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Old 16-01-2010, 18:54   #1
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SCUBA or SNUBA Off-Grid ?

The space and maintenance requirements of self-contained SCUBA (compressors, tanks, etc.) is making us very seriously consider switching to SNUBA when we break free. TINSTAAFL so I'm wondering if the apparent simplicity of SNUBA is too good to be true ?

What are the hidden costs and drawbacks of a SNUBA setup ? The range limitations of the surface hoses is a given but are there other drawbacks that we should be aware of ?

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Old 16-01-2010, 19:17   #2
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We are certified divers and enjoy the freedom of diving unteathered. Next time out we will add a dive compressor. I think the weight will worth it.

My wife and I sometimes dive with others and it would limit when and how we can dive. I had the opportunity under a couple master diver to make a 138' dive to see a sargassum trigger fish.


I believe there is greater flexibility in standard dive gear.
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Old 16-01-2010, 19:30   #3
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I use both - to make it easier to scrub the bottom, etc, I bought a Hookahmax unit; an 120VAC electric motor type - the inverter is able to keep up with it and the depth limit of 60' is not a big problem. Great unit for boat maintenance.

When pleasure diving, however, I, like sv Makai, prefer the untethered (tank) diving.

Our typical vacation is the annual Bahamas trip - we leave the dive gear at home because of the Bahamian rules against fish harvesting w/ scuba. I regularly catch and occasionally spear fish; with scuba gear onboard, there is always the risk of encountering the overzealous official... not a pleasant prospect. Skin diving works well (for us) at the Bahamas.

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Old 17-01-2010, 09:21   #4
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Can someone give me an idea what the first time/initial setup costs are for SCUBA c/w compressors, tanks, etc.? You know, everything one would need.
I'm sure there is a range but I'm only talking about 40 feet deep (if that matters).
Please keep in mind that I know NOTHING about the sport.

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Old 17-01-2010, 09:46   #5
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That depends on new or used, what type of equipment etc. We we got certified we bought used equipment for 250 a piece plus mask and fins. We used the inexpensive stuff until we got more experienced then bought the equipment we wanted. But the choice was only something that experience can determine.

I would recommend getting certified first to learn, before determine what equipment you should get. Even if you go snuba I would still recommend getting certified. Diving can be dangerous and knowing how to dive whether with a tank or snuba can make it safer. The course will also familiarize you with the equipment and should help you determine what you need.
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Old 17-01-2010, 10:04   #6
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I both free dive (PADI advanced open water, Nitrox) and have a Brownie SNUBA system. These are my thoughts:

There is some gear that you will need for both SCUBA and SNUBA, that's mask, snorkel, fins, weights, and probably a wetsuit of some type. Good quality gear is not cheap. I would guess for the above you are talking maybe $500 or maybe a bit less.

For SNUBA, you have to decide if you want gasoline or electric. Gasoline units usually have the engine/compressor mounted in an innertube float to give you some mobility. I have a Brownie Third Lung, gas model, it retails for about $3K. As a side note the compressor would probably take up about the same space as a small compressor for filling tanks. They also sell an electric model that would allow 2 divers to go to 60 ft for about $2K. The package is certainly smaller and lighter but you will be tethered to an electrical source. As another aside, in our area the people who clean boat bottoms commonly use a "home made" combo of electric compressor plus long length of hose and regulator. These must be approached with caution but locally one of the dive shops assembles them and they sell for about $1K.

As to SCUBA, the sky's the limit. In addition to the basic gear listed above you will need a BC ($400-500), an octopus regulator which is a first stage to attach to the tank, with 2 second stages to breath from and usually an instrument console. Figure another $500 or so. An inexpensive dive computer for air only, no enriched air, i.e., nitrox, can probably be had for another $100-200. The computer is optional since you can use manual tables just as well for infrequent diving. Next you will need a couple of air tanks per each diver. Figure about $150-200 each.

Finally the compressor to fill the tanks. Figure about $3K to 4K.

As you can see, it is not a cheap sport. As a consolation, good quality equipment lasts a very long time. All my gear is about 10 years old and going strong. I did just spend $400 to upgrade my computer to nitrox when I recently got certified for its use.

Now, all the above prices are for new equipment. There is a ton of used SCUBA gear out there. Many people go gung ho and then decide they don't like it or perhaps move some place non dive friendly such as Wyoming. If you do go used, get the stuff checked out by a dive shop. For example, I have a really old regulator that looks fine but the dive shop tells me it would not be safe for today's high pressure tanks. Also, whether you go SCUBA or SNUBA, GET TRAINED AND CERTIFIED!!! This last year we lost 3 people in Florida in separate instances that were non-certified using SNUBA to hunt lobster in about 20-30 ft of water. They drowned because they didn't know how to handle even minor problems. For that matter, the process of getting certified will let you know whether you will like diving before spending a bunch of money. Some folks find the mask and such claustrophobic. A basic open water dive course takes two weekends around here and costs about $350.

