It’s been a long, dark, chilly, winter and DWF is just itching to get back into the (local) water. With the local water temperatures hovering near the low 40s F, winter tends to be the time folks want to explore dry suit diving.
When diving exclusively in a wetsuit the comfortable diving season can extend from from May through October, and then it’s just too frikkin’ cold. I know there are exceptions, notably one instructor I work with who routinely dives in water that is in the mid 30s while wearing a wetsut…but for us mere mortals the high 40s/low 50s is really the practical limit for diving wet.
However, learning to dive dry can extend your local diving season to virtually year round! A drysuit isn’t magic tho’. I find that while a dry suit doesn’t keep me toasty warm per se, but it does take the cold from excruciating (in a wetsuit) down to something manageable so I can knock out a couple of dives. Some (debunked) dry suit myths can be found here.
As we’re learning to dive dry, we’re dealing with some new challenges, including getting familiar with the dry suit itself, dealing with the undergarments, which ultimately are what keep you warm, different weighting because of the dry suit and undergarments, and of course a whole new source of buoyancy (the dry suit itself).
I had the pleasure of teaching two separate dry suit classes this month up at Dutch Springs (Bethlehem, PA).
We did our Dry Suit checkout dives for class #1 on Sunday, May 5th. The was a rainy, rainy, day…virtually soaked, but once we put our dry suits on, nobody was worried about getting wet. It did stop raining just long enough for us to take a post-dive photo!
For Dry Suit class #2 we did our dry suit checkout dives the next weekend, on Saturday, May 11th. This day couldn’t have been more different than the previous Sunday. Zero rain and the air temperatures were in the 70s.
We were able to make it down to the Bus at Dutch Springs and the temperatures at depth were about 42 degrees F. What a great way to familiarize ourselves with our drysuits, develop some skills, and really see how warm we could be while diving in some chilly water.
So congratulations to Columbia Scuba’s newest dry suit divers! I’ll see you at the quarry!