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I've had two lengthy discussions, with two different instructors, both of whom have seemingly valid arguments for how to control bouyancy with a dry suit. One said use the suit, the other said use whichever bouyancy device (BCD, wing etc) you are diving with). What I don;t want to do is build up experience and then retrain myself.
So I'm just interested in everyone's opinion. For Bouyancy, do you use a BCD, the suit itself, a wing etc and, most importantly, WHY.
A drysuit is called a drysuit because it keeps you dry.
A buoyancy compensator is called a buoyancy compensator because it controls your buoyancy.
Seriously - if you are ever going to dive doubles, or use stage bottles, you will have to use your wing/bc. Go ahead and learn to use it now.
Additionally, if you ever go someplace tropical and dive wet, you will have to use your wing/bc.
I believe in learning something one way and doing it that way wherever possible. If you use your suit for buoyancy, that skill will only be applicable for when you dive a drysuit with a single tank. Any other configuration and you will have to change your approach.
It is my opinion that a suit can't dump air as rapidly as a BC/wing can in the event of an uncontrolled/accidental ascent, and that the "bubble" in the suit when used for buoyancy control is more difficult to manage because it moves all over your body. This will not only affect your ability to dump air at will, but also will affect your trim in the water.
Finally - if you ever decide to use an argon inflation system, using your suit for buoyancy control will get expensive.
I don't buy the argument that having both the BC and suit inflated causes task loading. It's a non issue, in my opinion.
Since you asked for personal opinions, here's mine.
I use my BC for buoyancy and only add enough air to my suit to relieve the squeeze. I find it easier to dump air from my BC than my drysuit and prefer to keep the air in one spot (back-infl BC)than moving around in my suit. I find I stay more trim (and controlled) with as little air in the suit as possible.
I second nickjb's suggestion to try both out and make the decision that's right for you.
I agree with DE and diverlady but with an extra reason, I found that controlling that bubble of air that is the drysuit was something to get used to. Of course I went feet up a few times, using my BC for buoyancy I could use the rear dump to vent the BC while inverted and since the suit didn't have any more air than required to keep the squeeze out I was neutral to slightly positive once the BC was dumped, and could regain control easily.
In attempting to use the suit for buoyancy in the same situation would require a knife and some unmentionable mutilation of that new suit to get the same situation under control as quickly.
Let me qualify, I'm an instructor and have been diving with a dry suit for over 20 years with over 1000 dives in them. I currently dive with a shell suit (Viking HD) but have owned and dived a neoprene suit for 8 years.
Whether you need to add air to the BC will depend on the type of suit you wear .(shell or neoprene)
When properly weighted, with a comforatable amount of air trapped in the suit ( suit is not sucked in tight) I only need to add enough air to my suit to compensate for the squeeze as I descend to maintain neutral buoyancy and comfort. My Viking suit does not change in thickness any significant amount.
This works for twins steels or a single aluminum tank, I just wear less weight for the steels.
Using this same analogy for a standard neoprene suit doesn't work. As you descend the air trapped in the suit is compressed same as a shell suit, so you add air to nuetralize the squeeze.
AH! but you are still sinking, because neoprene foam squeezes in thickness as well. Adding more air to the suit would strech the suit and stress the seams. Not good for keeping it water tight over it's life . So you NEED to ADD AIR to the BC to make up for ther additonall loss of bouyancy.