Rebreathers look cool, glitzy, technical and heralded as the future of diving, right? We read a lot about their impressive performances concerning duration of dives, gas economy, extended no deco limits and what not.
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Rebreathers aren’t exactly an impulse buy, but they don’t quite require the same deep pockets as a super car. So, you could actually own one if you put your mind and piggy bank pennies into it. They do come with the same sort of built-in bragging rights and can still gather a crowd on a beach. However, the glitz factor shouldn’t be the only reason for getting one—there are easier routes to impressing members of the opposite sex.
The reason to go with a rebreather should be their performance in the water, and that they provide for a much different and richer diving experience, which, in the first place, is why we go in the water ourselves rather than watching dive movies on Animal Planet from the comfort of our reclining chair at home. However, as we all know, there is no such thing as a free lunch in diving either. There is a trade-off, and you will have to consider if it is still worth your while despite this.
It is not merely a matter of comparing technical matters, performance and parameters when pitting rebreathers against the open circuits (regulators and tanks). It is easy to be blinded by dazzling numbers and facts on how much longer you can stay under water with no deco-obligation and so on, but consideration should also be given to the sensation and experience of diving rebreathers.
I think these subjective matters have been grossly overlooked in textbooks and articles. Yet, how can we put words to them?
Wine connoisseurs have a whole weird vocabulary to describe all the flavours of wines, but describing diving the rebreather experience to an open circuit diver still feels somewhat like trying to describe a sunset to a blind person: “It’s... erh... just really cool and... uhm...”
Any piece of equipment is just a means to an end and not the end itself. It is a means of transporting you down into the underwater realm so you can have an enriching experience by witnessing, first hand, this magic realm. So, as far as I am concerned, if someone invented human gills and a thin hide to cover and keep me warm, my twin-set would surely be left to rust in the attic for good.
I just want to see fish and other underwater life. I want to get as close as possible without disturbing the creatures, and for me, this is exactly ...
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New Foundland, Canada. Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Marine Insects - walking on water. Glowing Jellyfish. Diving rebreathers, what is it like? Ireland's Connemara. A visit to Cressi-Sub. Technical Matters: Tables vs Computers. Profile: Sylvia Earle. Yolanda Wreck - where did she go? Portfolio: Alex Mustard