Now that my crossover course is complete and I have actually managed to squeak by and pass, it seems like a good time to put together a report for the masses rather than trying to answer everybody individually. I really appreciate how many people have been asking for my opinions and feedback on this little adventure.

I admit to being apprehensive to the amount of extra time it was going to take me in both the predive building of the unit and the tear down and cleaning compared to my rEvo. The radial scrubber was also a concern after watching some Meg divers dealing with them in the past. Having already done a nice try dive when SubGravity had their demo day awhile back led me to feel confident in the unit as a whole.

I broke a cardinal rule and did a pool dive before my training and I am only mentioning this to bring forward a serious safety concern. I have never used, nor been taught how to pack, a radial scrubber. When I was finally taught the proper way and some critical insight to it, I realized just how close I came to screwing myself when I did it. I really want to stress how important it is to know what you are doing when packing a radial scrubber. It is not difficult, but the old saying of “You don’t know what you don’t know” tells it quite accurately.

I had been on a nice long cave dive with Jon and Lauren Kieren, and was very impressed with their trim, buoyancy, propulsion (hell, everything about them) during the dive and it was a no brainer for me to ask them to do my training. I have never taken a TDI course before and had no idea what to expect. I will say for the record that this class was by far the most comprehensive and all-inclusive one that I have ever taken. We even had to demonstrate basic OC buddy breathing. When was the last time you did that? I do not know if this is a result of TDI, SubGravity, or Jon and Lauren; but my brain and body still ache from all that was dealt to me.

Jon and Lauren do a superb job of communicating what they expect and go the extra mile of making sure that you not only can do it, but also that you know why you are doing it. I took so much more away from the class than just unit specific training and believe I have made a couple of longtime friends. I have already asked for some specialized help with neutral buoyancy and look forward to further abuse.

We all know what skills are required to dive a rebreather and there is not much sense it rehashing all of that. I feel that I should mention that just because you know how to do it on one unit, there is nothing that says you can do it on a different one. I learned much more than I was expecting and I know that it will take some time and practice to retrain my muscle memory for the new unit. Sometimes the simplest difference can really cause issues when not trained for it.

I really felt like a complete idiot diver after the first open water dives with my feeble attempt to accomplish drills. I managed to get them done, but nowhere near a fast or precise and I was expecting from myself. It was to the point that I was practicing drills in my head at night and could not sleep. It must have worked since I felt much more comfortable the next weekend and hopefully performed better too.

I did manage to have two “oh crap” moments and although I managed to handle them, I have to give huge kudos to Jon for being fast as lightning to respond. BTW neither of these were the Defenders fault. One was I left the BOV open when I removed it from my mouth and the other was dealing with a lift bag. BOVs are not an instant fit for my current skill sets since this is my first one. Practice is still required to regain my Dive God status.

Randy from SubGravity is super-fast to answer questions or concerns and is extremely open to feedback and suggestions. I put him in the same category as Shearwater and if you know how much of a cheerleader I am for Bruce and Lynn, then you know this is saying a lot for Randy. I should also clarify that Jon and Lauren have been exactly the same.

I will still need to make some tweaks to my configuration, but for the most part it is working out awesome. By the time I did my last scrubber pack and build, I have come to the conclusion that it does not require near as much time as I was afraid of. Although it is not as quick and simple as the rEvo, I already have it down to a mere extra 5 minutes. More than acceptable for what I am getting out of the deal.