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Old 17-03-2013, 20:22   #1
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SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

So I was wondering, would it be possible to SCUBA dive off a (30') liveaboard sailboat? I wouldn't be in port most of the time so my options for air would be
1) take tanks to land by dinghy and carry them to a dive shop
2) carry a compressor on board and fill tanks on board
3) dive with a hookah which sends air down to you but you have to either power it with gasoline or charge it

If any of you have tried this please let me know what kind of setup you used. A compressor takes lots of energy so idk if it would be cheaper just to fill the tanks at a shop and just deal with carrying them around wherever I am . Also, any ideas on how to wash gear without using all of your fresh water?
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Old 17-03-2013, 20:31   #2
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

How about calling a local dive shop to come and pick you up for your dives; pickup from your boat. Once done with your dives, get your gear washed at the shop prior to returning back to your boat. There won't be any worries about tanks, weight belts, air, compressors, hookah and using all the water on board; all this for about $80-$100 USD per tank dive. Mauritz
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Old 17-03-2013, 20:49   #3
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

^I thought about it but that would get REALLY expensive. I was wondering if there was a way I could do it from my boat...
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Old 17-03-2013, 21:11   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Loggerhead View Post
So I was wondering, would it be possible to SCUBA dive off a (30') liveaboard sailboat? I wouldn't be in port most of the time so my options for air would be
1) take tanks to land by dinghy and carry them to a dive shop
2) carry a compressor on board and fill tanks on board
3) dive with a hookah which sends air down to you but you have to either power it with gasoline or charge it

If any of you have tried this please let me know what kind of setup you used. A compressor takes lots of energy so idk if it would be cheaper just to fill the tanks at a shop and just deal with carrying them around wherever I am . Also, any ideas on how to wash gear without using all of your fresh water?
Serious dive folks that are +50 in Europe enjoy the economy Hooka Rigs... They burn close to nothing and have come a far far way from Jacques Cousteau... God rest his passionate soul for the Sea. That's my plan anyway-- hated the bulky tank dives so stopped scuba diving after the 1st 5 years and reverted to Freediving. Never looked back-- as in everything-- it's your own PERSONAL preference... If choose Hooka-- choose an OLD manufacturer with 20+ years making them so that you will have ample parts availability... (Japanese or European Models)
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Old 17-03-2013, 21:12   #5
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

We carry 4 tanks on board and refill wherever we can. Usually if there is good diving there is a local dive outfit that will refill your tanks for a reasonable price. We've gone diving from the boat as well as from the dinghy. Dive sites and anchoring usually don't mix and dive mooring buoys typically can't handle a sailboat so a good inflatable is a plus.
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Old 17-03-2013, 21:23   #6
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

Welcome to CF Loggerhead!
Don’t know what your dive experience is, but basically, the best dive sites are at the worst anchorages.. (currents..drop-offs…weather)

So with your idea… sooner or later you are going to put your home and life in jeopardy trying to dive at a tempting remote site…. (Happens quite often in the pacific)

If you are an avid diver, then carrying a compressor would make you popular with other cruisers who happen to have a large enough tender that you can buddy dive from… but compressors are a big ticket item.

A lot depends on your location, priorities and budget. For me a hookah is mostly for cleaning the boat’s bum at anchor, so your 1 or 2 makes more sense as does Teknav’s advice
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Old 17-03-2013, 21:57   #7
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

Having used all three options, compressor aboard, tanks aboard and hookah:

The compressor, no matter how small, is too big for a 30 ft. boat. Plus the ones that are smaller than 5 SCFM output will take forever for you to fill a single tanks. The 5 SCFM units won't really fit on even a 40 ft. boat and require huge amounts of energy to run.

A couple of tanks on the boat is nice, but unless you are near shore where you have ready access to dive shops, they won't last long enough when you are remote. A rebreather is not bad in terms of space since a small tank will last several hours, but you need scrubber material as well and rebreathers are expensive and inherently more dangerous that open circuit scuba.

The hookah with a 50 ft/15m hose is a nice option. You need to keep in mind that in most of the world's oceans (and I have dove most of them from 70N to 65S ) the best scenery is in 40 feet/12m or less. There are units that run on batteries that you could charge with a solar panel and skip the need for gasoline/petrol aboard.

A fourth option to seriously consider is to skip the tanks entirely and snorkel dive. I am now 50+ and last month I was still snorkeling into 50+ ft / 15m with ease, and I can do deeper. If you are living aboard and snorkeling daily, you can easily build up depth endurance over time and most likely snorkel as deep as you ever practically would want to dive and still spearfish and take photographs along the way. The key is get an extremely low volume mask such as Cressi Sub sells a pair of large shoe fins, not the kind that require boots, such as the Rondine model and learn how to do a proper pike and tuck dive or get someone to teach you.

I hope this helps.

