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Full Face Specialty - worth it?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by novarlynx, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. novarlynx

    novarlynx Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Maine
    4
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    So, back in the beginning of September I got to do two dives in an OTS Guardian and I loved it a lot. These were fairly shallow dives. Now, I want to buy a Guardian soon.

    How worth it is the SSI full face specialty course?
    I watched OTS's videos on the mask and read up on stuff to practice such as removing/replacing underwater, clearing partial/full floods, switching to an alternative air source & backup mask, etc. All seems so straightforward that I could probably just practice this stuff in a pool.
     
  2. Valyngar

    Valyngar Nassau Grouper

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    Never got any formal training for ffm. There really isn't any difference to normal diving except emptying mask from water. Just train that in pool and shallow water with buddy at start. Also train taking ffm off and putting backup mask on. I recommend buying weights to mask.
     
    АлександрД likes this.
  3. decompression

    decompression Instructor...seriously...

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
    3,980
    1,495
    113
    Yes, 100% yes, the flood, removal and switch to back up can be very stressful until mastered, especially in cold water. There are many tips and skills you will miss if self taught. It seems easy to dive until it isn’t.
     
  4. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
    700
    422
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    I would say probably 85-90% of my dives have been in a ffm (Ocean Reef) and I have no formal training/certification on it. I've audited the class in the pool and while being taught how to doff, don, switch into/out of, clear, etc. are all useful skills, they're not necessarily something you can't learn on your own practicing in the pool. Is it the smart way to go? Maybe not. But I bought my ffm and spent about an hour and a half in the pool just playing with it, learning the ins and outs, practicing doffing and donning both on the surface and at depth, practicing switching to a conventional mask & reg, switching and back. I practiced for essentially every incident I could think of that might occur during a dive, save air share because I was alone and it's paid off. During a diver earlier this year in Cozumel, the main o-ring in my omni-swivel failed causing my ffm to free-flow at a high rate. So having the skills to disconnect it from my primary hose via QD fitting and switch to a conventional mask and octo (then a spare 2nd stage w/ QD I keep in a pocket) saved my dive.

    So it's really up to you. If you don't feel like you could learn those skills without instruction, then definitely take the class. Or if you just like collecting c-cards then sure, take the course. But it's entirely possible to learn the skills necessary to dive a ffm all on your own. My shop actually offers the class free when you buy a ffm as an additional perk to buying from them. I'm actually looking to upgrade mine to the newer Ocean Reef Space extender with new Mercury COMS unit shortly so I may be taking the class anyway. But honestly it'll just be another c-card to add to my collection.
     
    АлександрД likes this.
  5. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
    700
    422
    63
    Rather than edit my original post, I decided another one was worth since it's really kind of separate anyway. Once you dive a ffm for a while, you pick up on things and you start thinking of other ways to accomplish tasks. Take an OOA situation for instance. If your non-ffm diving buddy is OOA, no issues. Give them your secondary as usual and end the dive. But what happens if you are OOA? You essentially doff the ffm and switch to a traditional mask and your buddies secondary. Let's take it a step further. What if you and your buddy are both diving ffm (with QD on the mask reg) and you both have QD fittings on your primary and secondary hoses? Rather than either of you having to switch to a conventional mask and reg, you/your buddy can disconnect the secondary 2nd stage from the hose and connect directly to the OOA diver's ffm. I'm not sure if that's something they actually teach in the course. I think it may be depending on training agency. If it's not something they teach, it should be. It's just something I sort of figured out on my own since I'm primarily a ffm diver.

    The main advice I can give on diving a ffm.....get extremely comfortable doing mask drills with it. Practice them over and over and over again until you can do them without thinking about it. It's a piece of equipment like anything else, it's mechanical, and at any moment it could fail. So make certain you have a back-up plan in place should it happen. For me that means carrying a spare mask and 2nd stage w/ QD installed on every ffm dive.
     
    Silty Sam likes this.
  6. Valyngar

    Valyngar Nassau Grouper

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    One thing, if you diving in cold water <10c when you take off FFM you will have hard time breathing for spare 2nd stage, cold just makes it hard to breathe and you have to force yourself to do it. Easier when you train it.
     