One last thing, although it is a relatively minor expense, gear such as your regulator needs to be serviced annually. Additionally, the tanks must have an annual internal inspection. This set me back about $600 this year for my gear and my wife's.

Diving can be fun, I hope this helps.

Rich

ps: Here's a couple of links for more info on the gear.

Find Scuba Gear and Diving Gear at the World's Largest Scuba Equipment and Dive Equipment Retailer!
Brownie's Third Lung
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Old 17-01-2010, 10:13   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabo_sailor View Post
I both free dive (PADI advanced open water, Nitrox) and have a Brownie SNUBA system. These are my thoughts:

There is some gear that you will need for both SCUBA and SNUBA, that's mask, snorkel, fins, weights, and probably a wetsuit of some type. Good quality gear is not cheap. I would guess for the above you are talking maybe $500 or maybe a bit less.

For SNUBA, you have to decide if you want gasoline or electric. Gasoline units usually have the engine/compressor mounted in an innertube float to give you some mobility. I have a Brownie Third Lung, gas model, it retails for about $3K. As a side note the compressor would probably take up about the same space as a small compressor for filling tanks. They also sell an electric model that would allow 2 divers to go to 60 ft for about $2K. The package is certainly smaller and lighter but you will be tethered to an electrical source. As another aside, in our area the people who clean boat bottoms commonly use a "home made" combo of electric compressor plus long length of hose and regulator. These must be approached with caution but locally one of the dive shops assembles them and they sell for about $1K.

As to SCUBA, the sky's the limit. In addition to the basic gear listed above you will need a BC ($400-500), an octopus regulator which is a first stage to attach to the tank, with 2 second stages to breath from and usually an instrument console. Figure another $500 or so. An inexpensive dive computer for air only, no enriched air, i.e., nitrox, can probably be had for another $100-200. The computer is optional since you can use manual tables just as well for infrequent diving. Next you will need a couple of air tanks per each diver. Figure about $150-200 each.

Finally the compressor to fill the tanks. Figure about $3K to 4K.

As you can see, it is not a cheap sport. As a consolation, good quality equipment lasts a very long time. All my gear is about 10 years old and going strong. I did just spend $400 to upgrade my computer to nitrox when I recently got certified for its use.

Now, all the above prices are for new equipment. There is a ton of used SCUBA gear out there. Many people go gung ho and then decide they don't like it or perhaps move some place non dive friendly such as Wyoming. If you do go used, get the stuff checked out by a dive shop. For example, I have a really old regulator that looks fine but the dive shop tells me it would not be safe for today's high pressure tanks. Also, whether you go SCUBA or SNUBA, GET TRAINED AND CERTIFIED!!! This last year we lost 3 people in Florida in separate instances that were non-certified using SNUBA to hunt lobster in about 20-30 ft of water. They drowned because they didn't know how to handle even minor problems. For that matter, the process of getting certified will let you know whether you will like diving before spending a bunch of money. Some folks find the mask and such claustrophobic. A basic open water dive course takes two weekends around here and costs about $350.

One last thing, although it is a relatively minor expense, gear such as your regulator needs to be serviced annually. Additionally, the tanks must have an annual internal inspection. This set me back about $600 this year for my gear and my wife's.

Diving can be fun, I hope this helps.

Rich

ps: Here's a couple of links for more info on the gear.

Find Scuba Gear and Diving Gear at the World's Largest Scuba Equipment and Dive Equipment Retailer!
Brownie's Third Lung
Yes, that's excellent, thanks.

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Old 17-01-2010, 10:25   #8
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Cabo is right. Take the class first. With any type of compressed diving, SCUBA or Hookah the class is a lot less than the the cost of your life. It is expensive these days to gear up. I long for the days of mask, fins, snorkel, back pack, weight belt, tank, regulator and a Mae West. Back in the days when BC was still some place in Canada.
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Old 17-01-2010, 10:39   #9
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After 47 years of diving, I have hung up the SCUBA tank hassle and use a Brownies' Third Lung hookah. Four hours underwater for half a gallon of gasoline, and I can lift the entire thing with one hand.

That's an amazing equipment list. BC? Octopus? Console? huh?

When I learned, at 12 years old, I had a galvanized j-valve 72 cu. ft. tank, a Healthways dual hose regulator, faceplate, flippers and some lead weights.

I bet I could dive just as well today with the same equipment.
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Old 17-01-2010, 11:15   #10
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After 47 years of diving, I have hung up the SCUBA tank hassle and use a Brownies' Third Lung hookah. Four hours underwater for half a gallon of gasoline, and I can lift the entire thing with one hand.

