Winter Diving

General banter about diving and why we love it.
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LittleGoat
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Winter Diving

Post by LittleGoat » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:13 pm

Being new to the whole diving sport, I was wondering if it was worth diving here in the Pacific Northwest or should I save my vacation and money for a nice, warm spot to dive in the winter? What does everyone else do during the long gray?
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Grateful Diver
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Grateful Diver » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:15 pm

I love winter diving. There are some critters that you will only see during the cooler months. And visibility is generally better than in summer. And it's way easier finding a decent parking spot.

It depends on how well prepared you are for it. The water's colder, it gets dark earlier, and you'll have to be prepared to gear up in raining (or worse) conditions at times. But for those who have a flair for a hardy environment, winter diving's a lot of fun.

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whatevah
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by whatevah » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:40 pm

For me, winter diving means a lot more shore diving - often in places that are less than compelling. Visibility can be better, but odds of being off work on a day when the weather and the tides align for safe boating/diving conditions are much lower.
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LCF
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by LCF » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:51 pm

The year I learned to dive, my plan was to try to get out once a week, until the weather turned.

Then, when the weather turned, I found out several things: The visibility is better in the late fall and winter (except when big storms have created a bunch of runoff). You don't overheat, getting ready to get to the water. Parking is available. And if you dive in a dry suit and drive to the site in your undergarments and get dressed right away, drizzle really doesn't imapct you much at all!

I do take greater care in the winter to make sure I don't lose ANY "thermal units" before I get in the water -- that includes having a great big boat parka (TruWest makes wonderful ones) and a furry hat. I take hot water to the site with me to warm my hood between dives, or to pour over my head after a dive. If I'm not where there are shops or cafes, I'll have a thermos of something hot for after the dive.

It's well worth diving here in the winter, although the sites look quite different. I didnt know there were seasons in the water, too, but the algae die off so you don't have all the pretty sea lettuces in red and green and purple. The flip side is that it's easier to see the critters!
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Blaiz
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Blaiz » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:28 pm

Grateful Diver wrote: The water's colder... Bob (Grateful Diver)


IT GETS COLDER?!? :eek:


WHY WASN'T I NOTIFIED!!!
The student was ready.


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whatevah
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by whatevah » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:50 pm

Blaiz wrote:
Grateful Diver wrote: The water's colder... Bob (Grateful Diver)


IT GETS COLDER?!? :eek:


WHY WASN'T I NOTIFIED!!!


Consider this your two month warning. Coldest temp I've logged in marine waters was at Langley. But oooh, those heated floors in the bathrooms there are a life-saver.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” -- John Muir

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MisterScuba
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by MisterScuba » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:57 pm

Cold is good for the blood... Really it is!

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ktb
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by ktb » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:04 am

Winter is the best time to dive--no question. And I thought that was crazy at first . . . Until I got heat exhaustion trying to dive this summer in my drysuit. So for that and the better viz, it's winter ftw!
Kelly

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lizard0924
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by lizard0924 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:18 am

I prefer diving here in the winter months, actually. Go for it, you won't be sorry!
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John Rawlings
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by John Rawlings » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:22 am

Fall and Winter are WHERE IT'S AT when it comes to diving around here!

Better vis, better parking, no mobs, no baking in the drysuit....oh, yeah! :taco:

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Nwbrewer
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Nwbrewer » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:37 am

I like winter diving. Seems like I always see more critters in the winter, but maybe that's just because most of my winter dives become night dives since it's dark by 4:00.

I did 2 winters in a wetsuit. I don't recommend it. I finally buckled and got a drysuit after a dive with Pez where he somehow managed to drop his fins and didn't realize it until after we got back to the trucks. By the time we went back and got his fins my gear was frozen to the tailgate and ice was forming on my wetsuit. Not fun.
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Joshua Smith
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:38 am

Winter diving is the best! I hate boiling in my drysuit before I get in the water. And winter viz is usually much better.
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Norris
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Norris » Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:33 am

Shewt dont worry about cold folks. Our water, at depth, only changes about 3-5 degrees seasonally. Its those dang surface intervals that getcha. Personally I look forward to winter as the visibility really starts clearing up.
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Dusty2
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Dusty2 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:25 am

+1 for me. I love winter diving. When that awful red and brown seaweed go away and the brown moss dissipates the critters come out to play and the viz gets really good. There is allot more to see and photograph and actually the life cycle of many of the critters means they hatched in spring and summer and mature in the winter. Especially the nudibranchs.

The water actually becomes warmer than the air! :joshsmith: Which is a plus IF your wearing a drysuit. But it's a bummer if your diving wet.

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selkie
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by selkie » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:28 am

Other than for training or just needing to get in the water I didn't think there was much point to summer diving here.
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seaphilia
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by seaphilia » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:14 pm

Fall and winter is diving season here. Better vis, you actually get to do night dives, and you can park. You will need a backup plan when the wind starts blowing.

Get some thermal foot warmers and put them in your shoes for before, between, and after dives. Wouldn't recommend putting them in your booties, heard a few horror stories.

