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A True Champion

BILL MARDEN HAS SUPPORTED RAID SINCE ITS BEGINNING How many people have had a Dive Centre for almost half a century and taught for most of it!? Perhaps only a stubborn, belligerent, bloke could do this, but he’d have to be honest, hardworking and a great Instructor. Meet Mr Bill Marden owner of SubAquatics in Sydney. A well-educated man himself, as a gunsmith and engineer he successfully combined both businesses with a dive centre. His reloading tools are well renown and his engineering feats are exported worldwide. A great seaman, at one time owning three boats, with skills that could have been garnered from serving with Lord Nelson (though he missed that opportunity by just a few years!), he was a pioneer around Jervis Bay and Sydney, finding and exploring sites and wrecks, many still dived today. An original FAUI (Federation of Australian Underwater Instructors) member, Bill is his own man with traditional values and teaches diving as he lives with a “do it right or don’t do it” attitude. In the early days he was always seen around Sutherland Shire and no doubt was the envy of other dive shops as he had a great rapport with the university students which meant he frequently had courses during the week as well as weekends. His students all know you pay for his course but earn the certification. In 2014, after suffering what Bill considered to be the “increased commercialisation and market driven” attitudes of major training agencies which were driving standards of divers down, he happily joined the RAID evolution when it had its re-launch to the world and embraced (even as an ‘old dog’) the new approach to training. He freely admits he learned new skills through RAID training and qualified as Sidemount, Technical Instructor and Rebreather diver. All of us at RAID agree that Bill has no boundaries as long as his ethical and moral compass is not asked to waiver. When working with Bill, he was quite often one of the oldest participant, but he always had the brightest outlook and the youngest approach. He embraced new teaching styles even when they differed massively to those he had practiced for decades. If Bill respects you, he will follow you into the gates of hell, he is a friend for life. Since 1965 when Bill began diving he has completed more than 7000 dives, and is an accomplished UW photographer who loves wrecks. The last few years Bill has suffered some health issues and is not actively teaching or working but in his true manner has told the doctors more than once that he’s not ready to hang up his reg and continues to plan dive trips! He doesn’t believe in ‘luck’ but we wish him all the best regardless and hope to see him in the water soon. Bill is a true Champion of diving and RAID are honoured to work with him.

A Note About Personal Dive Computers


PDCs ADD TO DIVE SAFETY… BUT PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK Recently, there have been a few social media posts that send mixed messages about the roles and benefits of personal dive computers to recreational divers. It could be that the winter layoff in the northern hemisphere has ‘rusted’ familiarity with PDCs for some divers, and they have forgotten the basics, but we figured a quick recap might do some good. Let’s start by saying that RAID is a strong advocate for PDCs. We require students to understand and use them from OW20 on. (Although standards do allow basic divers to substitute depth gauges/bottom timers and traditional dive tables, PDCs are recommended even at beginner levels nevertheless.) Secondly, regardless of how many dives you have, how long you’ve been diving, or which PDC you use, if it and you have been dry for a month or two, a good plan is to reread the owner’s manual! Especially the section on setting conservative levels, and how that translates to your well-being! You might be reminded of something important. All that aside, most of us feel a whole lot more comfortable, and protected with a PDC helping on our dives. And here’s why However, that said, in spite of the many benefits PDCs provide, and the safety advantages of having real-time information about one’s dive, and instant feedback on decompression status, they’re not a panacea. Wearing a PDC cannot guarantee immunity to DCS; nothing can. Decompression sickness is one of the risks we can manage but never iraticate. One another note: PDC are not immune to suddenly going pear-shaped… especially if battery warnings are ignored! If your computer screen goes black part way through a dive, try to relax. As long as you’ve been diving within recreational limits, a dodgy PDC is an inconvenience rather than a dive emergency. Step one, your dive is over, no questions. Step two, check your cylinder pressure because having plenty to breathe is critical. Once that’s done, and you know you have plenty of gas, you’re golden. Signal your buddy, let them know you have an equipment issue, and then make a controlled ascent to the safety stop. Execute it (an extended stop would be best as long as you have sufficient gas), surface normally, establish buoyancy and explain the issue to your buddy. You might apologize and offer to buy the dessert at supper or something comparable. And as for fixing the issue, chances are that the problem is a dead battery… and that’s a simple fix. However, to be extra safe, it does mean you are out of the water for 24 hours. Hope this clears things up for anyone who’s getting back in the water after a long dry spell. #theraidway™

Which brand is your choice?


