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View Full Version : What to expect from drysuit class?



BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
12-05-2007, 19:29
I'm going to be taking a dry suit class and I am wondering what to expect.


I've been told that "they" will want me to use the DS for buoyancy control except at the surface. Although I've been told by divers I respect that I should use the BC to control buyoancy and just add enough air to the DS to control squeeze.

Specmac
12-05-2007, 20:42
Yep, recreational dive instructors will tell you to use the DS for buoyancy. Tech instructors will cringe every time they hear that.

They class is fairly easy and straight forward. Getting use to the drysuit just takes a few dives. When your using the ds for buoyancy there will be an air bubble in there rolling around every time you move. Kind of like diving with some random trim changes every time you make any angle shifts.

For some the drysuit takes some getting used to. I had a real love hate relationship with mine for about 20 dives. Then I went back to using the BC for buoyancy and now the drysuit is a joy.

Kingpatzer
12-06-2007, 08:37
I ended my dry suit class hating the dry suit.

It took me about 10 more dives in one before I really felt comfortable in a dry suit.

My wife had the same experience.

It is just different, and one of the harder scuba skill to learn, IMHO, is that of getting the air in the dry suit to do what you want it to do. With a wet-suite and a BC, you never have to think about wear the air is, with a dry suit, it's, at first, the only thing I could think of.

One minute an arm would be floating above my head blown up like a balloon, while my legs were being squeezed, and a few minutes later my feet would be floating over my head . . .

It took a bit of time to get to the point where I felt I was in control of what the suit was doing. It took longer still till I felt I was comfortable in the suit and confident that I knew what to expect.

bubbletrubble
12-06-2007, 14:06
BouzoukiJoe,

As others have said, your instructor will probably teach you to use the DS alone to control buoyancy. This is easier to deal with initially since you are only working with one buoyancy control device.

You can find many long discussions on another scuba forum (ScubaBoard) regarding whether it is best to use DS alone or DS to keep squeeze off + BCD for buoyancy. I think you should try both ways to see which works best for you. In either case, it's important to be able to recover from a feet-first ascent.

During the class, you may also learn how to maintain your suit/seals/zipper (freshwater post-dive rinse, mild soap on latex seals, drysuit talc, zipper wax, ozone bad for latex), trim latex seals (carefully use sharp scissors, don't trim too much at first), how to deal with "floaty feet" (better leg positioning, ankle weights, gaiters) and the additional weight you'll need vs. diving wet (just do a solid weight check). Please, please, please ensure that you are properly weighted. It will make the learning process much easier.

It will take a few dives to get used to the "feel" of diving dry. Some get the hang of it in a couple dives. Others take 5-10 dives. It may take 40-50 dives for you to feel really comfortable. Hang in there.

My first DS dive I felt like the love child of the Michelin Man/Pillsbury Doughboy (if that's biologically possible). Now I reach for that dang DS inflator button even when I'm diving wet!

The best analogy comparing wetsuit diving to DS diving is driving an automatic vs. manual transmission car. OK, I'll admit that the comparison has it's limits. However, diving dry you'll pay more attention to where the air is distributed in your suit...because you have to. You'll likely stay more horizontal...because you'll be "rewarded" by not getting squeezed in any one body part. Upon ascent, you'll be very aware of where the air is in your suit...and how much your dumping. It takes a fair amount of practice. Once you learn how to dive with your DS, it'll become second nature.

Dive safe. Dive dry. And don't pee in your suit (unless you're setup for that sort of thing. :-)

DivingCRNA
12-06-2007, 14:14
I ROASTED during the pool session...:FIREdevil:

It is an easy cert, and I only got it so I could go to DUI events and try suits without getting crap.

Learn to add and dump air. Learn to no go inverted (feet up). Learn what to do if you go feet up. Learn tips and tricks. Learn to care for the suit.

It is not bad. My instructor said the party line was to use the suit for buoyancy, but he would not recommend it. I do not know a single dry suit diver that uses the suit for buoyancy.

cummings66
12-06-2007, 14:32
Drysuits tend to make you work for the same buoyancy control you "had" before those first few dives in the new drysuit. After a period of time it becomes second nature and you'll love it, assuming you didn't sell it during the period you hated it.

Feet up isn't a big deal, I do it for fun sometimes. Ever want to walk upside down under water, it's easy in a drysuit. Just get into an overhead such as ice and flip over, now you can walk. It's neat. Assuming you have the training to do that that is.

I think every drysuit diver needs to routinely practice the skills to stay in touch with them, go inverted and see how you handle it after the class, it may surprise you. Use the suit as a BC in case you lose the BCD you still know how to manage it without ending up inverted or worse.

I don't practice the pulling a seal and flooding however because I don't really want to get wet, besides about all you want to practice is the reaction to grabbing it.

For me in my Viking with drygloves my ONLY option is to reach inside my dryhood and then hook the neck seal with a finger and pull it, it's not very fast compared to pulling the seal directly. But I know it's the only way I have open to me and I have the motor skills down.

