DIR – What its not…or Scientology meets Scuba
Before you read this...Please realise that it was written with the intent of providing a brief history lesson to the advent of DIR style philosophies. Years ago DIR mullahs attacked everyone and everything that didn't agree with them on the internet. Their equipment outbursts raised the bar a little too high obviously as their own brand of equipment is ironically worse than the mainstream offerings. I say this because I have used it many times and occasionally have even purchased it when no alternatives were available. I am sick of diving sub-standard poorly designed equipment especially (and even more so) when it comes from companies that continue to shout 'We are Doing it Right'. Unlike DIR divers I am open to suggestions, if you have something constructive to say then say it...if it makes sense I will post the mail on a suitable forum for discussion. If you send me nonsense/viruses and the sender is anonymous or fictitious I can hardly be held liable for where it goes when it gets returned ;-)
A long time ago (early 90’s)…in a galaxy…far… far away a group of divers awash with best intentions created the philosophy of Doing It Right.
DIR was meant to promote better technique for safer Florida Cave diving – it focused on equipment configuration, plus general procedures for team based cave exploration.
The DIR concept was helpful and now and again made some sense until it was taken and used as a shameless marketing tool by a few of its key proponents. DIR is purely a brand nowadays as relevant as any other but devoid of the infamous George who banged its marketing drum for a few years until DIR shareholders realised his bullshit was actually harming the growth of the companies behind it. Below is a brief history of how a few individuals exchanging information about good and bad kit and procedures turned into a quasi-Gestapo organisation rubbishing anything that wasn’t theirs.
Circa 1995 came the Tech-diver internet bulletin board clamouring with a new wave of pseudo-experts pie fighting from soap boxes usually anonymously. Top of the Bullshit vendors were the WKPP with its diminutive fascist leader George (GIT). The bravado usually smacked of a ‘we is better than you’ mentality plus ‘our cave is the best’, but more sinisterly came the equipment recommendations thinly veiled as adverts for their sponsors.
After allegedly completing a long cave dive and completing a ‘hardly arduous’ long deco in a habitat…virtual extreme mullah GIT was apoplectic in triumph and vented his ramblings to anyone crazy enough to believe it from his laptop on high. The weak and the needy thronged to listen to a new leader. Most Ironic was GIT’s anti drugs/alcohol/deep air stance which was especially hard to swallow as it only stemmed from his personal inability to do those things right or even in moderation. GIT found god and the internet had to find cover as a daily tirade of self importance, self worshipping uber-bollocks filled our computer screens. GIT’s gang were even so spineless as to intimate that others with an axe to grind were high-jacking GIT’s email account and poisoning the airwaves unbeknownst to him.
GIT usually (but often justifiably) slagged off training agencies as often as taking a breath but was in fact a lowly tech instructor himself for a spell before being expelled for calling the then just deceased and genuine cave diving legend, Rob Palmer a C@NT on a public forum. The tech diving contempory comic Aquacorp carried a lively piece covering GIT’s outbursts, especially funny were his personal disparaging size-ist comments aimed at DUI drysuit’s ownership team. Would a modern tech disciple even fathom that DUI suits were not DIR a few years back? How times have changed.
Wannabee DIR divers should search the archives for this flan-flinging article and wince as it describes GIT recommend people shoot themselves with his bed side gun and how the 5’7 stockbroker botched 90metre air dives while breathing Nitrox 27 for some reason. GIT was also quite entertaining with his exchanges with his arch nemesis Tom ‘Mouth’ with his 65,000 logged dives.
Anyways…GIT is gone – and DIR ™ emerged like a phoenix from the ashes with an equipment range, a training agency, a rebreather and all manner of rules and regulations aimed at entertaining the flock.
Lets take a look at what’s DIR and what’s not – starting with equipment.
Bungeed wings clearly add stability to a diver wearing twin tanks. The DIR organ grinders usually spout that Bungeed wings create unacceptable drag and shouldn’t be used- this is total rubbish. Most divers dive in the sea and as a rule swim with the prevailing current. Their other argument is that bunged wings deflate quickly if holed underwater. In my experience it is fairly difficult for a wing or BCD to hold any air for long if punctured, with or without bungees. The bungeed wing debacle is more of a copyright issue and a loss of face issue in that GIT couldn’t get a Bungeed wing maker to sponsor his circus. The argument of streamlining against the constant cave outflow makes some sense but then why then wear a membrane drysuit with its millions of ridges, each one detracting from the divers smooth profile??
