Recreational Rebreather Diving

Do you think diving is boring? Come on, seriously? Just close your eyes for a minute and imagine yourself on an underwater scooter cruising for hours together with manta rays, turtles and sharks along beautiful colourful long reefs. Or imagine exploring caves and wrecks. That just can’t be boring.  Indeed, there is no competition factor and there are no short bursts of speed and adrenaline. But what about the adrenaline you will feel running through your veins when you see a bunch of sharks or being in complete awe for hours.

We have explored the surface of the earth since the day we are here , damaged it severely and noticing the effects each day more and more. But the oceans are still unexplored and in need of our help. The damage on the surface, which is only 20% of the planet, is affecting the most important 80% of the planet, the underwater world. Once we have destroyed this part by overfishing or dumping more chemicals, I can assure you there is no more life possible on the other 20%; the earth we walk on.

We travelled to Australia on the 6th of March 2011. As I had never been to Oz you can imagine the excitement I was feeling.

We were not only going to teach a few dive courses but also attend the “Oztek” diveshow to see the latest news in the diving industry and to see and hear some very interesting seminars by people like Pr. Simon Mitchell and Ben Reymenants.

After walking around and saying hello to a few people we went to see our first seminar; PADI’s view on recreational rebreather diving. I have to be honest, I never even thought about this. But after this seminar I knew this was going to be the new future of recreational diving.

Before I go further I will explain a few things for you.

What is a rebreather? To put it simple; a rebreather re-uses your own exhaled breath. It takes the CO2 out of it by running it through something that’s called a ‘scrubber’, which looks like cat litter, then adds a small amount of Oxygen and this is the air that you breathe in again. This system enables dive without BUBBLES.

A very short history about the rebreather – They started making rebreathers in the 1800’s and Oxygen Rebreathers were used by the navy seals since 1944. In the navy they are used for very shallow diving on pure O2, allowing the navy seals to invade the ships of the enemies without being seen or heard.

Around 1995 Drager made the first “semi closed rebreather” and TDI was the first to recognize this Semi Closed Rebreather and wrote a course outline for it. Now almost 20 years later, Closed Circuit and Semi Closed Circuit rebreathers are used by around 10.000 technical scuba divers worldwide.

Because these rebreathers are very technical and used mainly to go deeper and to make longer dives, they are mainly used by technical divers as they already had the training and capability to do dives beyond 40 meters and use different gasses.

But this was all about to change in 2011. This seminar by Mark Caney from PADI was all about the future of diving for the recreational divers all over the world. You can kind of compare it with the time when the snowboard was introduced, a different and new way of going down the slopes. And not only PADI but also the rebreather manufacturer POSEIDON is ahead of all the other rebreather manufacturers by going down on something way cooler than the regular scuba units.

The main reason why they went this way and why they want to change the way of scuba diving is because most of the younger generation thinks SCUBA diving is boring. No speed, no adrenaline, no danger, ergo not interesting. You mainly see ‘older’ people in the diving industry and as in everything in our lives we need to spike things up for the kids around us. When you have never dived and you see pictures or video’s or even movies like “Sanctum” you can only agree in the way it looks. But as a woman, as a technical diver, a rebreather diver, a scuba instructor and as someone of the younger generation I can tell you that diving, especially on rebreathers, is all but boring and slow. There is so much adrenaline, so much excitement and so much awareness of danger going through your system that Diving is all but boring.

This is why I loved this new idea of getting the scuba diver into water on a rebreather (no bubble diving) instead of on an Open Circuit O.C. dive system (a lot of bubbles diving) without having to become a technical diver first.

The difference between recreational rebreather diving and the open circuit diving:

With Recreational O.C. diving you generally use 1 heavy 10 or 12 liter scuba tank. With tech Diving this is doubled. This kind of diving makes a lot of noise because of the bubbles, which come out after each exhaled breath and the noise that the first stage (the connection on your tank) makes each time you breath in. This is the reason the fish, small or big, don’t really want to come close to you. OC diving also only allows you to dive up to, depending on your lung capacity, one hour to two hours maximum. After each dive you need to fill up your tanks again and if you are diving nitrox or helium this can cost you money each time you need a fill.

On a rebreather you can put any size of tank, but generally speaking you will use 6 liter tanks. A rebreather makes no noise at all (except of the Oxygen Injection, which is a small tschh) and you can dive up to 4 hours in warm waters. This is why a lot of photographers/videographers use rebreathers. They literally become one with the fish and can spend lots of time on one spot to wait for this perfect shot.

So imagine being on a dive site with 60 grey reef sharks and you diving on a underwater scooter. Would you rather dive a noisy bubble making device or a silent no bubble-making device? Talking about a RUSH?!

Both PADI and POSEIDON biggest question was “why should rebreather diving only be for the technical diver?” well there is still a lot of discussion about this going on but the main reason was that it was to technical, to extensive, to intensive to dangerous and to complicated for the Open Water diver as there is extensive training, its costly, hours of Pre-dive check lists, different gas use, cleaning the units etc etc. Thus, a lot of time before you actually can get into the water. This is not appealing to a lot of people. They want it right now right there. This is why so many people stay with regular scuba diving.

Thankfully this became the challenge for POSEIDON. They want to get more people into the water, and not just any one. They are aiming to get the GenY into the water, as you are the future. The future needs to preserve and rescue the oceans. So they decided to make a rebreather that was going to be cool, easy accessible and easy to use for everyone.

I will not go into the complete explanation about this rebreather but in short the POSEIDON MK6 is a rebreather where you do not need to be a technical diver, where you don’t need to dive deep, where you don’t need to do difficult training, where you don’t need to do complicated long checks. The MK6 is made for recreational rebreather diving up to 40 meters and the unit is doing 55 important and life preserving checks for you in 5 minutes. Without these 55 checks you cannot dive the rebreather. In the past 1/3 of the people that died while diving a technical rebreather were slacking on pre-dive check lists because they did not turn something on.  With this automatic checklist on the MK6 there are no possibilities for any of these dangerous errors.

I am looking forward to diving the unit and to become a dive instructor on it so I finally can show the younger gen how and what diving is all about.

Blue Label Diving will keep you up to date with info about this course and as soon as we have purchased these units and are dive instructors on it we will let you know so you can start your NO BUBBLE experience ASAP.

 Ben Reymenants

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