For the class you can expect to get warm, wear a light under garment like the under armour type to keep the hickies down.

MSilvia
12-06-2007, 14:43
Like others have said, expect to lose the feeling of having your buoyancy and trim under control. It took me about 12 dives to get that back so I felt really comfortable again. It was in many ways like learning to dive all over again.

Stick with it, and you'll figure it out pretty fast.

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
12-06-2007, 14:49
Sounds like great info, guys. Thanks a bunch. I'm looking forward to diving dry.

ScubaJW
12-07-2007, 00:02
I never took a drysuit class. I had a friend who can teach me and became comfortable with the drysuit in about 10 dives. It's really simple, that you only to relearn the buoyant. I believe they will teach you about the valves on the drysuit - how to control them, proper weights, control your buoyant, and a few others. Have fun with the drysuit! I loved it.

mm_dm
12-07-2007, 09:50
And now there will be no more "season" to your diving. Be sure to hook up with someone in class so you have a cold weather dive buddy.

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
12-09-2007, 21:34
I just finished the class. As far as controlling buyancy with the DS ot the BC, the instructor told us about both methods and said that we should experiment and do what is most comfortable for us.

The second dive was the worst of my life. I was underweighted at the beginning of the dive. I became more buoyant throughout the dive. I swam down to the bottom and picked up a big rock and carried the rock around for most of the dive. At the safety stop I had to hug a tree to stay down.

Besides the under-weighting I got some air trapped in the DS that I was just not able to vent no matter what I tried. All the work trying to vent the suit let a bunch of water in the suit, so my whole left side was wet.

Of course all the fretting about not being able to stay down caused my breathing to be anything but relaxed which just added to the buoyancy problems.

Thankfully we did the skills early enough in the dive that I was able to do them.

A very miserable experience.


Yet I want to do it again. I refuse to be beaten by this. I'll get the weight right next time!

CompuDude
12-10-2007, 18:03
You'll get it. With very few exceptions, I'd say a majority of people really dislike their first few drysuit dives.

But once you get it dialed in, it's actually a lot more comfortable to dive in! It's all about learning to manage the bubble... once you have it managed, that long flat bubble actually helps your trim quite a bit. :)

And, you'll get to have the satisfaction of hiding a smug smile when you see the wetsuit divers shivering after the 3rd and 4th dives...

cummings66
12-10-2007, 18:45
I think you're well on your way to becoming a drysuit diver, it takes a bit of persistance in the beginning but you'll soon love the drysuits.

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
12-11-2007, 16:24
Now that I've finished the class, I've spent almost all day reading threads on different dry suits. Very hard to choose, indeed. I dove a a DUI TLS350 in class and I've only seen DUI, White's, and Pinnacle locally.

One of my buddies dives a DUI CF200 and basically says I'm crazy if I consider rany other brand than DUI and that crushed neoprene is far superior to trilam, etc., etc. He's too DOGmatic for my taste - LOL.

Right now, though, the Pinnacle Evolution 2 looks pretty good to me. A good suit with a lot of options standard that are up charges for DUI. With the 10% discount and the $50 GC it looks like a pretty darn good suit for the money. It's just hard for me to buy a dry suit online...

MSilvia
12-11-2007, 16:35
Now that I've finished the class, I've spent almost all day reading threads on different dry suits. Very hard to choose, indeed. I dove a a DUI TLS350 in class and I've only seen DUI, White's, and Pinnacle locally.
I'd give you my opinion on them, but I've only used Bare Crushed neoprene and trilam. Based on that though, I'd say your friend's advice should be taken with a grain of salt... I think the trilam is MUCH more durable than crushed neo, and is less bulky to boot. He might argue thermal comfort, but that should really be an undergarment issue, not a suit issue.

bjoseph
12-15-2007, 07:51
I would suggest that before you make a purchase online, go to a local dealer and try a few on. Put your mitts on each suit you are considering and figure out what size you want.

Once you make a decision, either buy from the LDS and ask them to meet the ST price, or come back and order here. It seems that unlike regulators or computers, the 'fit' of a drysuit is crucial, especially considering the price of the investment and the number of years you will own it.

And in the process, you might meet some nice folks at a local dive shop!

I want a dry suit too.... I just can't figure out which one to buy yet... I tend to lean towards top of the line stuff, but the DUI stuff is 'REALLY' expensive compared to other brands.

cummings66
12-15-2007, 10:52
Plus DUI is not top of the line, only it's price is. Bare is better if you want to know the truth. But, buy what you can afford and what fits, that's about the best advice you can get.

bob
12-16-2007, 10:37
Yep, recreational dive instructors will tell you to use the DS for buoyancy. Tech instructors will cringe every time they hear that.

They class is fairly easy and straight forward. Getting use to the drysuit just takes a few dives. When your using the ds for buoyancy there will be an air bubble in there rolling around every time you move. Kind of like diving with some random trim changes every time you make any angle shifts.

For some the drysuit takes some getting used to. I had a real love hate relationship with mine for about 20 dives. Then I went back to using the BC for buoyancy and now the drysuit is a joy.