Caves in Florida are always warm and perfect for wetsuit use (which incidentally is far smoother and therefore more streamlined also).
Dual bladdered wings are a much better alternative to buoyancy back-up, the DIR ™ approach of a single wing and a drysuit to offer back-up buoyancy only works with aluminium tanks and is virtual suicide with heavy steel tanks. In their defence DIR divers are told to only wear ali tanks – as long as they only dive in warm Florida caves this might work. If however you dive outside Florida in the proper (cold) sea with steel tanks, do your self a favour and get a dual bladder wing. I would love to see a DIR guru compromise his safety by ascending from depth with an over blown drysuit leaking in cold water as the neck seal billows. Staying at the surface with just a drysuit for buoyancy in a choppy sea is a whole other issue.
Why are all DIR drysuit’s black in colour, the same as there fins and wings??? Somebody trying to do something correctly should wear brightly coloured equipment to aid being seen surely??
DIR ™ cave divers are notoriously bad at planning dives in ocean/tidal conditions – they should consider wear pink drysuits to aid the rescue services :D
I made the mistake of buying a Halcyon wing a couple of years ago. GIT would have certainly had a rant about the early build quality of these gems. The inner bladder was protected with clearly second hand tyre inner-tube and the inflators were deadly. These inflators either constantly and extremely dangerously inflated the wing, or were impossible to deflate as the deflator spring was far to strong to press with one finger (possibly developed with GIT's strong right hand muscles in mind). The inflator assembly was and still is, a plastic body machined with metal components. Whenever the metal was tightened the plastic threads were stripped…pure genius!!! It’s a brave man who buys a second hand Halcyon wing unless it’s a recent design.
While we are on the subject of wings lets discuss back-plates and harnesses with the ubiquitous DIR ™ continuous loop webbing. When I did some Florida cave training the instructor kept waffling about the need for having no quick releases. The instructor had heard some yarns where the buckles had broken and caused the tanks to fall of the victims backs and they died hideous tortuous deaths etc. Total bullshit is all I could offer back to this sheep. If a clip breaks – nothing will happen…nothing at all – the waist band will keep the tanks in place . In my 19 years of full time diving so far I have never seen a harness clip break underwater and only twice on the surface – both times on rubbish quality recreational BCD’s. A continuous webbing harness is difficult to get off at the best of times even at the surface. If the diver cannot remove the equipment themselves then the only alternative for the buddy is a knife or scissors routine. Continuous loop harnesses are just more unnecessary bullshit doctrine from the DIR ™ camp. Make life easier for yourself and get a breakaway on your harness (only one is necessary)
The regulators promoted by DIR divers are purely chosen to satisfy US sponsorship deals. The constant hose length arguments are simply ways of increasing revenue for dive centres as custom length hoses are more expensive than stock. The DIR branded long hoses I bought recently were clearly very poor quality lightweight hose and lasted as little as 4 months. If you want to do something correctly – use a brightly coloured long hose also, they are much easier to see in bad light or low visibility.
Diving with loose second stages is more suicidal antic than useful technique. I have seen idiots trying to emulate their heroes diving with loose hoses and they looked very un-cool when the 2nd stage unscrewed completely and left long hoses snaking though the water pissing out gas.
DIR ™ divers always seem to strangely favour high performance regulators on deco bottles…more nonsense aimed at making dive centres cash in lieu of safety. When a high performance regulator free flows you lose more gas. High performance regulators are more likely to fail as they have more knobs and whistles in both 1st and 2nd stages. Sensible divers should use low performance piston regulators on deco bottles, plus they are cheaper both to buy and service, and ultimately safer to use with oxygen.
When I see a DIR ™ disciple with a high performance regulator on an Argon bottle - I laugh out loud. Apart from the increased failure risk, the gas flows faster and therefore cooler than a low performance model. On a similar note - forget argon bottles, they just show how gullible you are. Inflate drysuit with your weakest deco mix. I would estimate that 99% of DIR divers dive in warm water, so why O why do they wear drysuit's inflated with Argon? - of course its only air in the suit tank but the sticker looks sexy.
I really love the SMB design mandated by DIR ™ instructors. It’s a fairly standard SMB that has a BCD inflator attached for ‘easy’ inflation. GIT had an oft quoted phrase of ‘convoluted bullshit’ related to equipment design. If the inflation method of removing your drysuit inflator hose, attach it to a SMB to inflate it doesn’t qualify for the title ‘convoluted bullshit’ then nothing does. Imagine being dragged screaming to the surface with your drysuit hose jammed (as often happened with early models or even the latest versions that have a degree of verdigris build-up).
