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 There are members of YD (JohnG,LawrenceD etc)who are very very experienced in the realms of cold water...and the problems it brings.Now I appreciate that as far as the UK is concerned the water temps here are considered "cold"  year round(by medical definition!).However,I'm using cold here in the descriptive sense.I've dived under ice in the Uk but it does'nt come anywhere near this,or what the aforementioned members will be doing!
Quite regularly we see posts by people asking if their kit,particularly their regs.will suffice for cold water use.Magazine tests are well and good but I have a feeling that many,like me would rather invest cash and trust in something we've seen work personally eg,someone we know has used one.This is the beauty of YD,we have experienced people who are willing to guide us with their experiences,without "sneering".In addition I found this which I think is really interesting.
The first link here(some will have seen it..apologies)covers the dive kit used on this project,the whole site's worth a look as the photos are amazing.The second link is re.the results of reg tests carried out over several years on the project.There's quite a few popular regs.not on here,I don't know the criteria etc.that was for using the regs.tested but it makes interesting reading nonetheless,with some suprising results.
Hope it's of interest,Hobby.
 http://scilib.ucsd.edu/sio/nsf/diving/index3.html
 http://scilib.ucsd.edu/sio/nsf/diving/robbins.html
 

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Good links Hobby, it's a personal ambition of mine to dive in the antarctic (arctic too), but I'm not sure how feasible the first is without being on a proper scientific expedition. I believe there are "tourist" trips to the arctic though
Chee-az
Steve
 

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Well, I must hasten to explain that I don't dive under such extreme conditions as that. The big difference between McMurdo Sound and where I dive is not the temperature in the sea – however cold the air gets, the temperature in the sea can't fall below freezing point (about minus one-and-a half degrees Celsius) without it freezing – but the air temperaure. The temperature in the sea here does approach freezing point some winters but once you're in the water it doesn't feel that much colder than it does at 4 or 5 degrees if you're wearing a good drysuit, a good undersuit and thermal underwear, a warm hood and warm gloves. The real problem is getting dressed before the dive and undressed after the dive if you have to do it outdoors. For that reason, I won't dive if the temperature falls much below minus five. We're having a cold spell just now, with temperatures around minus 4-5 in the middle of the day, so it's getting near my critical limit. I shall be diving thursday evening as usual, but I don't expect the dive will last much longer than 30 minutes. As for kit, I know my trusty TX40s won't let me down, and nor will my Scubapro R190 pony reg. How cold does it have to get before you stop diving in Canada, Lawrence?
 

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John, you really asked me a difficult question. I have been in –15 or -16 C but it is more headaches than fun. On the other hand I try not to get discouraged by cold whether, I love diving too much. Last week on one particular windy night we had a whopping –25C. If I can I would avoid the ice, as it is more headaches.

You couldn't put it any better, John -- It's not the water it's the air temperature. The wind is a big player in this. I can give a whole list of things that can go wrong in cold temperatures. John fill in where I miss please.

> Free flow (common)
> Frozen BC inflator or suit inflator
> Broken / ripped dry suit seals
> Don't bend the hoses too much
> Don't spit in the mask - spit in the mask and keep a quantity of water in there until you're ready to dive. Don't leave it there for eternity or you end up with an inch thick lens.
> Don’t pull on the fin or mask straps like you do in Florida.
> Make sure the batteries in the lights and especially computer are GOOD - if they are almost on the way out they WILL CERTAINLY die in the cold.
> Do not touch cold metal equipment with bare hands.
> Don’t put the car keys in your mouth

> Cheap watches will not work usually.
> Cameras will not always wind the film.
> Don't hoist equipment up a quarry face with a wet rope. It wouldn't last.
> Watch the rocks on the shore; there might be a thin (very slippery) sheet of ice. This happens if the water isn’t frozen yet.
> Don’t dig a hole in the ice with your dry suit on.
> Don’t drive on the ice unless it is a good 8 inches thick.
> Have a warm drink (NO ALCOHOL) ready for after the dive.
> Always use a limited length of rope for ice diving.
> Use a Jon line directly to the safety line, if buddy is tied to it.
> Your safety diver should have a good extra length on his line. Safety diver is mandatory for ice diving.

I suggest drive up with your under garments on. Take a spare change just in case. Rig up the regulators and BC at home and throw the whole thing in the back seat of your car. NOT THE NIGHT BEFORE!!! I have an SUV so mine goes in the very back. Keep the vehicle running and slip into the dry suit, hood and gloves and rinse the mask. Don’t inhale the exhaust it is not good before diving LOL. Prepare the fins and the computer then throw on the tank with the instruments on. Put your computer fins and mask on, lock  your car and jump in without wasting time. DON'T use the regulator in the surface. Submerge right away and then start breathing. Don't hang out side or exposed for the wind, with your gear. You would regret it.

Once the dive is over just dry the BIG melon so you wouldn't get cold and store your equipment away from the cold air. If you leave the gear in extreme temperatures it would get a good beating. Things that you don’t see – nylon seats inside regs will become like brittle, etc.


___________________Wind factor chart_____________________
Temp>4C2C1C-4-7-9
3to621-4-7-9-12
7to101-7-9-12-15-18
11to15-4-9-12-18-20-23
16to19-7-12-15-18-23-26
20to23-9-12-18-20-26-29
^Wind speed in Knots

eg a -9 deg C temperature can feel like -29C in a wind of 20 to 23 kn.

As far as equipment goes, I use Oceanic DX4’s with Delta sub Zero’s. They still free flow when I abuse them. I also want to stress out the use of a pony bottle. I usually dive with a 16L and a 4L pony in the winter. By the way the 16L is equipped with an H valve so I can shut down the offending side. If that wouldn’t work then I rely on my short friend, 4L. I leave the twin tanks for summer.

Enjoy the winter months and be good for Santa :)

Lawrence
 

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####,I've never had to consider much of that!I've always been a firm beleiver in getting in the water and away from the surface quickly for the reasons you state.I think the difference is that over here,you're lucky if the average rec.diver gets taught that and the reasons why.Over there(both locations)it's important and you won't be diving without such procedure..so why is'nt it taught over here where it's still of some relevance?
I've talked with John before about taking hot water and putting this in your gloves prior to diving(we used to do it before drysuits).When working in canals one winter we were very cold with long bottom times and leaky ND suits,I remember putting my suit over the exhaust to try and warm the water up in it between dives..it was indeed bloody miserable.If the genny broke down and we had no heat,the suits would have frozen internally by the morning in the "drying room".Nothing nicer than climbing in one of those in the morning!
Regards,Hobby.
 

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You don't need to be anywhere exotic to get those kind of temperatures, I dived Wastwater (English Lake district for you overseas folk) last Feb (club training weekend), it was pretty chilly but bearable. On the monday one of the guys posted the BBC weather report for that weekend, with the wind chill factor the air temp was around -20 C, nowt like pitting yourselves against the elements eh?
 
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