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Sunday, September 07, 2008 

Boeing Creek & the 2 ATM Kill Switch


Brown Rockfish
Originally uploaded by Pixel Letch.
Four of us went out on my friend Doc Kay's boat yesterday. The goal was to get Denise comfortable and the Carl Baird & I more comfortable with our new DUI suits. Doc was also fiddling with new equipment configurations, or course, what else is new? ;-)

The day was perfect for diving, a bit overcast to keep the heat down with just a bit of a northerly blowing. We got through the locks after a dog & man overboard incident (guy was letting his dog pee and fell off from another boat..!). We headed north to Boeing Creek and motored around to find the slope of the reef (we thought) and dropped anchor with little current showing.

Denise and I dropped in and went down a stern anchor to 30'. She had no problems clearing and seemed to do well. We swam out west thinking to find the reef, but after a circle I decided we'd missed it and after swimming quite a ways north we found it's edge. Carl found it ok as well.

The water was very clear, viz about 35'+ and the reef teamed with life. Lots of fish, and I was very excited to see a huge school of black rockfish going all the way to the surface. A few browns and olives as well. Most were smaller, obviously coming of age since the recent order protecting them in Puget Sound. There were a few larger Quilbacks and Canaries as well as an assortment of lings, C-O sole, even one larger Cabazon. Nudibranchs and other small invertebrates dotted the rocks along with kelp and plumose. The reef in such clear conditions was really beautiful.

Denise did quite well, seeming to be comfortable, until she got a bad leg cramp. So I helped her back up the slope and back to the boat, then continued my dive. I dropped down the anchor to find the scooter tied off, Doc was going to use it, but it seemed inoperable. I saw him, and then did a rather determined spiney lumpsucker search n the shallows to no avail.

Doc had a frustrating dive missing the reef, and while the scooter seemed to work ok on the surface, it didn't work on the bottom for long. Battery was fine and there were no floods, etc. I haven't used it for a while, as I'm usually carrying a large camera, so I thought I'd see what was going on.

Carl and I were up for a second dive, he was working out his weighting and trim. I am pretty comfortable in my new DUI CF200 suit, nice not to have to patch a suit every time I dive. Doc moved the boat north and Carl and I dropped in.

We swam around for a while finally coming upon a large anchor block and old buoy line. I did find a rather large Heart Crab there, with it's triangular body covered in thorns. We swam slowly back until Carl signaled he was low on gas and we came up and safety stopped and swam to the boat. I still had 1600#, so I took the scooter to do some testing. After going along just fine for a ways, I headed down the slope, at 33' it stopped. I swam it back up a bit and then it went off again fine. I scootered along in 15-20' for a long time, buzzing ling cod and generally making a pest of myself. Then I went back down the slope. 33' it stopped again. OK, depth related, I swam it up and at 30' it worked ok. Hmmm, depth is shorting the "kill switch". I tested it 3 more times and it was very consistent. Scooter is rated for like 200' and I've had it down to 120' for quite a while at times, so something is amiss. The guys at UWS will sort it out.

We headed back to the locks in the sun, and got home after a long wait, as they are only using the large locks this summer.

A great day of diving and testing gear!

How does anyone get comfortable in a dry suit with heavy currents, swell, and difficult shore entries?
I live and dive the Monterey bay area and Hate my trilam Dive Concepts suit. I could not fin up by myself or get out of the water without being drug to my feet by my Navy tech buddy. I felt like I was in a straight jacket!
I complained to the shop owner to no avail.I used the suit 5 times and felt as if I was going to drown (seriously) each time.
As an accomplished team swimmer and water baby this really bothered me. I was told repeatedly by 3 dive masters, 2 tech diver dive buddies, the shop owner, and everyone I complained to that "I would get used to it after 10 dives.
I finally asked to return the suit, but the company said no way, I should have returned it sooner. OK. Yes, I had the suit over a year, but that was because everyone said, "It fits you well, there is nothing wrong with it."
$2,200 was way too much too spend on a dry suit from DC. The company owner stated that it was my own fault for trying to save money by not getting a "custom fit" done. Huh? When do "I" go the cheap route??? I am a scuba diver AND underwater photographer who has spent more than most people would to get top notch gear. I asked for a longer leg length at the very beginning, and was told they added 2 inches to the length since they had to change the boot size anyway.
BTW, I am 5'2", 117 lbs, and wear a size 6 1/2 woman's shoe size. I ordered a small suit per the Dive Concepts "on site" representative and HIS measurements. The suit was not exactly off the rack stock! Not to mention the extras I added like pockets, D-rings, etc.
I am an avid underwater photography lover so not being able to bring the camera on dry suit dives was troubling. I just could not see doing one more thing while struggling for my life each time I used the suit.
I tried a White's lycra stretch dry suit in the interim, but that didn't feel right either.
After multiple re-measurements, test fits, etc. We FINALLY determined that the legs were too short which I complained about first off.
I sent the suit back with the agreement that I would pay the shipping both ways PLUS $200 for the needed alterations and $45 for the water proof test. Whatever! Just make it so.
Now I have $2,500 into this Dive Concept trilam dry suit..............still think it sucks, but it's a little better. No one will buy it at ANY PRICE on E-Bay.
I used it 3 times on my recent trip to Channel Islands, but with water temps of 64-70 degrees, the wetsuit was gloriously warm enough (and more comfortable) on the first 2-3 dives of the day.
I still need a reliable dry suit. I don't have the luxury of warmish water in Monterey, and I want to dive (gasp) Alaska since I have a condo to use and a car there.
So, the next time I want to spend thousands of dollars, maybe I'll go with crushed neoprene.
Mares makes dry suits to fit "Women", yes, women dive too all you dry suit makers!
Mares had one that I tried on, but a women's medium is huge, and no dive shop from San Francisco to Monterey will order the small one for me to try on first.
I guess I'll have to suffer until someone decides that my money is good enough to spend at their shop. I don't want to drop over 2 grand to just try something on!.
Any petite women out there have any input?
Diver in Deep

