water and winching kit out, especially on the bigger boats, converted trawlers with 6ft+ freeboard. Dekitting sounds easy, but in rough seas its as dangerous as climbing up the ladder. One of the bigger risks was being hit by the ladder. On a rolling boat I've seen the bottom of the ladder well above me, and then well below me. Once you're on, its a little like being on a roller coaster that dunks you!

    Now, there are very few UK boats that don't have lifts. I have to say its significantly improved safety. It's much easier to get a casualty onto the deck with a lift than trying to parbuckle them up the side of a boat, or winch them out.

    Gareth
     
    Lobo 73 likes this.
  6. Blasto

    Blasto Solo Diver

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    The PADI course does not teach safe penetration techniques, as there's no line and blackout drills. In a real wreck, the edge of the light zone can change quickly in a siltout - and you'll need to get out blind. This ability is more important than the number of lights, which can become useless simultaneously.

    There are some instructors that will run a real penetration course to expericed rec divers, but charge for and give you a regular agency (even padi) card, but that's entirely the instructor's own initiative. You'd usually have 3 penetration dives including one beyond the light zone.

    Serious wreck penetration is all-sidemount. But there's a long road, perhaps 500 dives, before you're ready to go beyond where BM can take you.

    Even if you dive with rec gear, in wreck diving there's a good chance you'll have to deco anyway. Drop your light, spend two minutes diving down for it, silt things up, get back on the line, much slower than you got in, run out of primary gas, swim to the drop tank on your pony, and by that time you're in deco.

    So AN/DP or at least Tec40 could be a good next step, and also open you the route to technical wreck training. Alternately, there is a rec Sidemount course to make sure you can rent a pair of tanks, as wreck penetration with just one is reckless.
     
    Jim Lapenta likes this.
  7. Caveeagle

    Caveeagle Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: High Springs, FL
    1,112
    649
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    This is why I suggested the OPs path in taking cavern first was a good choice. We can do three penetration /overhead dives here before lunch and there os typically no rush before dives by a captain with a schedule. add to that, in places like Ginnie, Blue Grotto, it’s a daily rate, so students can do an an after class practice dive if they want.

    Not trying to down-sell wreck/boat diving, but I think you get a lot better cost/benefit ratio from cavern in many cases. YMMV

    Really... I know a few people I would consider “serious wreck” divers who dive almost exclusively in backmount doubles. ...now if you are talking about just squirming through tiny no-mount restrictions.. that’s a totally different discussion, and just not very relevant to the OP.

    Sure you can sidemount from a boat, but it’s a bit of a pita. And if you are using a couple deco bottles, it’s a Bigger PITA
     
  8. EireDiver606

    EireDiver606 DIR Practitioner

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    I was under the impression that skill in the water is much more important than number of dives you have. I've seen people claiming to have 2000 dives that can't get into proper trim, have rubbish communication, conduct cowboy dives, and have mediocre buoyancy.
     
  9. Jack Hammer

    Jack Hammer Solo Diver

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    Hey Gareth, our local boats, and most I've seen in the States, do not have lifts. We use ladders. The majority of boats in the Great Lakes are smaller "six packs", they hold up to six divers somewhat packed together and are not terribly large vessels.
     
    Marie13 and Jim Lapenta like this.
  10. Akimbo

    Akimbo Lift to Freedom Volunteer Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    There is a lot of discussion on wreck training in this thread you might find helpful: Wreck Penetration
     

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