Life on a DIR planet
What is DIR Its a way of making yourself a better diver but, as Brendan OBrien explains, it isnt for everyone

DIR So whats all that about then

DIR stands for Doing it Right, not to be confused with Doing the Right Thing, Theres a Right Way and Wrong Way or Two Wrongs Dont Make a Right.

I still dont get it.

Its simple really. A small group of divers scattered across the world believe that there is only one way to dive, and thats the DIR way.

The DIR way Are you trying to say Ive been diving all this time the DIW way - Doing it Wrong

Well, not quite Doing it Wrong - youve just not been Doing it Right.

Im confused.

DIR is simple enough. It involves a system comprising of a Unified Team, Enhanced Dive Preparation and the DIR Equipment Configuration, or at least, thats how DIR guru Jarrod Jablonski of the GUE describes it.


Oh yes, I forgot to mention, DIR divers love their TLAs.

TLAs I wish youd stop that!

TLAs, you know - Three Letter Abbreviations. The DIR Dictionary is full of new words and some rather big ones that have been around for years. GUE stands for Global Underwater Explorers. Heres a few examples for you: dirQuest is an online magazine, and Hogarthian Configuration is, well, the Hogarthian way of configuring equipment. Its all part of a new and exciting line in diving.

Hogarthian Configuration Sounds like formation diving.

Not quite. The Hogarthian Configuration is actually the predecessor to DIR, named after Bill Hogarth Main, one of the first technical divers to explore the North Florida caves of the Woodville Karst Plain back in the 80s.

I kind of like Hogarthian. Why did they change it

I guess it just wasnt TLA enough, and you know what these technical divers are like; they wouldnt want to be confused with the rest of the diving community. Lots of TLAs set you apart from the norm.

Hence DIR, implying that everyone else is DIW

When you see phrases like the greatest barrier to a DIR Planet and preach the gospel [of DIR] on their website, it does make you wonder.

hspace=3 So whats in it for us, besides accepting that one day well all have to dive the DIR way on a DIR Planet

Actually, it all makes sense. The Unified Team stresses the need for teamwork beyond the normal buddy-to-buddy relationship, Enhanced Preparation advocates better dive planning and DIR Configuration is about taking on the dive only what you need and nothing else. So standard BCs are out, as are conventional octopus rigs.

Leave my BC and octopus Are they crazy

Theyre a progressive bunch, this DIR lot. They figure that conventional BCs just arent streamlined enough and that the standard octopus is impractical for use in an emergency. Decades of cave-diving have taught them a few things about whats needed and what isnt.

What does cave-diving have to do with conventional sport-diving

DIR divers believe that if it works in the confines of a cave, its equally valid in any other open-water situation. One of the greatest challenges to equipment configuration comes in the DIR practice of donating air to your buddy from your own regulator in an out-of-air situation.

Isnt that what an octopus is for

Have you ever tried to release an octopus from one of those little fluorescent mouthpiece-holders And then breathe comfortably from it while trying to control an ascent, and getting up close and personal with the donor because of the short hose Its a great idea in theory but a pain in the neck in practice. And if the donor hasnt secured his octopus somewhere, you can guarantee that youll grab one full of seaweed and sand.
DIR equipment configuration and techniques are based on the assumption that the first breath you need in an emergency must be from a regulator guaranteed to provide air. The donor will have just taken a breath from his regulator so its a safe bet that it will work. DIR divers suggest that in most out-of-air situations the diver in need will go for the donors regulator, whatever their training.

Sounds interesting, tell me more.

The donors regulator is attached to a long hose of about 1.5 to 2m, reducing the prospect of getting too close in an emergency situation. DIR divers believe this provides more room to manoeuvre. Once the out-of-air diver has the donors main regulator, the donor uses a reserve regulator on a shorter hose.

They might have something there. Anything else

A lot more, actually. If you want to be DIR, youd better shape up!

I will.

