By Robert Currer
Sunlight streamed through the towering stands of kelp. I floated among splashes of sunset orange garibaldi but had eyes only for the pair of sea lions that cavorted above. The elegance of them as they darted and whirled was a moment of pure rapture that was shattered when the first shiver rumbled through my body. The February waters off Catalina Island were clear and colorful but they were also brisk. In my wet suit, a chill had begun to settle into my limbs, heralding the end of the dive. At my safety stop, I breathed a silent curse for having been too lazy to pack my dry suit.
Set Dry Suit to Toasty
The issue with a wet suit is in the name. It’s a wet suit meaning it keeps you wet. Indeed, that is by design. A wet suit keeps you warm by trapping a thin layer of water next to your skin which your body then heats up. But here’s the thing: it takes 20 times as much energy to heat up water as it does air. So even a great fitting wet suit makes your body work harder to stay warm than if you were surrounded by air.
That’s where dry suits come in. They trap air around your body using the same principles as a down jacket. Your body heats that air more easily than water and thus can stay warmer longer. For you that means longer dives since you’ll be more comfortable and, with practice, your gas consumption will be lower since your body is less taxed. Diving in a comfortably warm suit can even extend your no-stop time since being cold on a dive causes your body to raise your metabolism to generate more heat. This in turn causes you to breath harder and absorb more nitrogen.
Where Few Scuba Divers Have Gone Before
Beyond simple comfort, dry suit diving unlocks a whole new level of adventure that few divers ever experience. Dry suits allow divers to not only tolerate but enjoy water that would be far too brisk for a wet suit. This offers access to some of the clearest, most vibrant waters in the world: the polar circles. The polar circles are some of the most productive waters on earth which makes them a haven to all kinds of iconic creatures. There you’ll find whales, seals, and giant octopus in the north and orcas, leopard seals, and penguins in the south. One and all are animals that few will ever get to see in their rapidly shrinking, natural habitats.
Getting dry suit certified is easy. The course uses PADI eLearning to allow you to complete all the academics at home on your own schedule, making it perfect for busy lifestyles. Afterwards, there is a pool session where you are introduced to the basics of dry suit diving including important safety concepts and how to ensure your suit fits properly. Finally, there are two open water dives where you will use your newly learned skills and explore below the dreaded thermocline allowing you to start experiencing a whole new world of diving right away.
So, what are you waiting for? Ditch the crowds and expand your world by becoming a PADI Dry Suit Diver today!