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Cold water diving?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by DALAJS, Nov 29, 2009.


    DALAJS Registered

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Canada
    After reading hundreds of posts on the temperatures of diving I had a few questions. From what I have read, it is generally accepted that anything below 65 degrees F is drysuit territory. This surprised me because I only a few days ago purchased my first drysuit after diving the last few months on Vancouver Island in 45 degree water with a 7mil wetsuit. What is the coldest you have dove (dived?) in a wetsuit. What would you consider too cold/unsafe?
  2. Codyjp

    Codyjp Contributor

    First, congrats on the new drysuit!

    This however is a very loaded question. It is going to have a huge range of opinions based on personal experience, depth, natural body warmth etc. For me I've been to the mid 50's in a 7mm but I certainly don't enjoy doing it. For a quick 40 minute dunk it works fine, but for extended dives over an hour or multiple dives/day I wouldn't want to do it.

    That being said, with a drysuit you can still freeze your tail off if you don't have the proper undergarments. Just because your dry doesn't mean your going to be warm.
  3. Sas

    Sas Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    9C/48F is the coldest I have dived wet.

    I can do about 70mins at this depth in my 7mm wetsuit - but repetitive dives are hard unless the surface temperature is very warm. I have managed to do repetitive dives in a wetsuit but it is not nearly as pleasant as my drysuit.

    Many people dive wet in cold temps but I find most of them do short dives and not very many of them (i.e. 45mins x 2-3 times only), and tend to be new divers who are moving all of the time (hand sculling, constantly finning), or larger divers who have more of their own inbuilt thermal protection. How cold is too cold/unsafe really depends on the person and temperatures I dived wet in when I was new are no longer manageable without a drysuit because I have much better buoyancy control than I used to and barely move much distance at all on my dives.
  4. chrisculina

    chrisculina Contributor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Arendal, Norway
    True. Here, temperatures vary a great deal throughout the year, from about 4 C (39 F) to about 18 C (64 F). Surface temperatures vary from -2 to 22. Personally, I think 15 C is nice in 7+7 mm, and at 20 C, a 7 mm will do. Still, I dive dry year round, and for that I use a trilaminate suit. It provides no insulation, so I put on undergarments appropriate for the water temperature.

    For the coldest period, I use an inner layer of merino wool, 400 g thinsulate and a home made chest plate of insulating foam. Around 12-17 C I'll just use the 400 g thinsulate, and for the warmest month, I'll use 200 g thinsulate. I always use thick, technical socks. Of course, I also have an assortment of hoods and gloves.

    Because neoprene suits compress and loose insulation, target depth should be taken into consideration. Air temp and weather also, because you want to be able to regain warmth after a freezing dive (which is of course harder if you're wet).

    Too cold/unsafe is a subjective thing. If you're freezing, you're freezing, and that can in many cases be unsafe.
  5. Coldwater_Canuck

    Coldwater_Canuck Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Seattle or Ontario
    Coldest my computer recorded was 43 in Lake Huron. It wasn's so bad though because it was middle of summer in Ontario so nice and warm on the surface. I find it's much worse diving Seattle in the fallor or winter: even though the water is somewhat warmer (55 or so), on a rainy day in November it is much colder between and after dives.
  6. fisheater

    fisheater Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sebastopol, CA
    44 in my 7mm FJ semidry.
  7. DCBC

    DCBC Banned

    The coldest water I've been in with a wet suit was 30 degrees F.

    These are general "Non-working Air" guidelines. The Helium guidelines are different.

    In commercial diving, the exposure limits are regulated by the region in-which the dive takes place. At anytime, the dive may be terminated by the diver for whatever reason.

    Wet Suit

    1. Water temperature under 55 degrees up to 30 minute exposure;
    2. Water temperature over 55-70 degrees up to one hour exposure;
    3. Water temperature over 70-80 degrees up to two hour exposure;
    4. Water temperature over 80 degrees up to three hour exposure;
    5. In high current, exposure drops down one level;

    Dry Suit

    1. Water temperature under 45 degrees up to 60 minute exposure;
    2. Water temperature 45-55 degrees up to 90 minute exposure;
    3. Water temperature 55-70 degrees up to two hour exposure;
    4. Water temperature 70-80 degrees up to three hour exposure;
    5. Water temperature over 80 degrees up to four hour exposure;

    Hot-Water Suit

    1. Over Dry Suit exposure times
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
  8. Gerbs

    Gerbs Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Stuttgart, Germany
    My experience: 4°(39f) Water is doable in a 7mm semi dry with a 7mm vest for about 30minutes with a maximum depth of 30m.

    The most polite description is "character building".

    60 minutes in 4°C is not bad in a dry suit.

  9. allistoy

    allistoy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Windsor Ontario Canada
    Below 50 I go dry above 50 I go wet. This combo works well for me personally but as has been said above everyone has a preference they dive with.
  10. dave4868

    dave4868 Old diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Vero Beach, FL, USA
    You haven't had a chance to dive that drysuit yet, have you? :wink:

    If you had, your questions probably would have been along the lines of "Why do coldwater divers wait so long before getting a drysuit?" and "What is the coldest you have dived in a drysuit?" and "What would you consider too cold/unsafe in a drysuit?" :D

    For both wetsuit diving and drysuit diving, misery usually shortens a dive before hypothermia becomes a safety issue and there are many factors that can bring on that misery.... even in a drysuit.

    You've already heard good advice on some of those factors and some of the solutions, so I'll just say "Congratulations" on getting a device that can, with a little knowledge, experience and tweaking, make your coldwater dives a real pleasure! :)

    Dave C

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