Tag Archives: northern kentucky

Dive Gear: Tips and Benefits of Streamlining – by Dr. Thomas Powell


Dive Gear: Tips and Benefits of Streamlining

by: Dr. Thomas Powell:

Scuba diving is a sport we get into because we love the idea of venturing beneath the waves and seeing new and exciting things. Underwater, we want to be able to move about with ease and focus a large portion of our attention on the sites and activities. When our gear is not right, movement can be sluggish, we may burn through gas quickly, and our attention may focus on our frustrations rather than our adventures. One of the easiest ways to have a better experience underwater is by streamlining our gear and our bodies.

The first way to streamline ourselves is by making sure our equipment fits. If your buoyancy compensator is too loose, it may slide around, ride up, or otherwise make neutral buoyancy difficult to achieve. When you select your scuba gear, you should take the time to make sure your buoyancy compensator or harness is properly fitted or adjusted for you. This may take some time and may require an experienced diver or retailer to provide assistance. The truth of the matter is that you should not just jump into a purchase. Instead, look at what each item offers you for your future in diving. Can you stow or store the equipment you need? Does your rig fit in your hips, chest, and shoulders? Is there a crotch strap that helps secure your buoyancy compensator? Does the rig allow you to make changes or adaptations as needed? Is your wing the proper size for the type of diving you are doing or will it wrap around your cylinder and reduce your ease of movement? Once you enter the water, your rig should be comfortable, easy to use, and adjustable as needed. This will allow the rig to become part of your body as you move through the water.

Second, divers love toys. Most divers have made an impulse purchase for an item that seemed “cool” at the time but will never really be used. Do you really need three noise makers, four coiled bungies just in case you need to clip something off, and various other items on you at all times? Often, these items get purchased and a diver will place them on a buoyancy compensator. These items all create drag when a diver tries to move through the water. Over time, a diver realizes certain items may not be used and then these extra items will get pulled off and stowed away in a gear bag only to be seen during rare instances. When a diver eliminates extra items, drag is reduced and the diver will find it easier to move through the water with ease. Similarly, there are fewer items that can cause entanglement if a diver happens to encounter potential hazards. So take a moment and review your equipment. If there are items that you never use but always seem to carry around underwater, leave them in your gear bag.

In the same regard, some divers like the idea of keeping non-essential items stored in a buoyancy compensator. Items like this may include bottles of defog or other things that are normally kept in a gear bag. These types of items add bulk and possibly off-set weighting issues that could again disrupt easy movement. Items such as these should be left on the boat or at the beach. If the item is truly needed, end the dive, get prepared as needed once again, and start over. Similarly, a diver should make sure that clips, straps, and buckles are secured. Anything that dangles, flaps, or hangs open can create more drag or possible entanglement hazards. Often, a simple pre-dive check with a buddy can help a diver make sure that gear is properly donned and secured.

Once a diver determines what equipment is essential, the remaining items need to be tucked away and stowed so that nothing “dangles” or hangs free to create drag. Items should be kept close to the body. In certain cases, adding items like a butt plate to your buoyancy compensator will allow larger items such as reels, spools, or even canister systems to be stowed on the hips, which keeps them up and out of the way. Keeping items such as bungie, tape, or surgical tubing in your dive kit can also help a diver secure equipment. For instance, if a flashlight is clipped to a harness using a bolt snap, a loop of surgical tubing around the webbing can help keep the flashlight tight to the body when the barrel of the light is tucked under this makeshift flexible strap. Thinking through actions like this can help to tighten a diver’s profile underwater. Keeping your equipment streamlined also helps keep specific items easier to find and use since you know things are not shifting around on the body. Sometimes large items can even be replaced with smaller items. Do you really need a foot long short sword as a tool underwater? Instead, items like line cutters or sheers may meet all of your needs and create a smaller physical profile.

Finally, with time, most divers realize that they need less weight to remain neutrally buoyant. Because of this, taking time to do a weight check every once in a while may help a diver learn that he or she can reduce weight and essentially reduce the burden being carried underwater. Similarly, when the equipment carried by a diver is changed, a weight check should be performed to find a comfortable amount of weight to be carried. Once that sweet spot is found, a diver may find it easier to achieve neutral buoyancy and move about with comfort. Comfort will allow a diver to focus more on practicing kick styles, tucking arms away, and moving about with slow and methodical movements. The more a diver can practice simple fluid movements, the easier the diver will find it becomes to maintain neutrally stable buoyancy while performing skill sets, and with reduced movement comes reduced gas consumption.

One of the biggest actions any diver can take in regard to improving comfort and mobility in the water is streamlining both equipment and the body. Over time, adjustments may become only minor corrections rather than major gear reconfigurations. With improved comfort comes an overall improved experience and more time underwater focusing on the exciting factors that make a person return over and over again to the water.

