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Late-season (cold weather) diving

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by archer1960, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. archer1960

    archer1960 Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Southern New England, USA
    This question is just pure curiosity on my part, to see if I'm somewhat typical, or more of an outlier in my tolerance for cold water.

    How many of you keep diving "late" into the season? I am in New England (Northeastern USA for those of you from other parts of the world), and the water here was 54F (~12.5C) on Sunday when I went out on a shore dive with a small group from a LDS. The water was the same temperature from the surface down to our deepest point at 64' (19.5m), so we don't have to deal with a thermocline. There seem to be only 4 or 5 regulars now that we're getting into late November. I have been certified for about 1.5 yrs, and just started diving local waters this past summer; all my previous dives were in the tropics. I have 10-12 local dives since June. I have planned all along to keep diving until I decide the water is too cold for me, then shut it down for the winter (a dry suit isn't in the budget for this year). But so far, I've been comfortable in my 7mm suit, 5mm booties, and 3mm hood and gloves. I am going to use some heavier gloves next time out, but my hands weren't unbearably cold this time, just a little uncomfortable.

    From what I've experienced so far, I think I'll probably be comfortable down to ~50F (10C) or so before I shut it down for the winter. Though I might go out on New Years day just to say I did...

    How many of you keep diving recreationally in similar conditions?
  2. CptTightPants21

    CptTightPants21 Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NY/NC/FL
    The water temp isn't the issue, its the surface temps and doing that second dive. Getting out of the water in a wetsuit, the wind and cold stop you from ever getting truly warm and recharging your core. If you were to attempt a second dive you would be freezing almost immediately.

    You could probably sneak shortish single dives throughout the winter if you wanted to provided you had an average (or slightly above) cold tolerance. Just don't expect to be doing multiple hour long dives in February.

    I see most people have a drysuit, the ones that are diving in wetsuits are (for the most part) like you....newish divers who just want to dive. I'm taking a guy out on Black Friday to do a shore dive and he will be in a wetsuit.
  3. jboneng

    jboneng Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Norway
    Around here there is no diving season, we dive all year round. Right now the water is around 5-7C (41-45F), and I expect the water temp drop to around 4C during Dec/Jan. The best dives is in the cold water during the winter, since the water is much clearer than during spring/summer.
  4. KDAD

    KDAD Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Northern New Jersey
    There is a group of 4 or 5 of us in nj that have been trying to get a few more dives in before the weather gets too cold. Scheduling and tides create a large barrier for us. Air and water temps similar to what you dove are what my lower limit is. The weather at the end of this week supposed to be nice so we will be out. As long as air and water are above 50 degrees I am good to go .
  5. Storker

    Storker ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: close to a Hell which occasionally freezes over
    Down here, it's still ~10C. Which, incidentally, is the same bottom temp I had out on the coast last July. The only things that have changed significantly are the air and surface temp.

    Yup. The viz around here between Oct and March is - on average - a lot better than in the warm half of the year. Summertime, we have from 2m to - at best - 8m (and that's below the algal soup layer), this time of the year we can get up to 20m if we're lucky. The lighting conditions suck, though, with sunrise at 10am, sunset at 3pm and the sun only a few degrees above the horizon at noon midwinter.
  6. archer1960

    archer1960 Contributor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Southern New England, USA
    Yeah, the visibility is one really good reason for continuing to dive in cold water around here too. It's much better now than it was a month or more ago.

    ---------- Post added November 23rd, 2015 at 09:40 AM ----------

    Yup, that (the bolded part) is me exactly. Luckily, the shore dive sites around here allow me to park within a few yards of the entry point, so I can crank up the heater in the car and get warmed up quickly.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  7. Littlerayray

    Littlerayray Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
    I dove In the spring with water Temps at 36f in a farmer john it was chilly and lately I've been diving dry and the water Temps right now are between 46 and 48f

    ---------- Post added November 23rd, 2015 at 10:08 AM ----------

    But like everyone has said it's the surface temp that gets you you have to hurry and get dry before hypothermia sets in
  8. HeatCker

    HeatCker Contributor

    i'm in southern Ontario, 1.5 hrs north of toronto
    we dove last friday (20th), 60 mins 44 F
    as above our vis improves with colder temps, good vis is 20'
    will probably be my last 2015 dive here as i'm heading to Coz on dec 2nd
    if not for that i'd get in a few more before shutting it down for the season
    i dive dry and heated
  9. Brandon

    Brandon Shop Independent Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Alaska
    Winter is the more active dive season here in SouthCentral Alaska (too many competing activities in the summer)... 19F on the surface and 41F in the water yesterday. Still warm. =)
  10. macado

    macado Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Salem, MA (North of Boston)
    I don't think it's uncommon. A lot of people can and do suffer through diving in a wetsuit in New England usually until about around this time of year. There is no hard cut off date but for most people they tend to be miserable when they get out of water depending on wind and air temperatures. It is certainly possible provided you can quickly change into warmer clothes or jump into car/cabin with heat. Most people in wetsuits this time of year will typically only do one dive. A lot of people do polar plunges in a wetsuit for Christmas and New Years.

    I myself did it for first 4-5 years or so until I got a drysuit. I told myself that diving a wetsuit was fine and I suffered through it. Now I wouldn't even think about going near a wetsuit this time of year but I mostly dive dry year round with exception of late August/early September.

    I watch people in wetsuits brag about their cold tolerance only to see them climb back aboard the boat shivering and blue. Yes, they can do it but it's not ideal. Right now the water temperature is 47f (~8c) but it's really the air temperature that's the problem.

    On the boat for instance we typically do not allow wetsuit diving after November. We highly discourage wetsuits for all but the most cold-tolerant people after October. The conditions are just too unpredictable especially if you happen to be floating in the water for a long time waiting for boat to pick you up. What if there was an emergency and the boat couldn't pick you up right away? Hold long do you think you could make in a wetsuit until hypothermia sets in?

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