An American's Guide to Diving in (Western) Europe

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The Cosmicist

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Hello to the Europeans on Scubaboard. I'm American, and there is a good chance I will be moving to Germany/Western Europe for work and family. I used to live in Germany, so I'm familiar with most of the routine, but I was not a diver at the time! I would like to ask for some help with making sure I can dive regularly in Europe when/if we move there. Hopefully this will be useful to other American like me in the future, so this could act as a running guide for Americans moving to Europe. I have several questions I'd like help with:

1. Where are the good places to dive in Germany? I will probably be living in the southeast (Bavaria) or Northeast (Berlin area), but no telling yet. I've read on here that German diving is dark and cold.

2. Where are the best places to go near Germany? I am specifically interested in cave and mine diving, but I will also seek out wrecks. I'm headed directly towards tech diving, but I'll go to the pretty, tropical places when the wife wants to splash also.

3. I'm GUE trained and I want to continue with that path for now (we'll see how long). I've heard that there's a good base of GUE divers in Germany. Does anyone have any contacts, and could someone recommend a good GUE instructor? If GUE isn't an option (or not a good one), what technical training agencies are prevalent in Germany? I'm asking so I can understand what diving is like there.

4. I understand that regulators, cylinders, and rebreathers need to be CE approved for use in lots of European countries. Other than those three things, what other equipment should I NOT bring with me from the US?

5. Can you travel on German/European public transit (trains, buses, etc.) with dive gear (cylinders, regulators, dive knife, etc.)? I know Europe, and Germany in particular, is really strict in comparison to the US regarding these things.


I know that's a lot to go through. Thank you for any help and advice!
 
OP
The Cosmicist

The Cosmicist

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Right you are, except for the fact that the subforum is structured differently than what geography would say. Germany is listed under Western Europe on Scubaboard.

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Have any advice for my original post?
 

JMBL

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4. I understand that regulators, cylinders, and rebreathers need to be CE approved for use in lots of European countries. Other than those three things, what other equipment should I NOT bring with me from the US?

French, not German, but have bee diving for a long time in Europe mainly, so here's some piece of info.

Concerning CE :

- bring your regulators : ISO standard is good enough on that point. Never seen anyone checking a regulator for CE stamping.

- cylinders : forget it. Even if you have them CE approved, you'll be facing this problem : every country in Europe has is own set of rules concerning IV and hydro.

Some examples :

* France : common rule hydro every 2 years, unless you have your tank IVed (by someone qualified) each year, then hydro it every 6 years.

* Spain : hydro every 2 years, whatever how regularly your tank's been IVed. Meaning : my (French) tank's been hydroed 3 years ago, but I'm not allowed to have it filled in Spain...

- rebreathers : unless it is CE approved, (in theory at least), you're not allowed to dive with it, if you're using the services of a diving professional ( charter boat, diving basis, whatever...). You'll be compelled to dive from your own boat or from the beach. I've written in theory because if you'll be pestered like hell in France for diving a non CE approved rebreather, I know that Germany, Belgium, and Italy don't really care about it. So bring your rig, and choose where to dive with it.

5. Can you travel on German/European public transit (trains, buses, etc.) with dive gear (cylinders, regulators, dive knife, etc.)? I know Europe, and Germany in particular, is really strict in comparison to the US regarding these things.

If you're carry your gear in a bag or case, nobody will bother you (if you're luggage is in compliance with the rules regarding size and weight of course). I fear carrying a tank will be another story (unless it's a rebreather tank, stashed in your luggage of course), people tend to freak out when they see something unusual... I've been controlled by the police, at night, 150 km away from the ocean, with a trunk full of diving gear, with tanks labelled trimix and O2. Explaining that was far from being a piece of cake...
 

JustSurfaceInterval

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You say you live in Germany before and are familiar with most of the routine.
Did that include metric system instead of that imperial one? m, kg, °C and esp. bar instead of PSI. I just remember some lively discussions about hand signs confusion between bar and PSI divers...
Or does GUE divers use SI System anyway?
 

