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Deep diving. What you need to know to get started and enjoy it to the fullest.

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

As a diver, you have probably experienced the call of the deep.

Maybe you want to go to that wreck you've been told about that is beyond your depth limit, a vertical wall, or just feel what it's like to be there, a little further down where not everyone can go.

In fact, like all extreme sports, diving also gives you the itch to always go a little further.

In this post, I'm going to explain what deep diving is and what you have to take into consideration to go for it.


What is Deep Diving? 🤔

Let's start with the definition of Deep Diving in both recreational and technical diving.

To do this, I am going to give you the definition that dive agencies follow:

According to the recreational diving organizations of the RSTC, Deep Diving defines as any dive exceeding 18 meters in depth. Considering that the depth limit for recreational diving is 40 meters.

Things change if we talk about technical diving.

In technical diving, almost everything changes.

From the gear you use to the divers' way of thinking.

In tech diving, everything becomes very, very serious.

To begin with, technical diving is considered deep diving when you dive deeper than 60 meters.

And the maximum depth?

The Guinness World Record for the deepest dive with scuba diving equipment is 332.35 meters.

Achieved by diver Ahmed Gabr in Dahab.


What are the risks of deep diving?

Although I have talked about technical diving because I think it is important to refer to it when talking about deep diving, from this point on we are going to refer to deep diving within the area of recreational diving.

That means dives between 18 and 40 meters deep.

However, deep diving has its risks, and they must be considered:

Decompression sickness (Bends).

When we dive we breathe air, i.e. oxygen, nitrogen, and other gases that compose it.

We use part of the oxygen, but the rest, together with the nitrogen and other gases, are released, as we don't use them for anything.

But when we dive, instead of releasing that nitrogen, the surrounding pressure dissolves the nitrogen in our tissues.

If we make a correct, slow ascent and make the correct safety stops, we eliminate this nitrogen without risk to our bodies.

But if we make a fast ascent, what can happen is that we do not have time to eliminate this nitrogen and when the ambient pressure decreases, bubbles can form, and they can be very dangerous.

If we make deep dives, the air consumption is higher, and the pressure increases and this raises the level of dissolved nitrogen in our tissues and increases the risk of decompression sickness.

In another post, we will talk more extensively about decompression sickness.

Narcosis. 🤪

As more nitrogen gets into our bodies, it has a narcotic effect that can affect our behaviour and our perception of what's going on around us.

There have been cases of divers offering their own regulator to the fish.

The most important thing with narcosis is to recognize that it is affecting you and that your safety may be at risk. If this happens, you should ascend to a shallower depth to stop it.

Of course, the deeper you go, the more nitrogen you breathe and the effects of narcosis are greater.

Air consumption.

The deeper you dive, the more air you consume. This is again due to pressure.

You know that at 10 meters you consume twice as much as at the surface, at 20 meters three times as much, and so on.

So it is easy to understand that air consumption is something you have to be very, very aware of when you dive deep.

You have to watch your pressure gauge frequently and start your ascent with enough air to make the appropriate safety stops or emergency decompression stops if you have accidentally exceeded your time limit.

What you have to do if you want to dive deep.

1/ Training

Any diving organization has programs in which you learn and get a license to do deep dives.

Always, start with instructor-supervised training.

As I always talk about SSI and PADI as the most important organizations, I am going to name the programs you can find to train you in deep diving with them:

SSI Advanced Adventure and PADI Advanced Open Water:

They would be practically the same course.

In both programs, they offer you the opportunity to learn and get a license to do deep dives.

They are practically the same course.

Both programs, include the adventure dive of “Deep Diving”, in which you are initiated by an instructor.

They allow you to dive up to 30 meters.

SSI Deep Diving and PADI Deep Diver Speciality

Specialities that offer you complete training in deep diving within the scope of recreational diving.

They allow you to dive to a maximum depth of 40 meters.

2/ Equipment

The equipment you need for deep dives is not very different from the equipment you use for shallow dives.

But you can add a few items for safety.

Larger capacity cylinder: as we have already mentioned, air consumption increases in relation to depth, and it may be a good idea to have enough air.

Pony or extra tank: You can take another Pony cylinder with you to have an extra reserve of air.

If you dive from a boat, it is a good idea to have a tank hanging from a line at 5 meters to make a safety stop in case you run out of air.

Torch: This is an item that I always recommend bringing on any dive because you will enjoy it much more.

On deeper dives, there is less light, and it can be an indispensable item.

Extra weights: Sometimes, in the safety stop, we can squeeze the air out of the tank, and it is when it is empty it floats more.

That's why some extra weight can be very helpful

Extra computer or dive tables: When we do deep dives, we have to keep in mind that we are going to be close to the no decompression limits.

We should carry a backup computer in case the main computer breaks down or runs out of battery, or plan the dive with the same computer or dive tables and carry a depth gauge and watch.

This way, if something goes wrong with the computer, we can follow our dive plan without the risk of breaking our limit.

Remember that we only plan recreational dives for safety stops.

We do not plan decompression dives.

If you go over your time and depth limit, you can make an EMERGENCY decompression stop.

Your computer will tell you both the safety stops you have planned and the decompression stop if you go over your no decompression limit.

It always tells you how long and at what depth you have to stop before ascending to the surface.

But well… we are also going to have a post about computers that I think you will find very, very useful.

If you use dive tables, you should know the rules for making an emergency decompression stop.

Rules to follow when we dive deep

In addition to the rules that already apply to normal diving, there are a few more rules to keep in mind.

Make a dive plan before the dive. It is very important to plan the dive before you dive and, of course, make the dive according to your plan.

Use the rule of 3 thirds. Divide the air you have into 3 equal parts. One for the outgoing, one for the return. Finish the dive with one-third of the tank for "what could happen".

Check depth, bottom time, and air consumption more often than usual. Remember that when we dive deep, all these parameters are increased.

Never plan decompression dives. You can only do this if you are certified to do technical diving.

Never exceed your no-decompression limit. If you accidentally exceed your limit, remember to make an emergency decompression stop as instructed by the dive computer!

If you use dive tables, make the stop according to the rules of the dive tables.

In this post, we are talking about recreational deep diving.

When we talk about technical diving, the risks, equipment, and safety rules change a little bit.

In technical diving, we are talking about diving with different gas mixtures, computers that take those mixtures into consideration, multiple cylinders, etc.

The configuration of the equipment changes, and it changes a lot.

It is another level and another way of diving that is also very interesting.

But remember that the most important thing is always to have the necessary training and equipment and to follow the safety rules.

Are you ready for the great depths?

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