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Id like some considered advice please!

My buddy Pioneer has a crack bottle and 'autoair' I like the auto air and have a long primary which I donate, plus one or 2 pony bottles as redundancy (2nd pony, if I carry it, is side slung with 50% mix)

The crack bottle is at the back but the valve is on the front side of the jacket, now discounting the dubious bollocks of breathing off the jacket... I have kept the bottle cos I have thought of it as redundant boyancy, ie diving on a single should my primary 1st stage malfunction, Ive got a quick means of inflating my bcd..

I have NEVER ever come close to cracking it by accident, I can move the valve into the jacket etc. To make it highly unlikely...

However, The odd 2nd thought is creeping in and I think I read something on 'handbag-net' about somebody buying a blanking plate and ditching the bottle...???

Does anyone have first hand experience or advice, rather than the usual novice stories or a brothers mates cousin stories...

I would value some practical and experienced advice..

thanks

Ian
 

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Creature of the night
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<font color='#000080'>Hi Ian,

no stories of them being opened by accident but one of our club members had the bottle break the plug which holds it onto the bc [missed a weekends diving as a result] but it made me think "what if this had happened underwater"

The jacket was less than a year old and he has since blanked it off.

Safe diving,
Steve.
 

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<font color='#000080'>Ian,

you can get a blanking plate as I fitted one to my Pioneer TD. I never dived that BC with the bottle fitted. If you lose your backgas but have a pony cylinder to breath, you can orally inflate the jacket. If you are neutrally buoyant you wouldn't need to be adding gas to begin your ascent anyway. I really don't see any good reason for you to keep the crack bottle.

HTH

Mark    
 

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My tekwing has never had anything but a blanking plate on it - I had a bottle on my Commando, but when I came to decide exactly how I wanted my wing, I realised that bottles just aren't a good idea.

On the other hand, bottles on SMBs are a great idea
 

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Ian
True enough theres been numerous stories of divers getting into trouble using the small independent bcd bottles, just as there has been with other equipment. Clearly to the unwary you can end up in a stack of trouble.

The background to these bottles, evolved from the days when direct feed was not around.  In the early days  Bouyancy control was achieved by blowing air into the BCD via the mouthpiece and dumping it. If you didn't fancy the idea of getting a mouthfull of sea water the option was to fill up your bdc with air from your bottle.  As thankfully direct feeds became common place these skills became redundant.
Already been mentioned, some of the skills assessment for qualification included cracking open the bottle & venting air into your BCD and breathing it from the bag, ain't that grim!!!!!

My personal experience with it,
Years ago having lost contact with my buddy  I got myself into a situation at depth with little bouyancy and unable to lift of the bottom.  
I was 100% sure I wasn't going to reach the surface. Dumping the weightbelt and inflating the bcd with the inflator didn't have the effect. My A*se was tweaking & I desperatly wanted to see the light of day again. I cracked the bottle much to my surprise nothing "seemed" to be happening, then 5-4-3-2-1- lift off, probably something akin to those guys that do the submarine escape drill in the tower thing transpired. I vividly recall the surface coming into view at an very alarming rate and managed to slow the ascent with a combination of desparate dumping of air and flaring.
I guess I was fortunate as I only had a few mins bottom time run up and I other than a desire for a clean change of underwear,having "nearly Shit myself"
 suffered no adverse effects.  

Probably on the basis of my unfortunate experience, you'd be forgiven for thinking i'd still be using one NO, got rid of it yonks ago. I remember when I first removed it the act nearly caused a riot in the local dive club guess it was "then" considered an unsafe diving practice etc etc.

Footnote to this is an extract from a well known diving book,
recounting a venture into the whirlpool of Corryvreckan.

A proffessional Scallop diver dropped for scallops at 20m, he found no bottom at 40m so finned up, but found himslf still going down. He therefore fired his ABLJ ( Suicide bottle) and found himself still going down.  He saw the bottom at 75m! it was going past very quickly, but then at last his bcd finally pulled him towards the surface.

Tony
 

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I always carry mine, full, on my tekwing. I've never had a problem with it, despite it being a failure point and stories of rocket-ascents. I like it for two reasons. Firstly if I run out of air (not happened yet but does happen a lot killing many divers) I want to get to the surface ( or at least off the bottom to a sensible depth) damn quick. Oral inflation only works if you've got air, and in those circumstances isn't realistic anyway.  Arguably thats what dumping weight is for, or your buddy is for. I don't carry weight on tech dives and don't rely on buddies for any diving. OK if I've got a big deco obligation i'll get bent stupid but I'd much rather be on the surface breathing air and bent stupid than at 40 metres breathing water, albeit without sore elbows. (If I've got staged deco gas then I can arrest my ascent and deco normally.) The vast majority of divers who die drown, and many  of them on the surface. Thats reason two. If I make it to the surface after an incident I want to make sure I stay there, quickly. So I crack the bottle, jobs a good un. When diving single bottle with a weight belt, lets say I run out of air or my lp inflator shits it I'd much rather crack a bottle than fart about orally inflating or dump weights. With practice I can control my buoyancy well with the bottle - a lot more control than dumping weight. All that said, I've never needed to use it as my dryuit is my primary buoyancy, but I like a third source of  buoyancy before I start thinking about dumping £50 of lead, or even worse spend time unclipping £300 stages. And I believe that in a situation of critical buoyancy failure the last thing I ever want to do is take a reg out of my mouth to  orally inflate a 23 litre bag, at depth or on the surface.
 

