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  1. #1

    Default What is too soon to start CCR?

    Hey, I guess this might be a dumb question, but I've always been the curious type, and rebreathers really appeal to me. I'm just a bit uncertain if I'm too inexperienced to start training with them.

    I have the usual OW, AOWD, Cavern stuff - no cave certifications yet, and I don't feel like rushing into it. I mostly do <130ft dives, preferably on wrecks.

    My diving doesn't require a rebreather by any means, but it's undeniable that it would offer benefits. There's also the voice inside my head that says if I am going to be diving rebreather at some point, it might be just as well to start as soon as possible, to get as much experience as possible.

    On the other hand, we've seen a few fatalities in recent times that seems to be due to a "zero to hero" mentality of getting trained too quickly into too advanced diving.

    Do you guys have any strong opinions or advice in this regard?


  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by KNo View Post

    Do you guys have any strong opinions or advice in this regard?
    Cave divers are usually pretty laid back and chill... Highly unlikely you'll find any "strong opinions" around here.

    I am curious in thoughts on this though, when I first started out in my first year or so of serious diving I had the same curiosity... I spoke to handful of shop owners and instructors who sell/teach CCR, and in almost every case they tried to sell me on moving immediately or very quickly into CCR.

    I eventually decided that wasn't for me (yet) and that I want to get much much more time and experience in OC before making the jump.

    Truthfully, a CCR is a LOT of work and maintenance, and my current dives don't require that type of tool.

    Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk


  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by III View Post
    Cave divers are usually pretty laid back and chill... Highly unlikely you'll find any "strong opinions" around here...

    Last edited by FW; 02-21-2017 at 11:35 AM.
    Forrest Wilson (with 2 Rs)
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by KNo View Post
    My diving doesn't require a rebreather by any means, but it's undeniable that it would offer benefits.
    I don't think a CCR would offer any benifits for you... as long as you can do these dives easily on OC, what's the point in getting a rebreather? Other than just wanting to have one...


  5. #5

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    There are several reasons to buy a ccr. Not needing, but just wanting is one. That is not wrong.
    But remember, it is more work than oc diving, it is more expensive, if you do shallow dives and do it on oc it costs just a few dollars per dive, on ccr you need oxygen, sorb, etc. Yearly you need new cells, so a ccr will cost money even if you don't dive it.
    But if you have decided to go for a ccr, then first you need to become experienced on the unit. That takes time. This cannot be done in an overhead environment.
    Most times it is preferred or mandatory to have an adv. nitrox on oc cert first. Nowadays there are ccr courses where you can do the first decompression dives on ccr, but do oc adv. nitrox first is still the way here in Europe. That gives you as mod1 diver the opportunity to do 15 minutes deco. So ask your instructor what he prefers.
    You will normally hate your unit the first 10 dives as trim and bouyancy are not always the best But remember, after that first dives, ccr diving is great.

    If you are used to your unit, then you can look further into wreck or cavediving. The minimum amount of hours on the unit is an absolut minimum and not all divers are able to do a course then. If you are a natural on ccr, then maybe, otherwise practise some more, that is better than get disappointed.

    There is no reason to start cavediving in oc first. Most people still do. But you can do a full cave course directly on ccr. If people say trim and bouyancy is crap if you are an ccr diver, that is ****. You can be horizontally with good trim and bouyancy on ccr too, but it will take time. Even with oc, you have to practise.

    So if you think I want a ccr and you can afford it and are willing to take time in maintainance and before and after the dive more work than oc, then go for it. If you are a little bit a lazy diver, stick with oc.

    Last edited by Sl├╝dge; 02-21-2017 at 08:43 PM. Reason: remove profanity

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Germie View Post
    There are several reasons to buy a ccr.
    No, there are no reasons other than wanting one. The guy is OW rec diving.

    Funny that you don't mention a single upside in your very long post. You also didn't mention the one major downside... you're more likely to get killed on it. Using a CCR for dives swallower than 130' in OW adds risk and no benefit.