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LittleGoat
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by LittleGoat » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:44 pm

I guess there in lies the problem: I don't dive dry. I have a wetsuit (semi-dry, but if you get wet, it's still a wetsuit) and I would like to dive dry, but I can't afford one at the moment. Used isn't really an option for me because I am 6'3" and 180 lbs.
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Grateful Diver » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:51 pm

LittleGoat wrote:Used isn't really an option for me because I am 6'3" and 180 lbs.

... sounds more like a BigGoat to me ... :smt064

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
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whatevah
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by whatevah » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:09 pm

LittleGoat wrote:I guess there in lies the problem: I don't dive dry. I have a wetsuit (semi-dry, but if you get wet, it's still a wetsuit) and I would like to dive dry, but I can't afford one at the moment. Used isn't really an option for me because I am 6'3" and 180 lbs.


You can dive wet in winter. Just be aware of what your body is telling you and don't overdo it. Your dives might be shorter and/or shallower because of the lower water temperatures. Down in the south sound the water temperatures are generally a little higher, but closer to the straits you will see mid-forties in the winter and that difference of four to five degrees from summer makes a huge difference. LCF has given good advice for staying warm before the dive - after the dive you will really lose heat fast - if you're somewhere exposed you might want to limit yourself to one dive per outing. If you do have some protection from the wind, and preferably somewhere to warm up during the interval, you might be up for a second dive. I find stripping my hood and gloves and putting them in warm water ready for the next dive, throwing a shell over the top and bottom of the suit to keep the wind off, and putting on a warm hat and wool gloves then sitting quietly and sipping at some hot cider, tea, or hot chocolate goes a long way towards making it to the second dive.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” -- John Muir

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LittleGoat
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by LittleGoat » Fri Sep 24, 2010 5:03 pm

whatevah wrote:
LittleGoat wrote:I guess there in lies the problem: I don't dive dry. I have a wetsuit (semi-dry, but if you get wet, it's still a wetsuit) and I would like to dive dry, but I can't afford one at the moment. Used isn't really an option for me because I am 6'3" and 180 lbs.


You can dive wet in winter. Just be aware of what your body is telling you and don't overdo it. Your dives might be shorter and/or shallower because of the lower water temperatures. Down in the south sound the water temperatures are generally a little higher, but closer to the straits you will see mid-forties in the winter and that difference of four to five degrees from summer makes a huge difference. LCF has given good advice for staying warm before the dive - after the dive you will really lose heat fast - if you're somewhere exposed you might want to limit yourself to one dive per outing. If you do have some protection from the wind, and preferably somewhere to warm up during the interval, you might be up for a second dive. I find stripping my hood and gloves and putting them in warm water ready for the next dive, throwing a shell over the top and bottom of the suit to keep the wind off, and putting on a warm hat and wool gloves then sitting quietly and sipping at some hot cider, tea, or hot chocolate goes a long way towards making it to the second dive.


I never though about keeping the wetsuit during the surface interval... is that what you are suggesting there?
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Norris
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Norris » Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:46 pm

Indeed, keep the wetsuit on and cover it up. A huge jacket or something that helps keep the wind from cooling it down. As long as you cover the wetsuit during SI you should not lose much heat. Hood and gloves in some hotwater, and even pour some down the suit before the second dive. Whatevahs suggestion for hot soup, gloves and hat...you are SET!!
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Blaiz
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Blaiz » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:29 pm

As long as we are on the subject... what the hell am I doing wrong? I do an hour or so dive, with wool sweater, long sleeved shirt, long john pants and a white's jumper, and I end up coming out of the water shivering so hard I can barely speak, and the deep, full-body shudders continue for an hour! I mean, I'm generally freezing if the temperature is below 80, but still..!
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it's nice to have low expectations, sometimes - lcf

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MisterScuba
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by MisterScuba » Fri Sep 24, 2010 11:41 pm

All I can say is, if you think WA winter diving is cold, try it in ID.

seaphilia
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by seaphilia » Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:46 am

Blaiz wrote:As long as we are on the subject... what the hell am I doing wrong? I do an hour or so dive, with wool sweater, long sleeved shirt, long john pants and a white's jumper, and I end up coming out of the water shivering so hard I can barely speak, and the deep, full-body shudders continue for an hour! I mean, I'm generally freezing if the temperature is below 80, but still..!


Blaiz, I have the same problem. I wear a full 5mm with a 7mm hood in 79 degree water in the tropics. Took me several years to be warm up here. You have to be warm when you get in the water. Heat packets in your street shoes and in the pockets of your stadium coat. If you are not using nitrox, a heat packet on top of your layers and underneath the chest inflator, warms the incoming air or use argon (this is probably an entire thread). Also if your undergarments are too dense and there is no room for air to be trapped you will be colder (I use a weezel, lots of trapped air, more weight). Went from two pairs of socks to one really good pair of REI mountaineering socks that left room for my toes to wiggle, what a difference. And I get out of my dry suit between dives. Good luck. Shoot me an email if you have more questions.

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ktb
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by ktb » Sat Sep 25, 2010 7:13 am

Blaiz,

My feet used to take an hour to thaw (not kidding) after 2 dives and that made my whole body cold. My Weezel booties made all the difference. I have 2 pair, so let me know if you want to try them.
Kelly

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