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Introduction into Speciality Diving – Getting personal with our students experiences

Introduction into Speciality Diving – Getting personal with our students experiences


Have you ever wanted to stay down a little longer and a little deeper and reaching the limits of recreational diving but not sure what avenue to take in order to do that? Well during this blog we have a detailed overview of what you could expect from speciality diving with Big Blue Tech.

To begin we have an introduction into speciality diving, then move on to a Q & A session with our current Tech Manager Andy Campbell, who isn’t just the brains and beauty of Big Blue but the instructor that is likely to run your speciality course with one of the team; finally reviews from previous and current students who are exploring a world with endless possibilities.


Speciality diving? Well what is it? These are the courses that hone your skills and make you a better diver, they allow you to expand your knowledge / confidence / diving ability and safety… oh and can extend your dive times as well as allowing you to penetrate ship wrecks (there are still limits!) and dive in new configurations such as sidemount

That’s just the start of speciality diving, there is a world of possibilities that are open to all levels of divers who maybe  once didn’t think they were capable of or maybe didn’t know existed. In Koh Tao we are very fortunate to have an abundance of dive sites and marine life our boats fin tips, as well as Big Blue Tech being able to provide certifications through SSI / TDI / SDI & PADI all of which will be covered in a little more detail in the Q&A section of this blog.

The reason we can expand our diving capabilities these days is down to the US Navy and some very intelligent men who realised what gases were needed at what depth and what could be so cool about diving with two tanks… well let’s hope we can answer all of your strange and wonderful questions about speciality diving, with the hope that you will understand that doing tech isn’t as scary or intimidating as people make out we only want to make ‘knowledgeable, confident and safer divers’. All the questions and feedback are from real students past and present that had the same questions as maybe you have about speciality diving and what it in tales.

Q&A – With Andy Campbell on an Introduction to Speciality Diving

  1. What are Specialties?

“The specialties or “Specs” are courses divers can take in order to further their education, they typically last 2-3 days as we add more dives than are requested by the agencies.

In general divers who have completed the advanced course are interested in pushing on to 40m or diving on Nitrox but Navigation and Buoyancy are also skills people want to take to the next level and of course the wreck course is also very popular”

  1. Are there any requirements for someone to start one of the specialty courses?

“Enthusiasm! As long as you have an open water certification and want to get better then we can look at many options, of course a few fun dives is never a bad thing and we’re lucky here to have great Divemasters that demonstrate just what good buoyancy is whilst leading and it’s not un-common for divers to come in and sya they want to be able to dive lie a Divemaster”

“If you wish to progress past recreational diving and into the Tech side of things then there are prerequisites and in general divers wishing to take these courses have a reasonable amount of experience”

 During a course’s such as Nitrox, Deep or Sidemount what is typically required ? And what skill does it in tale?

“All three are great courses and allow you to take on more challenging diving but fundamentally they all involve an academic session Sidemount is a course where you learn to wear one or two tanks on your side instead of on your back, but all of the courses have additional focus on the bedrock of good diving – Buoyancy”

“Nitrox, used to be considered as the first step towards tech as it could extend bottom times and gives the diver a choice of breathing gases for the first time. Nitrox in itself is nitrogen and oxygen and students are trained to use between 22% and 40%, the benefits are huge but it comes with a risk on the oxygen side so divers need to be able to analyse tanks and calculate maximum operating depths, not as ominus as it sounds and actually my first spec”

  1. Some people find the idea of specialties daunting, why do you think this is?

“It’s natural but hopefully they’re excited at the same time, continued dive education should be challenging but rewarding at the same time and after all a majority of our customers are on vacation so it should be fun as well. After the training I’m a great believer that the customer should dive the “spec” without their instructor in order to experience it and to provoke further questions so we also have Divemasters available to dive in any configuration and on Nitrox… it’s time to reap the rewards for sure”

“We try and make the academics as straight forward as possible and to keep elope within their comfort zone, this isn’t rocket science I can assure you or I wouldn’t be teaching it! But it does need to be understood and certainly plays a large part in diver safety”

  1. Why should someone be interested in exploring specialties and technical diving?

“Well I guess like any other hobby and for most people diving is a hobby each time you go diving you either want to become a better diver or see something different or just chill out. Specialties allow you to extend from the basic courses of open water and advanced adventure towards the limits of recreational diving, so deep diving allows you down to 40 meters; Nitrox which will allow you to stay longer at a given depth and wreck where we can teach you limited wreck penetration”

“But in order to go beyond recreational limits by going deeper and staying longer then technical diving is the extension from recreational diving that will allow you to do so”.