55 Things Divers Born After 1985 Won’t Understand – by Brian Carney

A typical day at SDI/TDI/ERDI Headquarters consists of lots of emails, phone calls and, of course, meetings.  Over the years these meetings have gone through a lot of different topics and formats, but what happened last week was something I was not expecting … yet.  Generally, in a Marketing meeting we throw around topic ideas for different things we feel would make for great content.   In this particular meeting I found myself listening and then ultimately being asked to write about a topic because I was the most qualified due to my age!  Let that sit for a minute… my age.  When did I become the guy old enough to know about something?  How did that happen?  Well, after I got over that small issue, we started discussing the topic of difficulty people of my age or older (43 for those of you counting) have relating to the generation of Millennials. Take it from me, as I am reminded of it every day at the office, they think and act differently than we do.

This article is the first of three that will address the differences in generations in the industry: Things divers born after 1985 will not understand. A presentation at DEMA titled Inside the Millennial Mind – How to connect with #Millennials to increase business, presented by Lauren Kieren (Millennial) and myself (old guy).  Finally an article by Lauren titled, Things divers born before 1985 will never understand.

Just so I could have some additional insight into this topic I consulted a few other “old guys” for help.  Dan Orr, Harry Averill, and also Bret Gilliam were kind enough to send me their thoughts on this topic for which I am grateful for their input.

    1. The name of the first electronic dive computer, the EDGE, was actually an acronym for “Electronic Dive GuidE” – Dan Orr would know as he named it.


  1. CO 2 cartridges were standard equipment for BCD’s. In early models of BCD’s it was standard equipment to have a CO2 cartridge with a mechanism designed to fill the BCD in an emergency situation to provide buoyancy.   After years of questionable results such as random trigger of inflation at times when it was not needed or also not working when it was needed, or being a pain to maintain due to corrosion, they fell out of favor.   There was a time when it was impossible to find a buoyancy device without a CO2 cartridge
  2. Purge valves on masks were mainstream. In the early 70s purge valves were introduced as a feature on the front of masks.
  3. Octopus regulators were not mandatory.
  4. Pressure gauges were not mandatory, instead divers relied on J valves. SPGs were mandated around 1977 by all training agencies.
  5. A Horse Collar BCD was the only option for a BCD. There were numerous options beginning in 1973 including the At-Pac and Scubapro Back Mounted BC called a Buoyancy Compensating Pack or BCP. In 1977 Scubapro introduced the Stabilizing Jacket that changed everything to this style for most divers.
  6. Back inflation BCDs started long before technical diving
  7. SOS Decompression Meter – Dive computer (aka Bend-O-Matic) was actually sold as a dive computer but had no electronic parts, instead it operated mechanically.
  8. Cave divers got their gear from the hardware store.
  9. Dive gear only came in men’s sizes; women’s sizes were introduced around 1979 for such gear as wet suits and BCDs.
  10. Technical diving had not started yet. Or more appropriately, the term Technical Diving had not been coined yet.
  11. You could have dive gear in any color as long as it was black.
  12. You could buy a wet suit in a kit and put it together yourself… hopefully.
  13. If you wore a buoyancy device of any kind, other divers wondered if you were scared or couldn’t swim.
  14. Buoyancy devices came with a crotch strap.
  15. Divers were suspicious of single hose regulators and would sometimes be heard saying, “Can you really get enough air through that small hose?”
  16. Some divers actually wore pantyhose in order to help them get the early wetsuits on.
  17. At one time, it took lung power to inflate a buoyancy device.
  18. You had to roll over on your back to let air out of your buoyancy device.
  19. It was a life vest before it was a buoyancy compensator.
  20. If you took the original 71.2 cu. ft. aluminum cylinder off under water, it would reach the surface before you.
  21. You had to thread your shoulder straps properly to allow for quick release.
  22. You had to constantly check your “J” valve to make sure it wasn’t accidentally pulled down.
  23. Divers would look at your tank valve and try to figure out if it actually looks like a “K” or “J”.
  24. When the Totes Company actually made dry suits.
  25. When you had to learn about ‘suit squeeze’ before dry suits had variable volume capability.
  26. When dive knives were longer than your snorkel
  27. To protect yourself from denizens of the deep, you carried a shark billy or a Faralon Shark Dart.
  28. When you didn’t have to be a duck to wear ‘duck feet’.
  29. When you cave divers were just as likely to find a car inner tube in their ‘wings’ as their automobile (Note:  the first pair of wings I used actually had an automobile inner tube as a bladder). The very first cave-diving BCs were actually Clorox bottles.
  30. When your dive light could probably double as an aircraft landing light.
  31. You had to decide to keep or remove the neck strap from your regulator 2nd stage.
  32. You had to get into your dry suit through the crotch.
  33. You could buy weights shaped like hand grenades.
  34. You inflated your buoyancy device with a separate air bottle attached to the bottom.
  35. You could choose any breathing gas as long as it was air.
  36. Sportsways, Healthways, Voit, Parkway, Harvey’s, Swimaster, Nemrod, Imperial, Dacor were part of every diver’s vocabulary
  37. If someone asked you, “Are You A Turtle?”, you’d have to answer, “You bet your sweet a** I am!” or you’d owe them a drink.  (Comment:  This was the marketing campaign by Imperial to promote their Imperial Turtle wet suits)
  38. Nitrox and mixed gas didn’t exist for the recreational diver
  39. Sonic alerts, e.g. DiveAlert
  40. Use of oxygen for decompression
  41. Split fins – what are those?
  42. Integrated weight system consisted of a belt with lead on it.
  43. There was no mandatory insurance for dive instructors
  44. IANTD, TDI, ANDI, IDEA, MDEA, ACUC, RSTC were not created yet.
  45. There were very few liveaboard dive vessels and those only traveled to a limited selection of areas.
  46. Most wet suits were nylon-lined, but had textured neoprene on the outside.
  47. No cylinders larger than 80 cubic feet were available.
  48. Dual valve manifolds were not available, instead diving with independent doubles was the only choice.
  49. No Spare Air devices
  50. There was no color film faster than 200 ASA
  51. Portable recompression chambers were the size of a Semi Truck.
  52. No such thing as a referral programs to complete open water training in another location by another instructor
  53. Solo diving was actually what you learned how to do in your Open Water Instructor course
  54. In the span of ten years (approximately 1975 to 1985), items such as alternate-air-source second stages, power inflators, tank-integrated BCs and instrument consoles had gone from being a rarity to being the norm. This is the greatest amount of change in diving equipment in a short period of time that has ever happened. A 1985 diver would look more like one of today’s divers, some 30 years later, than he would look like a diver from ten years earlier.

