So, with a couple of week-long trips coming up, with Kristy and with other dedicated divers, I’ve finally caved in to the need for nitrox certification.

While I understand the benefits of using nitrox on multiple dives, I’ve never suffered through using plain old air tanks. But, with our Raja Ampat trip, in particular, involving 4 dives per day for a week, I think it’s probably better safe than sorry!

So, with Pro Dive in Coogee and Manly, over Easter I completed my Enriched Air Diver certification. It wasn’t demanding: just ‘read a book and take a written test’ and then a couple of dives (we did Old Man’s Hat and the Blocks off Sydney Harbour’s North Head).

What is Nitrox?

It sounds evil, but nitrox (the common name for enriched air) simply means the air in a tank has oxygen added so the proportion of oxygen versus nitrogen is increased (a normal tank of air has about 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen, while nitrox is commonly between 30% – 40% oxygen).

And the upshot of that is that each dive, you’re exposed to less nitrogen (which can have detrimental effects on your body), so you:

  • can stay at depth longer before nearing safe limits
  • have less build up of nitrogen over the course of multiple dives (meaning you can dive longer on subsequent dives, compared to diving on standard air)

It comes with its own set of safety factors – like, more shallow maximum depths – but, given that you simply set your computer to the relevant nitrox mix (eg 32%) and then do what it tells you, practically, it’s no different.

So, there you go.