FOR THE PROFESSIONAL, IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHAT WORKS FOR THEM Some choices simply seem odd to those of us looking at the world from a different vantage point. For example, I have never developed a taste for the ubiquitous Canadian morning eye-opener, a “double-double” from Tim Horton’s. For those readers unfamiliar with the Tim’s franchise — a nationwide operation — a “double-double” is a large coffee with two shots of cream and two spoons of sugar. And although I understand that denouncing Tim Horton’s coffee in a public forum, puts my Canadian citizenship in jeopardy, I can’t drink it… not even one mouthful. Sorry, Canada (and many franchises operating in a handful of North-eastern states), I find it awful. It isn’t to my taste. Obviously, since Tim’s is popular enough to be the brand of choice for Canadians from sea to sea to sea, there are more than a few people who’d disagree and I expect to get messages to that effect any day now! But isn’t it great to have freedom of choice? What brought this to mind is an active thread posted on an online dive industry job market. Someone posted a “my-coffee-is-better-than-your-coffee” type of message. Of course, they were comparing certifying agencies and not coffee shops, but the intent and audience reaction were about the same. Very few people agree on which of the roughly 120 dive agencies in the world, really is the best. No problem identifying the biggest, but biggest is not the best. At least not for everyone. The argument that a single option is fine, the status quo is king, and universal brand recognition trumps everything, is… well… a bandwagon fallacy. It’s the same as saying that because Tim Horton’s coffee is the most popular in Canada, ergo, it must be the best. It ain’t! I wouldn’t even try to guess the reasons why a dive shop owner on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, chooses to certify through XYZ agency, while his sister, an instructor in Come By Chance, Newfoundland, prefers to work with ABC. That’s entirely up to them. As long as they understand that what makes sense to them, may not work for the shop down the street or one situated on the opposite coast. And in fairness, they have to accept that choice is good. It’s what keeps the industry vibrant. Without choice, standards, teaching methods, the way we adapt to new technology would become stagnant. That would be a disaster. Change and innovation are good. And I think it’s much harder for the established brand leader to try different things than it is for a smaller operation with more of a ‘bespoke’ approach. But, that’s just an opinion. When I lived in Maine, I bought a bumper sticker from a beautiful little coffee shop in a nearby college town, which read: “Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.” I have to bite my tongue sometimes, because I feel the same way about teaching for one or two of the major players in the dive industry. Truth is, I have strong views on the subject, but of course, I’m biased… and in the final draft, making a poor choice is anyone’s prerogative. I believe instead, it’s best to work to bring positive CHANGE to the dive industry, but respect another’s choice to stick… well, to stick in the mud. And if you ever find yourself driving through Toronto’s Little Italy district, there’s this little cafe… – Steve Lewis – #TheRAIDWay™

Risk Management


THERE’S MORE TO IT THAN ASSIGNING BLAME… Playing around water is risky. It really makes very little difference whether the game is freediving, recreational diving on a shallow reef, or navigating through the twisted remains of a battleship sitting in the dark at 80 metres. It can be dangerous, and if something goes wrong, it’s human nature to look for someone to blame. However, assigning blame is very different to actually fixing the problem. In fact, blaming ‘some clown’ for an accident or a near miss is as far away from fixing a issue as one can get. The goal of every RAID instructor regardless of what they teach, is fixing problems. In fact, the goal should be to manage the risk before a problem shows its ugly head. Here are some simple steps to help make that happen. Unfortunately, we can never eliminate all risk from diving. Slippery poolsides, trips over an equipment bag left in a gangway, cylinders falling off a bench, the consequences of dehydration, bumping into firecoral or the sharp edges of a shipwreck’s hull: we cannot take them away. All we can do, as divers or instructors, is work at making the risks associated with this wonderful adventure, acceptable. And that’s what risk management is all about. #Theraidway™ MANY THANKS TO MHA CONSULTING FOR THE EXCELLENT GRAPHIC KUDOS TO PASH BAKER FOR THE ORIGINAL IDEA FOR THIS POST

