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Diving without releasable weight

Discussion in 'Advanced Scuba Discussions' started by hammet, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. hammet

    hammet Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: United States
    For all you well-seasoned divers out there... have you ever been in or witnessed a situation where dropping weights for yourself, buddy, or other diver was a critical factor in preventing or managing an emergency or near emergency type of scenario?

    When I took PADI rescue some time ago, we learned dropping weights on the surface would of course aid in floating a victim on the surface so you can continue to provide aid like rescue breaths, etc. But inflating the victim's BCD was also standard operating procedure (mainly because dropping weights would damage the pool bottom or be lost in the murky quarry) and as long as the BCD inflation mechanism and bladder were functioning, just as effective.

    With regards to releasing weights underwater, I cannot fathom (pardon the pun) any situation where dropping someone's weights below the surface would be anything but dangerous; the concern being a rapid surface ascent resulting in serious decompression problems.

    Reason why I'm asking is that I currently dive an Aqualung Outlaw BCD equipped with the two 10lb modular releasable weight pockets on each hip. However, Aqualung also makes smaller 5lb modular pockets available, but they are not releasable.

    When I'm diving an HP100 , I usually stick about 2lbs into each 10lb pocket which obvious holds lots of unused space for more weight. When diving with an AL80, I put about 3 lbs in each pocket plus about 2 or 3 lbs into two trim pockets I can slide onto the tank band.

    Basically, what I'm asking is: Will I die?

    @scubadada for his familiarity with the outlaw.

    outlaw with bulky 10lb releasable weight pocket (bladder not shown)

    vs the much more compact, non-releasable 5lb pocket:
  2. Storker

    Storker Divemaster

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over
    Yes. Yes, you will. Although I doubt if the reason will be insufficient ditchable weight.

    And now that the obligatory joke is delivered, I personally prefer to have some of my weight ditchable. I don't expect to be in a situation where ditching is necessary, but then I wear a seatbelt when driving even if I don't expect to crash my car. Being able to ditch (preferably at the surface; at least I was taught already in OW class that ditching at depth should be the last in a row of options) is just another tool in the toolbox. It costs me absolutely nothing to have some of my weight ditchable, and if I'm in a bit of a bind ditching will help me float even higher than just inflating my wing will.

    Besides, being able to hand up my belt - and perhaps also my weight pockets - to the boat tender makes it easier to climb aboard, and with the amount of weight I need to sink in cold water, I prefer to split my weight between my rig and my body. With all - or even most - of my weight mounted on my rig, I become too top-heavy for comfort. So if I'm going to wear some of my weight on my body, making it ditchable is a good idea with very few (for me) downsides. And while BP mounted weights are above my COG making me less stable, pocket weights are below my COG making me more stable.
    Kimela and pauldw like this.
  3. hammet

    hammet Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: United States
    Thanks for getting that joke out of the way.
    I get the non-emergency point of being able to take weight off to board the boat. But considering I just left the gym this morning after squating 305 for reps, I'm not worried. (not bad for a guy approaching the big 5-0). :wink:
    Kimela likes this.
  4. Eric Sedletzky

    Eric Sedletzky Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Santa Rosa, CA
  5. Reku

    Reku Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Great Lakes + Northern Florida + Marsh Harbor
    I don't ditch weight.

    I have never seen anyone benefit from ditching weight.

    last week I had to pin my buddy to the seafloor and stick his weight back on him when it fell off....
    JHumbert15 and hammet like this.
  6. Steelyeyes

    Steelyeyes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Redmond Wa
    I've been lucky enough to only have to perform one rescue. Myself and another DM rescued another diver in some relative large waves. The first and most beneficial thing we did was send his lead to the bottom. It was easier to keep his face up high enough to breathe well while my partner and I towed him back to shore. I suppose we could have fumbled around trying to pick some lead out of pockets but I think in that situation we'd have just ejected his entire rig.
  7. Storker

    Storker Divemaster

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over
    Yes, but you didn't address the cost (negligible) vs benefit (potentially rather nice) of having some ditchable weight if S really HTF. While S isn't supposed to HTF (and doesn't for most of us), it does happen sometimes.