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<font color='#000080'>Sorry, but I just hate these little things. If they're part of your plan, or part of your redundancy, you've got problems. I've got a million and one things I'd do before fitting one to my jacket.

No clear surface on a dive means that precisely to me. If I'm in that position, I'm not going for the surface. Simple as that. If you're that concerned, take a pony with another inflator hose on it, so you can plug that into your wing/BCD.

If you're pootling around on easy dives without deco obligations/a roof over your head, maybe you could convince me to let you bring it on the dive with me. I doubt it, because on those sorts of dives you should be able to weight yourself precisely so as not to need to use one. You swim up, or breathe in, or I'll grab hold of you and use my kit to get you going. I'd much rahter grab hold of you in that situation than grab hold of you as you head for the surface like a polaris missile.

All round, they're a bad idea. I'm yet to hear a good argument in their favour. A couple of experiences where they've been of use, but there's all too much risk using them to convince me I'd actually want one, even for those eventualities.

They're a bit of equipment from a bygone era we just don't need anymore.

Jason, if you look at the incident reports, it's often reported that a body is recovered with air in their tanks, how some of these casualties happen is beyond me, but it seems that running out of gas is a case of dire dive planning, and an inability to manage a gas supply suggests to me someone who hasn't been trained to dive. We all have, so there's no excuse.

If you really want a third source of buoyancy, get a redundant wing with a separate inflator. Now that would be covering your arse.

I can see your logic, but it's not my logic.

have I gone on a bit of a rant? Sorry, it's late and these little bottles really pull my chain...
 

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I like the little bottles, for nostalgia rather than practical reasons.
In the days before redundancy etc I was in a wreck (Hispania)  and due to a failed SPG my buddies had run out of air and gone whilst I had plenty left  
.
Anyway reg went tight, SPG said 80 bar or whatever and I swam between decks to the hatch on the bottle of my Fenzy ABLJ.
As final insurance, last ditch I'll keep it thanks - just in case.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]If they're part of your plan, or part of your redundancy, you've got problems
That was why I stopped using one. Same as quick-release weights: There's always a better way of getting out of the problem than relying on something that'll send you screaming to the surface.

Redundant air supply, gas management, redundant bouyancy, etc. There's no situation crack-bottles can get you out of that you couldn't have handled better with the right equipment or dive practices.

IMHO.
 

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Well, my bottle works great when I check my Pioneer bladder the morning before each dive.
Also nice to be able to inflate it after washing without messing about with a big cylinder.
And doesn't it serve as a great little supply for a lift bag!

So in summation: Some like them, some don't.  Plan carefully and you might never require it.  Accidents can happen - but so can it with any other piece of equipment.  To each his own.

Just make sure you don't often decant from the 300 bar cylinder with your 232...
 

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I had it on a tekwing and never took it off.  then again i never used it in anger, although i did use it to inflate the wing at the surface after the dive, lazy i know...

ive still got it somewhere.  digger, you wanna buy it?
 

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"No clear surface on a dive means that precisely to me. If I'm in that position, I'm not
going for the surface. Simple as that. "

What, even if you have absolutely nothing to breathe? Fair enough mate but bends can be fixed, drowning can't. It's all very well putting that in a dive plan but when you're half a second away from sucking water will you stick to your guns? . My absolute last ditch plan when no gas source is available - which happens to divers a lot more competent than me, and kills them - is to get to the surface. You can always drop down again to deco if gas becomes available.

Tech diving, for me, means solo diving whether there are other people in the water or not. My plan in no way ever involves other divers, except to write them in as potential hazards - because my experience of the buddy system is that it doesn't work when you need it. When descending on a deep dive I am very negative to allow for all the heavy gas I'm not going to have when I deco. So if my suit fails and lp inflator fails I'm in the poo. Running out of gas may be the result of piss-poor diving practice but couild also be a failed manifold, faulty guage, entrapment... In that situation what alternatives are there to a totally redundant crack bottle?
     
"If you really want a third source of buoyancy, get a redundant wing with a separate inflator.
Now that would be covering your arse. "

Fair enough. But adds cost, drag and another lp failure point in the first stage and doesn't account for out-of-gas. A pony with an lp hose is another option, like an argon setup, but what if the inflator button jams open? Have you ever tried to disconnect a freeflowing lp hose from a suit/bdc? It ain't easy even with two bare hands. (I don't care what the manuals say, I don't think it's  realistic ) A suicide bottle utilises a pillar valve, and I have never, ever heard of one of those failing except broken handles and burst o-rings.
Even if I fully crack my 'suicide' botlle at say 40 metres nothing happens very quick. It's a slow acceleration that is easily controlled. And it's never opened accidentally or failed in 400 dives.(which is more than I can say for any other piece of kit I own!) It just sits there, out of the way, waiting for me to have a crisis. Which is nice.  I don't see it as any more hazardous than any other piece of kit. I'm not sure what the perceived danger actually is? And do the statistics back up the perceptions?
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Jason Drake @ May 27 2003,13:29)]You can always drop down again to deco if gas becomes available.
<font color='#0000FF'>I am not aware that this should ever be an option.  If you reach the surface stay there and take the appropriate action on the surface - NEVER decend to carry out missed stops.
 