Getting the most out of RAID’s Independent diver program

THIS BLOG POST IS AIMED AT DIVE PROS…THE DIVER VERSION IS HERE>>> Promoting RAID programs, in particular ones that are brand new and have no history, is exciting, but presents a challenge too. Independent Diver is a stand-out. It’s something totally new and while it offers a really useful and interesting addition to the RAID lineup, we thought you might appreciate a few tips on the best ways to get its special message out to your customers.  Here are eight ideas that you’ll find helpful. Identify Your Target Audience: This program is an adventure. It opens up all kinds of possibilities with massive appeal to experienced divers who sometimes dive with less experienced buddies. Create Compelling Marketing Materials:  Hit your email list with a campaign to introduce Independent Diver and its benefits to your customers. Let them know it’s available through your shop. That will give them a reason to call or drop by to find out more. Use the SoMe ads available in the RAID Dropbox to get your customers interested. Schedule the first course and get it filled. We think they will thank you for it. Utilize Social Media: Leverage social media platforms to reach a wider audience. Share details about your program, post engaging content, and interact with your followers to generate interest. Use RAID photos or take your own. Create a quick 30 second video. It does not have to be a Hollywood production to appeal and to get across the right message. Post it on all your platforms. Don’t forget to have a call to action. Collaborate: Work with Instructors and Partner with your customers and any key figures in the local diving community who can help promote your program to their followers. Offer Promotions and Discounts: Attract new customers by offering special promotions, discounts, or package deals for your new program. Couple the open water portion of your Independent Diver program with a trip to a really special local site. Blow your customer’s socks off. Host Events or Webinars: Organize an instore event and an online webinar to explain the special equipment, the skills, and the benefits specific to this new RAID program. We think it’s special. Make that point clear to your customers. This is new, it’s different to anything else. It fits with the whole RAID ethos. Gather Customer Testimonials: Encourage satisfied customers to share testimonials or reviews about their experiences with your program. Positive word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool ever. Engage With Your Customers: As with your day-to-day marketing, stay connected with your customer base through regular communication, feedback surveys, and personalized interactions to build trust and loyalty. The internet makes all this easy and effective. Good luck!

It’ll take your breath away


RAID STATIC APNEA PROGRAM We are thrilled to announce the launch of our innovative Static Apnea Program. This groundbreaking initiative represents a significant development in our offerings, and we have high hopes for its success and impact within the diving community. This specialty program can be taught by all active RAID Freediving Pool Instructor. (This program is restricted to activity in pool or pool-like conditions.) It is the ultimate guide for anyone looking to master the mentally demanding discipline of static breath-holding in freediving. ​ Whether a student is a beginner or an experienced freediver, this comprehensive manual provides step-by-step instructions, expert tips, and detailed tables to help them increase their breath hold time and achieve a personal best. ​ Learn relaxation techniques, visualization strategies, and the important role of a buddy in static apnea. ​ With this manual, students will gain the knowledge and confidence to excel in static apnea and take freediving skills to new depths. ​ Static apnea, what most of us would call ‘structured breath holding,’ is practiced for various reasons besides being an essential part of freediver development. These include health benefits for all water enthusiasts including scuba and rebreather divers! Some potential benefits of static apnea for health include: In addition, unlike other RAID diving activities, static apnea is a Competitive Sport where participants compete to hold their breath for the longest time possible. This adds an element of excitement and motivation for those interested in pushing their limits and setting records.And of course, static apnea training is one of the central principles of freediving, and during the coming months, RAID will be boosting its freediving program. The launch of this completely new, totally revamped, recreated static apnea program is one of the first steps. Static apnea for scuba divers Static apnea, or breath-holding, can be particularly beneficial for scuba divers as it helps improve breath control, lung capacity, and overall comfort in the water. Here are some specific benefits of static apnea for scuba divers: Increase in breath-holding time: By training in static apnea, scuba divers can improve their ability to hold their breath, which can be advantageous when diving underwater for extended periods. Enhanced relaxation: Practicing static apnea techniques can help divers stay calm and relaxed underwater, which is crucial for conserving energy and avoiding panic while scuba diving. Improved lung capacity: Static apnea training can expand lung capacity, allowing divers to take deeper and more efficient breaths, which can be beneficial for buoyancy control and overall comfort while diving. Better equalization: Breath-holding exercises can help divers improve their ability to equalize pressure in their ears and sinuses, reducing the risk of discomfort or injury during descents. It’s essential for scuba divers who practice static apnea to know the guidelines, and safely and gradually increase breath-holding times to avoid hypoxia or other risks associated with breath-holding exercises. Additionally, divers should always dive within their limits and be aware of safe diving practices. So, this course is a must-have. Overall, static apnea combines physical endurance, mental focus, relaxation, and competitive spirit, making it a unique and cool activity for those interested in breath control and challenging themselves. ASK YOUR LOCAL RAID DIVE CENTRE FOR DETAILS>>>

