Winter Diving

General banter about diving and why we love it.
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Dashrynn
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Dashrynn » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:16 am

I love winter diving, mostly because I burn up on surface intervals during the summer. And the viz gets better but normally all your dive buddies chicken out because they get cold lol

Blaiz I use neoprene booties, they don't trap air and if my suit gets wet I stay warm. Every dive my feet stay toasty. Now if I could ever get around to fixing my dryglove leak.

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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Peter Guy » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:24 am

Little Goat -- you wrote
should I save my vacation and money for a nice, warm spot
and
I would like to dive dry, but I can't afford one at the moment


IF you would be able to "save...money" for a diving vacation, then you should have no problem saving less money to get an entry level drysuit (Bare Next Gen, Hog or even perhaps a DUI blemish or a second hand XXL Fusion). As with most things in life, diving is about choices and diving here requires one to choose how warm, and how to be warm.

Blaize -- If you are that cold when you finish your dive you really should think about ending your dive sooner. Hypothermia can be a nasty event which can cause you to be REALLY STUPID not to mention being unable to use your fingers when you might REALLY NEED them. There are times when you really do not want to be stupid and without useable fingers when you dive!

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Tom Nic
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Tom Nic » Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:07 pm

Blaiz wrote: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..!


If you're describing your undergarments (If I'm understanding you correctly - which I may not be) in your dry suit then it sounds to me that what you're wearing under your drysuit is inadequate. (Maybe I don't know what a "white's jumper" is?!?)

You need at a minimum polypropylene or wool longjohns upper and lowers and thick fleece upper and lowers - particularly if you run cold anyway. If your longjohns are cotton they are practically worthlesss.

Or go ahead and sell one of your small children and purchase a Weezle.

Or cut your dives shorter. Seriously - "shivering so hard I can barely speak, and the deep full body shudders continue for an hour" is NOT cool. Cold is normal. That is not. Just sayin'....

As much as you dive it will be more than worth it. (Talk to John Rawlings or Hoodsportndive, and I'm sure there are other Weezle dealers.)
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LCF
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by LCF » Sat Sep 25, 2010 3:45 pm

I think, after five years of experimentation, I may have learned about all there is to know about staying warm in cold water.

The first principle is not to be cold before you get in. I am known for wearing my entire set of diving undergarments to the dive site, sometimes with the heat on in the car! If I don't wear them to the site, and the air temperature is below 70, the very first thing I do at the site is get dressed in them. I wear a hat almost all the time, unless it's midsummer. (If it's really HOT, you have to avoid sweating, so you dress at the last minute instead.)

I use expensive purpose-made diving undergarments. They ARE better. If you are wearing a White's MK2, it's not enough. I wear the MK3 AND a base layer AND in winter, a 200g Thinsulate vest. Thick undergarments require lots of weight. It's unpleasant, but that's how it is. Warm = weight. This also means not to weight yourself so that you have to get that suit squeezed down to nothing when the tank is empty, to make your safety stops. The last time on earth you want your suit totally shrink-wrapped around you is at the end of a dive, when you are already cold.

I have also, with time, migrated to using the suit as much as possible for buoyancy (it's not possible if you are carrying too much gas). The looser the suit, the warmer the diver. It CAN make buoyancy control and stability more difficult, especially when you are new, so I'm not sure I'd recommend that strategy right away.

Swimming keeps you warm, too. I tend to like the kind of dive where we do a lot of hovering and watching things in a small area. Those dives get you cold very fast. Sometimes, alternating swimming steadily with stopping, if the site permits that, can keep you much warmer.

I am convinced that Argon works. I've done my own testing several times, and I've just given up -- it IS warmer. I use it in winter -- if the water's below 50, I'm inflating with Argon.

Really work to warm up between dives. Having the shivering stop isn't an indication you are warm. You aren't warm until you are starting to sweat. Getting out of wet things, wrapping up in insulation, moving around, and drinking warm fluids all help. If you start the second dive cold, it will be a short one.

And finally, I want to echo what Peter said. Hypothermia isn't a joke. Staying in the water past where you are shivering is not a good choice. I pushed my limits once and found out how ill you can be -- you're also really clumsy and stupid when you're extremely cold, and that means bad decision-making and poor execution. Short of suit heat, I don't think it's easy to stay adequately warm for much more than an hour in Puget Sound (at least for me it isn't). And cutting the dive a little shorter than that can mean the difference between climbing out of the water on numb feet and walking out like a normal person!
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Blaiz
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Blaiz » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:46 pm

Ok, to continue this siderail, today I added six pounds, in two three-pound chunks, in the bottom pockets of my BC, either side of the tank. I then poured air into the suit, much more than I usually use, and it did seem to keep me a little warmer. However, and this is the big problem, my back was KILLING me. Not from the walking to or from water, mind you, but DURING the dives. Several times I had to just pause and fold my body in half to get my back to stop cramping. It made my back ache during the drive home, and I think I'm gonna break out the rum to numb it here soon. Is that just a placement of weights issue? Should I add tank weights or something, rather than near my kidneys?
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whatevah
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by whatevah » Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:14 pm

Blaiz wrote:Ok, to continue this siderail, today I added six pounds, in two three-pound chunks, in the bottom pockets of my BC, either side of the tank. I then poured air into the suit, much more than I usually use, and it did seem to keep me a little warmer. However, and this is the big problem, my back was KILLING me. Not from the walking to or from water, mind you, but DURING the dives. Several times I had to just pause and fold my body in half to get my back to stop cramping. It made my back ache during the drive home, and I think I'm gonna break out the rum to numb it here soon. Is that just a placement of weights issue? Should I add tank weights or something, rather than near my kidneys?