  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by III View Post
    I spoke to handful of shop owners and instructors who sell/teach CCR, and in almost every case they tried to sell me on moving immediately or very quickly into CCR.
    Yeah, this is mainly my reason for not going there for advice as well. They obviously have a strong incentive to sell you stuff, whether you need it or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by bent View Post
    I don't think a CCR would offer any benifits for you... as long as you can do these dives easily on OC, what's the point in getting a rebreather? Other than just wanting to have one...
    Primarly to increase my familiarity and comfort with them. So that when I start doing more advanced dives, I don't have to also learn the CCR at the same time.

    But indeed, what you're saying is the exact reason I'm hesitating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Germie View Post
    But if you have decided to go for a ccr, then first you need to become experienced on the unit. That takes time. This cannot be done in an overhead environment.
    This is indeed the "go for it" part of my thoughts. I'm absolutely certain that I'll end up there within a few years, so it's a matter of getting more OC experience first, or starting the adjustment to CCR.

    Last edited by FW; 02-21-2017 at 11:37 AM. Reason: Fixed quote

  8. #8

    Default

    If you have interest in ccr diving there is no need to put off getting into it. Take your time research the many units and different configurations. Talk to other divers and instructors in your local area and they can give you input. When I did my first training (11yrs ago) advanced nitrox was not required as it is part of ccr training but check with instructors in your area. If you do go that route I advise that you dive regularly to gain and maintain your skills (buoyancy,prep of unit, predive checks). It is not the cheap way to go, but if you plan on doing so you will find that as you progress your experience horizon will widen, deeper wrecks longer cave penetration and dives. It is nice to know that you have 4 to 5 hours of dive time, for example on a cave dive you carry bail cylinders for lets say 1500' penetration you reached that and you find that you have been in the cave 40minutes avg depth 110' on your return you are free to explore to your hearts content and spend another 2hrs looking around this you can do on ccr not oc.
    As far as the death scare with vigilance practice and PROPER TRAINING you can mitigate and lower the odds. I am not a dive pro just an enthusiast with over 850 ccr dives inn the last 11yrs with over 500 in caves and still enjoying.
    Gabe


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by KNo View Post
    Primarly to increase my familiarity and comfort with them. So that when I start doing more advanced dives, I don't have to also learn the CCR at the same time.

    But indeed, what you're saying is the exact reason I'm hesitating.



    This is indeed the "go for it" part of my thoughts. I'm absolutely certain that I'll end up there within a few years, so it's a matter of getting more OC experience first, or starting the adjustment to CCR.
    Keep in mind that when you have to bail out, you'll be an OC diver. IMHO you should be a very solid oc diver before going into CCR.
    And also keep in mind that most CCR instructors and ccr diver will down play the potential risks... many folks are lying to themselves. The reality is that people get stressed out and make mistakes, the numbers don't lie.
    I'm not saying don't do it, I'm not anti-breather, I'm just saying people should be realistic about it and what the downsides are, especially when you do dives that can be done on oc. A bunch of people would still be around had they been on oc.


  10. #10

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    Prior to going CCR, I dove for 31 years, including about 10 years of inland commercial diving, concurrent with about 20 years of technical diving and 9 years of cave diving.

    Marci and I were both about 6 years and 250 or so dives post full cave when we moved to CCR. That was about right. We took our cave cross over with a CCR, but non cave diver who was doing cave CCR and he was struggling. I don't think learning to cave dive in CCR is a good idea. As others have noted if you have to go off the loop you're now an OC cave diver and that needs to be second nature. Reach Full Cave plus 100 post full cave dives on OC, then *maybe* think about CCR, if you have a need for it.

    As for need...we did not get into CCR to do 300' deep dives or long dives with a 3 hours of deco. In that regard I don't really buy the "you don't need CCR dives for dives shallower than 130 feet" argument. Technically you don't need CCR for any dive shallower than (pick your favorite depth above 300'), it just gets more expensive the deeper you go on OC, and the logistics get bigger, but money should not be the prime mover here. There are in fact some very valid reason to use CCR at shallower depths, it's just that many CCR divers who feel "deep' is the only reason, don't do those kinds of dives.

