One of the most popular PADI Specialty courses, the Deep Dive Specialty is a great choice for those who wish to brush up their dive planning and general skills. It also gives you a deeper maximum depth, meaning you can dive down to 40 metres once you complete the course. You increase your confidence in the water and consolidate your existing knowledge, going much more “in depth” when it comes to dive planning and no decompression limits.
Who can take the PADI Deep Dive specialty?
It may seem obvious, but this is not a course for beginners! There are a couple of prerequisites for the PADI Deep Dive specialty.
- You have to be certified at least Adventure Diver (or equivalent from another agency).
- You must be at least 15 years old.
It is important to be pretty confident in your abilities too. This is not an agency prerequisite, but just common sense. If you are terrified of diving, or haven’t dived in years, then it is common sense to get a bit more training in before doing the deep dive specialty.
What will I be doing?
The deep dive specialty is made up of 4 separate dives, plus theory. If you are an Advanced Diver, then you have already done the first dive of the deep dive specialty during your Advanced course, as it is mandatory.
Deep Dive theory
As with other courses, you will receive a manual for this specialty. There is a strong focus on dive planning and gas management. When diving to much deeper depths, there is more risk involved. You use more gas at depth, and are usually slower to respond to issues. The theory also explains more about the No Decompression Limits. Although you are doing deep dives, for this PADI specialty you should always be diving within the recreational limits. This means you should not exceed your No Decompression Limits. Your instructor should also go through the tables with you again, and what happens if you exceed your No Decompression Limits.
PADI has now introduced eLearning, so you don’t need a physical manual anymore. It is a great option for those who want to do a dive course whilst on holiday. It basically means you can contact a dive centre, and get the theory before you arrive. You can complete all the theory and questions from the comfort of your own home, so that part of the course want eat into your holiday time!
Practical application – deep dives
When making your dives for the specialty, be sure that you have really understood the briefing and what is expected of you during the dive. Your instructor should have you plan the dive with a buddy, and encourage you to be conservative with your gas management. You should also go over some signals which you may not be familiar with, such as how to indicate your No Decompression Limit.
During one of the dives, you will have to do some navigation. This builds on what you should have done during your previous courses. Navigating at a deeper depth presents a few more problems than when you navigate at shallower depths. Your reactions and thought processes can be slower as you dive deeper. You could also be affected by narcosis, which I mention further on in this post.
You will also be introduced to a hang tank. Usually suspended from a boat at a depth of 5 metres, the hang tank is just a simple cylinder with a regulator attached. During your safety stop, you will practice breathing from the tank. The deeper you dive, the more important it is for you to make a safety stop. By preparing a hang tank, you can be sure that there will be enough air available for you to complete you safety stop. During the last dive of the specialty, you should be diving to 40 metres, or somewhere close.
If you are shore diving, then you may take a small cylinder with you on the dive. You will use this to practice breathing from at the safety stop.
Depending on your Instructor, they may introduce other skills and games at depth. Many instructors choose to have you perform tasks under water to test if you have narcosis…
Narcosis and deep diving!
Getting “narced”… most of us have heard of it, but how many have actually felt the effects? For those who are unfamiliar with Narcosis, it is a strange phenomena, which usually makes you feel a little drunk and light headed at depth. Everybody is different, and so the depth at which you feel narcosis is personal. I have heard of people feeling it as shallow as 20 metres. I generally have found that at 30 metres, around half of my students feel something. After 30 metres, more people begin to feel the narcosis.
Is diving with narcosis dangerous?
It is a very valid question. Narcosis usually presents itself as a feeling of slowness, and perhaps even slight euphoria. If this is only a mild change, then it shouldn’t be too detrimental to your diving. As long as you are aware that it may occur when you dive deep, most people are able to continue diving. If you feel it is impairing your behaviour, or making you feel dizzy or unwell, you need signal to your instructor/buddy. Be sure to discuss this kind of procedure before you enter the water. Narcosis is caused by depth, so if you ascend several metres, the effects begin to wear off.
My personal experience
I still remember doing my Deep Dive specialty several years ago. I did it as part of my Divemaster training, and it was really beneficial. Using the hang tank was fun, as were some of the games my Instructor had us play at depth. These included simple maths quiz’s, and drawing tasks, to test just how much slower we were at depth. I never felt particularly affected by Narcosis until the last dive. For our final dive of the specialty, we descended head first down the anchor line, directly to 40 metres! When I reached the bottom, I spent a good few seconds looking around thinking “What is going on?!”
Now, I rarely feel any kind of narcosis. The more you do deep dives, the less likely you are to feel it. During my time working in Malta, I would occasionally feel a little slow during dives to the deepest wrecks, which were around the 40 metre mark.
If you decide you want to take this course, most dive shops will provide the necessary equipment. Some things I personally think are very important are :
Computer: If you have your own, then that is great. If not, I really suggest renting one from the Dive centre. Also, make sure you know how it works before you get in the water. that includes knowing where the No Decompression Limit is displayed, and where to find the timer to indicate the safety stop.
Exposure suit: Think carefully about what level of exposure suit you need for your dive, and perhaps discus it with your instructor. Temperature of the water can change by several degrees as you descend, so the wetsuit you use during shallow dives may not be adequate. Generally, instructors can advise you on just how drastic the temperature change will be.
Torch: As you go deeper underwater it becomes a lot darker. You should still be able to see clearly during your deep dives, however it can be helpful to bring a torch.
Water: Ok, this is not really equipment, and I am not suggesting you bring it underwater! There is a greater risk of decompression sickness with deep diving, so be sure that you stay well hydrated during the course! However, if you stick within the limits, and listen to your Instructor, the risks are still minimal.
So there you have it! A guide to the PADI Deep Diver Specialty. I hope you enjoyed it and found it helpful, and please feel free to comment below!