CCR Normoxic Trimix Instructor course in Panama

The first time I tried to visit Panama was in 1988. I had my ticket in hand and was at the Colombian Island of San Andres airport when they told me I can’t fly. The flight is canceled due to a coup organized by a guy named Noriega. Back then I went to Costa Rica instead.

This time around all went well and they let me onto the plane operated by COPA airlines. I was somewhat positive surprised by the good service and space as last time around some 15 years ago COPA was a different story. Alas, time is passing by and things do change for the better.

The reason for me to travel to Panama was to visit old friend and owner of dive operation Adventure Divers Raul de Leon to conduct a CCR Normoxic Trimix (mod2) Instructor IEC for Raul himself.

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The mod2 Instructor program takes about three days to complete, maybe four, depending on the preparedness of the Instructor candidate and weather encountered. The first two days where spend at the Dive Adventure dive shop in Panama City to go through classroom presentations, standards, training material as well as the CCR Megalodon Rebreather, the unit the training program was conducted on, ISC related paperwork, unit preparation and configuration.

While the unit was prepared an in depth discussion took place about training philosophy and technique. Part of that training technique is dirt or table diving, a way of training with the unit on your back, sitting on a table going through the movements of the biggest potential problems, the three H’s such as hypercapnia, hyperoxia, hypoxia and not to forget the boom scenario.

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A good part of the classroom time was spend on reviewing and in depth discussion on dive planning with tables and software including bailout strategies and equipment choices to do so.

As we were sitting in the dive shop a tropical depression came close converting Panama City roads into rivers and lakes reminding me of the rain I just had left in Mexico. It looked like I had brought the rain with me to Panama.

The diving part was done near Portobelo on the Caribbean coast, an hour and a half drive away following the Panama Canal winding through green hills covered with lush jungle.

Portobelo is an old colonial town that has been sacked and burned down half a dozen times by pirates including Drake. The ruins of the old forts guarding the bay of Portobelo are standing silent witness to the violent past.

The diving almost did not happen as strong rain and lightning threatened to cancel our diving plans but in the end we got a short break with the weather and went out with the boat. The coast is very little developed and with the jungle coming down to the water presents a scenic back drop.

During an extended confined water session on a remote beach we were able to dive the remains of a Spanish Galleon stranded in the shallow bay a long time ago. What a cool dive site. During the deeper dives later on that day we encountered a slight current with a somewhat medium viz as it has rained for days and by the end of the dive started to rain again. No big deal as I had fun diving exploring the local reefs around Drake Island.


After coming back to Panama City Raul was kind enough to give me an extended tour of Panama City with the old town, the Pan Americana highway over the Panama Canal bridge, visiting one of the large locks (no big ship in sight though) and Canal museum as well as visiting the largest shopping mall in Latin America.

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While in Panama City and Portobelo Raul took pride introducing me into the local kitchen I was happy to explore. Yum Yum I have to say !!. I was exposed to some great food and hospitality and really liked the area around Portobello.

I would like to thank Raul de Leon and Dive Adventures for the invitation and hospitality. I would like to congratulate Raul for the successful passing of his CCR Normoxic Trimix Instructor evaluation. A job well done.


1 comment

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