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Keeping warm on the boat between dives--wetsuit on or off?

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by Esprise Me, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    422
    403
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    Hi everyone,
    I just got my open water certification in the rather chilly waters off the coast of southern California. We did 3 boat dives on one day; the instructor told us to pull our wetsuits down to our waists and dry off our arms and torso between dives to keep warm. I was skeptical but took his advice between dives 1 & 2. I still felt pretty cold, so when I came up from the second dive I decided to keep my wetsuit all the way on and zipped until I was finished diving. I felt much warmer and didn't have to deal with pulling cold clammy sleeves back on.

    This was far from a perfect experiment, of course. For one thing, I was wearing a rash guard under my wetsuit, which I kept on; the tight collar makes it a pain to take off, especially with long hair. So I wasn't really drying off, because the rash guard stayed damp. For another, the air temperature that day increased from the low 60s that morning to about 80 by the time I got back to my car, so it might have been as much as 10 degrees warmer during the surface interval when I kept my wetsuit on.

    But common sense tells me keeping the wetsuit on actually helped. So I thought I'd ask this question here, since I'm planning another day with 3 boat dives next month, when it'll be even colder. Should I keep my wetsuit all the way on between dives? If not, should I also take off the rash guard, or just not wear it? Any other tips for a temperature wuss? Thanks!
     
  2. Seaweed Doc

    Seaweed Doc Marine Scientist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle, Washington State, USA
    683
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    This can be a tricky call. If you're in a breeze, water evaporating off the wetsuit will cool you. But as you know, the suit itself insulates a bit. I suspect the combination of rashguard cooling you (also due to evaporation) during the first surface interval and warmer temperatures after the second dive caused you to be warmer during the second surface interval.

    I suspect the trick is minimizing evaporation if you can, either by drying the water off or staying out of the wind.
     
    Lorenzoid likes this.
  3. nolatom

    nolatom Captain

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Orleans
    1,154
    523
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    Your instructor will be right about this more often than he's wrong, but different humans have different thermostats.

    If you like keeping all of suit on for practical reasons, consider a good windbreaker or even a parka to go over it. It'll keep the breeze from making your wet-suit into a swamp cooler..
     
    Tournesol2000 likes this.
  4. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    12,121
    2,612
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    These posts says it all. Air temp., wind and your own cold tolerance determines which to do. If it's a warm enough day to suit your cold tolerance, it's less of a hassle to keep your whole suit on.
     
  5. JackD342

    JackD342 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Highland Park, IL
    2,202
    1,232
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    A lot of divers will still get chilled by a wet 3mm on a calm surface interval in the tropics, and strip down the top. But a rash guard is likely to have the opposite effect, holding a wet layer on your skin with no insulation while it air dries.

    I always dropped the top, until I started using my Lavacore.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  6. JackOfDiamonds

    JackOfDiamonds ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Israel
    339
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    Depends on the weather.
    In here for example it gets really hot and humid, so keeping your wet suit on for more then 10 minutes after a dive is not recommended.
     
  7. RyanT

    RyanT Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    1,769
    1,407
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    Yes counterintuitively, keeping your wetsuit on in a breeze can actually make you colder. Convincing yourself to pull it off after a dive is difficult challenge, but you'll often be warmer. Another alternative is a Surf Fur coat. They are a fleece coat designed for use over wet gear. They block the wind and add a layer of warmth. I use one frequently in the cooler months and just throw it on over my wetsuit. One of the best gear investments I've made!
     
    spc751 and chillyinCanada like this.
  8. JackD342

    JackD342 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Highland Park, IL
    2,202
    1,232
    113
    If air temps aren’t relatively cold, any wind blocking layer will do the trick. I have a simple rain shell I sometimes use when diving wet locally, or canoeing.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  9. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL
    866
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    It depends on the suit thickness. A wet dive skin will evaporate and make you cool. A wet 3 mm suit may cause you to cool down. A 5 or 7 mm suit may be thick enough to offset the cooling effects of evaporation. This is all relative to wearing NOTHING.

    However, it is probably most comfortable to remove the top and wear a ski hat to help reduce cooling of your head, especially with long hair. Add a suitable over coat, that is windproof, has a hood and may need to be insulated if the air is below maybe 60 degrees.

    Often a wetsuit is better than nothing, but you need to bring something to cover up with between dives.
     
    chillyinCanada and Hank49 like this.
  10. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    422
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    Thanks everyone! I do have a windbreaker I could put on; I didn't want to during the first interval because I didn't want to get it wet (not realizing I needed it more then than I would at the end!) and I might spring for one of those Surf Fur parkas. I didn't know what they were called, but I saw some of the non-noob divers on the boat with them, and they looked equal parts toasty and pleased with themselves--snug and smug! What's another $150, I guess...
     

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