Take your Freediving deeper and longer


ANNOUNCING RAID ADVANCED FREEDIVING COURSE So, what’s this course all about and why you need it? This whole course is structured to build on the comfort level you achieved during your RAID Freediver course and refine the core skills of freediving to become a more confident and proficient freediver. Improving your equalization techniques and learning new skills will empower you to overcome barriers and advance safely. The confidence you gain through knowledge and skill development will add to your in-water performance and safety / buddying skills. Expect to explore experiences of static apnea and free-falling and develop your dive reflex to be quicker and stronger, giving you the edge to safely take your freediving career further. You will also work on dry land techniques to stretch and increase lung capacity through simple but effective exercises. Most important to know is that your instructor will keep you moving at a pace that is comfortable to you. There is no time limit to complete the skills and if you want more sessions your instructor will advise you. Your progress is very personal and will be a guided journey shared with your experienced RAID advanced freediver instructor. Some of the open water skills you will perfect Format/Duration The actual number of sessions to complete this course very much depends on the progress of the student and the instructor’s assessment of the student’s comfort performing the required skills. Usually, one day with two in-pool sessions do the trick. The same criteria apply for the open water sessions. That segment of this course is divided into four distinct sessions. Each session has associated goals and specific targets that students must achieve to earn a pass. And that alone is what will dictate the actual length of your Advanced Freediver Program. However, the standards for this course do specify minimum limits To be certified, the student must fulfil the following requirements. Prerequisites Each student taking this course must: Each student must have a: CHECK IT OUT RIGHT NOW! Learn more about the course by visiting RAID’s FREe-Learning. Login to your personal profile or set one up if you don’t already have one… it’s FREE and allows you access to ALL RAID’s courses. You’ll learn these confined water skills All Advanced Freediver confined water skills must have been passed and met. You’ll learn these open water skills All Advanced Freediver open water skills must have been passed and met.

Be the best buddy ever…


CHECK OUT RAID‘s INDEPENDENT DIVER PROGRAM Since RAID first opened its doors, the agency and its instructor core have promoted diving at every level as a team endeavour. Scuba diving is something done with a buddy. However, the buddy system is based on a each of the team being equals and equal to the task. And all that centers on two or three divers with more of less equal experience, training, and ability. A group of peers each being capable and willing to lend a hand when needed without putting their buddy or themselves at risk And yet we all know that there are plenty of occasions when we may be obliged to dive with a fellow diver who is not a peer. He or she may have less experience, may be counting on us to guide them. When we dive with a youngster, can we really expect them to offer a high-level of support, and get us and themselves safely back to the surface? As an instructor, can we count on our students to help us in a real emergency? Should we? How about diving with a camera? Are we a good buddy when we are concentrating on framing the perfect shot of a nudibranch crawling around on the lip of a barrel sponge? And can we honestly rely on our buddy when they are hovering over the forepeak of the wreck we are photographing, which puts them 10 metres or more away from our side? There are many instances like this when an experienced diver is essentially diving without the guaranteed support of a buddy, and those divers are who we had in mind when we developed our Independent Diver Program. The major skills taught in this course focus on the mindset and familiarity with special equipment that allows an experienced diver (one with 100 logged dives or more) to dive safely and comfortably without having to rely on a buddy for support in the case of an underwater ‘surprise.’ This course is about planning dives where the core competency is the ability to self rescue. And of course, one outcome of that is that a RAID Self-Reliant Diver makes the absolute perfect dive buddy! TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS COURSE, CONTACT YOUR LOCAL RAID DIVE CENTRE>>>ARE YOU A RAID PRO WHO WANTS TO TEACH THIS NEW SPECIALTY? CHECK THIS OUT>>>

