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Old 23-02-2006, 14:16   #1
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Hookahs

Looking for feedback on dive hookahs. I would use it for bottom maintenance and shallow water diving. No deeper than 35'. I don't want to haul tanks around. What are your real world experiences? Actual experiences please.
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Old 23-02-2006, 15:41   #2
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I'm very interested in this thread as well. We are looking at purchasing one, but have no experience with a hooka setup. Hopefully, someone has.
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Old 23-02-2006, 15:45   #3
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Mmmmmmm?

The only "hooka" I know of. Is the kind you smoke "pot" or "hashish" in!!

Now this hooka for diving would be pretty cool to look into?
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Old 23-02-2006, 16:52   #4
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I've not heard this term before, but I do know about what a friend of mine calls a "rebreather." A small kit that pumps air into a tube. I have seen it used (though never used it myself) to clean boat bottoms. I am told it works great.
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Old 23-02-2006, 17:05   #5
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The hooka is a compressor unit that stays up on top while you are diving (usually no more than 50ft or so). It has several air hoses that attach to regulators. Each air hose is like 50 ft long, enabling you to do dives without a scuba tank, or the need to fill one. You should always carry a small spare tank in case of emergency, but your primary air comes from the hooka.

It's got the name, since like Captain K's hooka, there are quite a few leads to put your mouth on.

Here's a link to one:

http://www.surfacedive.com/

They are deployed on quite a few megayachts so the deckhands can dive below to clean off the hull without a haul, or scuba equipment.

The hooka is definitely not a rebreather. A rebreather is an extremely advanced diving apparatus that scrubs the CO2 from your breath and allows you to re-breathe the same air over and over. They are on the level of the nitrox and tri-mix equipment. Professional divers, mostly would use one. I have a buddy that does wreck dives (and takes our charter guests diving). He uses a rebreather quite frequently.

Incidentally, he owns the boat that discovered the wreck of the Andrea Doria.
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Old 23-02-2006, 18:22   #6
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Hey Sean.

How long/big is your friends boat? The one who found the Andrea Doria?
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Old 23-02-2006, 18:40   #7
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His boat is called the "Seeker" and it's (I think...) about 50 ft? Don't recall exactly.
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Old 23-02-2006, 19:07   #8
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Hmmmmm.

I wonder if he got that name from The Who's song "The Seeker?"
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Old 23-02-2006, 19:37   #9
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I have a hooka, and use it extensivly for working dockside. I have considered using it off the inverter at anchor, but the numbers just do not work. Too much draw. It is great while at dock though. No heavy tanks, or all the usual gear. A wet suit and a weight belt and you are set. Mine has unfortunately developed a problem, and I believe it needs a rebuild. It blows the fitting off the hose at the compressor end. It really sucks to be under in pea soup water, trying to start a prop nut, and have the air stop. Or even worse, trying to start the screws in a prop shaft zinc by feel and having the air stop. Bottom line is, if you are going to be in a slip, it is worth the investment. You can also pick up a few bucks unfouling wheels, and cleaning bottoms.
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Old 23-02-2006, 20:56   #10
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No personal experience but,

I looked into them a couple of years ago before I got my dive instructor cert. Like Ssullivan stated they run off a compressor (commonly) or sometimes just off a 80cf tank floating on the surface in an intertube.

They are very good for shallow dives ~30-40 feet. The drawback is you are tethered to a compressor. Some of them are 'portable' ie they float in basically a large intertube and run off a gasoline compressor. To get deeper than 40 feet you need to be pretty much right below the compressor. This can be an issue in a current as it tend to trail the compressor out behind you at an angle. Most hooka systems are limited to 60' deep and if you have both regs that deep (40'+)they have a tendancy to get difficult to breath due to the demand on the system. Also people with a 'portable' compressor have a tendancy to wander away from the boat they are living on as they get caught up with what behind every coral head they see and wind up with a long surface swim back to boat. Not a lot of fun if your just out to play around on a cruise.

They are also prone togetting the hose caught or tangled in coral ( bad for the reef) or other structures even though the hoses have a general tendancy to float. Not that this is a serious issue because the hose is pretty tough and you will notice right away due to the tugging on the reg in your mouth. Alternatively, you can wear a belt and run the hose under the belt in the small of your back and then over your right shoulder to you mouth. This helps with eliminating the need to clench down with your teeth on the mouth peice to keep it in your mouth. ( Ssullivan - you will need to keep a regular supply of mouth pieces with large bitewings as your future customers will have a tendancy to bite right through them during a dive. It's an unconcous stress thing, I replace mouth peices on regulators students use on an average of twice a summer .)

I have heard people say that you can't get the bends from diving on hooka, but this is a misconception. You can get bent or 'the bends' technically known as decompression syndrome or DCS at any depth. The good news is that the shallower you are the longer it takes to get bent.

SSullivan - you are legally responsible for the health of potential customers who use your hooka system so you need to be aware of the DCS limits. The good news is that since water transfers heat 25 times faster than air most of your customers will be to cold after a hour underwater to want to get back in till much later in the day or the following day. This is a good thing as it helps protect you.

