November 29th 2013
Diving with Nitrox
Ever heard of Nitrox? Strange sounding name for a pretty simple product. When you go recreational diving, the cylinder you take with you contains the same air that you breathe on the surface; comprised of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen, well, if you're a geek you'll know it's actually 78.08% nitrogen, 0.93% argon, 0.03% carbon dioxide, 0.0018% neon, 0.0005% helium, 0.0001% krypton 0.00005% hydrogen and 8.7 x 10-6 xenon, but in such low proportions they are considered inert, and bunched together with nitrogen. God you're weird for knowing that!
Nitrox is a gas that you can dive on that contains a higher percentage of oxygen- up to 40%. Why bother? Well, i'm glad you asked. Nitrox can have a number of benefits compared with using old fashioned air. It has the potential to provide longer no-decompression limits, shorter surface intervals, and enable longer repetitive dives. We can only dive for a certain amount of time at a given depth due to the nitrogen we are breathing under pressure. By increasing the oxygen content and reducing the amount of nitrogen we breathe, it allows us to stay longer at that depth. The fact that we will have breathed less nitrogen on our dive also means that there is less to come out of our system, hence the shorter surface interval- that's the time you have to spend on the boat between dives twiddling your thumbs and sunning yourself. The more diving we do, the more nitrogen we absorb cumulatively, so if you're diving more than one dive a day for a number of days, it will give you longer at depth than if you were doing the same dives on standard air- good if you're going on a Big Blue liveaboard trip on the West coast of Thailand. Some people also say that they feel less tired after diving on nitrox. There's no evidence to prove that, but hey, if it feels good, why not!
In order to be able to dive using Nitrox, you will have to do a speciality course.. guess what, we can teach you! For the SSI nitrox speciality, we can teach you in half a day, and you will have the option of just doing the course without going on any dives on it. As long as you understand the requirements for diving on it, you can use it on your dives to your heart's content. But you can also do the classroom session and then go for two dives with your instructor if you'd rather. Then you'll be a qualified nitrox diver for the rest of your life- another string to your diving bow. If you're interested in expanding your diving skills and are really switched on, you can combine the nitrox course with the deep and wreck specialities, which also works out much cheaper than doing each speciality on its own. We can also teach the nitrox course through PADI, TDI and BSAC.
If you're already a qualified diver you will hopefully have understood at least half of all this! If you're coming to Big Blue to do your open water course, don't worry, by the end of it you'll have a much better idea about why nitrox is useful to a diver.
Gaps in the market
Have you been to Koh Tao and noticed that there is a niche in the market for a certain product or service that would have made your time a little better or easier? Or have you been anywhere else in the world where a quirky extra something made a difference. Personally, I think if there was a shop or street vendor that sold pizza by the slice they would make an absolute killing. There's lots of different types of street food available already, be it Thai or western, but there's nothing quite like a slice of pizza after a few beers in the wee small hours of the morning. How about some of those bicycle taxis that 2 or more people can get in, like a tuk tuk but human powered? Or maybe an oxygen bar... nah!! Let us know anything that you think might be useful for long term residents or holiday makers. Maybe something diving resorts are missing a trick on in terms of their service to customers. Some things don't have to cost money but tweaking the way a business does this thing or that can work wonders for their customer's levels of satisfaction, and sometimes you can't see what's in front of your face and you need fresh eyes to show it to you. We are all ears. You can email us on our facebook page or just write a comment on the post for this blog. Just one thing, we won't be giving complimentary shoe shines!