It is largely placement of weights, yes, and a backplate/wing tends to give you more flexbility in weight placement. If you think about it, that weight at your mid-section is like a fulcrum - six pounds negative right at the small of your back. Then you've got around 3 pounds positive at your upper body and at your lower body to balance it. That puts a lot of stress on your lower back and abdominal muscles. Spreading that out by building the mass into the backplate is a much healthier arrangement. Traditional BCs (weight integrated included) don't distribute weight well. I personally don't like the idea of overweighting so as to allow for a larger pocket of air in the suit - if your undergarment doesn't take up the extra air in loft, that extra air just winds up floating around in the top half of the suit and the actual insulative effect is not as much as people would hope. The truth is, your body now has to warm a larger body of air in order to achieve a very similar insulative value. Using unnecessarily large cylinders has the same effect - you're carrying a much bigger pocket of air than necessary (to offset the weight of that breathing gas and the extra steel in the cylinder itself), which just adds drag and makes for bigger variations in buoyancy with small changes in depth - not much fun if you're diving anywhere with heavy current or chaotic flow. The idea is to weight yourself such that you have just enough air in your suit to allow your undergarments to have their intended loft while you're staying neutral at your safety stop at the end of your dive (minimal breathing gas remaining). It doesn't get any better than that. If you are still cold at that point, you need to add more undergarment loft so that you can maintain a bigger pocket of air within it. You can consider trying to maintain just enough air in your suit to maintain loft - that means, at the beginning of the dive, leaving some air in your BC to offset the weight of the breathing gas that you'll be using through the dive. As you deplete that gas supply, you can reduce the size of the air pocket in your BC. Admittedly, I am somewhat lazy about this - I only maintain some air in my wing when I'm diving doubles - for all my single cylinders (various sizes up to HP100s) I just do all my buoyancy control with my suit.

If you have an exercise routine, consider a stronger emphasis on your core muscle groups. Add some supermans if you're not already doing them, and especially work on your abdominal muscles - a certain degree of that fulcrum effect is unavoidable, and your abdominal muscles are what protects your lower back from stress.

Of course, when all else fails, there is always the medicine you mentioned.
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LCF
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by LCF » Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:17 pm

I'm not sure of the answer, but I know that, when I was first diving, I had a number of dives where my back hurt so badly I wasn't sure I was going to be able to continue doing this. I have never had a backache like that, since I got away from my weight-integrated BC (except with a DUI undergarment, but that was a different problem). I think that putting weight up on your back does do something to change the way you carry yourself in the water. It can't be a matter of trying to be in trim, because when I was getting my backaches, I had never heard of trim.
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Dashrynn
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Dashrynn » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:56 pm

LCF wrote:I'm not sure of the answer, but I know that, when I was first diving, I had a number of dives where my back hurt so badly I wasn't sure I was going to be able to continue doing this. I have never had a backache like that, since I got away from my weight-integrated BC (except with a DUI undergarment, but that was a different problem). I think that putting weight up on your back does do something to change the way you carry yourself in the water. It can't be a matter of trying to be in trim, because when I was getting my backaches, I had never heard of trim.


Come to think of it i never had a back problem with my bcd....but i had weight pockets towards the shoulders for trim.

Only time i ever have back issues is full speed on the scooter for 30 mins to an hour.

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Re: Winter Diving

Post by seaphilia » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:17 am

A second for getting rid of integrated weights, one of the best things that I ever did. Until I went with a weight and trim, my back would cramp up as I was getting out of the water. I won't even use integrated weights in the tropics.

Blaiz, I have been in several potentially dangerous situations, freeflow at 110', caught in an ocean current pulling me from the dive boat, etc, but the one easy 60' dive where I was hypothermic was the one where I was in mortal danger. And did I realize it then, NO. Freezing is an easy way to go. I shivered once. Afterwards I discussed this with a backcountry hiking buddy, he had the same thing happen, no shivering, just a slow shutdown of cerebral functions. Some one rescued him off Mt. Si. Please stay warm.

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Metal man
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by Metal man » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:49 pm

I love the winter diving, means more night diving too :taco:
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LittleGoat
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by LittleGoat » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:03 pm

Interesting that you should mention that a weight integrated solution is bad for your back because it is what cured my backaches. I used to dive with a belt and by the end of a dive, my back would hurt so bad I would be dieing over the next few days. I dove a weight integrated back inflate (which I loved, I would like to try a bp/w next) I had no problems with back pain at all. I was renting a Stiletto and maybe that was the reason behind the no back pain. I'm not sure if I will ever go back to a belt for all of my weight ever again.
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seaphilia
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by seaphilia » Fri Oct 01, 2010 7:21 pm

I wear my weights low and let the weight hang off my fat ass (can I say that here??) so that there is no weight on the small of my back. And the weight is more evenly distributed then with integrated weights. A lot depends on your body type and BC.

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ArcticDiver
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Re: Winter Diving

Post by ArcticDiver » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:16 am

LittleGoat wrote: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?


I've never found a season when diving was bad. In fact over the years I've been doing the sport I've had extremely few bad dives and all of them had more to do with the attitudes of the people than the season or the dive itself. Each season of the year has its' pluses and minuses and is best to someone. To me the whole cold vs. warm, summer vs. winter thing orients itself around how cold tolerant you currently are. I say "currently" because cold tolerance for most of the people I know changes over time.

I suspect it is the same in your circles as in mine, most people go to warm water in the winter. It isn't just the water temperature; it is also the surface environment and logistics. That said, to be a complete diver it is important to experience diving in all the seasons.
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