For many divers, even the thought of technical diving makes them nervous. Even some tech divers often get a bit anxious when depths below 40m are mentioned. This anxiety isn’t a bad thing – it shows the divers strong respect for the water and the depths, as well as the potential hazards it poses. But that’s not to say they don’t enjoy it. For most tech divers, the real appeal isn’t in going to the deepest depth or being the last person in the water. The real appeal is that with technical training, many restrictions set in sport diving are lifted.
Diving with a twinset is one of the best ways to bridge the gap between sport and tech diving. Although a twinset is classified as a technical set-up and opens up a whole range of new opportunities, it can also greatly benefit sport divers.
Firstly, the fact you have two cylinders instead of one means that you effectively double your potential dive time (No Stop Decompression limits are obviously still adhered to in sport diving). Having the extra cylinder on your back does mean that you face twice the drag you would with only a single cylinder, but provided your position in the water is fine tuned to the best it can be, you can reduce the impact this will have on your dive. Plus having the second cylinder means that you can have a little more confidence in your air consumption and know that you will have enough air should you need to share it with your buddy.
The majority of divers that use twinsets in the UK tend to use the ‘Manifold’ set up, which effectively binds the two cylinders together to create a single larger air space with distinguished isolation valves. This means that should you need to isolate a cylinder in the event of a first stage failure, you can still use the air from both cylinders even with the faulty first stage closed off.
Twinsets also allows divers to get a feel of the essence in tech diving without needing to move into advanced studies and courses. It is recommended though, that for anyone considering moving on to a twinset to study the ‘Advanced Nitrox’ and ‘Decompression procedures’ with TDI, so that should you run into emergency decompression, you are well equipped to deal with the situation.
All ranges of cylinders are used to compile a twinset, from two seven-liter cylinders to two eighteen-liters (we wouldn’t recommend this though!) there is always an option for anyone looking to move on to the next step. Many divers prefer to use either twin 10’s or twin 12’s as this allows a considerable amount of extra gas without becoming overly bulky.
With all of that said, I think it is only fair to also talk about the reasons that twinsets might not be for everyone. The vision of tech diving to many seems to be a glamorous and exciting change to what sport divers experience, and to an extent they’re not too far wrong. It does allow dives to depths that many can’t reach and for longer. But the reality is, the majority of the time tech divers will dive the same sights as any sport diver and spend the same amount of time there. So if you are happy diving as you are and seeing the sights you can already see, then moving on to tech might not be the best choice just yet.
This outlook also makes many new divers aim to become tech and accelerate through their courses to progress on too quickly. As the instructors here at Waterfront will always reinforce, experience is paramount compared to certifications. No course can give you the skills you learn from real diving, although they can give you pretty good guides. If you are thinking of moving into tech diving, but are unsure if you are ready then the likelihood is that you’re not. Slow down and log more dives until you feel certain you are ready to move on. The seas aren’t going anywhere and neither are the technical courses. We would recommend a minimum of 50 logged dives before considering moving into technical diving, preferably in a range of situations and environments.
So all in all, twinsets can offer a glimpse into the world of tech diving for those thinking about it without jumping in at the deep end (excuse the pun!) but the progression shouldn’t be taken lightly. Speak to Andy, Ken or Dave in the Waterfront Store and they will be able to advise further of your potential progression and what gear you will potentially need.
Diving with a twinset can open up new worlds and can free up your diving in a new way – just be sure you are ready and have the funding for the gear. A whole new level of diving awaits!