    We went CCR in large part because it gives us a lot more time and a lot more flexibility to address any issues. We increasingly found ourselves in very small, very silty, seldom traveled passages with old line mostly burned in silt. Between the small, the silt and the buried line that has to be pulled out and/or replaced, exit were usually in very low viz and some times no viz. On OC, some of the those longer penetrations posed a bit more time stress than I'd like if any problems developed. I'm pretty risk averse which is why I prefer to cave dive. It's a comparatively controlled environment, where the risks re predictable and it rewards training and solid planning. We weighed the risks of OC versus CCR and found that while the risks change with CCR on balance the overall risks were lower.

    The risks are also very diver dependent. Are a meticulous gear head and systems junkie who both understands how your rebreather works as a system and set of sub systems and are willing to put in the time to meticulously maintain your CCR and supporting systems? If so, your risks are going to be a lot lower than the guy who rote learns how his unit works without really understanding it or critically thinking about the vulnerabilities and failure modes, then throws it in the back of his truck until the next dive.

    Similarly, if you're a solid diver who can focus on what is important, avoid distraction from the necessary tasks of flying the rebreather, have the necessary level of skill to avoid creating other problems that will spike task loading, and have the ability to effectively prioritize and divide your attention at ENDs in the 100' range when you are forced to address multiple competing issues, your risk will be lower than people who lack those skill sets and cognitive abilities.

    In other words, your mileage will vary. Bear in mind that most divers, even cave divers, badly over estimate their actual ability, largely because they don't know enough or are not experienced enough to know what they don't know. Keep that in mind and then self assess and plan conservatively well within your *perceived* limits to help you stay within your actual limits. Despite all the chest thumping you'll see from some folks, no one really gives a #### if you are a hot #### cave diver or not, especially if you are dead.

    ----

    Given the dual advantages of much more time, reduced on gassing and improved of gassing (due to always having an optimum mix), we've found that side mount CCR allows us to do much more relaxed penetration, resulting in an even cleaner penetration in small, silty passages followed by a lot more time to exit. That balances the other risks associated with diving CCR. Backmount CCR didn't offer the same advantage for us.

    We've also found that rather than having to carry and use one or two stages on every dive, we can instead position our bailout gas as needed for any given dive, and then reposition them as needed for the next planned dive, leaving them in the system for a whole trip.

    The ability to make a single 4 hour dive rather than two 2 hour dives in a shallow system like Peacock also means that we only have transit the boring stuff once to get to the good stuff. For example we can dive the water source tunnel way past the end of the map, then do all the passages before and after the water source jump in the peanut and challenges sides, then reposition the bailout gas for the next dive on the Olsen side for the following day all on a single dive, all without breaking any of the 5 basic rules. We can't do that on OC. Given that we are limited to 4 week long cave diving trips and a few more long weekend trips a year from NC to FL, CCR improves the quality of the dives by reducing the set up and repetitive transit of the first 1000 ft or so of the caves we dive.

    ----

    Cost is really somewhat of a wash. Nitrox is cheap in cave country and our cost for 4 hours of diving on nitrox in a 60 to 100 ft cave is about the same as the cost of doing the same dive time on CCR, once you factor in the sorb, O2 and diluent costs. Trimix dives are a hands down win for CCR as the total cost is about 20% of what you'd pay for a 210' dive on OC trimix, once you figure the back gas, staged gas and deco gasses.

    However, you'll probably never actually recover the initial investment unless you do a lot of trimix dives, so you are best off to just write off the initial unit and training costs. Even for a KISS Sidekick, ($4500 unit), the total was $6550 by the time we added sensors, redundant loop monitoring and training. That total did not include the O2 reg or the O2 bottles. The sensors will need ton be replaced every year so that's about $250 in additional annual costs whether you dive it or not.

    If you can't afford to maintain it, or you don't have the discipline to scrub the dive if something isn't right, then a CCR is not for you.

    NACD Cave DPV Cert # 666: Cave DPV Anti-christ


 

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