Closed-circuit Rebreathers (CCRs) may become the future of diving. However, they are not for all scuba divers, not yet anyway.
There certainly are many benefits to rebreather diving. Among them are their reduced size and weight as compared to standard scuba tanks, savings on the escalating cost of helium, drastically reduced decompression requirements, a much warmer airflow and greatly reduced noise allowing for better exposure to marine life.
Naturally there are some negative aspects to rebreathers as well such as their expensive price tag, complexity. CCRs are not the easiest to travel with and if you are a careless user you will increased risk of a life threatening malfunction.
Rebreatehrs certainly are not for all scuba divers yet, but they do offer significant advantages for longer dives and diving to depths of 50m or more.
Read on to find if you are a good candidate for CCR diving.
Are You a Good Candidate for CCR Diving?
There are numerous parallels between CCR diving and aviation — so many that, in fact, CCR divers frequently use aviation terminology when talking about rebreather diving. It is not unusual to hear CCR divers discuss “preflighting” their CCR or “flying” their unit.
Just as not everyone who can drive a car can safely pilot an airplane, not everyone who can dive open circuit is a good candidate for CCR diving. To see whether you are, you need to be able to answer several questions, including:
Do you have a legitimate need for a CCR? Rebreathers make very expensive toys and they are not as entertaining as some imagine. Unless you do (or plan to do) a significant amount of diving well in excess of 50 m/165 ft, or need to remain under water for hours on end, or work with aquatic life that is easily spooked by bubbles, it’s unlikely that you truly need a CCR.
Is CCR diving within your budget? Remember that you not only need to be able to afford the cost of the initial purchase and training, but also the ongoing costs of absorbent, oxygen sensors, specialized batteries and the added travel expenses.
How extensive is your diving knowledge and experience? Opinions vary as to how many logged dives you need before venturing into rebreather diving. The number, however, is likely well into three figures. Equally important, is an in-depth understanding of the impact of exposure to high concentrations of oxygen at depth. This is what the TDI Advanced Nitrox course was specifically designed to provide.
Do you possess the necessary discipline and commitment? This is the single most important prerequisite. CCR diving requires you to be exceptionally disciplined and committed. The consequences for lacking these attributes are simply too great. You have to be willing, for example, to spend up to 20 minutes or more “preflighting” your CCR before every dive, as well as for the necessary post-dive maintenance and care. Not everyone is this committed. If you are not, stick with open circuit.
And, finally, there is this very important question:
Is CCR Diving Something You Would Enjoy?
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