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Learning the Drysuit. How was it for you?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by Ste Wart, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. Ste Wart

    Ste Wart Master Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: England
    It's Cold!!!!

    You're lucky I saw 3 basking sharks last week or I would have been off to Malaysia again!
  2. tadawson

    tadawson Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Lewisville, Texas
    How was it? I did my drysuit cert this spring, and it was, if anything, a tad boring . . . everything was just intuitive and apparent. The pool work was first, and the main thing there was to get used to the suit, managing buoyancy, and getting upright if inverted (hold onto a milk crate full of weights, instructor inflates you severely, then let go, and pull the neck seal open to dump . . . ) . .

    In the lake, we mainly swam around, with him constantly varying depth to see if I could maintain buoyancy. Again, no real issues, so to make things more fun, I did all the skills for my TA cert as the last dive in the drysuit cert . . . nothing like real world task loading to make things more fun . . .

    It then got quite warm down here in TX, so the suit didn't see much use past that. This fall will be interesting, so see how well it stuck.

    As far as movement, etc. goes, I did OW in the northern great lakes in a full farmer john 1/4" suit . . . so my drysuit feels pretty darn easy to move in compared to that. Oh, the suit is a custom cut DUI TLS-350, so the exact fit likely has something to do with ease of movement as well.

    - Tim
  3. raftingtigger

    raftingtigger Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Woodland, CA, USA
    I started diving dry in the early 1980's with a telescoping DUI with a manual dump valve. Don't recall any real problems, but did use ankle weights. I did need a lot more weight with the dry suit than a 7mm wetsuit however. Had kids and stopped diving except warm water vacations. Fast forward to 9 months ago when I re-started diving dry with a 7mm O'Neill dry suit. Absolutely no problems and felt completely comfortable immediately, and loved the new automatic dump valve. Still needed a little more weight than wet (only 5# now). Started my son (<10 dives) with a similar dry suit and he too seemed to have good buoyancy control within a couple of dives. I saw continued progression, and certainly no regression outside of the first dry dive, on his buoyancy skills. Started refurbishing my old DUI and found I needed 5# more than the 7mm O'Neill dry suit.

    OK, after a bunch of tweaking I've got the ballast down with the DUI by 10#, which is now 5# less than with the neoprene one. What I've got now is: a 2" wide band around my biceps to keep the bubble down, gauges on both forearms, SiTech wrist seal rings with removable dry gloves, compression shorts (has my cargo pocket but also keeps the suit tight) and gaiters. It was the gaiters that dropped the last 5#. I'm a keep the valve open person, and leave my wing empty - but then again I'm only using 80-95 cuft tanks so controlling squeeze is pretty much controlling my buoyancy also.

    As a comparison: First dry suit dive this decade (Monterey, CA, USA temp 50F): Lead: 10# on tank, 20# on belt, 5# on ankles. 80 cuft Al tank and Al BP/W. Last dry suit dive (also Monterey): Lead 10# on belt, 5# on ankles. 95 cuft steel, SS backplate, pony/regulator. This spans about 40 dives, so I'm sure the drop in weight was both gear tweaking and experience.
  4. themagni

    themagni Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Canada's Pacific Southwest, BC
    Good ol' Puget Sound / Salish Sea. 10C / 50F in the summer, 4C/40F in the winter.

    I put a "hot paws" in each of my dry gloves if it's winter time. I've got the Si-Tek locking ring + some orange rubber gloves + woollen gloves. Some guys have heated vests too, but that's getting to be a little silly... for now, anyway.

    Everyone up here either dives dry or stops diving. I can't remember the last time I saw someone in a wetsuit, and now all the dive shops teach OW in a drysuit.
  5. ScubaSteve

    ScubaSteve Wow.....what a DB

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Acton, Ontario

    I have checked the valve and had it looked at by my LDS. All checks out. I actually took a mirror on a dive and as I ascended, I watched the valve. Air came out in big'sh bubbles but it still takes a while to vent. I have not yet tried duct tape but that is just because when I think of it I am not near my gear. I will try sometime. I have talked to a couple other divers with the same drysuit and undergarments (4th Element Arctic) and they say they have no issues. I truly believe my issue is just that I am a big guy with a big drysuit and big undergarments thus big buoyancy.......and I am having to vent through the same valve as someone who is half my size.
  6. HenrikBP

    HenrikBP Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Mexico
    Yes, I agree. D-ring(s) about mid-body, so position is to an extent determined by exposure protection.
  7. Ste Wart

    Ste Wart Master Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: England


    I've been caught out on two occasions.

