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Featured Author // August 2, 2016

Becoming a Drysuit Diver

Open up your underwater world by becoming a drysuit diver.


Although so much of the ocean qualifies as cold water, the majority of divers learn the basics of scuba diving in tropical waters, and remain there for their entire dive careers. But there’s no need to restrict your diving horizons: it’s time to try a drysuit.

If someone asked me if I’d like to visit the Alps in winter to ski I wouldn’t say no because “the snow looks a bit cold.” I’ve always held the same philosophy when it comes to diving: You just need the correct clothing and equipment. A drysuit opens doors to explore everything from winter diving in the Mediterranean, to Scotland’s Scapa Flow wrecks, to ice diving.

A drysuit can be worn anywhere but is typically used in water that’s colder than 59 to 68 F (15 to 20 C). According to several diving historians, the first drysuit was introduced by George Edwards in 1838. It’s evolved over the decades but does essentially the same job. Where a wetsuit lets in a small amount of water that is subsequently warmed against the body, the drysuit is water and air-tight. Zipped into your trusty drysuit, you’re sealed at the neck and wrists to keep the water out and a layer of air inside, which is used to maintain body temperature and help control your buoyancy and positioning while in the water.

What’s the first step?

If you’re ready to take the plunge into drysuit diving, there are a few considerations and a slightly amended diving style you’ll need to become familiar with. Although there’s nothing preventing you from simply buying a drysuit and jumping in, you’ll do well to first contact your local dive center and enroll in a drysuit specialty training course. Most major training agencies such as PADI offer such courses. The training allows you to become accustomed to drysuit diving under the guidance of a diving professional, as well as to learn about the suits themselves, their valves, undergarments and accessories. You’ll also learn basic repair and maintenance of drysuits. In addition to the classroom sessions, there’s also some practical assessment. PADI and SSI, for example, include two open-water dives in their training program, during which you’ll practice new techniques. For example, a large part of your buoyancy control comes via air you’ll add to the suit, usually through an “Iron Man”-style inflator button on your chest. Gas is then vented via dump valves, usually located on your left shoulder or wrist.  This new skill takes a little practice and is best done with the advice and supervision of an instructor.

What type of drysuit should I get? 

Once you’ve taken the class and decided you like drysuit diving, you’ll most likely want to invest in one of your own, if you’ve got the financial means. First, make sure you purchase the correct type of drysuit for your environment and undergarments. Most major manufacturers sell off-the-shelf suits in standard sizes, but a made-to-measure suit is the way to go for the best fit and comfort.

Drysuits come in a range of materials, but most divers opt for neoprene or trilaminate. The foam neoprene or crushed-neoprene suits tend to be slightly thicker; on first wearing one, people often report that they feel bulky. However, the additional thickness makes the suits tougher and slightly hardier than their trilaminate cousins, which can be important if you’re wreck diving or working in a tougher environment. In addition, in the unlikely event that a neoprene suit floods, it will retain some basic thermal protection — not much, but some.

Under a neoprene drysuit you’ll typically wear thermal base-layers; many manufacturers offer their own bespoke base-layers. The number of layers you wear will depend on your own thermal characteristics, the length of your dive and, of course, the water temperature. Be aware that the more layers you wear, the more weight you’ll need to carry.

Trilaminate or ‘shell’ suits are thinner and more flexible than neoprene, which makes them easier to transport and, usually, to get on and off. They’re not quite as hard-wearing as neoprene suits, however, and being thinner means they’re slightly more prone to puncture either in transport, storage or if you’re a little careless on a wreck. Typically, these are worn worn with a thick under-suit that resembles a sleeping bag.

Whichever construction you choose, fit is most important. Consider the following:

  • Is the construction right for the environment, both in terms of temperature and activity?
  • What undergarments do I need to wear underneath to stay warm? Will they fit comfortably and still allow the suit to vent air safely?
  • Do the neck and wrist seal fit snugly, but not so snugly that restrict blood flow?
  • Are the boots sufficiently large enough to wear the booties or thick socks I’ll be wearing underneath?
  • Are the arms long enough to allow me to make adjustments to my mask, BCD and hoses?
  • Will my computer fit comfortably over my wrist?
  • Will my fins fit?

Once you’ve decided on the suit’s construction, you’ve got a few other decisions to make — Front entry or rear entry? Shoulder or cuff dump valve? Neoprene or latex wrist and neck seals? Dry or wet gloves? Pee valve or no pee valve? Boots included or rock boots?