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In water recompression - Isn't this something that the Aussies go in for  - big distances etc
 

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<font color='#000080'>In water recompression can work, but usually relies upon FFM and very high percentages of O2. Personally, not the way I like to do it!

In the case of getting low on gas, I'd have fired my "oh shit" SMB, and would be waiting at whatever stop depth for some gas to come down the line. The chances of me losing all my back gas and bailout are very small. That would require 3 independent tanks to go tits up. In that case, I'd be swimming for the surface.

When I said a redundant wing with its own inflator I meant like an Argon setup (but obviously with air), which again multiplies the probabilities by a very small number.

To be honest, we're talking here about a total failure of all redundancy, loss of all gas, and very very tiny probabilities.

Chance of losing one source of inflation x chance of losing the other x chance of not having any other tanks x chance of the boat not dropping a spare tank x chance of having no clear surface etc. etc.

I'll accept that for some people they are reassuring, but for me they are a death trap, and I won't dive with people that use them unless they can show me that they can really do this mystical jacket-breathing that every BSAC instructor I dive with claims to be able to do, yet never actually will do it on a dive to demonstrate...

As for using it as a reverse parachute, that's your call, but we can all swim to the surface at that speed on one breath, can't we? You'd have to be pretty deep (in which case going for the surface could easily be fatal) not to be able to, I know that I can get to the suface from anywhere in Stoney!!!

Either that or you'd have to be inside something, in which case cracking the bottle is going to punt you into the roof!!!

I just think they're another bit of it people see their instructor using, think it must be a good idea, so get one on their lovely new Commando.
 

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I think we'll just have to agree to disagree digger, mate, and hope buoyancy failures or rocket ascents don't prove either of us right any time soon!

In response to FionaB yes the books do all say not to redescend. The Aussies amongst others have protocols for in water deco but with ffm and surface support. However, bends are completely time-sensitive and it can take hours to get into a chamber. I dive in the middle of nowhere off the shore most of the time and by the time I got chambered Itd be too late. ( often out of phone range therefore several hours from contact plus a couple of hours for the chopper to arrive, pick you up, and then a flight to Aberdeen, transfer etc) So if I miss stops I damn well go back down and do them and then some more. (bends very rarely present themselves in the first 10 minutes after surfacing) Obviously if I was having cerebral issues I wouldn't but then I'd probably be finished anyway.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Digger @ May 26 2003,15:56)]
Digger said,

"To be honest, we're talking here about a total failure of all redundancy, loss of all gas, and very very tiny probabilities."
Iisn't that the same probabilty that a 'suicide bottle' has of failing?

And then...

"I'll accept that for some people they are reassuring, but for me they are a death trap, and I won't dive with people that use them unless they can show me that they can really do this mystical jacket-breathing that every BSAC instructor I dive with claims to be able to do, yet never actually will do it on a dive to demonstrate..."

Why are they a death trap for you?  Have you seen someone die using one?  Have you heard of it?  I haven't.
And that bit about not diving with someone who has one.  Why?  Bit of a DIR attitude that ain't it?  Agree with me or I'll not dive with you!!??



Can't see the point of this post now.  Some people have them, some don't.  Some like them, some don't.  Some people like meat, some don't.  But that doesn't make it poisonous does it?

You could be writing off diving with someone who has a wealth of experience to share, just 'cos they have a bit of kit you don't get on with.  Seems a shame to me.

So don't you wanna buy my little buddy bottle then?  It's black!
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Jason Drake @ May 27 2003,15:32)]However, bends are completely time-sensitive and it can take hours to get into a chamber. I dive in the middle of nowhere off the shore most of the time and by the time I got chambered Itd be too late. ( often out of phone range therefore several hours from contact plus a couple of hours for the chopper to arrive, pick you up, and then a flight to Aberdeen, transfer etc) So if I miss stops I damn well go back down and do them and then some more. (bends very rarely present themselves in the first 10 minutes after surfacing) Obviously if I was having cerebral issues I wouldn't but then I'd probably be finished anyway.
<font color='#0000FF'>Jason, I agree with you about Digger as he seems to all his diving in Stoney he needs to broaden his experience and open his mind, there are lots of very experienced divers out there who use buddy jackets and I have never heard anyone opening the bottle.

However, I would be really insterested to know where you dive? you are miles from shore using a phone!! does the boat you are diving from not have a VHF radio one of the quickest ways to get in touch with the coastguard
 

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oh i dont know about the only stoney diving.  thats sea behind you int it digger?
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]there are lots of very experienced divers out there who use buddy jackets and I have never heard anyone opening the bottle.
I have. Many times.
It's usually me, sneaking up on people with Buddy jackets in the pool  
 
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