Wreck-diving is a discipline as different from open-water scuba as college is from kindergarten. The basic certification course introduces a non-diver to the subsurface world, and provides him with the essential knowledge and skills necessary to enable him to immerse his body in water and discover that, with artificial devices, he can still breathe. However, a check-out dive and a C-card do not prepare a person for the rigors of wreck-diving. Most certifying agencies offer specialty courses designed to present the entry level diver with new challenges, encouraging him to improve his proficiency under controlled supervision. This step-by-step approach is good because it ensures that a diver does not get in over his head, so to speak, by taking on more than he can handle. What the beginner sometimes fails to realize is that dives conducted in different environments and under a variety of conditions require an intimate understanding of himself and his limitations, and of the water into which he is about to plunge: the ocean is more than a pool with a larger circumference. By increasing his skills incrementally and by gaining a gradual appreciation for the deep, a diver can achieve his full potential safer and more rapidly.
This book is a primer for one particular and very captivating activity: diving on shipwrecks. It proposes to offer practical information, as opposed to theoretical or mathematical; that is, how to conduct a dive on sunken ships, not what happens to the body under pressure. Furthermore, it intends to address the grimmer realities that are often overlooked: entanglement, equipment flooding, seasickness, and getting lost at sea, to name a few. To a certain extent, these unfortunate events are overemphasized in order to make up for the fact that they are seldom addressed in class or in popular publications: they make uncomfortable enlightenment at best. My intention is not to scare anyone off, but to acquaint people with worst case scenarios that may never occur, and to impart information that is otherwise unobtainable.
The topics covered include equipment modification, thermal protection, access to sites, current and surge, wreck orientation and navigation, night diving, photography, pharmacology, and a riveting rivet by rivet account of how shipwrecks got the way they are and why they look the way they do. The text is extensively illustrated with color photographs from the author's collection; eight illustrations demonstrate the evolution of shipwreck collapse, from an intact hull to a field of debris.
Primary Wreck-Diving Guide is the first of the three Wreck-Diving Guides. It is followed by the Advanced Wreck-Diving Handbook (deep air diving, decompression methods, wreck penetration, and more), which itself is followed by the The Technical Diving Handbook (which introduces nitrox, mixed gas, accelerated decompression using oxygen, and other high-tech concepts).
ISBN 0-9621453-9-4 softcover with color covers 6 x 9 vertical, 160 pages, 169 color photos, 9 black & white photos, 8 illustrations, $20.
The Advanced Wreck Diving Guide was the seminal work that first introduced the fine art of wreck-diving to an entire generation of divers. For many years it was the only book of its kind. No other book had the temerity to discuss such esoteric topics as wreck penetration, deep diving procedures, decompression methods, or artifact recovery, preservation, and restoration. Such subjects were forbidden by the certifying agencies.
I could afford to write such a book because I was not affiliated with any of those agencies. I owed allegiance to none of them. I was a maverick, a nonconformist, existing on the fringe and exploring beyond the accepted norm: diving deeper, staying longer, and penetrating farther. I belonged to a small coterie of divers who made dives every weekend that the certifying agencies disavowed. Before the phrase technical diving was invented and became respected, we were known as gorilla divers.
Up and coming divers who wanted to learn the techniques that were used to dive safely on shipwrecks were left on their own. They had to either learn by their own mistakes, a time-consuming and sometimes costly enterprise, or they could read my book or attend my workshops. By the time the certifying agencies jumped onto the bandwagon of wreck-diving, and accepted the fact that the activity was here to stay, I had long since moved ahead and published the Ultimate Wreck Diving Guide: the first book on another topic that the certifying agencies proscribed: nitrox and mixed gas helium diving: what came to be known as technical diving.
Because I was never involved in the politics of diving, I could afford to write anything I wanted without any form of censure. Divers were eager to learn what their certifying agencies kept from them. The marketplace is now full of wreck-diving books that are somewhat less than authoritative. That is why I saw a need to reproduce material from the Advanced Wreck Diving Guide. Rather than simply reprint the book in its original form, I have taken this opportunity to expand, revise, and update the text to reflect advances in equipment and refinements in technique that have been made over time. Although The Advanced Wreck Diving Handbook is an outgrowth of the Advanced Wreck Diving Guide, it is a brand new title that can stand on its own. This new volume is more than twice the length of the original on which it is based. Sprinkled throughout the text are odds and ends of historical interest, to place present wreck-diving practices in context with the past, and to show the reader how wreck-diving evolved to the way it is today. There is no predicting where wreck-diving will go tomorrow.
The present volume bridges the gap between Primary Wreck Diving Guide and The Technical Diving Handbook, both of which are still in print. The former book is an introductory guide for divers who have little or no understanding of shipwreck environments and dynamics. The latter is for skilled divers who wish to extend their range of exploration by breathing alternative gasses such as nitrox and helium mixes.
ISBN 1-883056-29-2, softcover lay-flat binding, large format 8 1/2 by 11, 136 pages,193 color photos, 8 black and white photos, fully indexed, $30.
The Ultimate Wreck-Diving Guide was the seminal book on technical diving: the primogenitor of its kind. It was written at a time when nitrox, accelerated decompression, helium mixes, rebreathers, and other emerging techniques and technologies were yet in their infancy. The publication of the original volume propelled deep diving into far deeper realms of the dark abyss.
The Ultimate, as it came to be called, was considered pure heresy by those who opposed progress. The purpose of the book was to introduce to the information-starved masses that a small group of exploratory divers was stretching the underwater envelope, and how they went about doing it. Call it an awareness guide.
Ignited by the author's vision, technical diving has taken off like a launched rocket, accelerating faster with each passing moment and carrying with it a payload of unknown dividends. What began as new phase in the slow progress of underwater exploration has grown with lightning-like speed.
Evolution became revolution. Almost overnight, the concepts of "high tech" and "extended range" diving entered the forefront of human awareness.
The rite of passage is over. Technical diving has come of age.
Underwater explorers can now share the benefits of space-age spin-off hardware and developing decompression methodologies. The present volume incorporates recent innovations that were unavailable until only a few years ago, and in some cases were nonexistent when its predecessor first saw print.
Acquaint yourself now with such new and exciting devices as the programmable nitrox wrist decompression computer, the personal computer interface, the hoseless pressure gauge, a heads-up mask display, decompression software for laptops, a submersible electric heating pad, and more.
Also included in this handbook are equations and tips for blending nitrox, trimix, heliox, and heliair; instructions on how to build an in-water oxygen decompression station; the procedures and the chemicals needed to clean tanks, valves, and regulators for oxygen service; and a complete chapter on how to plan and conduct expedition style mix-gas diving operations.
The previous book was the ultimate. This one goes beyond.
ISBN 1-883056-05-5, softcover lay-flat binding. Large Format 8 1/2 by 11, 192 pages, 125 color photos, 12 tables, 12 equations, fully indexed, $30.