The drysuit is an amazing invention, and when you master its use, you’ll realize you no longer need to feel intimidated by either its operation or cold-water diving. With the correct training and experience, drysuit diving opens up a brand new world of water.

BY MARCUS KNIGHT (THE SCUBA MONKEY)

Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/06/08/becoming-drysuit-diver/

Ericka Villa // June 28, 2016

5 Ways You Can Be A Better Dive Buddy

by

Better Dive Buddy

We all learn about the buddy system when we start diving but with increased experience and confidence it is easy to forget the essential basics. The buddy system is not just for beginners, it is important for the safety of all divers in a group.

Want to be a better dive buddy? Here are 5 essential tips you should never forget.

Always remember your buddy check

Just because your equipment worked fine yesterday doesn’t mean that you haven’t missed something today. If your Divemaster sees you running through the buddy check he will recognise that you are responsible divers before you even enter the water.

Use the BWRAF acronym to help remember the buddy check steps. Begin With Reviewing A Friend

Always maintain buddy contact and communicate often

This doesn’t mean that you need to swim on top of each other. As a general rule, try to be no more than 2 seconds apart. In an emergency you may need each other and it helps the Divemaster control the group if you are together. Don’t forget to ask your buddy if they are “okay” regularly. Diving really is more fun with a buddy and you’ll get to share some incredible moments together. If your Divemaster sees you communicating he’ll recognise your dedication to each other and to safety.

Remember that you are a buddy “team” and diving is not a competition

Be encouraging towards your buddy but never force them into a dive they don’t want to make. If you or your buddy are unsure about anything, ask your Divemaster together for advice and guidance.

Dive, dive, dive

The more you dive the better you get. By diving in a range of conditions and environments you’ll broaden your skill base and diving knowledge, increasing yours and your buddy’s dive safety.

Continue learning

If you have just passed your PADI Open Water Diver Course consider moving on to Advanced Open Water. You’ll learn new skills and try different types of diving. When you have completed your Advanced certification, you’ll be ready for the Rescue Diver Course which equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to be able to perform self-rescues, rescue other divers and recognise potential problems before they develop.

Following these 5 steps will help you become a better dive buddy.  Contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort to find out course information or to find some more dive buddies of your own!

Better Dive Buddy

Check Out Our Dive Centre

Source: http://www2.padi.com/blog/2016/04/11/5-ways-you-can-be-a-better-dive-buddy/

Ericka Villa // June 13, 2016

How To Prevent Vertigo While Scuba Diving

BY JAMES L. CARUSO | Source: http://www.scubadiving.com/how-to-prevent-vertigo-while-scuba-diving

Vertigo can strike in the most unexpected of places. Learn what vertigo is and how you can prevent it using these tips.

 

Vertigo while scuba diving
Shutterstock


Vertigo can strike in the most unexpected of places. Learn what vertigo is and how you can prevent it using these tips.


Q: I SOMETIMES GET VERTIGO BELOW 60 FEET. WHAT’S CAUSING IT, AND HOW CAN I PREVENT IT?

A: Vertigo is the feeling that the world around you is moving, spinning or tilting while you are remaining essentially still. Vertigo can be a result of a number of ailments, ranging from an infection in the inner ear to chronic problems such as Meniere’s disease.
Vertigo is not uncommon among divers, and your experience with it occurring when you are at significant depth is fairly typical. Diving physics tells us that the greatest pressure changes occur closer to the surface, but as the diver descends, equalizing the pressure in the middle ear is still very important. Divers generally continue to descend even when having difculty with equalizing. Plus, the middle ears need to equalize during ascent as well.
You are experiencing alternobaric vertigo, which is caused by unequal pressures between your middle-ear compartments. The pressure diference does not have to be very great. The inequality is communicated to the inner ear organs, resulting in vertigo. Divers can also experience nausea and vomiting. Vertigo is usually more common while a diver ascends. Not only are the symptoms uncomfortable, but they also can lead to catastrophic problems for the diver. Vertigo can also occur when diving with a hood if one side of the hood seals over the ear tighter than the other.
Prevention of vertigo during diving requires careful, gradual and continuous equalization of the pressures within the middle ear throughout the dive.

 

Check Out Our Dive Centre

 

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