Wednesday 18 December 2013

Who took the Brrrr out of Diving? 5 things that will help you stay warm when the temperatures drop

Having found myself firmly landed back in UK territory and the land of waters cold, I find myself torn.

To Dive or Not to Dive, that is the question?

Now, living in Cyprus, I have to say, I am a converted warm water diver and the thought of diving here again sends a chill all through my body but I know I will see my old Dive Club, Roundhill Sub Aqua BSAC in Leicester, look out over the waters of Stoney Cove and wish I was going in with them.

You see, in my heart of hearts, I know that it isn't diving in cold water that isn't fun... it is just being cold in the water.

The last couple weeks of our summer season in Cyprus has seen the water temperature tumble from around 24 degrees at the end of October to just 19 degrees on our last dive. While that may seem balmy temperatures to the hardened UK or Scandinavian divers that frequent our dive centre in Cyprus, to us wimpy divers, that only pull out the shorty for the week or so that the water is above 30 degrees, we tend to get quite cold.

Usually, this isn't a problem, if we use the correct tools for the job. So, what do we need to take the Brrrr factor away?

A Drysuit goes a long way to keeping you warm in the water with the added bonus that you don't get the wet wind chill when you get out because you are still dry (or mostly dry as is usually the case). You need a well fitting drysuit and you can read more about this essential tool in our "4 things to consider before diving drysuits" blog

In cold water, you cannot beat a Diving Hood.

I always hear people saying they don't like hoods and don't want to dive with them no matter how cold they are in the water. Yes, hoods do take a bit of getting used to and you have the added work of making sure the hood is clear of the mask skirt to seal and it can feel a little claustrophobic at first...but after a couple dives, you will be thankful for your hood and it will become the first thing you reach for when the temperatures start to drop.

Gloves are an essential item for scuba diving in colder waters. You will need at least 2 pairs. One you
can wear in the water and one to help you warm up after the dive.

There are a number of options when it comes to gloves but I have found that 5mm semi dry gloves work very well even in temperatures as low as 2 degrees. There are also drygloves (didn't work for me but others swear by them), mittens or even heated gloves to stay uber warm. Try as many different kinds as you can, find what works for you and use it.

Thermals for under your drysuit or wetsuit are essential in colder water. For wetsuits, there are base layers you can wear under your wetsuit to keep you warmer and we are going to invest in some Lavacore undersuits, which we have had the opportunity to sample this year.

Under your drysuit, the thermals you need will vary depending on the drysuit you use. Tri-laminates will usually require more layers or thicker thermals than a neoprene, which has thermal qualities in itself.

A new product we have seen and are quite excited about (when we have the cash) are the Thermalution Undersuits for wetsuits or drysuits. Like an electric blanket for the water!

When it comes to thermals, do not forget about the post dive clothes too. Get warm and stay warm to prevent getting ill.

While we are discussing post dive warming, the last item on my list is a Thermos of hot drinks. This will help no end to warm you up post dive. Not limited to tea or coffee, consider other delights such as Hot Chocolate (maybe with a nip of brandy in but only if you have finished diving for the day) or hot home made soups.

I think I might have just talked myself into braving the cold again. Stoney Cove... here I come!

Now where did I put that thermos?

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