From the PADI Table for a no decompression single dive limit
upto and including 35' deep = 205 minutes
35-40' deep = 140 minutes
40-50' deep = 80 minutes
50-60' deep = 55 minutes

From the SSI Dive tables for a no decompression single dive limit
upto and including 10' deep = 300 minutes
10'-15' deep = 350 ( I don't know why it's more)
15'-20' deep = 325 minutes
20'-25' deep = 245 minutes
25'-30' deep = 205 minutes
30'-35' deep = 160 minutes
35-40' deep = 130 minutes
40-50' deep = 70 minutes
50-60' deep = 50 minutes

The tables are mathmatical guesses using a formula with several 'guestimate' constants that help define the safe amount of time underwater at any given depth. They assume that a diver dives to the given max depth and stays there for the entire time. You will notice that most of these are over an hour (60 minutes) long. I think that you will also find ( to the Hooka companies credit) that a given supply of fuel or air will last no more than 60 minutes which means that for all except the most crazy people diving by themselves ( which you should never allow) they will probably be ok on the time limit.

Ssullivan - Realistically this is probably a pretty good item for your charter business as it allows for a significant ammount of time for customers to have fun underwater. It limits them to a reasonably safe range of depth which they will explore on thier own and compensate for and by the time time they need to be getting out of the water for safety or health reasons they are usually cold and ready to get out, thirsty and ready to get out, or just run out of air (gasoline or empty tank). I would advise that you keep a close eye to be ready to retrieve tired customers by dingy fairly quickly. If you really want to be snazzy purchase a pair of small wrist mount dive computers and make sure that the customers watch the no decompression limit time left on the face of the computer. They shouldn't have a problem unless they spend a lot of time in the 50-60 range. This will also provide that little extra information for when they go home that they can brag 'I went to 50 feet!' It makes for good stories to friends and coworkers who don't dive.

I highly suggest that you take the chance to get scuba certified so you can explain how to clear a mask, retrieve a regulator, and clear your ears to your future customers because I will guaruntee you will get those questions.

Lastly, Like scuba diving, the air on a hooka system will be very dry and have a tendancy to dehydrate people who use it. You should have a standard operating rule that after they get back to the boat everyone needs to drink at least one full glass of water or juice to help rehydrate them. It's a small thing that they will very likely be willing to go along with if you explain the background reasons to them. Water first, then beer.
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Old 23-02-2006, 21:12   #11
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2divers, good info. I tend to forget about the gas engine hookas, and the floating tanks just do not make sense to me. I use mine as a tool. When I want to explore, I do not care to be tethered.
FWIW, I solo dive most of the time. I take proper precautions, and dive very conservitively, and have never had a problem. It is not for everyone, but done properly, I feel it is quite safe. I do not do decomp dives solo, and I usually dive in populated areas, so most of the time there are other divers in the water. That said, one of my favorite dive locations is 30-60' in a remote cove. It is one of my favorite anchrages in this area. Early morning dives will often provide some unique sites. About 10 years ago, I was in the water, and saw a pair of dolphins swim through the kelp forest. This supposedly does not happen, but I was there. Had I waited my dive until I had a buddy, I would have missed it.
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Old 23-02-2006, 21:54   #12
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Kai

I envy your location as most of my diving here in Texas would be 'Mud diving' by most everyone elses experience. Average vis is 15' on a good day and the biggest marine life I get to see ( outside of the whales that jump in with scuba gear) are the 18" Bass and 24" cat fish.

I'm willing to bet that even though you dive solo you keep a completely redundant supply of air as a backup? I personally have no problems with you diving solo ( I would in your shoes too), but I know a lot of people who would have issues for all kinds of reasons ( real and mostly otherwise IMHO.)

We had a big discussion awhile back in the dive shop and came to the conclusion that you are always and should be diving like you are going to be diving solo ( in your preperation). Your buddy is there to Validate what you saw ( actually I beleive you about the dolphins, why wouldn't they spend time in the kelp?) and act as a redundant backup air supply. My wife and I are both divers and discussing how best to keep us both safe underwater.... But that discussion is probably better under the scuba thread.
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Old 23-02-2006, 21:55   #13
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i am a little confused about this hooka set-up. do you put the pot/hasish in after or before you start diving??
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Old 23-02-2006, 22:07   #14
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When I first started about 15 years ago, I used to carry a redundant supply (I can not remember the name of the thing), it was a small bottle, good for about 4-6 breaths, not much more. They discontinued them, and I left mine with an ex. I dive with Genesis 80's, and never let it get below 800. When I had the bottle, I never used it, and aside from a leaky fitting at the regulater once, I have never had a single problem. I have taken allot of guff about solo, and I agree that it is not a good idea for some, but it works for me. The biggest thing is to stay withing set limits. It's sort of like sailing around reefs. Even when I know the area, I stay well off. I have had too many bad wind shifts, and I do not trust engines, so I always have plenty of sea room.
I have heard about the muddy Gulf. Never dived there. At least it's warm. Our water temp is low 50's.
Anyhow, hookas, good tool
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Old 24-02-2006, 00:26   #15
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Great advice, 2divers!

Thank you for such an informative post.

I have a fair amount of exposure to hosting dives from my work aboard a megayacht. In Bonaire, we did many, many many dives. Got to see a pod of maybe 50 dolphins, cool fish of every type/shape, but most importantly - I frequently took people diving. I took them out in the tenders (21 ft Nouvarina!) and was responsible for their safety. Even took them on drift dives. It was tons of fun! (filling everyone's tanks wasn't! ha ha)

We definitely are reluctant in some ways to provide customers with this experience during stays with us, and would probably limit users to people with a dive cert anyway. Safety is extremely important to me.

For now, until we decide about a hooka, I have my friend (the Andrea Doria tri-mix/wreck/rebreather instructor) to take our clients diving if they like.

Again, thanks for the informative and objective post on the hooka
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