Floating Deco Station

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The shipwreck diving platform is a combination of two elements: the down line system and the free floating deco station.

It requires four people to easily deploy these two apparatus. Surface Support, Safety & Expedition Divers will all help deploy these tools.

To setup the down line system, the first thing you need to do is hook the wreck.

  1. To hook the wreck we use a large anchor/hook made from a car axle with 3 prongs of rebar welded to it on 200-350′ of rope.
  2. Once we hook the wreck, we remove as much slack from the line as possible and tie a knot to clip on the floats.
  3. Any extra rope is bunched up and placed in a rope bag which is also attached to the knot
  4. Finally someone attaches the two large floats (buoys).
  5. We back the boat off and make sure the wreck is actually hooked (lesson learned the hard way).

Once you’re sure you’ve hooked the wreck, you start to assemble the floating deco station on board and prepare to hook your floats.

  1. One person prepares the carabiner and weight on the long rope side of the deco station while someone hooks the floats.
  2. Once the floats are pulled up, you hook the carabiner under the rope bag (or else it won’t slide down to 120′ where we want it to be).
  3. Now you have two teams working in unison on the two sides of the deco station to mount the cross beams that make up the 10′ increments for 20 -50′.
  4. Every 10 foot of deco station rope has a ring tied into it; the rings are color coded to match on each side.
  5. The team working the long line of the deco station calls out a color as they clip a cross beam to that ring.
    • Often the first cross piece beam (at 50′) also has a bag of goodies included with it (e.g. water, headphones, etc.) and an additional Oxygen bottle + reg (charged and off)
  6. The short line team repeats the color as they clip the other end of the cross beam to that color coded ring.
    • 50′ red – red
    • 40′ blue – blue
    • 30′ yellow – yellow
    • 20′ green – green
  7. The final step is for each team to attach the orange float balls to the top of the line (before they let it go into the water).
Floating Deco Station

Floating Deco Station

Pacific Northwest Dive Clubs and Groups

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Online dive forums and resources can be a great source of information and help you get excited about learning new techniques, exploring new dive sites or areas, and meeting new dive buddies.

Always remember that people’s opinions vary, as does their actual experience and knowledge on a just be aware of that as you get advice.

Recreational Forums

  • Northwest Dive Club: Local pacific northwest focused dive forum. Lots of folks talking about diving, good place to find regular local dives.
  • Scubaboard: Scubaboard covers recreational diving all over the world. Need advice on diving in the Caymans, they’ve got a sub-forum for that. Want to know about diving in Fiji, no worries…they have a Pacific Islands Forum too.

Technical, Rebreather & Cave Forums

  • The Deco Stop: A forum focused on technical and cave diving. Great info and a wealth of info, but comments can get snarky for novices asking questions who haven’t done their research independently.
  • Rebreather World: Community focused on rebreathers. Great place to learn and ask questions about rebreathers.
  • CCR Explorers: Rebreather focused forum, also heavily leaning toward cave discussions.
  • Cave Diver’s Forum: As the name implies, all about the caves.

Local Groups & Clubs

Archaeological & Exploration Teams

Other Great Local Technical Training

Scuba Checklist

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Night Before

  • Plug in Rechargeable Light Battery / Change backup batteries
  • Charge Scooter Battery (if you have one)

Don’t Forget to bring

  • Scuba certification card (if you need gas fills)
  • DAN Card (just in case)
  • Dive Log & RDP
  • Crab License
  • Headlamp (if at night)

What to Wear to the Dive Site

  • Sweatpants
  • Swimsuit (if in wetsuit)
  • Flip Flops

Dive Day Gear

  • Mask / Backup Mask
  • Snorkel (optional)
  • Wetsuit / Hood
  • Gloves / Booties
  • Fins
  • Drysuit / Drygloves / Spare gloves / Hood / Wrist Tubing
  • BCD / Wing / Backplate
  • Weights for BCD
  • Weight Belt / Harness
  • Dive Light
  • Regulator, gauge and safe second
  • Tanks
  • Dive Computer


  • Light snacks
  • Hot Drink (soup, coffee, tea, water, cocoa)
  • No coffee until after dives (dehydrates)
  • Warm water for wetsuit (2 gallons in cooler)
  • Water bottle
  • Floor mat to stand on

After Dive Clothes

  • Towels (2)
  • Warm Hat
  • Baseball hat
  • Long sleeve wicking shirt
  • Fleece
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Warm coat or blanket

Pre-dive safety check

Bruce Willis Rules All Films

  • Buoyancy Compensator
  • Weights
  • Releases
  • Air
  • Final Okay

Five Point Decent: SORTED

  • Signal
  • Orientation
  • Regulator
  • Time
  • Equalize
  • Descend

Five Point Ascent: STARS

  • Signal
  • Time
  • Airway (look up)
  • Reach (BCD exhaust up)
  • Swim (don’t use BCD to rise)

On Ascents, also Remember

  • No faster than 30ft/min (follow smallest bubbles).
  • Deflate BCD while rising.
  • Safety stop @ 15ft for 3 mins


  • Problem, end dive and ascend
  • VENTID => Vision, Ears, Nausia, Twitching, Irritability, Dizziness
  • Cylinder – Nitrox labeled, O clean, contents label
  • Blenders – DSAT certified? Recent Gas Quality Verification report?
  • Analyzer – calibrate to 20.9%
  • Oxygen partial pressure – 1.4 normal, 1.6 emergency

When Crabbing

  • Crab License
  • Crab Gauge
  • Crab / Lobster Bag
  • Cooler for crab
  • Ice for crab
  • Garbage bag and ties to line cooler / prevent spills

Standard Gases

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I often get asked how do you know what mixes of bottom gas to take on a dive? There are two schools of thinking here, Best Mix for the dive or Standard Mixes for a variety of dives.