  7. Diver below 83

    Diver below 83 Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: SoFlo
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    My last trip in Barbados we had one diver who was ffm. He hadn’t taken any courses prior to this and was having major issues with the mask leaking and clearing. The DM tried to help him throughout the dive but it wasn’t going well and he was SUCKING through air fast. He had to end his dive about 15 mins earlier than everyone else. Back on the boat the DM was explaining how he would benefit from taking the ffm course. Can you get by without the course? Probably but you’ll be a better diver if you do take the course.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  8. Charles Graves

    Charles Graves Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Washington, DC
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    Personally, I think it’s crazy and foolish to do FFM. I’ve always been a half-face mask guy. I see movies or videos where people are in FFM and I think it’s just clownish, almost like the people making the movies don’t know how to dive.

    is FFM a thing? Yeah but it shouldn’t be. And 95% of divers never do it or wanna do it.

    The problem is if a FFM leaks, you can’t really clear it and if you have to take it off, you have no real way to breathe except by grabbing your octopus (which hopefully is working) and then you’re breathing with no mask.

    with a half face mask, you can just clear it very easily or adjust it if it leaks.

    you don’t get quiiiite as much side to side or up-and-down visibility with a half face mask, but IMO I still get a damn good visibility.
     
  9. Charles Graves

    Charles Graves Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Washington, DC
    47
    15
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    Here’s the catcher: I feel like a lot of people feel claustrophobic or have vision issues, so that’s why they wear FFM.

    I highly recommend PRESCRIPTION SCUBA MASKS. I got mine from SPE dive school in MD. It’s awesome. Only cost me like $150 or $200 or so on top of the mask, and it’s amazing.

    now when I put my mask on, I can see beautifully and it makes me feel so much more comfortable and peaceful. My heart rate and stress levels are lower bcuz I don’t feel disoriented.

    before, I was having bad vision in the water and it made scuba harder. (I don’t like contacts at all) But with the prescription mask, it’s perfect

    so I recommend getting a prescription half-face mask, instead of screwing around with a FFM
     
    nippurmagnum likes this.
  10. RainPilot

    RainPilot completey delusional scientology snowflake Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: UAE
    4,000
    3,541
    113
    In movies, it's primarily so the audience can see the face of the actor and hear them, which is what they are being paid for. Same reason why, in flying movies, the fighter pilot always has their mask hanging off to the side which is not how it's done IRL

    They shouldn't leak if correctly fitted, and all of them have a mechanism for clearing the mask. Most FFM, if correctly fitted, will leak substantially less than almost any half mask, due to the slight positive pressure on the inside. They also don't fog up so no more spit and baby shampoo.
    They are also waaaay more forgiving of "odd" face shapes so its much easier to get a good FFM than a well-fitting half mask.

    Many (most?) FFM have the ability to plug a secondary gas source directly into the mask, so if you have an issue, you dont even have to switch regs like you do with a half mask

    Octopus should ALWAYS be working, regardless of what type of diving you are doing. They often aren't but thats not a FFM problem.

    FFM training will include carrying and deploying a backup mask

    Visibility is not a primary reason for diving a FFM for anyone I have ever met or trained. That being said, it is much easier to wear glasses under one than a half mask, many have a lens-mount option which is way cheaper than getting prescription masks ground.

    Reasons students have come to me for FFM training include, in rough order of frequency:

    • Wanting comms with partner
    • Professional requirements (PSD, Commercial etc)
    • Cold water diving (FFM is WAAAAAY nicer than half mask when you are diving really cold water)
    • Safety concerns (if you have a loss-of-consciousness event in a FFM, you have a much better chance of being rescued alive than in a half mask) (This is one of the main reasons I dive a KM-48 FFM on my CCR when I am not teaching
    • "Because I want to" which is a valid reason for doing anything in a recreational activity, given adequate training and skills.
    Not trying to give you a hard time Charles, but it seems clear that you haven't dived a FFM before, and so you (understandably) don't see the appeal. You are obviously not the target demographic and that's fine, but let's not yuck other people's yum, shall we?
     
    decompression, Akimbo and Sh0rtBus like this.

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