    For someone who definitely shouldn't surface directly during some part of the dive, the cost/benefit ratio of having ditchable weight will of course be different. If I were owing a significant amount of deco, I'd probably put more emphasis on being able to stay at depth. However, I never owe significant deco, so I put more priority on being able to float high on the surface if SHTF. It could make life a little less uncomfortable if the conditions turned a bit sporty.
    TridentDeep and Esprise Me like this.
  8. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
    Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I don't dive with what I consider ditchable weight. I dive a Zeagle Brigade that comes standard with one pair of trim pockets installed on the lower cam band. At first I relocated it to the top cam bad to help with trim. But then I decided to add a second set of trim pockets back onto the lower cam band, giving me a total of 4 trim pockets that can hold up to 20lbs of weight. I'm a bigger guy and can sink a full 5mm wetsuit in freshwater with about 14 lbs. I have lots of bioprene that I'm trying to get rid of. All that being said, if I absolutely had to ditch weight, I could remove my BC and pull the bottom of the trim pockets, which are velcro closures, allowing weights to fall out. If I try hard enough I can reach behind me to dump at least the bottom two pockets but it takes some doing. So I don't necessarily consider that ditchable weight.

    And just looking at the picture of the trim pockets you posted, they do look to be ditchable in that you can release that clip and allow the weights to fall out.

    Along the lines of rescue....I did have to perform a rescue earlier in the year from a depth of roughly 43 ft in fresh water. The water temp was right around 50F and said rescuee was in more or less 10mm of neoprene and a student, thus requiring about 25lbs of additional weight to sink him. That coupled with the weight I was wearing acting as a DM was way more than enough to exhaust the lift capacity of my BC. Add that to the fact that the rescuee was so panicked that his only rational response was to continually clear water out of his mask while breathing from his reg, which while somewhat admirable didn't help me in kicking his now extremely heavy ass to the surface. Needless to say I had to inflate both of our BCs and then feather exhausting both to control our ascent rate. It worked. Maybe it would've been easier if I'd dumped his weight, but then I feel I would've had a much harder time controlling our ascent and as hard as this guy was breathing.....I'm not certainly that would've been a good thing. So I stand by my decision to dive without what I consider ditchable weight. But if it's necessary, I'm fully prepared to don the proverbial flame suit......
  9. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    Hi Andrew,

    Personally, I would not be concerned with diving with 4-8 pounds of non-releasable weight.That's also the weight I use when diving a steel or Al cylinder and my 3 mm wetsuit, with or without my hooded vest.

    I don't think this would cause any difficulty surfacing or staying at the surface, even with a BC failure. Of course, at the end of the dive, you will be neutral, or nearly neutral, at your SS and at the surface

    I may pick up a pair of the non-releasable weight pockets myself. It might be enough to get me to give my Outlaw another try :)
    hammet likes this.
  10. kablooey

    kablooey Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: San Diego
    On a lobster hunting dive from a boat I found myself alone on the surface at night and having serious difficulty breathing.
    Fearing I was going to blackout, I dropped my weight belt and weakly shouted for help.

    Two divers kicking back to the boat heard my call, found me, and dragged me to the swim step.
    After boarding the boat under my own power, my symptoms subsided.

    Went to the doc the next day and a medical condition was found, and treatment was prescribed.
    I've been fine, diving, with no reoccurrence, for over ten years.

    I've assisted with rescue classes for the organization that employed me as a DM.
    The current crop of student-divers don't use weight belts. All they know is internal weights.
    During briefings I always pointed out that I was wearing a weight belt.
    In spite of that, at least once every class during unconscious diver scenarios,
    a rescue student would try to take off my BCD before dropping my weight belt first.

    If that happened in a real rescue... well, it would be bad.

    Bob DBF, Esprise Me and rjack321 like this.

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