This is late in the writing but I've had a fair number of people requesting this class report.
While doing my UTD Divemaster training I decided that I should also do Tech 1. T1 is something I wanted to do before but was unable to schedule it. One of my regular dive buddies, Tony (J.A.S. on the board) decided he'd sign up with me. Maciek happily signed us up and then we waited... and waited...
The class was rescheduled multiple times for various reasons but finally we managed to get the show on the road...
Day 1 & 2.
We reviewed dive planning, deco, decompression illness, and a whole host of other academic topics. Some of this was review for me from previous UTD classes, some was new to me, and some was confusing because of a mismatch in training materials and current think. But we braved it and did well!
Dry runs and then hit the water. Mostly we focused on team building, failures, and ascents. These were simple failures: valve drills, lost mask, and primary light failures but I don't recall that they were yet compounded. It was a bit rough but the feedback of the day was "I think you guys may pass the class if you keep your act together". Certain improvements were expected.
We hit the water and focused on more valve failures and lost-mask excercises. Failures were now compounding. I certainly had some work to do in this area. I haven't actually practiced valve drills or the nine failures much in the past so I was having a hard time executing the correct procedure.
When it came time to do mid-water skills, I re-learned how to use my drysuit. Until this point, being NAUI DS trained, I used the DS for buoyancy instead of mostly the wing. At the 20 ft. stop during valve manipulation excercises I would dump some air from my DS when reaching back and then lose my depth, inflate back up to 20', repeat for hours.
It was annoying, it was discouraging. Using a 6 cf. argon bottle filled to 3000 PSI before the dive, 30 minutes through it I would run out. A nice little surface chat later, I changed to diving shrink-wrap and much better holding the position.
One of the best performances of the day was the no mask touch-contact along the line back to the upline then ascend, we did better blind -- almost perfect -- then when we could see. Even did a bottle switch while air-sharing while one of us was blind and on the other turn both were maskless and we did our ascent pretty well and our stops.
After a week of relaxation we returned with an extra day of training to get things right. By this time, all the issues were resolved and we very quickly moved onto ascents, individual and team bottle handling, and compound failures during open water ascents.
Our performance was remarkably well, our act was together, our schedules were spot on despite intervening failures and task loading, we were cleared to move on to experience dives.
We met on the Island Diver to visit the Palawan wreck. Clearly we were a little rusty (it has been a while since we dived the open water) because we lost the line on initial descent but did a reset and ended up enjoying the wreck with an average 120' for 20 minutes.
I over did the deco a few minutes on the way back but we did pretty well.
When I returned to boat I got terribly sick so I ended up sitting the second dive out. The verdict is in: we both passed! Woo-hoo! Hurray! Kawabunga! Hoo-Ra! <whistles> <clapping> <singing> <summer saults and backflips>
It was a fun class, an "interesting" learning experience and journy for myself. I put immense pressure on myself to do well and perform to exacting standards but the level of performance was far higher than what I had even practiced prior to the class. But I came through and became a better and more capable diver in the process. But there is not denying, it was a struggle.
My best advice and learning experience from this is that when taking these types of classes, don't put so much pressure on yourself that it is impossible to think straight. Let your instructor critique you but for heavensake, don't critique yourself and stress yourself out. Refinement will happen both during but mostly after the class. We take these classes to learn and grow into the new skillset, not to certify that we mastered the skills before entering class.
Certification means you understand the course material and have demonstrated the understanding and some measurement of proficiency executing skills. It does not mean you mastered them effortlessly but it does mean you can safely go explore the ocean within new boundaries. Mastery will come before you sign up for the next level class.
I'd like to thank Tony for being my buddy, Maciej for being our instructor and putting up with us. Jamie for filming and Nick because he's always a great compadre to have around, the Avalon for sinking, the fish for being there and a hole host of other people for various reasons.
[Edit] Changed Avalon wreck to Palawan