The one big thing to come out of these articles and presentations is that the industry has come a long way due to innovation and passion from the people within it.  Now is the time to start looking to the next generation and tap into their passion, we just need to find a way to communicate with them.

Life Ending Seconds – 3000 to Zero in 72 Seconds – Advanced Diver Magazine – by Curt Bowen

We train for equipment failures in our certification courses, practice our emergency drills, and conduct pre-dive safety inspections. We do all this in hopes that we may catch a problem before it happens or have the knowledge to remedy the situation at depth just in case one occurs. In all the preparation and drills, it always seems that an equipment failure happens at the worst time.

Advanced Diver Magazine looked into equipment failure one step further and conducted a series of tests at multiple depths in an attempt to calculate if increased depth can escalate a potential life threatening equipment failure. Afterwards, we posted the results on the technical diving forum, The Decostop (www.thedecostop.com), to see what the responses and suggestions from other technical divers would be.

The test

Four different equipment failures were simulated at four different preset depths and timed for their results. Each test included a full aluminum 80 cubic foot cylinder filled to 3000 psi. The test timed how long it would take to drain each aluminum 80 from 3000 psi to 0 psi.

The equipment failures tested
1. High-pressure hose failure. Simulated by putting a pre-cut high-pressure hose on a first stage regulator. The cylinder valve was fully opened at the predetermined depths, and the time it took to drain an 80 cubic foot cylinder was recorded.
2. Low-pressure hose failure. Simulated by putting a pre-cut low-pressure hose on a first stage regulator. The cylinder valve was fully opened at the predetermined depths, and the time it took to drain an 80 cubic foot cylinder was recorded.
3. Burst disk failure. Simulated by removing a burst disk from the cylinder valve at depth. The time it took to drain an 80 cubic foot cylinder was recorded.
4. Free-flow second stage regulator. Simulated by manually purging a high performance second stage at the predetermined depths until the cylinder was emptied. The time was recorded.
Depth Tests Conducted

Equipment Failure Test Results

This test (see above results) produced clear and precise results indicating that any major equipment failure, with the exception of a high-pressure hose rupture, would result in a catastrophic gas volume loss in just a few seconds.

Applying this knowledge to real life situations.

The far right column in the chart above provides the amount of gas lost in cubic feet in 15 seconds. (The estimated time it takes for an unsuspected diver to fully analyze and shut down the failed regulator or isolation valve.) Of course with some situations, such as a ruptured burst disk or tank neck o-ring failure, all the volume in the affected cylinder will be lost.

The best reaction and solution to save the maximum amount of gas will vary according to the type of rig each diver is using from doubles with an isolation valve, independent doubles, and side mount cylinders. The ending consensus indicated that a good buddy team, especially for extreme technical diving and proper gear maintenance was of top priority.