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Class Report:Drysuit Primer w/ Bob Sherwood 5/21-5/22

Discussion in 'DIR' started by ScubaFeenD, May 25, 2011.

  1. ScubaFeenD

    ScubaFeenD Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Baltimore, MD
    Drysuit Primer w/ Bob Sherwood 5/21-5/22 2011

    I recently entered the foray of drysuit diving with my purchase of a DUI FLX Extreme Sig Series Suit (midnight blue, which I love).

    I received the suit about a month ago and probably have about 8 dives on it so far, which I feel like is only a modest amount. I decided that to increase the likelihood that I will be successful in my GUE Tech 1 course in August, that I should get some expert eyes on me so that I can identify any bad habits, I can form correct new ones, and I will be able to start running the suit without even thinking about it. Hence, I contacted my Instructor Bob Sherwood and arranged to take the GUE primer from him.

    The weekend started with a day of diving on friday, one day before the class started. I got into the water with one of my Tech 1 teammates and we just swam around and had a good time. I have to say that I love drysuit diving, and that it is far superior to wetsuit diving in almost every respect. Even before the class, everything was just much easier in a drysuit. Holding still without sculling, maintaining 0degree trim, back kicking, everything was just so much easier diving dry and having the ability to move air around in my suit. I was really excited at that point, because I had a great dive and the weekend was gearing up to be pretty nice. I wasn't disappointed.

    Saturday started off with intros (which took about 5 seconds, because I know and have dived with my co-student many times). We went over the philosophy of GUE and the principles to which we all adhere and what makes GUE different (better :) ). And from there we were off talking about dry suits and the different procedures we need to be aware of. We talked for about and hour and a half, took a few minute break, suited up and the rest of the two days were spent primarily in the water.

    Our first dive was an orientation dive. We focussed on trim and buoyancy, which are the platform skills to build ever other skill on. We did this while sitting still in team formation on a platform in dutch springs. Then we did some propulsion skills to get used to maintaining team position, trim, and buoyancy while moving through the various kicks. After Bob was satisfied with that, we got into position, and practiced removing and replacing the inflator hose without looking. The importance of always being able to remove and replace gear anywhere on your person while diving cannot be stressed enough, and Bob has always insisted that proficiency means doing it while blind, no matter what the skill is. Not super easy in dry gloves (esp since I have weird sized hands that don't fit perfectly in any sized DUI glove) but by the end of the weekend it was second nature. Once that was done we started with ascent/descent drills. So we started, and for the next 30 minutes we went up and down between 30' and the surface at random stops and times that Bob decided were sufficient. We would go from 30 to 20 to 30 to 10 to 20 to 10 to 20 to 30 and we were expected to maintain depth while in trim. It wasn't easy, and it is probably the most difficult thing to get used to when going from wetsuit to drysuit. Although, the drill was excellent and I really loved that we go to much time to practice venting and putting gas in the suit to see what it felt like. Bob called the dive after an hour and we did a controlled timed ascent at. Debrief, lunch, water for dive 2.

    We got back in the water for more practice and dive two. While on SI we discussed different emergencies that can happen and the best way to deal with them for cold and warm waters. For instance, how to deal with a stuck inflator in really cold water. We did a timed controlled descent to the platform where we both watched Bob do a stuck inflator drill, which my buddy and I then did a couple of times to get used to the correct way to handle it. Once bob was happy that we sufficiently handled that issue we moved over to a section of the platform that is essentially just an open square big enough for both my buddy and I to fit in side by side (i know this because there was no more room once we were in there). There bob had use maintain position and do rotational drills to get used to the gas in our suit. He showed use that rotating your body slowly at 90degrees as a time you can do a complete rotation and manage the gas in your wing (if any) and your suit without issue. IT was a real challenge, because we had so little room to move sideways and depth is expected to be maintained. We did it though and it was nice to be able to simply spin upside down and maintain buoyancy without issue. Moving around in a drysuit really is just as easy as in a wetsuit (except its nice and warm) as long as you can manage the gas movement.

    From there we moved off the platform to do some blue water drills; valve drills and s-drills at 30 ft in 5-10ft of vis with no visual reference. FUN :) We did the drill and then a sharing air ascent from 40 ft to the surface hitting all of out stops with only a .2 meter maximal deviation in buoyancy. Very cool.

    We prepped for a third dive, but due to some issues at dutch, decided it was a good time to do the surface swim test instead.

    The second day a third guy (my other tech 1 teammate) showed up to practice with us. The last two dives were solely about team formation and putting to use all of the skills we learned the day before. We did valve drills and s-drills many times (its amazing how quickly a team of three can get through valve and s-drills). We also did lots of propulsion including a fun excursion to much deeper depths just to enjoy the quarry, the sights there, and the opportunity to go a bit deeper. I am very proud of how well our team positioning was throughout and how good the communication was in the team. Of course, there are always areas to improve, but hearing Bob give us a 5/5 on that was really nice.

    The weekend was great and I learned a TON about diving and diving a drysuit. I was amazed how much I picked up in this short primer, and how much random dive knowledge Bob keeps in his noggin. I do know that this was the best drysuit course I could have ever hoped for and from what I know far better than any NAUI or PADI course to learn how to dive a drysuit. IT taught me the why I would do things and what the major issues are and I really love that, because it will empower me to be a much better diver far into the future.

    So at the end of this course, I feel much more confident going forward in a dry suit. I don't know if I am happy with my performance all the time, but was told that everything was well within the technical standard at all times. So maybe there is a glimmer of hope of passing Tech1 after all. I would highly recommend a primer course for any diver and especially the drysuit course. It was great, and Bob was a masterful instructor as his reputation indicates.

    Thanks to Bob, Henrik, and Eric for a great weekend, and thanks to all my other friends and dive buddies for your support throughout the weekend!

  2. gsk3

    gsk3 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: PA, USA
    I feel like I should put in the disclaimer you see in weight loss ads here: "Results not typical"! I dove with Tim on his third dive in a drysuit and he was rock-solid even then.
  3. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    Glad you had a good time! I'm with you -- I LIKE diving a drysuit, complications and all (or at least I like it right up to the point where I'm trying to go head down through a restriction and realize I've got way too much air in my feet . . . with any luck, Peter is NOT going to describe today's dive anywhere in public).

    I'm unclear what you are saying about "rotation"? Was it like doing a slow roll in an airplane (rotating around your longitudinal axis)? Or doing a slow motion somersault? (My "coach" for my sidemount dive in March made me do that one -- talk about a challenge in a dry suit!)
  4. HenrikBP

    HenrikBP Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Mexico
    Thanks for writing up the report Tim. Had a great time in class with you and Eric. Learned lots - even learned that it is possible to kick sideways ... really :) I'll try to get a decent back and flutter kick down first though :D

    The rotation was a roll around diver longitudinal axis. I would get just shy of the first 1/4 rotation and the weight of my steel tanks would instantly flop me over on my back. Not terribly elegant - but a lot of fun.

    Really a great class - I've been diving dry for over a year, and still took lots away from the class. The main take-home were the safety pointers and the (attempt at) fine control of bubble position and venting.

  5. gsk3

    gsk3 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: PA, USA
    Kick sideways? This I have to see/learn :)
  6. HenrikBP

    HenrikBP Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Mexico
    You and me both :)
  7. tddfleming

    tddfleming Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Boca Raton, FL

    I am glad to hear that your class went as well as it did. Thanks for keeping us posted.

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