Jani is the co-founder of Expedition Divers. With a name like that, you know they do serious technical diving around the world. His resume is long but not quite as long as the list of places he’s been diving. If you were ever interested in what it takes to pick up technical diving around the world; now is your chance to learn. Jani gave us a few tips on how to be a better diver, what it means to be part of a diving team and how to get started with technical diving. Read on!
Where are you, what do you do when you’re not technical diving in Finland, etc.
I am currently in Finland. But only until the end of this year. Gonna start traveling again. I am EFR instructor trainer and a registered nurse with over 10 years of experience in the field in a advanced life support ambulance. I worked several years as combat medic with the Army. I am working as a emergency nurse when I am not diving.
What attracted you to diving? What has caused you to continue diving the past 11 years, a love of the sea, a desire for exploration, etc?
For me it was just an accident that I really started diving. Although I have been interested about oceans and underwater world all my life, I did not find it appealing to start my diving in Finland, too cold, too dark. We were on a trip in Cyprus with my army buddies and decided to take OWD course together, just to do something else during that week rather then party 😉
After that I just dived every now and then on my holidays abroad, nothing serious. It was 2013 when I had the idea with Matt to get more serious about my diving and then I applied for a divemaster job in Krabi, Thailand. And from then my life has been pretty much diving driven. If not diving then earning some more to pay for those plane tickets to far away places to dive.
What is your highest level of certification?
My instructor ratings are PADI MSDT with multiple specialities including sidemount, cavern, deep, EANx, drysuit; with over 100 certs. SDI/TDI Dive Professional with specialties including cavern, EANx, solo diver. My diver ratings are TDI Full Cave Diver and PADI TRIMIX.
What courses do you teach?
I have vast experience in sidemount, single and double backmount diving in different environments; warm and cold waters. I am a scuba technician, compressor operator and trimix blender instructor. I have worked in Thailand, Philippines, Mexico and Finland. Last season I worked in El Nido, Philippines. Now I part time freelance.
Tell us about your favorite technical dive.
Cavediving in Mexico is the best by far!
What is your current kit?
Here in Finland I dive doubles:
– Ursuit hood 5mm
– Aqualung micromask
– Ursuit heavylight 2.0 trilaminate drysuit, pvalve
– SI tech quick gloves
– 12l, 232bar steel doubles
– Apeks DST first stages
– Apeks XTX50 second stages
– Weezle Extreme undergarment
– Light Monkey Wing
– BigBlue divelights. Mainlight 3100lumen, 1200lumen backups
– Dux reels
– Apeks spools
– Aquatec fins
Tell us a bit more about the concept of “team diving”?
We believe that under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion; you sink to the level of your training.
When you do technical and cave diving you must have everything in redundancy. As you do not have an extra brain you must have team members to rely on, sometimes even with your life. The best team size is three. Then you have surely enough gas to get back to the exit point and it is very unlikely that more than two team members would have an issue during the dive. Also there is enough divers to distribute the task to and this way one diver does not come too taskloaded and stressed so they can enjoy the dive too. For challenging dives it is crucial to pick your team members wisely for the sake of the team dynamics.
Why did your team recently make an expedition to Belize?
Matt did his DM course in Belize twenty years ago, so he got to dive the Blue Hole and other sites there quite a while ago. We have visited several times ever since, and focused more on cave diving on our recent trips. Only hardcore cavers know that the most likely second or third largest solution cave in the world is located under Caye Caulker. Our good friend Chip Petersen, owner of Belize Diving Services, and his team has spent nearly a decade making a detailed map of the cave and installing permanent guidelines there.
Belize is more known as home of the second largest barrier reef in the world, amazing underwater diversity, multiple caves, marine environment protection efforts, and so rather than wreck diving destination.
Advice for aspiring technical divers:
Every serious recreational diver should take at least one technical diving course even if you feel it is not for you. You would be amazed what you will learn when you get out from that comfort zone. Skills, awareness and problem management will improve greatly! There are lots of instructors and organizations to choose from, so where to start or to whom to go to for your training? Choose an instructor, not the organization. At this level of training, it is the instructor that counts. Choose an Instructor with good reputation and discipline, and who has done some serious diving him/herself in various conditions. This is something you do not want to save money in. Your life may depend on those skills you learn during your training.
How about advice on how to be a better diver:
Dive in different conditions, in different gear setups in order to improve yourself as a diver. Wetsuit, drysuit, backmount, sidemount, singles, doubles, warm water, cold water, slack, current, deep, caves, reef, wreck etc. Dive with divers who are more experienced then you are, you will learn a lot just by looking at how they dive and of course ask tons of questions.