  1. What are the benefits to moving from recreational diving to technical recreational diving?

“I would like to think that you’re not movingblog from one to the other, I still go out and recreational dive, still have fun diving on a single tank. However if the dives I want to do entail going beyond the recreational limits then it’s into technical diving”

“Of course the obvious benefits of Tech are extra depth and time but it’s based on additional knowledge and skill sets some of which are challenging but very rewarding. The dive day changes as does the approach to planning and executing dives but the fundamental reason we do it does not change… it’s a great way to spend time!”.

“So for me it’s like having the right tools in the toolbox do to the dives that you’re interested in and that also requires keeping skills competent and up to date. Refreshers and pool training no matter where you are is a valuable part of preparation for that vacation”

    7.What are the costs of the courses?

“Like anything else they can vary and some are more expensive because there are more dives involved and the courses are longer or more equipment is required, so the more intense the course the more it’s going to cost but the more you are going to get from it as well”

“The basic courses at Big Blue Tech specialities start from 5,500 baht; and increase to 8,000 Baht. However you have to look at what you are going to get from it and certainly here with Big Blue Tech we try to maximize this and can tailor packages to suit everyone.

  1. Most people are not technically focused i.e. mathematical or scientific.. baring this in mind how is the theory side of the courses, and how can that be focused around people who maybe need a little more time understand the theoretical and technical side of the course.

“The internet is a wonderful thing. We now have the majority of our courses available through SSI, TDI and SDI with e-learning so you can do the academics before you arrive and work with your instructor online. You can approach Big Blue Tech and we can sign you up and we can get the online training done before you arrive this gives people time to understand it rather than trying to do it over a limited period of time, when after all they’re on vacation”

“So my advice would be if you want to find out more about the theory of specialty and technical diving then get in touch with a technical diving instructor, I personally spend quite a lot of my time answering questions online from email inquiries and fully encourage anyone to explore this avenue”.

  1. What is the greatest benefit you can get from just doing one speciality course?

“Experience! But you will only get experience if you take your speciality course and dive it, you could do a buoyancy speciality for instance and then if you don’t dive again for a year you will probably remember some of it but not all of it. So it’s about doing it at the beginning of the vacation and then getting your fun dives in and practicing the skills you learned”

  1. What’s the difference between TDI, SDI, SSI & PADI in relation to speciality and technical courses?

“Okay so, SDI and TDI which we offer at Big Blue Tech are part of the same family. TDI is technical divers international and SDI is scuba divers international. SSI is scuba schools international and they offer specialities in both recreational and Tech under the TXR an EX brand, whilst PADI also offer specialties and Tech with Tech falling under TecRec”.

“Customers can choose to mix and match with all certs recognised worldwide, so no issues there”.

  1. What is the philosophy behind technical diving at Big Blue Tech?

“Safety has to be the foundation underpinning all the courses and training we offer, after that the creating sharing knowledge and making sure our students use this, one quote shown to me during my training has stuck with me and I mention it at the start of all my courses”

“The key piece of equipment is a knowledgeable and thinking diver”

John Bennett

“all of the training we conduct is based around this and we encourage continued discussion on completion, I don’t believe our duty of care ends on certification and if a past student seeks clarification then it is always welcome, if in the future they feel they can add something then that’s also part of my own education”.

  1. Do I need to supply my own set of equipment?

“Nope, we can supply all of the equipment you need at Big Blue Tech. However by the time you get to the level where you want to do tech courses we do expect you to have some basic equipment and there is a small additional rental fee for some basic equipment”.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you can give someone looking into specialty or Technical diving courses diving

“Look around and challenge the people that you want to train with, if they don’t have time to answer your questions now then maybe they won’t once you arrive. It’s not all about the price like everything else in life, you can get good value for money…but would you buy a cheap parachute?”

  1. What are the general course durations?

“Anything from one day, to multiple days or even weeks for some packages depending on the speciality and time frame you are working with”

  1. Are wrecks scary to penetrate?

“The word scary no, I would say it’s more exhilarating”

“If you have got to the point where you want to penetrate a wreck, then I can almost guarantee your first dive will be amazing, when you go into the overhead environment for the first time, everything comes alive! You know your somewhere you want to be”.

“That’s why you do the training,the big thing about doing this type of speciality is the preparation and the understanding of the environment you are going into whether its wreck or cave”

  1. Do you need specific technical courses in order to do other tech courses i.e. do you need to do your nitrox in order to do your advanced nitrox?