Independent Diver Overview

INFORMATION SHEET FOR RROs AND PROFESSIONAL MEMBERS Description: This course teaches certified RAID divers with at least 100 logged dives, three main additional skills so they are competent and confident diving without the guaranteed support of a buddy. These skills are managing a ‘stage’ or bailout bottle; deploying a DSMB; safely and effectively managing several pieces of backup equipment. Public Release date: April 2, 2024 Type of credit needed:                   Diver – Specialty CreditInstructor – Specialty Instructor CreditInstructor Trainer – None needed, see standards Who can teach this course?Active RAID Independent Diver Instructor – information for being certified as an instructor is at the end of the document. INDEPENDENT DIVER (STANDARDS)NOTA BENE: RAID’s Independent Diver course is a recreational no decompression program for open-circuit divers… nothing more. I. Purpose This course is designed to safely train students to: Dive independently without the guaranteed support of a capable buddy. Divers in this program will follow best-practice, established procedures to deploy various piece of backup/redundant gear, use a DSMB as surface marker and buoyancy aid, and to prepare, carry, and use an independent gas source (bailout bottle) Bailout must be breathable at the maximum dive depth. Bailout must have sufficient volume to complete a safe ascent including the required safety stop. Note: NITROX is not required but is recommended. II. Student Prerequisites Be a minimum 18 years old, 16 with parental consent. III. Student to Instructor Ratios Confined WaterA maximum of 8 students: 1 instructor Open WaterA maximum of 4 students: 1 instructor IV. Depth Limitations During TrainingTraining dive depth limits of individual dives are outlined in Independent Diving training materials. Overall, training dives must not exceed the maximum depth 6 meters / 20 feet in confined water and 40 meters / 130 feet in open water. At least two dives should be deeper than 20 meters / 70 feet. V. Supervision A certified RAID Independent Diver instructor is defined as an in-status RAID sidemount, Deco 40 (open circuit) instructor or higher, and any RAID CCR instructor. All training must be conducted by an instructor. The instructor must be physically present and in direct supervision of all segments of training. A certified assistant must be a RAID Divemaster or higher who is certified as RAID Independent Diver. VI. Equipment Requirements VII. Course Requirements To earn certification, the student must fulfill the following requirements: VIII. In-Water Training To be certified as a RAID Independent Diver student’s must complete these requirements to the instructor’s satisfaction and must confirm their personal comfort with the listed skills in the RAID online QA system. IX. Certification The Independent Diver certification entitles the holder to dive without the potential assistance of a dive buddy to a maximum depth of 40m/ 130 feet (following their existing certification and experience) in conditions similar or better than those experienced during training using air or nitrox. BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT DIVER INSTRUTOR RAID deco 40 (or better) instructor, including cavern, cave 1 and all CCR instructors (although, please note, this is a recreational open circuit program). This also includes RAID sidemount instructors, but excludes twinset instructors because they do not, by default, have any experience with a stage or bailout. Also, able to teach the RAID program is any member who teaches a corresponding program from a recognised sister agency (SDI, SSI, PADI et al). The Administrative Process. The task of checking member prerequisites to teach Independent Diver will be the responsibility of the appropriate RRO. HERE ARE SOME TIPS ON HOW TO LET CUSTOMERS KNOW ABOUT THIS PROGRAM>>>

Night + Limited Visibility

ONE OF THE MOST FUN RAID SPECIALTIES In many parts of world, the real fun starts when the sun goes down… so, if you dive but never at night, you need to see your diving in a whole new light. Scuba is a thrilling and unique experience; Scuba diving at night is like that but way more so. It’s fantastic! Marine life behaves differently at night. It undergoes a dramatic transformation, and night diving opens up encounters with the most fascinating creatures not typically seen during ‘regular diving hours.’ Many marine animals are nocturnal —octopuses, lobsters, moray eels, and certain types of bony fish — so divers can only witness their active behavior firsthand when the sun has gone for the day. Coral reefs are one environment that is way more active at night. The coral itself wakes up at night, and tonnes of fish venture out of their hiding spots to hunt for prey under the veil of darkness. These creatures have adapted to low-light conditions and often exhibit unique behaviors that are not typically seen during the day. It’s also common in warmer water to see bioluminescent organisms that glow in the dark, adding a magical quality to any dive experience. From tiny zooplankton to larger organisms like jellyfish, bioluminescence adds a surreal and mesmerizing quality to the underwater world at night. Diving with the aid of specialized lights can reveal the intricate beauty of these glowing creatures and their interactions in the dark ocean depths. Naturally, there are some ‘tricks and special insights’ that make night diving more productive; and some simple equipment that makes it safer for you and your buddy. And that’s what this RAID specialty is truly all about. More than that, the techniques and gear suggestions you’ll pick up in this class will also help you get your diving and buddy skills squared away in limited visibility conditions. A situation more common in cooler climes. Overall, this RAID specialty, is one of the most useful, and is especially recommended for new divers who are aiming to add to their experience and understanding of the underwater world. FIND OUT MORE HERE>>>