Todd
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Old 17-03-2013, 22:33   #8
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Loggerhead View Post
So I was wondering, would it be possible to SCUBA dive off a (30') liveaboard sailboat? I wouldn't be in port most of the time so my options for air would be
1) take tanks to land by dinghy and carry them to a dive shop
2) carry a compressor on board and fill tanks on board
3) dive with a hookah which sends air down to you but you have to either power it with gasoline or charge it

If any of you have tried this please let me know what kind of setup you used. A compressor takes lots of energy so idk if it would be cheaper just to fill the tanks at a shop and just deal with carrying them around wherever I am . Also, any ideas on how to wash gear without using all of your fresh water?
A big consideration is where your boat will be when you are diving and how often you will be diving. Currently my boat is in the Florida Keys and there are plenty of dive shops that can fill tanks at reasonable prices and what I will call quality control of the gas put in the tanks. But if my boat was off the West Coast of Andros using a hooka would probably be a better option, especially if I was diving three or four days a week in water less than 50 feet. As has been posted there is a lot of good diving in shallow water, IMHO less than 30 feet. A compressor on a boat not only needs gas to run it but you need to be careful with both tanks and the compressor in terms of keeping them clean.

I tend to use one of those spray bottles for watering plants to get most of the salt off my dive gear and take advantage of dew and rain for additional cleaning.

YMMV
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Old 18-03-2013, 04:30   #9
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

Thanks, this is all really good advice
I am a very experienced diver (150+ dives) and I am typically diving about 10 dives a week while on shore. I'm also inexperienced with sailboats and am still in the stage where I'm only considering living aboard. I'm thinking about making the big move but don't want to sacrifice my diving. I can do 4 dives on a single tank but still don't find the idea of rowing tanks ashore every week attractive. I'm seriously considering the compressor, but how much power will it take to charge? If it means choosing between the compressor and autopilot, radio, or anything like that I would have to choose my safety equipment.
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Old 18-03-2013, 05:41   #10
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

Check around the cost of compressors and their required maintenance, then check their typical power consumption. The bottom line...it is not cost effective and you will not have enough power to sustain a compressor on a sail boat. <PADI Divemaster & EE; 2500+ dives/40+ countries> Mauritz
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Old 18-03-2013, 06:25   #11
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

I dive off of my sailboat and dinghy in Grenada. I live here so am familiar with the sites and hazards. When I want to dive a site that is tricky, I go to a dive shop here in Grenada When I am at other islands, I always use a dive shop. They get you to the better sites safely.
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Old 18-03-2013, 15:57   #12
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

The small electric compressor that fills scuba tanks in about 20 minutes requires a 7kw genset as a minimum. The engine version runs on gasoline and fills a little faster. But, then you have to deal with gasoline on board. Both of those are around $3300 so it isn't a cheap investment. Plus, they are powder coated so you may want to go with a stainless steel frame upgrade at another 10%. As has already been mentioned, maintenance is an additional cost as well. The replacement filters run around $55 and can process about 30-40 fills. Plus, you have to change the oil every 25 hours of run time and that is an additional $13. Add all that up and the cost of fills is about $2.50.

Hope that helps!
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Old 18-03-2013, 16:23   #13
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

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Originally Posted by rcontrera View Post
The small electric compressor that fills scuba tanks in about 20 minutes requires a 7kw genset as a minimum. The engine version runs on gasoline and fills a little faster. But, then you have to deal with gasoline on board. Both of those are around $3300 so it isn't a cheap investment. Plus, they are powder coated so you may want to go with a stainless steel frame upgrade at another 10%. As has already been mentioned, maintenance is an additional cost as well. The replacement filters run around $55 and can process about 30-40 fills. Plus, you have to change the oil every 25 hours of run time and that is an additional $13. Add all that up and the cost of fills is about $2.50.

Hope that helps!
Hi Ray,

Now this is what I call detailed information. Thanks for the information.

The decision on how to go will come down to where you want to dive, how much you want to dive, and how much you can afford to spend.

Assuming free diving isn't an option for whatever reason, if you will be in remote areas and want to dive a lot then you will have to go compressor or hookah. If you will be close to civilization then renting tanks will be a much cheaper option. Which reminds me, I will rent tanks but prefer to bring my own regulators. If you don't know the dive shop then it wouldn't hurt to ask to see their compressor and fill system.
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Old 18-03-2013, 16:35   #14
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

On a 30ft vessel you will not want a 7kw genset as well as compressor so your only option if you wanted a compressor aboard is a petrol powered one.

You have to decide if you want a compressor or not.

cheers
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Old 18-03-2013, 16:50   #15
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Re: SCUBA diving from a liveaboard sailboat?

Although there are gas/petrol compressors, most cruisers with onboard compressors also have diesel generators. Figure you'll need at least 9kw to power a dive compressor. For me, that takes an onboard compressor out of the picture. Besides, they are quite noisy and expensive to run. I've never met an onboard compressor for recreational boats that I've liked. Besides, a 30' boat isn't going to have the room to do a compressor right.

Even though we have a walk-thru transom on the mothership, most of my diving is from the inflatable. At that point, a hooka system becomes doable. Remember that the best anchorages are in the worst dive sites, and the best dive sites make terrible anchorages. The only problem, potentially, is that a 30' boat might be a bit small to carry a decent-sized inflatable to support hooka diving.

I'm a retired scuba instructor, with over 5,000 dives logged on scuba, but most of the diving I do these days is free diving. Scuba diving may require a bit more knowledge, but free diving requires more skill. A lot of cruisers give up on free diving because it's not as easy as scuba. But that's just when you're a beginner. The more you develop your free-diving skills, the less you'll miss those tanks while cruising.
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