I must be the exception to the rule. I teach my drysuit divers to only add enough air to the drysuit to control the squeeze. The BC is for buoyancy. Bob

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
12-16-2007, 19:04
I ended up buying a DUI. I looked at a Diving Concepts, a Dive Rite, and a White's. Nearest Pinnacle dealer is too far, there are no Bare dealers. I was favoring the Dive Rite but an in-stock DUI fit me pefectly and the shop owner was willing to bargain. Zip seals and zip gloves are nice. Dove it today. So far, so dry.

in_cavediver
12-16-2007, 20:05
Yep, recreational dive instructors will tell you to use the DS for buoyancy. Tech instructors will cringe every time they hear that.

They class is fairly easy and straight forward. Getting use to the drysuit just takes a few dives. When your using the ds for buoyancy there will be an air bubble in there rolling around every time you move. Kind of like diving with some random trim changes every time you make any angle shifts.

For some the drysuit takes some getting used to. I had a real love hate relationship with mine for about 20 dives. Then I went back to using the BC for buoyancy and now the drysuit is a joy.

I must be the exception to the rule. I teach my drysuit divers to only add enough air to the drysuit to control the squeeze. The BC is for buoyancy. Bob

I think every tech instructor agrees. The theory for rec instructors is that in theory, a normal rec diver is only 5lbs of so overwieghted so being comfortable in the DS means being neutral. (Most DS don't loose buoyancy with depth like wetsuits do) Perhaps is all the rec divers who dive so overwieghted they need the BC lift.

For the record, I agree with the 'DS for comfort, BC for buoyancy' training. Its logical and builds upon what they know. I just don't know if many rec divers really need the BC if they aren't carrying that much gas weight (singles).

CompuDude
12-17-2007, 12:38
I ended up buying a DUI. I looked at a Diving Concepts, a Dive Rite, and a White's. Nearest Pinnacle dealer is too far, there are no Bare dealers. I was favoring the Dive Rite but an in-stock DUI fit me pefectly and the shop owner was willing to bargain. Zip seals and zip gloves are nice. Dove it today. So far, so dry.

The Pinnacle Evo II is a great suit. A buddy of mine just bought one, and I saw him in it this weekend. Very impressive looking suit... quite similar to my DUI CLX450, and the price he paid was fairly jaw-dropping.

Zip seals, however... that's the clincher for me every time I consider another make. It's not that I'm in love with DUI (or their prices), and I fully agree many other suits are just as good. I do take exception to the thinking that Bare is somehow "superior" to DUI, however... the price is certainly better, but I would only put the quality at "equal", and I hate the fact that getting service on the suit requires sending it internationally to Canada. Ditto Whites.

But no one else can offer zip seals. The day other manufacturers offer something 100% analogous (or DUI's patent runs out), I probably will start seriously considering their suits. But as of today, unless price is the overriding concern, I'm going to have to limit my search to manufacturers that offer zip seals. All one of them. ;)

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
12-18-2007, 15:36
I've discovered after diving a well-fitting suit a couple of times that my problems in class were a combination of being underweighted and having a suit that was too large. The suit being too large allowed air to get trapped in a such a way that I could not vent it. My buddy told me that she could see that there was air trapped in the suit.

My main issue now is the extra drag when swimming. I'm definitely going to get a smaller wing to use with singles. It should reduce the drag and make it easier to control the air volume. Also going to go from a soft pack to a steel backplate to transfer some weight off my belt. I'm considering new fins.

The expenses never end :-)

MSilvia
12-18-2007, 15:42
The expenses never end :-)
No doubt... just when you have things all figured out, a drysuit makes you want to change it all.

Singlerm
12-26-2007, 21:22
Hi,

This thread has been helpful, I'll be taking my drysuit class this weekend. I'll get a good chance to find out first hand how great drysuit diving is.....
I'm in Anchorage, Alaska.

I'm really looking foward to taking the class and eventually getting a suit.
I'm thinking about a Viking or a Pinnacle.
I'll be using a DUI TLS 350 during the class, but they're too much money to buy one.

Thanks.

Mitch

Divingguy
12-27-2007, 06:31
Mitch: Welcome to the Board! Good luck with the Class, and your drysuit purchase. I am waiting for my Pinnacle Evo 2 to show up any time now.

kancho
12-27-2007, 10:42
On my 1st cert dive.. I was overweighted and I was using this hardweights that shifted to one side so I was off balance.. I couldn't even stand on my knees properly.. I barely got the hover done properly. The 2nd dive was much better. Now after 5 dives I am used to it. It was one of the more useful specilaty I think.

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
01-01-2008, 14:34
Just finished my 5th dive in the dry suit today. Awesome dive. Buoyancy skills returning. Hooray. Afterwards, a lot of wet suit divers were freezing in the cold wind, bindling up in boat jackets and multiple layers. I just kept my suit on and smiled a lot during the surface interval- LOL. Another good thing about the dry suit is that it is much easier to don and doff than large amounts of neoprene.

-Joe