“Yes there are pre-requisites and they are laid out by each of the agencies. They are fairy similar although not all tech certifications from different agencies are equal but you will find any technical instructor that you talk to or will talk you through the pre-requisites. But yes if you want to become an advance nitrox diver you need to be a recreational speciality nitrox diver”

  1. What course spec bundles is big blue tech currently running?

“We are very fortunate at Big Blue Tech that we have our own boat, but also we have several instructors teaching the bundles. So normally we are in a position to bundle a package to cater for someone’s needs.

If someone comes in and doesn’t want to go deep but wants to go nitrox and penetrate the wreck we can teach that bundle”

“Ixf someone comes in and go all the way through to advance nitrox and deco procedures then we can do a bundle to fit the time scale that they have. But they should have a reasonable amount of time because again in between different courses we want them to do some fun dives in before they move to the next level”

Hear from the students themselves, what they did and how they found doing speciality courses




Course – Wreck & Nitrox

Tom said the reason that he wanted to get his specs for nitrox is that he would want to expand his knowledge and extend his dive times when doing his next speciality which was the wreck course. During the course: Andy’s teaching was outstanding, he was direct, through funny and really got you involved. What stood out the most with my course is that Andy really helped me understand in detail things I didn’t understand before about the theory and practical of these speciality courses.

Tech career continued – Tom will further his career with tech specialities by going on to deco and advance nitrox – as he wants extended range on his dives and get a deeper knowledge of the subjects in order to make him a better diver during his career.

Andy’s funniest moment with his student: “Tomathy as he is known in the tech shack… great student lots of interesting questions. Worked really well with Mike both have now slowed down and learned how to ‘not’ penetrate prematurely and enjoy the moment… wreck diving have become a passion for them”


Course – Nitrox, Deep & Sidemount

Nathan was introduced into tech by seeing a couple of Big Blues instructors doing sidemount and the way in which they were diving they seemed to be kicking their fins and gliding with very minimal effort which sparked his interest into how they were able to do it, and if he would be capable of becoming that skilled and become a safer diver. Nathans thoughts on the courses were that Andy was very detailed in his teaching and pedantic. He makes you think that you are your own worst critic and only you can be the best you can which encourages you to be the best you can be.

Signs / signals and instructions in and out of the water were very clear and understandable. If you had issues under the water with a skill or somewhat it is dealt with then and there, you do not dwell on it when you get back on the boat you only look at ways to improve yourself for your next dive. Ideally when you have someone who you dive with who is just as passionate about diving and side mount and enthusiastic to learn and develop their knowledge and skills as you are it makes the experience so much more enjoyable. One of the best moments I’ve had was being able to have a 124 minuet dive at Sail Rock (one of Thailand’s best dive sites) diving sidemount with nitrox, without the skills and certifications I would never be able to have that experience

Nathan has completed a 124 minute dive at Big Blue – In his top 5 best life experiences

Tech career continued: Nathan would blfollow through with every tech course possible trying to add a new one each time he visits Thailand and Big Blue his quote “keep learning, keep diving keep practicing your skills”

Andy’s funniest moment with his student: “Nathan what an amazing diver – with one of the best buddies ever with Angelika. Will always be remembered for the ‘Nathan check’ please ask him about this”.

“Memorable moment was the 124 minuet dive at sail rock with Tim – a true gentleman”


Courses – Deep, Nitrox and Sidemount

Over the past few months I took several courses, I began with nitrox, continued with my deep certification and became hooked on the more technical side of diving. Learning to dive sidemount was always a goal for my diving career. At first I felt overwhelmed with the transition

From recreational with one tank to a completely new style, technique, and equipment that was entirely foreign to me.

Andy was a phenlnomenal instructor, not only does he teach but he pushes you to be your absolute best, no excuses. The more you dive with him gives you more of a reason to continue with your certifications because he becomes both your instructor and also a mentor. At first tech diving seemed to be entirely too intimidating, but it has made me a far better divemaster and diver. You understand the science of diving more thoroughly and you fall more in love with it as you can begin pushing the limits of both yourself and the possibilities.

Tech career continued: Amye continue in tech with a wreck certification and explore advanced nitrox and deco diving.

Andy’s funniest moment with his student: So many funny moments and such growth in someone’s diving ability. She has plenty of character & has an awesome mother who has just done her open water. 40 meters deep dive in zero viability and sitting in a ball of fish who knew not where they were.




On the 21st of May Chris Haslam lead a sidemount course in one of best diving locations in the world,  PNG. The trip included exploring the regions around Port Morseby and Madang. After a short 2hr flight from Cairns, Chris and his student Camilla had safely touched down in Port Moresby.  It was here they spent a couple of days taking in the local culture and exploring the local region such as Bomana War Cemetery, Crystal Rapids, the local markets and the legendary Kokoda Trail. Despite Port Moresby’s rotten international reputation you can have a lot of fun exploring the capital and the regions close by.