Taking extra steps to achieve something unnecessary is convoluted. Sensible divers who prefer the exterior of recompression chambers should simply exhale a breath into an open ended smb and sell their Halcyon smb’s to newbie DIR ™ idiots on ebay! Does somebody want to buy mine?
I cannot wait to see the new DIR ™ transparent SMB. Designed for the discerning DIR diver who doesn’t want to stand out in the crowd or ruin the vista of their local quarry, the transparent SMB can be deployed badly again and again totally anonymously for inept low self esteem types : D
What can possibly be DIR about using
Imperial measurement??? The metric system is clearly superior for depth
measurement and all planning calculations. Probably the next thing DIR agency
gurus will advocate is that all proper DIR divers must write their dive-plans in
Aramaic or something equally as useless as Feet and Inches.
Finally lets talk DIR ™ decompression. I have somewhere an email where GIT polishes the knob of Mr Bruce ‘smoke and mirror – rgbm’ Wienke in a speech to thank him for all his help with the allegedly long habitat decos performed by them thar KPP boys. If RGBM is the way to go 'Mr Deco expert' then why is this weeks incarnation of Decoplanner using VPM????????????? You probably did do some ‘way to short’ RGBM nonsense decos in your hardcore marionette habitat and I hope that you are suffering awful osteo-necrosis as payment for promoting this bullshit to the masses. And what is this nonsense about needing to be a marathon runner to do successful deco? If you guys are getting bent because your not uber-fit then get some better deco software...or even a dive computer - most are suitable nowadays for even 70 metre (300ft) weenie dives :D
Standard Gases -
might seem initially a good idea where all divers within a team use the same
gases, the choices for DIR divers are
|33-45m||21/35||Weakness - Needs deco gas to decompress from fully - unnecessarily chilly to breath in cold water. EAN or Air better suited to this depth|
|48-60m||18/45||Weakness - MUST HAVE 2 DECO GASES Impossible to deco on back gas - 21/20 or Air better suited to this range in ocean|
|63-75m||15/55||Weakness - MUST HAVE 2 DECO GASES Impossible to deco on back gas - 18/30 better suited to this range in ocean|
|78-121m||10/70||Weakness - TOO MUCH RANGE. Mix is wholly inappropriate at
78-120m. 10/70 will give very long deco bordering suicidal in cold
water. Trimix divers should be encouraged to breathe optimal mixtures during deep dives not breathe these ridiculous standard
mixtures that often contain massive helium fractions such as these.
DIR HQ must know that 99.99% of divers are not going into any overhead environments where low END's
maybe more appropriate. Low END's have very serious implications regarding DCS and ascent speeds, not to mention
the heavy thermal complications, extra cost etc.
Maybe experience and higher END's are better suited for dives to 80metres+ rather than masses of Helium!
Remember...Helium wont help you control your drysuit or wing bouyancy, or send up an SMB - Practise instead.
All agencies whether diving,
priesthood or government need to be accountable, the ones that shout that we are
'holier than thou' need additional scrutiny of course because their message
'seems' to be shouted louder and more credibly than the others. The Doing IT
Right concept is a good one when indeed it is a good one. The current DIR ™
system is full of sometimes very dangerous holes.
The author of this article saw a response on a internet forum to this text and quoted that DIR divers don't in fact need to wear Black drysuits as DUI did in fact manufacture more colourful ones. He also stated that Halcyon made a Blue wing also and that black was not mandatory. Doing something right is not about choices readers - If DIR 'was' committed to DIR then all of its divers would be wearing Blue or Red wings and all of its divers would be wearing brightly/gaily coloured drysuits. With such important, possibly even life saving equipment with regard to visibilty both underwater and on the surface - Black wings and drysuits are definitely not optimum or DIR. For DIR gurus to even offer black equipment means that they do not understand what DIR means. Oh yes. of course there may be other reasons...like a desire to 'look' army and pander to their inner Navy SEAL or the oft ignored fact that colour choice means less profit or 'teams' just look better in the same colour suit (lets forget that underwater Black is the worst colour to photograph)
Anyways, like everything nowadays – nothing is what it seems and you don't get what you pay for. There is very little right with the current Doing IT Right system – Don’t believe the Hype.
RANT OVER – DEEP RELAXED BREATHING