That's an amazing equipment list. BC? Octopus? Console? huh?

When I learned, at 12 years old, I had a galvanized j-valve 72 cu. ft. tank, a Healthways dual hose regulator, faceplate, flippers and some lead weights.

I bet I could dive just as well today with the same equipment.


I bet you could. When I learned to dive as a kid, taught by Mike Kevorkian, he taught us on single stage regulators as well as two stage. Ks and J-valves with the rod down the side of galvanized 72" tanks. I still use the same basic set up. This old man still cruises effortlessly past the surprised loaded down youngins with more gear than I can identify.
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Old 17-01-2010, 11:17   #11
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Canibul,

I was first certified in 1974 and as Tellie says, it was much simpler then. The gear was simple, no octopus rigs, a simple backpack to hold the tank and a mae west vest. Those of us that used a pressure gauge on the tank were considered a bit of a sissy. You were either certified or not. There were no such things as advanced open water, rescue diver, etc.

Well, times have changed. Personally, I think the host of diver certifications and specialty courses have been invented by the industry to bring in cash. Unfortunately if you ever expect to dive anywhere except off your own boat you need them. There is not a dive operation that I am familiar with that will let you dive without an octopus rig. Many will let you dive without a computer but with extremely restricted bottom time. Want to dive below 60 ft? You will have to show and advanced certification. Almost all operations want to see your logbook. In the Keys, if your last logged dive was more than year ago you have to have an instructor sign you off on a check dive. More than 2 years old? You have to take a refresher course. I just recently got back from a dive trip to Cozumel where most of this holds true. The exception was that my wife, who hasn't completed the advanced class, was allowed to dive to 80 ft. Otherwise, they still wanted logbooks, etc.

I suspect that in addition to the extra income from teaching the classes, the dive operations are really skittish about liability. After all, the sport does carry some inherent risks. Therefore they put all these requirements in place. Even training is different today. When first certified we practiced buddy breathing where we shared our regulator. Not today, everyone has to carry a spare regulator. We also practiced free ascents from, as I recall, around 30-50 deep. Not today.

So for better or worse, we either play the game according to their rules or we don't play. By the way, I happen to agree with you in preferring the old gear. It was quick to put on and a lot less complex. Now I feel sometimes like I'm about to EVA on the space station.

Rich
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Old 17-01-2010, 12:19   #12
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SCUBA diving in general is potentially dangerous. It is only the rigorous insistence on training and modern equipment that keeps it from being ruled out of business by government regulation. Yes its expensive. But don't expect to see a lot of instructors and Dive shop owners sending a passel of kids through college.

I was 'certified' by my first club in 1965, with a fire bottle and a "K" valve; my whole rig cost less than $100 dollars and our idea of fun was exploring new caves in North Florida. I shudder to think about how dangerous that was. We didn't know any better back then.

Fast forward to the 21ST century. How long would the sport last if there were 22 fatalities in one state in one year? Ante up and enjoy.
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Old 17-01-2010, 12:20   #13
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You can buy a Brownie or Hooka setup on Ebay new for around $500 to $800. Used scuba fill compressor units are still selling for 3k! There are lots of plans for free on the internet on building your own Hooka system. Main ingrediant is an oiless comprssor and a power source. I have been researching this for a while and probably will build one in the future.
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Old 17-01-2010, 12:36   #14
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Times have changed...I also believe its all about liability.
Our checkout/first "open water" dive was 75ft through a hole in the ice on Harding Lake in Alaska...we pitched an old army tent over the hole and had a diesel heater inside that we hung the regulators over so the diaphragms wouldn’t freeze...it was 25deg below zero....we didn’t loose any one....oh yeh...I was also 12 years old.
I like the Hooka rigs....by the time I suit-up with scuba I'm bloody exhausted.
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Old 17-01-2010, 12:39   #15
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Quote:
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SCUBA diving in general is potentially dangerous. It is only the rigorous insistence on training and modern equipment that keeps it from being ruled out of business by government regulation. Yes its expensive. But don't expect to see a lot of instructors and Dive shop owners sending a passel of kids through college.

I was 'certified' by my first club in 1965, with a fire bottle and a "K" valve; my whole rig cost less than $100 dollars and our idea of fun was exploring new caves in North Florida. I shudder to think about how dangerous that was. We didn't know any better back then.

Fast forward to the 21ST century. How long would the sport last if there were 22 fatalities in one state in one year? Ante up and enjoy.

Of course you are right Sandy. Just gotta love the government that is there to protect us from ourselves and the greedy litigious group that creates it.
Good thing the same wasn't around back in the early forties or that guy Jacques what's his name whole career would have been selling crossants in the streets of Saint-André-de-Cubzac.
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