Chris’s family has been living in PNG for nearly a decade now and have never looked back. It does take time to adjust to the country but this is what makes it exciting and fun, the initial shock does wear off and it doesn’t take long to realise there is far more beauty to this country then bad.

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of just under seven million. The country is one of the world’s least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of Papua New Guinea.

After Port Moresby the duo took a 1 hour flight over the lush green highland before arriving in Madang. Madang is a shy little town situated on the east coast of PNG. Perched on a peninsula it is surrounded by picturesque islands girt with colourful coral reefs and clear blue water. The trip included 2 nights accommodation at the Madang Resort International. It was here Camilla completed her SDI sidemount course. The course was straight forward with a relaxed day of theory and equipment configuration. The following day she completed the 2 training dives required for certification. After a few minor buoyancy adjustments Camilla took to sidemount like a fish in water. She is already booking her next sidemount expedtion back to PNG.

PNG ranks among the best diving destinations in the world with irresistible menu of underwater treasures: luscious reefs festooned with huge seafans, warm waters teeming with rainbow-coloured species and bizarre critters, eerie drop-offs that tumble into the abyss, and a host of atmospheric WWII wrecks – not to mention the thrill of diving uncrowded sites.

Big Blue Tech Australia offers tailor made trips to PNG to suit your preferred style of diving and other activities such as kayaking, fishing, surfing, trekking, hot springs and much much more.

Unfortunately you do have to keep your wits about you when travelling PNG. Chris has been diving and travelling PNG for years and is glad Big Blue Tech Australia has started running Tech and recreational dive trips to such an exotic place. Planning for the next trip has already taken place, with a trip running in around 2 months. The final details are still being organised but it will include

diving on a WWII wrecks, fishing, a kayak/snorkel trip, hopefully a touch of surfing, meeting the local villages, visiting the local regions of Port Morseby  and much more. Watch this space for more information on price and a complete itinerary. Please contact if you have any interest in a once in a life time trip like this. We can tailor make the trip to suit all.

Sidemount Diving Australia

Cairns, Australia

Big Blue Tech Australia have released their Sidemount Diver program this passed weekend with a trip on the great barrier reef.

As the name suggests, sidemount diving takes a cylinder that would be on your back, and straps it to your side. But why would you want to do that?

Smaller divers find it easier to transport cylinders individually to the water. The same goes for older divers or divers with leg or back problems. Other divers like the “independence” of independent cylinders. Having two independent gas supplies with the valves, regulators and hoses in plain view and easy to reach is very reassuring. It allows a solo diver easy access to any problems occurring in that area and eliminates the need to carry a “buddy bottle” as solo Back Mount divers do. Some solo Side Mount divers still carry an extra cylinder to further increase their safety.

  • Your most flexible body part, your back, no longer has rigid metal strapped to it so it can bend again. Making diving very, very, (very) comfortable.
  • You can put the cylinder on IN THE WATER so no more walking to the dive site in full, heavy gear under the blazing WA sun! Put the BCD on (without tanks), walk into the water, clip the tanks on- ready to go, comfort, ease and simplicity.
  • The added safety factor of a full-sized, second cylinder is enormous, think a pony is the answer? Think again.
  • Dive Travel is easy. Take a lightweight sidemount BCD and that’s it!
  • Resorts all provide rental cylinders so strap those on, use their regulators or take your own and enjoy a comfortable dive with an unsurpassed safety margin and spend much, much more time diving- your dollars spent per minute diving is GREATLY reduced as a result.
  • Easy, excellent trim and buoyancy control- especially great for UW photographers.

Isn’t this Technical Diving?

NO. It is a recreational SDI specialty course. It is for Open Water students and above, from 15 years of age. So if you are at that level or above, then this is for you.

Can it be Technical Diving?

Yes, Sidemount is an easy transition to technical diving. Popping stage cylinders on is easy- very, very easy and ALL levels of technical diving can be taught in sidemount. No need to buy twin cylinders, manifold and bands.

The background story on Side Mount Diving.

The advantages of sidemount diving first resonated with advanced and technical divers who realized that wearing tanks on the side of the body created a lower profile in the water than traditional backmounted tanks, thereby allowing access to, and the exploration of, small spaces without disturbing the environment. Less silt equalled greater access. Wreck divers discovered they could push a tank ahead of them into a small hatchway by simply unclipping the bottom portion of the tank from the buttplate.