Im talking about proper shaping-up, not just with your kit but physically and mentally. If you want to be part of the DIR gang you need to be mentally prepared, with lots of focus. The DIR doors are closed to any diving slobs, so youd better lose that curry spare tyre. Theyd see you as a liability to yourself and the team.

You mean theyd want me to give up the night-before-the-dive korma, five pints of lager and twenty fags

It looks that way, and while youre at it, that new C-card youve just collected is DIR-worthless.

Ill have you know they cost a fortune in the Caribbean! Between pool-training and diving in crystal-clear water, that qualification didnt come easy.

DIR divers view any qualifications simply as evidence of reaching a minimum standard. Thats when the real learning starts. Experience counts for everything on a DIR Planet. If you dont have the experience, you cant join them.

Isnt that a bit of a Catch 22

Not really, they just feel that a certification card isnt a passport to advanced technical diving. Lots of experience and evidence of plenty of work-up dives will impress a DIR diver a lot more than your badge collection.

Sounds like DIR is just another word for elitism and machismo.

Elite Maybe. Macho Probably not. The Unified Team approach demands that if you dont feel youre up for a dive for any reason, you say so. The DIR way doesnt allow for name-calling. If you think a dive is beyond your capabilities, or if you feel uncomfortable for any reason, all you need to do is tell the others and your decision will be accepted by the rest of the team. In fact, by being so honest and humble youll probably go up a notch in their estimation.

So much for challenging the diving limits, then

Its a weird one. I guess its all about the confidence to know what youre capable of. Phrases like Just dive in at the deep end and Go on, have a go arent in the DIR dictionary. Its all about looking after your team-mates as well as yourself. Creating that balance of diving safely and stretching the limits at the same time.

So I need to lose some weight, get fit, cut out the lager, stop smoking, start planning dives with a bit more thought for my team-mates, lose my BC and get a long hose for my main regulator. Dont want much, do they

It doesnt end there. DIR is viewed as a holistic system, almost a way of life - miss one part out and its just not DIR. Youll need to get rid of all that fancy clobber youve bought over the years and adopt the minimalist DIR approach. Every piece of equipment should complement the other.

Not my brand new day-glo BC and matching fins

You need to replace your BC with a rigid backplate of stainless steel or aluminium, get yourself a webbed harness and a back-mounted BC. The rules are very strict. Buying a twin-set, a black drysuit and a BC full of D-rings doesnt make you a DIR diver.

It all sounds a bit fanatical.

No way! How many divers do you know who are fanatical or obsessive Whatever made you think that

OK, so how do you go about finding the residents of Planet DIR

Good question. Theyre still pretty much an unknown factor in diving, scattered across the globe in small cells. Communication seems to be via the DIR Internet chat forums. Even then, its easy to be castigated if you try to suggest anything that isnt DIR. Feedback the DIR way comes in the form of stressing that somebody is the antithesis of DIR and Id be afraid of getting into the water with you.

They sound a bit touchy.

With good reason. Take Benji of Bonaire, a true martyr for the DIR cause.

What, he lost his life for DIR

Not quite, but he was fired as a diving instructor for refusing to change his DIR ways. Apparently, his non-DIR PADI boss didnt share his fondness for long hoses and love of stainless steel. It didnt fit into the Doing It All Over The World way of the PADI empire.

Poor Benji. He gave up his career so people like us could dive the DIR way!

Steady on! He got the sack for trying to teach what wasnt on the syllabus and for wearing strange diving equipment instead of being a PADI role model.

Ah! But all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing, and all that stuff.

I think youre getting a little carried away now.

Sorry, he reminded me of historys lost causes. Perhaps because of people like Benji well all be diving the DIR way some day.

Youre always latching on to the latest fads. Underwater photography, technical diving, free-diving... youre so easily influenced!

Me Are you saying this is just another diving fad

Im sure youre quite capable of making up your own mind.

So if DIR is here to stay, what should I say if I talk to them

Ask about the length of their hoses, aluminium or stainless steel, the size of their tanks, gas mixes. Dont say: SMBs, who needs them!, Do you like my new pink fins or Fancy a beer

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