“Wow, it’s so light to wear,” or “It’s not heavy at all,” are the kind of comments I get from people who try my Poseidon MKVI on during surface intervals or when leaving the boat. People assume that a Rebreather is heavy and difficult to use; that may be the case with technical units, but not so with the recreational ones.
Differences between tec and rec rebreathers
When I was doing my trimix training with my Poseidon (with electronic pre-dive check) last spring I teamed up with two divers doing their CCR trimix course with technical rebreathers (I can’t remember which ones) using manual checks. When preparing my equipment for a dive I used my laminated checklist and used white tape to mark each step once completed. The two other divers had two separate sheets of things to check for each dive (at a later date, after having learned how to use the Poseidon MKVI system and having done the crossover and becoming MKVI instructors, the two divers admitted that at the time they had wondered how it took so little time for me to complete my pre-dive preparations; now they knew their way around the MKVI, they knew why!).
Benefits for using a rebreather in recreational diving
Using a rebreather gives you a longer dive time (which is why they are so popular with technical divers). A rebreather is a good option for a recreational diver who might use a lot of gas and wants to stay down as long as their buddies do (or who just wants a longer dive in general).
I had a student last year whose main reason for doing the course was because he was always the first person out of the water (“even when using twin tanks while my buddies used singles” he told me). When making the second last dive of his advanced rebreather diver course it was his turn to be last out of the water. The others headed to the surface after a beautiful dive on the teakwood wreck that lies in about 25-38 meters. At the same time we had more than 30 minutes bottom time left, so he waved to others and we continued the dive. We soon gave each other the signal to do a safety stop. After we had ascended to surface I heard the best feedback I ever have heard: “It was a wonderful feeling to wave to the others as they left the dive – for once, I stayed the longest. I never believed this would happen, WOW”. That was first comment from my student when he surfaced – he was so happy.
Rebreathers are also perfect for underwater photographers. Some of my customers own cameras that cost more than my car, so they are obviously very serious about wanting to take the very best photos underwater. Rebreathers don’t create bubbles in the same way that an open circuit system does, making one an essential piece of kit for an underwater photographer (bubbles can freak out fish and other critters if you get too close). I have been nose-to-nose for minute and half with Mantis shrimp in the past thanks to my rebreather!
If you’re the type of person who just wants to maximise the amount of dives you do on a trip without having to take too much gear along with you then a rebreather is perfect for you. Imagine yourself going for a weekend trip with a couple of your friends and you’re planning to make a series of dives, let’s say six dives over a weekend. How many tanks do you need to carry with you? If you’re not taking a compressor with you, then quite a few – a rebreather takes up much less space in the back of the car than 18 tanks of air!
About assembly and use (Recreational Rebreathers)
It is not difficult to assemble a recreational rebreather and make it “ready to dive”. My non-diving girlfriend assembled my unit after I showed her how to do it. However, you do need to have training to use the unit because you are ten times more likely to have a serious accident with a rebreather than you are with an open circuit system, and the training gives you the skills and the knowledge you will need if something does go wrong. Having the right attitude and taking your rebreather training seriously is so important. I’m sure other rebreather instructors will agree with me when I say that if I don’t think one of my students ‘thinks rebreather,’ I will not certify them.
It’s always good to learn something new, and I firmly believe that a recreational rebreather will change the way you think about diving. To me, they are the future.
When using any rebreather it is important to follow your training and to use your check lists.