Rebreathers Too

Sidemount configurations are proving a good fit with the increasing popularity of rebreather diving. Because of the cluttered front presented by rebreather hardware, the sidemounted “bailout bottles” provide an unobtrusive way to carry an emergency air supply. The sidemount tanks also provide a ballast of sorts, creating a more streamlined profile and manageable centre of gravity.

more pictures can be found on our facebook page at

Fitness and Flexibility for tech diving

How do you shape up for tech diving activities?

Divers exercising for fitness

The most sensible approach for someone considering a move into technical diving is to regard it as physically testing, and respect it as an activity that calls for above average fitness and flexibility. How much above average a technical diver has to be is a debatable point, and the rhetoric runs from the argument that technical divers should be capable of competing in triathlons to a completely hands-off approach that believes any diver is clear to go as long as he can stagger around the dive deck with sufficient control to stub out his cigarette and put down his beer before dropping into the water.

You may, like me, be looking for a set of fitness guidelines that fall somewhere in between those two extremes, and there are several suitable scales to measure personal fitness levels in a way that fits well with the general rigors of tech diving.

The first is the Cooper 12-minute run test. It is used to gauge aerobic endurance, and is perhaps the most straightforward to self-administer. I run a “diagnostic” on myself a couple of times a month and track the results on a spreadsheet. The test simply calls for the subject to warm up and then run as fast as possible for 12 minutes. Results are evaluated on distance covered within those 12 minutes.

A run of more than 2700 metres is excellent, 2300 – 2700 is good, 1900 – 2300 is average, 1500 – 1900 metres is below average and less than 1500 metres is poor. Over the years I have dropped a category but find it has been worth the effort to maintain a rating on the upper end of “good” for several reasons, including resting gas consumption rate.

(The approximate imperial conversions are respectively: more than 1.6 miles is excellent, 1.4 – 1.6 miles is good, 1.2 – 1.4 miles is average, 0.9 – 1.2 miles is below average, and less than 0.9 miles is poor.)

Running speed and endurance are good indicators for tech diving but so too is overall flexibility. There are two methods I use to test flexibility: modified sit and reach, and trunk rotation. Both are part of a whole raft of fitness tests published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and I would recommend a visit to their website for additional ideas. Flexibility in the hamstrings and lower back have been an issue with me since childhood and I always find the first of these tests a challenge.

Modified Sit and Reach Test
This gauges the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings and requires a box about 30cm (12 inches) high and a metre rule:
1. Sit on the floor with your back and head against a wall. Legs should be out straight ahead and knees flat against the floor.
2. Have someone place the box flat against your feet (no shoes). Keeping your back and head against the wall stretch your arms out towards the box.
3. Have someone place the ruler on the box and move the zero end towards your fingertips. When the ruler touches you fingertips you have the zero point and the test can begin.
4. Lean forward slowly as far as possible keeping the fingertips level with each other and the legs flat. Your head and shoulders can come away from the wall now. Do NOT jerk or bounce to reach further.
5. Slowly reach along the length of the ruler three times. On the third attempt reach as far as possible and hold for 2 seconds. Have your training partner read the score. Repeat twice and compare your best score with the table below. (All measurements in cm.)

Gender Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
Male >40 cm 29 – 40 cm 23 – 28 cm 15 – 22 cm <15 cm
Female >43 cm 34 – 43 cm 23 – 33 cm 17 – 22 cm <17 cm

Trunk Rotation Test
This flexibility test measures trunk and shoulder flexibility. The only equipment required is a wall and a piece of chalk or pencil.

1. Mark a vertical line on the wall. Stand with your back to the wall directly in front of the line. You should be about arms length away from the wall with your feet shoulder width apart.

2. Extend your arms out directly in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Twist your trunk to your right and the touch the wall behind you with your fingertips. Your arms should stay extended and parallel to the floor. You can turn your shoulders, hips and knees as long as your feet don’t move.

3. Mark the position where your fingertips touched the wall. Measure the distance from the line. A point before the line is a negative score and a point after the line is a positive score.

4. Repeat for the left side and take the average of the two scores.

Rating Positive Reach (cm) Positive Reach (inches)
Excellent 20 8
Very Good 15 6
Good 10 4
Fair 5 2
Poor 0 0

Because of the nature of water and the effects of buoyancy, above average strength does not seem to be as critically important for tech divers as it may be for other sportsmen and women. However, some strength building and testing is in order since divers with arms and legs like noodles will be at a distinct disadvantage moving gear from one side of a parking lot to the other, and may find it close to impossible to get themselves and their equipment back onto the boat in a big sea.

