Diving in cold water presents an array of new environments to explore along with new equipment and new considerations.
The best thermal protection you can get for cold-water diving is a well-fitted drysuit with appropriate undergarments. Your suit’s material, waterproof zippers, neck seals and wrist seals keep you dry throughout your dive. Staying dry and layering with proper undergarments – along with the layer of air between the suit and your body – provide warmth.
Divers can add air using a manually triggered valve, usually situated near the chest, or vent it from an exhaust valve, usually situated at the left shoulder or left sleeve. Well-maintained drysuits hold air, and controlling the flow of air into and out of your drysuit allows divers to both adjust the level of thermal protection and use their drysuit as a buoyancy control device (BCD). If being in a drysuit in cold water isn’t your natural habitat, consider these five lessons to prepare yourself for this interesting and challenging way to dive.
LESSON 1: START SIMPLE Your gear should not limit your adventures underwater. Diving dry requires more work than diving with other types of exposure suits and being able to comfortably solve problems while in your drysuit is a must. When you first start diving dry, begin in daylight at a dive site you know well, with an easy entry and adequate visibility, and ideally with an experienced cold-water diver. If you do not see more than the bottom of a pool or a training platform at 5m on your first few drysuit dives, don’t get discouraged – extra time might be exactly what you need to make friends with your new drysuit or gear configuration.
LESSON 2: PREPARE YOUR GEAR There are good reasons to aim for redundancy, especially in cold water. Many people diving dry choose to dive with two cylinders or carry a bailout bottle. It’s a good idea to attach your primary second-stage regulator and your primary BCD to two different first-stage regulators if diving with more than one cylinder. Gear configuration is heavily discussed worldwide, and there is no de facto right or wrong approach. I prefer to rely mainly on my drysuit for buoyancy, so I handle only one device throughout the dive. My BCD functions merely as a backup.
The key to using a drysuit as the main BCD is proper weighting. If you are underweighted, you will have difficulty
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Issue 02 - 2019