Living in Wisconsin, it’s no surprise that diving can get pretty chilly. But I wasn’t about to let cool water stop me from diving. For many years I managed to get by with a 7mm full wetsuit and layering a 7mm hooded vest on those really cold dives. This was a less expensive option than buying a dry suit, but I knew from the start that diving dry was what I wanted to do.
This led me to the decision to take the dry suit certification course. It was a rather simple course that included an easy to read manual and the traditional PADI DVD. The class was very hands-on. We went through the knowledge reviews and then jump right into our first dry suit. Trying on a dry suit is quite the experience if you have never tried one on. You get fitted for the suit and boots, learn how to dust the seals and lubricate the zippers, and get trained to don the suit so as not to damage the seals. The great thing about the course at Aquatic Adventures is that a rental dry suit is provided for you if you don’t already own one. This is a great option for first time dry suit divers.
After the rather brief classroom session, it was off to the pool for a quick lesson in how to use the dry suit in the water. Most of the skills we practiced were focused on using the dry suit for buoyancy control under water. Basically the dry suit takes the place of the BCD once you descent. Of course my favorite skill was getting to practice recovering from being inverted. You float with your feet above you, then kick down while doing a somersault. It was really fun!
After our session in the pool it was off to the open water for two dives. The weather that day was overcast and windy, so I was definitely eager to get into my dry suit. With all the gear and dry suit on, I was ready to get in the water. For the first few steps I was just waiting for the cold to rush over me, but once I was in water too deep to stand with my BCD keeping me afloat I noticed that not a single drop had slid inside the suit. I immediately said to myself, “Oh, I could get use to this!” As the class proceeded I fell more and more in love with the diving dry.
Following my dry suit certification course, I’ve learned that dry suit diving opens many more doors to diving. Dry suits extend the dive season because I’m dry when the air is cold, increase my bottom times because I’m not chilly, keep me warmer when I’m diving deep, and keep me comfortable on shipwreck dives in Lake Michigan. Maybe I’ll even give ice diving a try next winter!
So if you have ever considered diving dry I encourage you to take the dry suit course. Dry suit diving offers exciting new opportunities for diving in colder water. Last weekend I was even able to help assist with one of our dry suit classes at Pearl Lake. I can’t wait to see the student I helped when she gets to head out to Lake Michigan. Being able to share my knowledge and experience with the dry suit is something I really enjoy doing. I recently ordered my very own dry suit and I can hardly wait to share the details and photos on my next blog. Stay tuned!