The US Marshal Service has a well-respected and openly published set of fitness and flexibility guidelines for the men and women on its staff. These guidelines have been used by some of the tech diving community for years. Some time ago while researching another book, I modified those tables and developed a set of values that seemed to work for most able-bodied course candidates. These values are based on the figures from the US Marshal tables for above average males in each age category.

Age % body fat Sit and Reach Push-ups Sit-ups 2.4 km run
20-29 5.3 – 9.4 >50 cm >50 >45 < 10 mins
30-39 14 – 17.5 >45 cm >38 >40 <12 mins
40-49 16 – 20 >42 cm >35 >37 <14 mins
50-59 18 – 22 >40 cm >33 >35 <15 mins
60 plus 19 – 23 >38 cm >31 >33 <17 mins


Want to learn more?

Technical Diving Liveaboard in Australia

Cairns liveaboard “Spirit of Freedom” had the pleasure of having Michael Menduno and David Strike on board for our 4 day Coral Sea trip.

Cairns, Australia

The vessel departed Lizard Island for Osprey Reef on the 17th of March. The sea conditions were excellent making it possible to voyage to Bougainville Reef on the last day. Bougainville is one of the best reefs within the Coral Sea where not many other vessels dive. During the trip we dived in 60m+ visibility on 1000m+ walls at a number of dive sites, making it impossible to miss the marine life that inhabits these reef systems, such as manta rays, hammerheads, silver tip sharks, groupers and turtles. Other interesting marine life sighted included many species of nudibranch, scorpion fish such as the lacey and various types eels and snakes.

One of the highlights of the trip was the shark feed. Osprey Reef has some of the healthiest shark populations in Australia. This shark feed benefits the local shark population by keeping them on our reefs and not on the back of commercial fishing boats. The feeding is simple. First the divers are directed to a patch of rubble on the reef where they are positioned on their knees around a reef pinnacle. After the divers are in position, a bin of tuna heads is taken underwater by a pulley system. When the bin is pulled down, Chris pulls a cord that releases the lid of the bin where a number a buoys are forced to the surface pulling out a chain attached with tuna heads.

During the feed this trip, over 30 sharks arose from the deep and violently destroyed the tuna heads. The feed made for some excellent photos and got the adrenaline pumping.

David and Michael both quoted that this was “one of the best liveaboard trips they had ever experienced”. It was an honor to have these two well respected and experienced technical divers on board Spirit of Freedom for this trip. They were great blokes and very modest. David and Michael have made many positive impacts in the technical diving world, helping to shape it into what it has become today. Cheers for an awesome trip guys. Below is a brief overview about Michael and David, and their contributions to the technical diving industry.

Michael Menduno

Responsible for coining the term “technical diving,” writer and
technologist Michael Menduno founded, published and served as
editor-in-chief for aquaCorps: The Journal for Technical Diving
(1990-1996), which helped usher tech diving into the mainstream of
sports diving. He also produced the tek, Eurotek and Asiatek
conferences, the forerunners of Oztek, and the Rebreather Forums 1.0
and 2.0 and edited, “Proceedings of Rebreather Forum 2.0,” published
by DSAT in 1996

Michael worked with Capt. Billy Deans to set up the first technical
diving training center at Key West Diver in Key West, Florida, which
quickly became a Mecca for tech divers from around the world and
helped write the first technical diving training manuals. He was
diving trimix before there were mix certifications, and studied,
trained and dived with industry notables including; Jim Baden, Ed
Betts, Jim Bowden, Stuart Clough, Capt. Billy Deans, Sheck Exley, Lalo
Fiorelli, Larry Green, Kevin Gurr, Lamar Hires, Jean-Pierre Imbert,
Jim King, Gary Gentile, Steve Gerrard, Dr. Bill Hamilton, Lad
Handelman, Tom Mount, Phil Nuytten, Rob Palmer, Richard Pyle, Peter
Readey, Tracy Robinette, Dick Rutkowsky , Joel Silverstein, Karl
Shreeves, Brian Skerry, and Wings Stocks and Hal Watts.

David Strike

Learning to dive in the UK in 1961, David Strike has worked as a Royal
Navy diver; as an offshore commercial diver in the North Sea gas and
oil fields and – since emigrating to Australia with his wife and young
family in 1973 – has had an active involvement in recreational diving,
both as a recreational and technical diving Instructor and Instructor
Certifier. Certified (rather than ‘qualified’!) on open circuit, as
well as rebreathers, surface demand, and standard diving dress
apparatus, his training credentials include certifications from ANDI,
BSAC, GUE, IANTD, PADI and SSI, as well as the legendary diving
company, Siebe-Gorman.

