Diving - The adventure continues!

Enriched Air Speciality - Wrasbury, June 2011

I just completed an Enriched Air Course at Learntodive in Wrasbury.

Once again, Mark Bruce was my intructor and he's a friendly, patient and knowledgeable one.

I did the course with a Brazilian trainee Divemaster (Diego) and another (Steve) helped out with the two dives on Nitrox which optionally form part of the course.

Not having dived since I did my Dry Suit course at Wrasbury in February I treated this course as a chance to get a bit more dive experience as well as getting qualified for Nitrox (I plan to do my AOW in Madeira in August and wanted the option to use Nitrox), I also wanted to get some experience with my new Suunto Vyper computer as I'd not dived with one before.

At first sight, the fact that you can do the course as a 'dry' one fooled me into thinking it was a 'soft option', but there's a lot to learn with Equivalent Air Depth and Oxygen Exposure tables to consider as well as formulas for working this all out.

I'd got the manual in advance and read through it and done some of the exercises in the EAN tables book (although not, I'll admit, all of them as I thought we'd cover it in the lesson).

We started off with going through the exercise in the back of the manual and both Diego and I had picked up the key points.

We then did some more questions with Mark explaining the answers if we got them wrong.

Then we completed a 25 question exam, which were mostly ok, but one question floored both Diego and I.

We then went off and did a dive, checking the Nitrox Mix first using an Analyser and setting our dive computers accordingly.

Steve checks out the bus

Oddly, as it's not happened before, I had quite a lot of trouble getting myself to submerge on my first dive, but Steve helped relocate some of my weights and eventually we got underway.

The diving aspect of the course is very low effort as all you really do is carry out a pleasure dive whilst breating Nitrox.

We were down for 37 minutes before my Nitrox started to run out, but all was fine. Visibility on this dive was really good and I got to see most the 'attractions' in the lake that I'd only seen ghostly shapes or tiny sections of on my Dry Suit course.

Diego explores the taxi

We had a break for lunch and then carried out a Giant Stride entry for our second dive (The tanks were topped up with air, we analysed them again - Down from 32% to about 25% - and reset our computers).

On the second dive I was a lot more stable with a better arranged belt and a couple of extra kilos in my BCD weight pockets and it passed without any particular incidents.

View through the bus

We spotted a decent sized fish (A Perch, I think) and a surprisingly large (to me) crayfish looked almost Lobster sized!

Giant (well...) Crayfish!

Steve and Diego were very helpful to me (I'm still very much a newcomer to diving and with months passing between each dive I find each, if not quite like the first, still raises some new issues to address, but that's partly why I'm doing courses) on the dives and will make excellent Dive Masters, I'm sure.

After the second dive we reviewed our exam results. Mark went through each question and where either of us had come up with a wrong answer, he explained the result.

Steve explores an 'attraction' - one of the boats I think

The approach to the question that had floored us was explained and we both came up with the correct answer once it was, which is a good aspect of the PADI training - You learn from your mistakes.

There were a few questions that I would say were worded almost deliberately to catch you out, the use of 'Recreational diving' to make the answer one thing rather than another springs to mind.

One question, not even Mark could come up with what PADI defined as the correct answer, which seemed to suggest something was awry, but he's promised to let Diego and I know how the PADI answer works out.

Overall, though, we got well above the 75% required pass mark and had absorbed the information required to answer the rest of the incorrect questions and so qualified as PADI Enriched Air divers.

Once again, my day at Wrasbury Dive Centre had been enjoyable with helpful staff and fellow divers and I came away feeling I'd actually learnt or refreshed a lot more than I expected to.

Diego and I celebrate becoming Enriched Air Divers - Photo Courtesy Learntodive

A useful qualification for anyone looking to increase their no-stop diving times it proved to be an interesting course too, reminding me of how to plan dives with the RDP tables and introducing me to using a Dive Computer.

Read more about my diving experiences

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