    The first is adjusting my OPH to fit the drysuit, shoulders fine, but my strategic trimming of the waist band - for tropical climes - means I have about 1" to tighten the buckle. Ho-hum, and I'm starting to regret selling my SS BP for an Ally, but one of each seems to be the way to go.
    Trimming the straps on my Suunto and Timer, first time out in March I quickly realised I would be buying DSS bungee mounts. To be fair though I love them and the guys I'm working with at the moment have all gone out to buy them.
  8. eelnoraa

    eelnoraa DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco Bay Area
    I was a lucky one here. I bought my first drysuit (I wear in my avata) from Don (ae3753 here). I didn't have any drysuit dive at that time, not to mention drysuit cert. Don gave me a one-on-one pool session with his drysuit (at that time) that I was going to buy. He went through the basics, the importances and the tricks with me before selling the suit to me. At that time, I thought he is such a nice guy.

    I know little about diving at that time. Now when I think back, I have to say he is also such a great instructor. He was able to break down the whole drysuit skill into small, easy to understand steps and procedures, so that I could absorb it effectively. Because of this, I don't think I ever had issue with diving drysuit. Big thanks to Don.
  9. ajduplessis

    ajduplessis Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: dry land :-(
    IMO learning to dive with a drysuit is overly exaggerated if you are already a proficient diver in terms of buoyancy and ascent rates. Open the valve and go diving! It that simple. The day I received my drysuit I muddled around in 30 ft of water for 3min and then continued on a 40min deco dive fully kitted with stages.

    Divers that struggle with drysuits (generally speaking) have bad buoyancy, use wrong size suites, try to use the suit as buoyancy compensator, exceed 30ft p/m ascent rates, or have extremely bad breathing patterns.

    I would be seriously surprised if you struggled with a drysuit!!
  10. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Atlantic Northeast (Maine)
    Diving dry came easy to me with mentoring from a buddy who was ahead of me on the curve by a handful of dry dives. I have been alongside buddies that it was not so simple for and they were decent wet divers too. In most cases getting proficient in a drysuit is part skill and part reconfiguration. Many decent divers do not have the understanding to "re-engineer" their configuration to make it all work together. That is where many flounder. There are also some basic configurations like getting the valve to the highpoint that are not always what the seem or second nature. I agree that it's not rocket science but it can take some work and time. Fit is a huge part of getting the configuration right and I see cases where divers make due with what they bought or already had. I think a lot can have to do with the suit style too. A close fitting neoprene suit can be a lot easier to fly than a roomy, correct fitting laminate suit with a hefty garment.

    For my liking it's all about the right suit for the right dive. Personally, if conditions are right I prefer to be wet. If it's towards the cooler end of warm, like 55F and I intend to make 2 dives I may well go dry especially if it's mild topside. This is not to be comfortable during the dive but because I know I will feel fresher afterwards having lost less thermal energy. In a wetsuit I can quench liberally with water down the collar and be stress free in almost any heat condition. In my drysuit it needs to be an expeditious dressing that lets be load the hood the quenching water. It's an excellent stress buster but being only the head and neck it's limited.

    I think a course/lesson is nice but if that's the plan do it BEFORE you buy since 50% of the course is about the selection process. That is a clue as to how deep the "how do dive it" subject matter is not. This is the major GOTCHA of a free course AFTER you bought it all. If you have done your homework and know what it's all about then mentoring and some conservative dives can get many there. For almost all paying attention to the suit and configuration and making configuration adjustments until it all plays nice together is the big key. You need to take charge and fully integrate it to your diving.


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