Establishing a successful, internationally-affiliated media
representation organisation while simultaneously continuing to teach
diving, he was one of the first divers in Australia to embrace
Technical Diving – and the first to dive recreationally with Nitrox.
Selling his interests in the media company in 1991, he joined the
embryonic Asian Diver magazine as its first Field Editor, since when
he has: assisted in the 1995 launch of the first Asian Dive Exhibition
& Conference (ADEC), and the first ‘Tek-Asia’ Conference; served as a
Board member of Dive Australia – the country’s former peak diving
industry body; was the co-publisher and editor of, ‘Professional Diver
Journal’ – a quarterly magazine for occupational, military and
technical diving enthusiasts; authored the world’s first book on
Live-aboard dive vessels; written a crisis management manual; and
penned several hundred articles covering all aspects of diving that
have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.

Having travelled and dived extensively throughout the European, Asian
and Pacific regions over five decades – and in a variety of roles –
Strike continues to maintain his passionate interest in an activity
that has dominated his life. He is currently the organiser of the
internationally acclaimed OZTeK Diving Technologies Conference and
Exhibition, and is a Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York.

BBT at OzTek 2011

PADI Asia Pacific have a great booth lined up with a CD Update and their very first PADI TecRec Instructor Trainer Crossover scheduled for after the show.

Mark Caney, Vice President, Rebreather Technologies is one of the key speakers with a presentation explaining the new PADI/TecRec rebreather courses (room 6A on Saturday at 11am) and Terry Cummins,  Director, Market Development has been asked to be one of MCs and will make a presentation at the Gala Dinner.

“Few shows in the world can pack a punch quite like Australia’s OZTeK.”

OZTeK’11 is ramping up to deliver a spectacular, action-packed weekend of underwater info-tainment with something to capture the imagination of everyone who dives.

Combining a meaningful exhibition with continuous talks, seminars and workshops delivered by some of modern diving’s most knowledgeable personalities, OZTeK’11 is more than just another dive show – it’s where diving adventure and excitement begins.

Dive Exhibition

Australia’s biggest showcase and one-stop-shop for all that is new and innovative in diving equipment, products, training programmes and services, the OZTeK’11 Dive Exhibition features everything that divers need; from regulators to rebreathers, compressors to computers, as well as underwater cameras, lights and accessories, exotic dive travel destinations, and an exciting complement of leading live-aboards.

Talks, Seminars and Workshops

With more than forty of the world’s most prominent diving authorities on hand to educate and entertain, the main conference Programme has now been finalised – although several Exhibitor Workshops and “Open Session” seminars are still to be added – and is now available for viewing on the website, together with the Saturday evening programme for, “An Evening with Diving’s Explorers”.

Speakers at OZTeK’11 include: Samir Alhafith, (AUS); Leigh Bishop, (UK); Steve Burton, (Thailand); Mark Caney, (UK);  Dr Stuart Cannon, (AUS); John Dalla-Zuanna, (AUS);  Kevin Denlay, (AUS);  Joe Dituri, (USA); Richard Evans, (AUS);  Dr Andrew Fock, (AUS);  John Garvin, (AUS); Grant W Graves, (USA); Karen Gowlett-Holmes, (AUS) ; Kevin Gurr, (UK); Dr. Richard Harris, (AUS); Sean Harrison, (USA); Paul Haynes, (UK); Jill Heinerth, (USA); Jarrod Jablonski, (USA); Trevor Jackson, (AUS); John Lippmann, (AUS); Richard Lundgren, (Sweden); Casey McKinlay, (USA);  Jeff Maynard (AUS); Michael Menduno, (USA); Pete Mesley, (NZ);  Professor, Simon Mitchell, (NZ); Martin Parker, (UK); Simon Pridmore, (Indonesia);  Ben Reymenants, (Thailand); Lance Robb, (AUS); Mark Ryan, (AUS);  Brendon Sing, (Indonesia);  Dr Mark Spencer, (AUS); Tim Smith, (AUS); Rick Stanton, (UK);  Steve Trewavas, (AUS); Shane Wasik, (NZ); Mike Wells, (AUS), and Des Williams, (AUS).

For more detailed information on the various talks and seminars, view the Presentation Previews, or to find out more about who’s talking at OZTeK’11 click on the individual speaker names appearing in the opposite column, or visit the website’s lists of Speakers and Emcee’s .

Conference Passes and Session Tickets

Gold Passes – Two-day access to the complete Conference Programme

Silver Passes – Single-day access.

Half-Day Passes – Morning and Afternoon sessions on each day.

Session Tickets – Exhibition entry for one person and choice of any two presentations taking place within set session times.


