<1> dry suit snorkel

For today’s shore excursion, I chose to try a “dry suit snorkel” experience. I figured I’d be the only one, given the 7:45 a.m.-departure hour and the 54°F water temperatures. Amazingly, though, eight others had similar thoughts, so we had a full van load to the dive shop. For those who don't know, a dry suit is a dive suit that keeps you dry when diving or snorkeling. Wet suits, which are what most divers and snorkelers use, keep you warm by allowing a thin layer of water into the suit, where it quickly warms against your body and then stays in place (hopefully!). The initial warming period, however, can be quite shocking (speaking from experience, as one who took their scuba certification dive in a wet suit in 50°F waters).

A dry suit, on the other hand, includes very tight rubber collars around the neck and wrists, as well as boots that are integrated directly into the suit. If everything is working properly, no water enters the suit at all. But as our instructor said, “If it doesn’t feel like you can’t breathe, then your suit is probably too big.” Once you adjust the neck collar’s position, though, breathing returns (mostly) to normal. Since the water is kept out of the suit, you can wear typical street clothes underneath it—most of us were wearing sweat pants and a sweat shirt, and the shop offered fleece pull-overs for those who wanted them.

You then put a neoprene hood over your head, neoprene gloves on your hands, add the mask, snorkel, and fins, and you’re ready to go. As your head and hands are only covered with neoprene (wet suit material), you’ll get to feel the actual water temperature for a few minutes in these areas. And yes, it was cold. But once the layer of water warmed up (or your head and hands went numb), all was fine.

The snorkeling was OK, but nothing compared to the diving on last fall’s MacMania cruise. We saw lots of star fish, some very young salmon, and a few needle fish. After about 45 minutes in the water, we climbed out, removed the dry suits (back in the shop, of course), and were happy to discover they worked as advertised—our street clothes were completely dry.

<2> Snorkeling in a dry suit?

<3> COMMON DRYSUIT MYTHS

DRYSUITS KEEP YOU WARM!

For the most part this is an incorrect statement. The drysuit itself, with the exception of the "foam neoprene" suits whose thermal protection is quickly lost due to compression during descent, provide little or no thermal protection. The purpose of the drysuit is simply to keep the diver dry. ...

 

Tsiu note:  So the best use of dry suit is to wear wetsuit or land cloth underneath the dry suit.

 

<4> HOW TO BE WARMER IN YOUR WETSUIT OR DRY SUIT

Principles of Operations of Wetsuits

Wetsuits are made to cover your body with foam neoprene. The water enters the suit and the diver gets wet. Your body heats the water that enters the suit. The air bubbles in the rubber insulates the water and keeps it warm just like a thermos keeps your coffee hot. The proper fit of a wetsuit is critical to minimize water circulation within the suit. Water circulation draws heat energy away from the diver's body.

 

What Can You Do To Improve the Efficiency of Your Wetsuit?

A hood attached jacket is recommended to help eliminate water flow coming in around the neck. Any wetsuit that is open at the top, despite how the hood is flanged, allows water to enter between the jacket and suit body. That water circulation, no matter how small, will drain heat from the diver's body.

 

Any zippers in the suit allow water circulation unless they are totally waterproof. The use of "skin in", or smooth neoprene inside, rather than a nylon lining, will eliminate the wicking that naturally occurs through nylon linings.

 

Tsiu note: No zipper.