Tec Diving

My Technical Diving Internship: An Experience of a Lifetime!

My name’s Matt, and I completed a two month technical diving internship with Lagona Divers Technical. In this post, I’m going through the ins and outs of what made it an experience of a lifetime.  

How it all began

In 2020, I came to Dahab as an Open Water Scuba Instructor and Normoxic Trimix Diver. But, despite being qualified for technical diving, I didn’t have the experience to truly call myself a tec diver.

Qualified for technical diving – yes. Experienced… not so much.

So I got into contact with Andy and Kerstin, the co-owners and Technical Instructor Trainers of Lagona Divers Technical, to organise a package that would bring my technical diving to the next level.

Here’s what we agreed to do:

  • Build my experience of decompression dives 
  • Complete my Nitrox and Trimix Gas Blender courses
  • Complete my Hypoxic Trimix course
  • Complete my Tec Sidemount course

Simple and beautiful, the planning was finished. The next step was the doing.

Building Experience in Technical Diving

On the very first day, after the getting-to-know-each-other part, we jumped straight into an equipment configuration workshop.

From this moment, I knew the type of training and knowledge here was on another level. The precision with which everything was explained, and the time dedicated to perfecting the most basic elements, stood out to me.

Over the next week, we completed a series of shallow water normoxic skill refresher dives as well as some basic, entry-level style decompression dives. A lot of time was spent honing valve drills (with a lot of stretching and adjusting of the backplate in between!), as well as core emergency skills for technical diving.

One day was also dedicated to teaching and discussing technical diving rescue scenarios. This element of the internship I found particularly useful, as we were able to discuss the comparative risks and complex factors – emotional and physiological – involved in tech diving rescue scenarios.

After this firm foundation was laid, I had the opportunity to join in with the many technical dives that were happening daily, allowing me to build a wealth of experience. After a few weeks, twinset and stage diving was as natural and easy as single tank recreational diving!

On top of this, as a qualified Open Water Scuba Instructor, Andy and Kerstin allowed me to shadow the many courses they were teaching, increasing my professional experience. This was an excellent way of learning how complex topics and skills could be simplified and taught.

technical diving in Dahab

Blending Gases

Gas blending is not always the first thing on someone’s mind when deciding what course to do next. But becoming a gas blender is one of the best things you can do. Not only do you gain a greater knowledge of physics and gas laws – as a dive professional, you can greatly increase your employability.

On top of this, in technical diving, blending your own gases comes with a sense of satisfaction. You plan your dive, blend your own gases, and then dive the plan using these gases. It’s like building your own house from scratch!

After a week or so, Andy gave me an orientation of their gas blending facilities. I began by learning how to fill nitrox, using a partial pressure system. After this, I learned the basics of trimix blending, and all the potential pitfalls along the way.

In the beginning, filling only one nitrox tank took me about 20 minutes of nervously watching pressure gauges and opening/closing valves… After a couple of weeks, and a hundred-or-so more blends, I knew the filling station like the back of my hand, and could fill nitrox, trimix, as well as operate the booster pump system, with ease!

Having the opportunity to blend gases for the whole dive centre was hugely rewarding. Not only was I able to get a lot of experience in a very short period of time – I also developed my responsibility and management skills in being put in charge of the operation.

Contrary to what I thought when I first started, blending gases is now one of my favourite pastimes.

As I now like to say: If I can’t dive, at least let me blend!

Hypoxic Trimix Course

After building experience in technical diving, Andy and Kerstin said I was ready to start my hypoxic trimix course.

At the end of this course, I would be able to make open circuit dives to 100 metres, utilising hypoxic bottom gas mixtures, with unlimited decompression time.

This course is no walk in the park, and is ultimately the pinnacle of open circuit technical diving.

Like with every tec course, however, it began in the same place: Shallow water!

We did multiple skill dives in excess of 2 hours, honing stage handling and emergency scenarios. All skills were practised mid-water in the blue, with only a shot-line as a point of reference. It was a challenging few days, but very rewarding. Being able to refine my performance each and every dive took my skill-set to a whole new level. 

From here, we conducted a series of decompression dives, going deeper on each one, until we reached the final three digits: 100 metres!

On each dive, we had a surface support team who had extra decompression gases for us, in the event something went wrong. They were briefed about our dive plan, to the minute, so they knew exactly what gas we would need at what time. On the final 100 metre dive to the bottom of the Blue Hole, we also had support divers with us, deep and shallow, carrying extra gases.

This level of planning, contingency, and safety made me realise that I didn’t want to do technical diving any other way. At the end of the course, we celebrated with one of the most well-earned deco-beers I’ve ever had!

technical diving

Technical Sidemount Course

But the fun didn’t stop there.

After my 100 metre dive, we still had some leftover trimix which we didn’t want to waste. So we topped up our tanks and jumped in for some bottom-stage exploration dives on the lesser known spots of Dahab.

This was a real surprise adventure, exploring new canyons and cracks in the deep walls of the Red Sea. And after we’d finished all of our trimix off, we jumped straight into the technical sidemount course.

You know and I know how it goes by now: Shallow water sessions!

I was already a recreational sidemount instructor, so taking this course allowed me to hone my sidemount knowledge. Seeing how the configuration changed as more tanks were added allowed me to understand the fundamentals of the system much better. This has since improved my ability to teach recreational sidemount courses. The course finished off with two dives on the somewhat tighter parts of Dahab’s world-famous technical diving sites.

Full Face Mask Course

Out of all the things that happened, this one was the biggest surprise.

Toward the end of my internship, I found out that Andy and Kerstin offered training on the OceanReef Full Face Mask. I’d always had an interest in discovering the feeling of full face mask diving, and didn’t hesitate to enrol in the course.

The experience was completely surreal.

Being able to breathe through your nose, and having a wider field of vision underwater made for a completely different dive experience. On top of this, simple skills like mask removal became somewhat more of a challenge (or entertainment in the eyes of Andy!). Needless to say, I owed him a few beers after the first training dive!

Similarly, learning how the full face mask could be integrated into technical dives to mitigate the risk of certain problems, such as oxygen toxicity, inspired me to continue training with the unit in the future.

Ocean reef full face mask

Everything Else Along the Way

Apart from diving, Andy and Kerstin went out of their way to make me feel at home in Dahab.

From arranging accommodation that suited my needs, and giving me personal tours of the town (as well as insider tips!), to regularly meeting for social evenings, I felt like a true Dahabian in no time. On top of this, the way they integrated me in the dive centre operations, training courses, and everything in between, made me quickly feel like a long-standing member of the team.

All in all, it was a life-changing experience that enhanced my technical diving career.

25 11 20 Islands Matt 22 Recovered web

Lagona Divers Technical: Technical Diving Internships

If you’re looking to have an experience similar to Matt’s, then Lagona Divers Technical is here to make that happen.

We offer a range of pre-made internship options, and are also open to organising custom packages for your needs and interests.

Contact us today to up your technical diving game, and have the experience of a lifetime while doing it!