While tickets to the Exhibition component of the event will cost just $15.00 and be on sale at the door, there’s no better way to enjoy the entire OZTeK’11 experience than with the advance purchase of a either a Gold or a Silver Pass.

Priced at just AUD$240.00, the Gold Pass offers delegates full two-day access to all of the speaker presentations – including, ‘An Evening with Diving’s Explorers’ on Saturday12th March – workshops and seminars, as well as unlimited access to the exhibition and other Exhibition activities.

Single day access (either Saturday 12th – or Sunday 13th March) is also available by purchasing a Silver Pass at AUD$140.00, while for those with limited time, but an interest in combining a visit to the exhibition with either a full morning or a full afternoon session of presentations, Half-day passes will be available for sale at the registration desk on both the Saturday and Sunday, and will cost just $75.00.

For the benefit of Exhibition visitors keen to hear just one or two speakers – or who have an interest in a particular presentation topic – Session Passes will be available at a cost of $40 and include:  Exhibition entry for one person plus access to any two presentations taking place within the designated session times; or a single presentation should two friends decide to share the cost.

Gala Awards Dinner

Tickets to the highly acclaimed GALA AWARDS Dinner at, ‘Dockside Cockle Bay’ – overlooking scenic Darling Harbour – on the evening of Sunday 13th March 2011, are now available for sale via the website.

Featuring magnificent food and wines – and open to everybody who appreciates and enjoys the social side of diving –  the OZTeK’11 Gala Awards Dinner will begin at 7 pm and includes: a full three-course gourmet dinner and drinks (unlimited wines, beers and soft drinks), guest speakers, and the opportunity to win one of the many outstanding ‘Lucky Door’ prizes – including overseas trips and state-of-the-art equipment – generously donated by sponsors and exhibitors.

Celebrating the achievements and endeavours of Australia’s leading Divers and Dive Industry personnel a highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the OZTeK’11 AWARDS.

A fun-filled evening with plenty of social networking opportunities,  please click on Gala Dinner Tickets for more information.  

The OZTeK 2012 “Down-Time” Symposium and OZTeK’13

Maintaining its momentum as a leading world forum focussed on advanced diving techniques and technologies, the sponsored two-day, conference-only “Down-Time” symposium will take place over the weekend of the 10 and 11th March 2012.

Details of this – as well as preliminary information on the full-scale OZTeK’13 event – can be viewed in the Media Release section of the website at:

Information and updates on all that’s happening at OZTeK’11 can be viewed on the website in the final days leading up to the event, or be obtained by contacting the organiser at:

Technical Diving in Cairns Liveaboard

Live on the ocean as your explore the great barrier reef during your technical diving.

Cairns, Australia

Big Blue Tech has started running technical diving liveaboards off the coast of Cairns on a purpose diving built vessel the Spirit of Freedom.

Spirit of Freedom is one of Australia’s most comfortable and well appointed live-aboard dive vessels. At 37 metres in length, with three decks of living space, generous cabins with private bathroom, the Spirit of Freedom offers all the amenities of a hotel, complimented by first class meals and outstanding service. A large dive deck with nitrox and photo facilities, houses every convenience to ensure comfort, safety and freedom in your diving.

Spirit of Freedom has been awarded an Advanced Eco Tourism Accreditation by Eco-tourism Australia. The program is endorsed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and identifies and monitors high standard marine tourism operators who follow best practices that are ecologically sustainable and help to protect and preserve the Marine Park to a high standard. Spirit of Freedom is committed to our responsibility to contribute to the protection of our environment and to pass on this rich heritage to future generations.

Chris Haslam, managing director of Big Blue Tech Australia says “This is the perfect vessel for our working relationship for trips out to the reef. Technical diving in Cairns is a new concept and we’re excited to be working with a well known and trusted company for our support”

Trips varied in length from 4 to 7 days are available most year round. Contact for more information.

Technical Diving Down Under

Cairns, Australia

Big Blue Tech is proud to announce the launch of the Big Blue Tech Australia branch located in the diving town of Cairns in Queensland with direct access to the Great Barrier reef.

Big Blue Tech is a global technical diving community with locations in England ( Thailand ( and now in Australia (

Big Blue Tech Australia is being headed by SSI Instructor Trainer and Technical Diving Instructor Chris Haslam who is a resident of Cairns. Chris has many years working in the recreational diving industry in Australia and is launching the first Technical diving company in Cairns which has famously been known only for recreational introductory diving courses.

Working with companies like Dive Rite in Australia and supported by SSI and TDI we hope for a successful start and look forward to seeing all our ozzie friends joining Chris in the coming months.