The latest installment of our "Tales of a Drysuit Diver" series. Check out part 1 here.
It was a lovely day at Philips Outdoor Center in early November. The sun was out. The water was about 52 degrees. The dive plan for the day was to get in longer dives. For the first dive, we would make a circuit around the quarry at about 25 feet and hopefully see some critters on the east wall. At a leisurely pace, this is about a 40-45 minute trip around. This was to be my first long dive in the drysuit and I was looking forward to the extended practice time. We had some new camera equipment to play with and we were excited for a great dive.
My suit is equipped with a removable dry glove system. I have left the wrist seals in place so that I can dive without the gloves if the circumstances dictate. This ring system is a little fussy both to setup and to seal. To equalize the gloves, I have small tubes that run through the wrist seals and join the airspaces. Seems like a good idea. Otherwise glove squeeze is a problem and of course without air, there is less warmth.
Cameron and I splash and I feel a little trickle in my right glove. Crap. Everything looks good and a 2 handed squeeze on the glove rings from my buddy seems to stop the problem. The palm of my inner glove got just a little wet, but nothing I can’t live with, so off we go. A few minutes into the dive, I reach across with my right had to adjust the left shoulder dump valve on the suit. In comes cold water. I pull back and check out the glove. It still looks good. The rings seem tight. Oh well. It’s just cold water, right? As the dive progresses, I get to the point where every time I reach in any direction with my right hand, I have water coming in. Then the fun begins. This cold water slowly migrates through the equalization tube, up my right arm, and, thanks to some strange folds and bunches of the suit, pools in my right arm pit. I’m rather cold by 25 minutes in. Nevertheless, being the stoic hero that I am, I’m not calling the dive. It’s just a little chilly water after all. Then, about midway through the dive, I pull a roll maneuver to get a shot with the camera and shift the suit. Now this cold water is flowing down my right side. It is amazing how much water comes in such a tiny tube. I am officially COLD. But, there is no earthly way I am going to look Cam in the eye and bail on a dive because of a little water. He’s in a wetsuit! We finish out the dive, and get some great video.
The worst part is that I am now rather wet. My glove is soaked, I have water pooling in my right boot, and we had another dive planned for the day. I learned that as a drysuit diver, you have to be prepared for the suit to have water in it. If you are planning multiple dives, extra dry layers are something to add to the kit. Even this relatively minor technical issue did not prevent me from enjoying the dive. The story and video from Look Up! came from this same dive. Check it out if you missed it.
After close investigation, the problem seemed to be glove length. When I extended my right arm, the suit pulls back just enough to slightly open the glove seal. Easily resolved by adjusting the position of the ring seal system on the glove. At least that’s the theory. Whether that theory holds any water is a tale for another time.