Essentially Best Mix means you calculate the mix based on the planned depth of the dive. So for a dive to 130′ fsw, at a PPO2 of 1.4, not getting into the narcotic gases and deep air arguments you will undoubtedly hear, the best mix is 28%. For 120 fsw, it’s 30%. You use Dalton’s Diamond to figure out the mix for the depth you want and you mix it.

When I started technical diving, I followed the best mix philosophy. While I still think for a given well planned dive, it works very well and can shave off some deco time… logistically it’s not as easy to be prepared to do a variety of dives. You need to plan the dive and get the fill for that specific dive. With standard gases , you can have a few sets of tanks available to do a wide variety of dives. This is even more true when you get into rebreather diving and bailout tanks, but that’s another article.

The standard gases philosophy is promoted by some of the largest Doing it Right / Dive it Right (DIR) agencies. While they still have a few practical differences between their standards, and if you search the web historically they’ve had even more changes over time… the basic gases are very similar, if not the same.

Below I’ve listed the UTD Standard gases. You can also check out the WKPP Approved Gases page for another nice view of this data (albeit slightly different as it’s GUE, not UTD).

Bottom Gases (Average PPO2 of 1.2)

Gas     ->  Working Range
32%    ->  0′-100′
25/25 ->  90′ – 130
21/35 ->  100′ – 160′
18/45 ->  160′ – 200′
15/55 ->  200′ – 250′
12/60 ->  250′ – 300′
10/70 ->  300′ – 400′

Deco Gases (PPO2 = 1.6)

Gas     ->  Working Range
100%  ->  20′ – 0′
50%    ->  70′ – 30′
35/25 ->  120′ – 80′
21/35 ->  190′ – 130′
18/45 ->  240′ – 200′

Oxygen Breaks

  • UTD: 10 Minutes On / 5 Minutes Off
  • GUE: 12 Minutes On / 6 Minutes Off

Interesting Rationale on selecting these mixes as Standard Gases from a thread with AndrewG (head of UTD, previous training head of GUE):

Look at the original criteria for standard mixes in order of importance:

  1. Must be able to partial pressure blend by adding helium and then topping with Nitrox 32% at a local dive shop
  2. Must have a low PPO2 at it’s max operational depth. 1.2 or less
  3. Must have a buffer zone for safety. If you need to rescue someone or go deeper then there is a buffer.
  4. Must have a narcotic equivalent depth of 100′ or shallower based on the conservative formula of (1-he)*ata”

What to Expect on Open Water Night One

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Typically Open Water Classes are either taught in two ways:

  • Four Days of Classroom & Pool, 1 Weekend of Open Water Dives (e.g. Tues/Thurs, Tues/Thurs & Sat/Sun for Open Waters)
  • Intensive: Two Full Weekends, actually starting on Friday evening.

For the regular four day class, please come prepared to your first night having completed the Knowledge Reviews for the first three chapters of the Open Water Manual.

For the Intensive sessions, you need to be completely DONE with reading the book and ALL of your knowledge reviews before Friday evening.

On your first night we will:

  1. talk logistics
  2. go through our paperwork (ensure it’s signed, filled out correctly, medical releases are in order (if required), etc.
  3. do our Continuous Surface Swim & the Survival Float
  4. learn how to connect your BCD, tank and regulator
  5. potentially complete dives 1 & 2 in the pool

Don’t forget:

  • swimsuit & towel
  • mask, fins & booties and a snorkel [you will also want your gloves for the final day or night so you can practice with them in the in the pool]
  • your Open Water Manual
  • completed knowledge reviews 1-3 (or 1-5)
  • student folder [we’ll fill it out together if you haven’t already completed it]
  • completed medical questionnaire from your doctor, in the event any of the questions were YES

We’ll also be encouraging you to borrow one of the shop wetsuits for the pool, but if you’re planning on going to the tropics anytime soon, buying a 3mm shortie wetsuit before class is a great way to use your own suit in the pool for class.

The Open Water courses include rental scuba gear for open water, so don’t worry about buying all new toys before class. You’ll likely want to chat with us before buying them anyway.

What to Expect on Your Open Water Dives

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We will do Open Waters at Alki Cove 1 or Cove 2 (depending on the crowd). We’ll be having LOTS of FUN, but there are a few things that will make that even more fun:

  • Get some nice warm tea / cocoa / soup and enjoy it before you arrive
  • BRING HOT WATER to warm yourself up (e.g two gallon milk jugs kept in a cooler, or just a cooler full of warm water. You can stand in it and pour the warm water down your wetsuit)
  • Bring food if you need munchies
  • Bring a bottle of drinking water too… you’ll be working and we always want to stay hydrated

Day 1 (Saturday):

  • Two dives to a max depth of 40′, approx 20 minutes each
  • Open Water Gear
    • BCD
    • Regulator
    • 2 tanks (make sure they have enough gas before you leave the dive shop)
    • Weights
    • Wetsuit
    • Booties
    • Gloves
    • Mask, Fins, Snorkel
  • We should be done by Noon on Saturday.
  • Don’t forget to Refill Your Tanks after diving Saturday in preparation for Sunday.
  • Don’t forget to Bring a Passport Photo (for your certification card for Sunday)

Day 2 (Sunday) STARTS at 1PM.

  • Two dives to a max depth 60′, about 20 minutes each
  • Gear (same as Saturday)
  • We need to fill out paperwork Sunday, so we probably won’t be done until about 2p Sunday.