Dry Suit Diving - The Need for Training
Once you determine that a dry suit is right for you and the diving you do,
the next step is to sign up for a dry suit class. When I first started diving a
dry suit, there were no dry suit classes being offered at my dive center. I had
to learn to dive dry through trial and error, which greatly increased my anxiety
about diving dry and greatly increased how long it took to become comfortable in
a dry suit.
Now every spring and fall divers rush to enroll in dry suit training classes
at Aquatic Adventures where dry suit classes are held regularly and an ample
supply of rental dry suits makes it possible for nearly every diver to afford to
at least give dry suit diving a try. Believe it or not, the PADI Dry Suit
specialty is usually second only to the Enriched Air Diver specialty in total
numbers of specialty certifications at Aquatic Adventures year after year.
Why you need dry suit training before you dive dry
Dry suit diving is very different from wetsuit diving. This has to do less
with the complexity of the dry suit, as I had initially imagined, and more to do
with buoyancy control. Here is why.
When most of us learned to dive, we learned to dive in a wetsuit. Other than
a couple of pointers about how to get into and out of the suit, none of us
needed to be trained in how to use the wetsuit. What we were trained in is how
to use the Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) to adjust for changes in buoyancy on
our dives. We learned things like the fin pivot and hovering with the BCD, and
we were told why we needed to add air to the BCD on descent and release air from
the BCD on ascent.
Dry suit divers need to relearn all of these skills. This is because the BCD
is usually only used to achieve positive buoyancy on the surface. Under water
proper buoyancy is achieved by adding air to the dry suit. This means relearning
the fin pivot and hovering by using the dry suit instead of the BCD. It means
becoming comfortable with having air inside the dry suit and how to release air
from the suit on every ascent or how to quickly release air from the suit in the
event of an uncontrolled ascent.
While these skills can quickly be learned, it is important that you are
trained by an instructor who is experienced in using a dry suit. A few quick
tips, a trip to the pool, and a couple of open water dives later, you will feel
as comfortable and safe in a dry suit as you were in your wetsuit.