Karen;

Not sure what to say. My GF has had some issues getting used to her Whites Fusion, but it's been mostly buoyancy issues; trapped air in the somewhat heavy undergarment.

I had a Northern Divers that was too short on the torso for me that made it very hard to put fins on. I finally busted the zipper and with a leaky boot, decided to scrap the suit and start new with a DUI CF200 Custom suit. I hope it's the last suit I buy.

A custom sized suit probably is the only way to go for you. Testing and getting used to it in a pool is probably the best idea. Your store should help you, if not, find another dealer.

Experimenting with undergarments, weighting and trim will really help.

Usually a bi- or tri-lam is the most flexible on the surface, but neoprene suits are tougher and swim better.

Good luck,
Jack

I know this post is about a month old but seeing Karen's frustration, I feel compelled to share my experiences. So here goes.

I am very petite. Only 5 foot tall and weighing a light 40 kg at most. I feel the slightest cold. I would dive in 80F water wearing a 7mm wetsuit, one of those next to skin heat reflecting top underneath and a hood, just to give you an idea. But I would be happy as a fish!

Closer to home the waters are 55-70F. I always dive in a dry suit as a result. I bought a custom made Apollo Prestige Drysuit as no dry suits will fit me off the shelf. I couldn't see the same dry suit for sale on the Apollo USA site though. Anyway, it's a 'microcell', like crushed neoprene only it's thinner. Neck and wrist seals are neoprene too making them real comfortable to wear and they seal really well without having to use any additional 'bio-seals'.

My diveshop measured me and got them made. The Prestige model has additional material which is supposed to be warmer than the other models which is I why I picked the model.

It only took me about 3-5 dives to get used to the dry-suit. And also to get my trim (weights) right. Being such a little diver, trim is very important to me. I do not have weights on my waist but distribute them on BC release-ables and on the tank. I also use a steel tank which is also heavier than aluminum, but only a 9L one.

The dry suit is very comfortable to wear underwater. On land it feels a little heavy to start with (but what doesn't for me?) but now, I feel nothing.

Like Jack said, I played around heaps with my undergarments. Finally I end up with Helly Hansen as my first 2 layers (HH Dry + Warm on top; they are so comfy) + either another long or short sleeved merino wool top + a fitting polar fleece top if really cold. I found that if my fleece top is too loose, I would feel too bulky so I found one small enough so that I could reduce the bulk. I also have a HH midlayer which is meant for snow boarding but being that it is so warm and little bulk, it is suitable for diving too. At least for me anyways. Legs are normally fine and I only wear the HH Warm on them. And cosy wool socks. :)

Feeling like you are almost drowning or needing to kick up hard is an indication that you are too heavy. When I first go the suit, I tried to get my weighting right doing pier dives first. If I am too light, I woun't hold the others up during a boat dive in that way. If I am too heavy, I woun't be in too much of a trouble. I first tried with 3Kg more (than wetsuit weight) I couln't decend. So I had to add another 1 kg. Did a few more of those and thought I was set.

Then I went onto a boat dive. No problems decending but soon realized that I had to try harder to break my decend, fin a little to help, and put in more air in my BC to be neutral. Swimming was a chore. Now I love to cruise and I normally fin effortlessly. I do not have strong calf muscles trust me! Finning to me has to be effortless, but I was trying a little too hard for my comfort. I realized I was way too heavy still. I feel weighted down too.

I knew I could drop 1 kg from how I felt underwater and did just that. This time I couldn't decend feet first. I had to do a little duck dive to break the surface and then once I broke the surface, I can decend just fine! (I dropped another 1kg since actually)

Now my tricks are, lightly pump two squirts of air into my dry suit before I jump so that I won't be squeezed. Duck dive just to break the surface. In this way, I am able to carry the minimal weight possible and yet be able to maintain bouyancy at 6m for safety stop.

Karen I believe it was a case of bad experience... My dive shop owner offered to go diving with me to help me learn my dry suit. Like Jack said, if you feel you are not given help from one shop, perhaps find another that will. I know DUI suits are very well received.

Let me know if you'd like to ask more questions and I'd happy to share. Wish you better luck! I am sure you'll get there eventually.

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  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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