A. As one of the leading manufacturers of dry suits in the United States I unequivocally believe that buoyancy compensators should be used with all types of dry suits, if for nothing more than surface flotation. I am joined in this belief by the other major domestic dry suit distributor, Viking America.

A dry suit may be used for buoyancy compensation while underwater, thus preventing confusion as the diver only actively manipulates one set of controls while submerged. This of course mandates that there be little or no interference between the controls of the dry suit and the BC. Even neoprene foam dry suits have little or no inherent lift at a depth of 100 feet, necessitating the need for a BC.

I think from a legal aspect there is more than an abundance of proof that should someone be involved in an accident, even if an edict is issued that diving without a BC in a dry suit is an acceptable practice, that evidence will be brought forward showing that such a policy would not be wisely followed. In fact, I believe that it would be a completely indefensible policy.

Leading dry suit manufacturers are advancing a set of dry suit usage guidelines in the interest of improving diving safety. These are appended below. In the meantime, NAUI should reaffirm their standard that BCs always be utilized when diving dry suits so that a hazardous practice is not conducted.

--Dick Long, NAUI 49; San Diego, CA (President of Diving Unlimited International (DUI), a leading manufacturer of dry suits. Has taught extensively at all levels. Has written many articles and spoken on safe dry suit use procedures.)

First Draft Proposed Dry Suit Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to establish a set of minimum guidelines that the majority of dry suit manufacturers can support in the interest of improving diving safety. The following are recommended as guidelines:

  1. Use a buoyancy compensator device for surface flotation and back-up.

  2. Complete a recognized training course from a qualified instructor and stay current.

  3. Know your equipment and emergency procedures.

  4. Practice your dry suit skills under controlled conditions until they become second nature.

  5. Dive with a buddy who understands your dry suit system.

  6. Use the correct amount of insulation for water temperature and exercise rate.

  7. Don't weight yourself heavier than neutral buoyancy with an empty tank.

  8. Check your valves, zipper, and seals before each dive.

  9. Have preventative maintenance and repairs performed on your suit and valves regularly by a qualified individual.

  10. Know your limitations and do not exceed them.

Water or air temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21C) constitute cold water diving. Water or air temperatures below 40oF (4C) constitute ice diving. Ice diving is very dangerous and requires special equipment, training, preparation, and procedures.

The final version of the proposed guidelines will be distributed at DEMA in January 1989.

Compiled and Edited by Jeffrey Bozanic, NAUI 5334L

NDA News, Sept/Oct 1988, pp. 8-11.
Drysuit as a Buoyancy Compensator

NAUI Members' Forum #7

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