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· Jonah
7,287 Posts
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OK, as promised on the Red Sea thread, for Kate and others looking at drysuit courses, here is a quick report on the PADI Drysuit Specialty course Alison and I did with "Learn to Dive" at Wraysbury today. Neither of us had dived dry before, but with the temperature dropping it seemed to be time...

Cost was £85 each, all inclusive. Seems a lot for a couple of dives, but I think it was worth it, I learned a lot.

Richard talked us through some theory stuff, and Simon took us for the two dives. They seemed to know what they were doing (which is nice in an instructor!) and were pretty laid back (read: took the piss out of me mercilessly for my yo-yo style buoyancy "control"). Interestingly, they weren't prescriptive about what to use (suit or BCD) for buoyancy and mentioned the pros and cons of each.

I already had my own suit, but they lent Alison a whole set of kit - suits, undersuits, everything, right down to a pair of fins as hers were too small to go over the boots.

Richard pulled out a bunch of different makes / types of suit (different zips, inflators, valves, neoprene/membrane etc) and talked us through the various bits and pieces. They gave Alison a different suit for each of the dives to get a feel for what she would eventually want to buy - damn good idea I thought, except she ended up liking the O'3 Neoprene best... I'm sure I'd like it as well if I could afford it!

In both of the two dives, the basic idea was to run through a couple of skills at a platform (fin pivots,  hovering), and then go for a tour, trying to get buoyancy control sorted, play with the valves, recover from feet-first ascents (we had a couple each) - if anyone was there today and saw a couple of pairs of legs waving in the air in the midddle of the lake, that was us.

The first dive was a real shock - I was all over the place, it was like I'd never dived before. I'd tried the suit in the pool the week before and thought I'd got the hang of it - NOPE. I'd decided to try not wearing ankle weights on this dive (I'd used them in the pool) as I'd thought it would be better to learn to control the thing without them. Might have been a mistake...

Quick cup of coffee and a debrief, and change of suit for Alison, then back in the water for more of the same. This time I wore a pair of ankle weights (which I hadn't on the first dive) and that was probably one reason things went a lot better. The second dive, I felt much more in control of everything and had a much better time. No inverted ascents, no bobbing to the surface, and a genuinely pleasant dive - toured round some of the 'attractions' and even saw some wildlife (4 baby pike). And some silt, obviously.

Water temperature was 8 degrees, coldest I've ever been in. I was warm enough, and came out bone dry. Very civilised.

Lessons learned -

- Very different to wetsuit diving, but manageable despite the initial feelings of utter incompetence.
- MUCH nicer out of the water between dives.
- I need a LOT of practice - a few more pool and sheltered water sessions called for over the winter. There's still a way to go before I'll really feel in complete control of the suit.
- Ankle weights are a good idea, at least for me and for the moment. I've heard various arguments for/against them, but based on my experience today I'll be using them until I'm much more comfortable in the use of the suit.
- The dive school at Wraysbury looked after us well, and I'll be happy going back to them for training in the future.


· Registered
1,544 Posts
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Have to agree with your summary - as much as there are plenty of people against ankle weights, for me I just can't dive dry without them.  And as you say, being dry in-between dives is just makes the next dive so much more enjoyable because you haven't had to struggle into a wet wet-suit and feel colder out of the water than in.
Glad you had a good day - just keep practising and it'll all fall into place.  If you haven't already, strongly suggest you do a weight check in full kit and get it right - there's nothing worse than being over/under-weighted when you've got stops to do and the whole time is spent struggling to stay up/down.
Regards, and dive safe

· A short fat well off crap cave diver. Likes wrecks
15,284 Posts
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Nice report Tom.

I was at Wraysbury last week and lovley and warm in my dry suit. A load of Semi Dry trainees jumped in and immediatly started swearing and cursing about the cold. UK and a Dry suit is the way to go. I shall be taking my one out to the Red Sea in January I just love being warm and dry and even 19c is not enouh for me to go back to a Semi.

Took me about 20 dives in my suit to feel 100% and I had a couple of scary dives where I ended up colecting balast on the bottom to control the ascent. I didnt realy need it but I just felt so positive and on edge all the time

so stick with it. It's well worth the effort


Mark Chase
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