Cheizz

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Or does GUE divers use SI System anyway?
They should. They call themselves 'global' don't they? All but 5 countries in the world use the metric system... :wink:

Here's a list of lakes, mines and quarries in Central Germany I put together for future reference. Nuttlar and Milnitz are mines I believe... Germany lakes & quarries – Google My Maps
 
OP
The Cosmicist

The Cosmicist

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French, not German, but have bee diving for a long time in Europe mainly, so here's some piece of info.

Concerning CE :

- bring your regulators : ISO standard is good enough on that point. Never seen anyone checking a regulator for CE stamping.

- cylinders : forget it. Even if you have them CE approved, you'll be facing this problem : every country in Europe has is own set of rules concerning IV and hydro.

Some examples :

* France : common rule hydro every 2 years, unless you have your tank IVed (by someone qualified) each year, then hydro it every 6 years.

* Spain : hydro every 2 years, whatever how regularly your tank's been IVed. Meaning : my (French) tank's been hydroed 3 years ago, but I'm not allowed to have it filled in Spain...

- rebreathers : unless it is CE approved, (in theory at least), you're not allowed to dive with it, if you're using the services of a diving professional ( charter boat, diving basis, whatever...). You'll be compelled to dive from your own boat or from the beach. I've written in theory because if you'll be pestered like hell in France for diving a non CE approved rebreather, I know that Germany, Belgium, and Italy don't really care about it. So bring your rig, and choose where to dive with it.



If you're carry your gear in a bag or case, nobody will bother you (if you're luggage is in compliance with the rules regarding size and weight of course). I fear carrying a tank will be another story (unless it's a rebreather tank, stashed in your luggage of course), people tend to freak out when they see something unusual... I've been controlled by the police, at night, 150 km away from the ocean, with a trunk full of diving gear, with tanks labelled trimix and O2. Explaining that was far from being a piece of cake...
That's really helpful, thank you. I guess I assumed the EU would have one standard on cylinders, since they have a standard with most other things. Looks like I will have to keep a running list of all the different countries' regulations and buy a big, Pelican-style box to travel with so everything is contained inside!

One thing I am concerned about is a diving knife. I remember that Europeans, in general, get upset even at the idea of a pocket knife, so can you travel with a dive knife (I use the DIR-style, small knives) in your luggage?

I'm not rebreather certified, but that's something I will do in the future. Good to know there are different view on that as well.

I'm surprised that the police were so concerned with your diving cylinders. What issue(s) did they have with you driving with them?
 

Cheizz

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A knife somewhere in your bag will not upset anyone, I think. If you wear it openly, that's a different story. Only at airports (and courthouses), there are security checks and scans. So for trains or buses, pack whatever you like. And even for flying: if it's in your check-in luggage, it shouldn't be a problem.
 
OP
The Cosmicist

The Cosmicist

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You say you live in Germany before and are familiar with most of the routine.
Did that include metric system instead of that imperial one? m, kg, °C and esp. bar instead of PSI. I just remember some lively discussions about hand signs confusion between bar and PSI divers...
Or does GUE divers use SI System anyway?
I am familiar with using the metric system, and I actually prefer some of it (length/distance, especially). I find some others to be too imprecise (Celcius, bar). I will definitely need to learn bar, as all of the diving calculations that come with rule of thirds, turn pressure, etc. will be completely different numbers. That will avoid the hand sign confusion...

They should. They call themselves 'global' don't they? All but 5 countries in the world use the metric system... :wink:

Here's a list of lakes, mines and quarries in Central Germany I put together for future reference. Nuttlar and Milnitz are mines I believe... Germany lakes & quarries – Google My Maps
Remember though, GUE is a USA-based non-profit organization. They dive globally, work on global projects, and have instructors and representatives globally, but they are based in High Springs, Florida. It depends entirely on the instructor and team whether bar or PSI (SI or imperial) is used. In Fundamentals, my instructor gave me the calculations for both systems.

Thanks for the list of dive spots! Do those require some kind of permit or permission? Germany can be strict about such things.........
 

Cheizz

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Thanks for the list of dive spots! Do those require some kind of permit or permission? Germany can be strict about such things.........
Some of them do. But now you have the names, you can google them yourself. I know Nuttlar has an open water section that any certified diver can dive, and then there is the old submerged tunnel system for which you need to be cave certified I think.
For some of the quarries, they require Advanced OW and 100 dives or so. But it differs per site, really.
 

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