We have all been there… you are so cold that you don’t see the beauty around you anymore, you just want to get out of the water. I believe however that there is no such thing as cold water – only wrongly dressed divers! So, here are a few tips on how to keep the icy chill out of the cool experience of diving in beautiful Cape Town.
Semi-Dry Suit. A semi-dry suit is essentially just a thicker wetsuit (7mm) with better seals at you wrists, neck and ankles. These seals don’t stop you getting wet or even keep you dryer than a normal wetsuit. However, it does stop the water from flushing through as fast, therefore keeping the warm water in there for longer. This is because they limit the amount of water that enters and exits the suit. So the water that does get through remains there for longer and heats up quickly, which is what keeps you warmer – in addition to the better thermal protection of the thicker neoprene layer. A Semi-dry suit can be made up of either one or two pieces, and do not include boots, so therefore separate neoprene boots, gloves and a hood still need to be used. Another benefit of a semi-dry is that they are more flexible, and therefore allow for more movement in the water. They are typically used in water between 10-20°C, and are considerably cheaper than dry suits.
Dry Suit. A dry suit is a special suit that keep your body dry (except your head and hands), thus being the most effective form of thermal protection. The water is prevented from entering the suit through the waterproof seals at the wrists and neck. The diver is kept warm either by pockets of air, which form a barrier between the diver and the cold water. Or the diver is kept warm by a layer of ‘foamed neoprene’ which can form part of the exterior of the suit. From this we can see that there are two types of dry suits, either fabric (shell suits), which consist of two parts. The first is the outer layer of the shell suit that keeps you dry, and can be made up of; crushed neoprene, trilaminate, urethane or vulcanized rubber. The second is the undergarment which provides the insulation. More thermal clothing can be worn underneath to provide additional insulation. The other type of dry suit is the neoprene suit, which is made up of the same material as a wetsuit (neoprene) however it is water proof. In this suit it is the thick neoprene layer that keeps the diver warm. In addition to this you can also wear a dry hood, and dry gloves for extra warmth.
But that’s not all, because you are now surrounded by a layer of air (not water) it can now be affected by pressure as you change depth, and therefore require inflator / exhaust valves. Moreover, this layer of air will add to your buoyancy, and thus it’s important that you receive the proper training (such as the PADI Dry Suit Diver course) before diving in a dry suit. Typically dry suits are used in waters that are between 0-15°C.
Whatever you choose, making your diving experience more about having fun, and less about keeping warm, will enable you to really explore the exhilaration of diving in beautiful Cape Town.