If you want to know how which kind of experience a rebreather corse is read this report regarding my rEvo Extended Range CCR course ! It was lot of fun !
Coming back ” home”
I ‘m on the ferry gently sliding away from Bari’s dock at 10pm with a beer in hand and I feel happy and proud for the job done in Monopoli, a beautiful little old village off the coast of Puglia. I have just finished a Diving Instructor Evaluation with 4 candidates, and I really had a great time, but now I’m even more excited knowing that my new rEvo rebreather is waiting for me in Kron Diving Center in Rab,Croatia.
The ferry will navigate overnight to Dubrovnik where I’ll rent a car and drive for 6 hours north to the island of Krk where Andreas will come to pick me up by boat. The rest of the group attending the rEvo rebreather course is already in Rab waiting to start the program. I spot the Black Pearl coming gently in my direction and I raise my right arm to gain their attention. Sergio, the chief engineer AT Mares welcomes me on board. I hug Andreas and he immediately understands the look in my eyes- I’m happy to be ‘home’.
The Black Pearl has 500Hp that push the rubber boat back to Rab in less than 40 mins. I chat a bit with Sergio who I last saw months ago. During dinner at the great restaurant ‘Dupin’ at Kron Diving Center I meet Gerald: my second buddy on the course. We discuss the schedule, Gerald’s impression of the rEvo (he already did some nice dives in Elba Island) and we are all excited about the days ahead.
The next morning I wake up at 7 and, although the meeting is at nine, I want to see my new ‘baby’, so I reach the diving center before everybody else. I’m like a kid on Christmas day who can’t wait to open the presents piled up under the tree! When I spot my big box my heart beat increases and I start to unpack it.
Surprisingly the unit is almost completely assembled and it will take few minutes to set it up. I even find a rEvo black t-shirt in the box and some other spare parts. A couple of hours later I’m in the bay at 5 mt trying to adapt my breathing style and my buoyancy skills to this new device: it’s not easy at all.. Breathing is different, but what amazes me the most is the silence in which I can hear only my heart beat. Buoyancy is probably the most difficult skill to manage due to the fact that my lungs are not working as a fine tuning buoyancy device anymore. Breathing in a closed loop, in fact, will not change your body volume and therefore neither your buoyancy.
The rEvo Exyended Range CCR Course starts
Simon Taylor is arriving the day after directly from Egypt where he only teaches rEvo courses, and he will co-teach us the User and Extended Range rEvo CCR program with Andreas. It’s nice to meet a new friend full of knowledge to share with us! Now we can start the program with the theory part and an equipment workshop. Andi and Simon go through all the rEvo parts and the preparation check list. It’s crucially important to follow this in order to avoid missing some controls, especially for inexperienced rebreather divers like us.
The theory part scares me a bit because it’s filled with potential dangers that you can face with incorrect usage of the unit so I’m constantly taking notes and asking for clarification. It’s strange and interesting to feel like a beginner diver after 20 years of experience as a dive pro! It’s time for our first confined water (we will do two) were we will work on safety drills like how to ‘bail out’ (getting out of the rebreather loop when something goes wrong and breathing from a stage tank that should always be part of the rebreather dive equipment) and to handle the three most dangerous potential problems: hypercapnia (excess of CO2), hyperoxia (excess of O2 partial pressure) and hypoxia (too low O2 partial pressure). The first problem can develop if the scrubbers are filled in incorrectly, if they are exhausted or if the non-return valves of the breathing hose (mushroom valves) aren’t working properly. In this case the CO2 exhaled will not be eliminated. We also understand how to react if there is a malfunction of the machine, and how ascending and descending will affect our oxygen partial pressure.
Open water dives with rEvo
The first day is gone and we meet for a debriefing and a great dinner together. We all come from different cultures and life experiences: I’m Dutch-Italian and a diver-trainer with experience in dive center management and I ’m also a ski instructor, Sergio is a Swiss-Italian engineer, Gerald is an Austrian company President, Andreas is the German owner of a tech diving center and Simon is a British trainer living in Egypt. That’s the beauty of diving: although we are so different each from one another we are all on the same course sharing this incredible experience and social levels don’t exist anymore. Everyone brings his point of view to the course and the program becomes something unique.
We all can’t wait for the open water dives and the day after we will go diving twice. The first thing we need to remember is that you always have to close the mountpiece when is not in your mount, but we do not have the “muscle memory” yet, so me and Gerard flood the unit. We are both frustrated because this means aborting the dive, but this is part of the learning process and we will double check to close the mount-piece for the rest of our lives!
Debriefings and dinners are always relaxing moments where we discuss the day, and there is no better moment than with a nice bottle of wine and a great meal in front of us to understand what went wrong and make up our minds to improve things the next day.
After a few more open water sessions we finally reach the Extended Range CCR Diver certification and we celebrate it with big hugs with our amazing trainers: Simon, Andreas and Michael (an expert cave rEvo rebreather diver who joined us over the last days).
Receiving the diploma is for me, Gerald and Sergio a really emotional moment! We know that this was a unique experience and a little piece of our lives that will remain unforgettable for us… Again, diving has given us amazing moments and new friends, and that’s what diving is all about: incredible experiences! The day after we say goodbye to each other, promising that we will meet again for a dive. We know that will be difficult, but we are working together and we will manage to do it. Our lives will take different paths, but this week will remain in our hearts forever. We were a team for a week and we always will be!
conclusion on rEvo Rebreather
Moving underwater in complete silence, approaching sea life which would be impossible with normal SCUBA equipment, having reduced decompression obligations, not having to worry about gas management, breathing warm and humid mix and always having the best mix for the depth are only few of the advantages that a CCR unit offers to a diver.
I’ll definitively dive more and more with my rEvo unit and build up enough experience to use it even for Trimix deep dives where the cost of the gases is normally quite important. See you soon underwater, and if you see a silent diver smiling in his mask it’s probably me!