Hello again dive buddies. I hope you had a wonderful winter. As for me, I could be quite happy without them. I survive winter by taking some time to visit the Caribbean and dive. It gives me something to look forward to and something to look back on when it is done. If I could find a way to live in the Caribbean and dive every week I would. Realistically though I can’t afford to spend as much time there as I would like and we have family ties that mean we probably won’t be leaving Wisconsin any time soon. Yet there is something not right about waiting all year for the 3 1/2 months that we can dive the quarries around here. It would be nice if the dive season was a bit longer and maybe a bit more exciting.
|Photo by Scott Durban|
Last year for the first time, I dove in Lake Michigan. We dove the 'Willy' and ' The Dredge'. Frankly I didn't expect to like it much. I'd been on a number of wrecks in warm water where the wreck was covered in coral and alive with fish. I figured that local wrecks couldn’t compare. In some ways that was true. There is not a lot of sea life on the wrecks. On the other hand I discovered there are other ways to enjoy the wrecks that we have right here in our back yard. While most of the beautiful wrecks in the Caribbean have been strategically placed, there are thousands of wrecks in the Great Lakes which are there due to nature and which have very interesting histories. There is something about visiting history where it really happened that brings it to life. Like visiting an old military fort or a historic building such as the Ford Theater. Divers come from all over the country to dive the historic wrecks in our back yard. Why shouldn’t we??
Aha I know what you are thinking, 'because it is freakin cold in Lake Michigan!'. Correcto mundo. It is cold. But with a dry suit those problems disappear. Imagine a beautiful warm day on the Lake cruising out to a wreck. Put on your nice warm dry suit and drop into the big pond. Slowly descend as a wreck opens up before you..and you are warm and comfy in the 40 degree water.
Poof!! Once again my psychic abilities kick in and you are saying to yourself 'Oh but it is soo expensive' sort of true, but not really. I am all about not spending money without a good reason but let's dig into it a bit. I looked at how much money does it cost to go to the Caribbean for a week? Airfare, place to stay, food, diving....cha ching$$. How much of my not enough vacation time do I need to spend? How much money have I spent on scuba so far? Regulator, BCD, Wet Suit, Fins..... OK so maybe it is better not to add it all up, but here is the logic to it. All of that investment is for a week in the tropics (unless you are Neal) and for some quarry diving. You can take one more step into a dry suit and suddenly diving Lake Michigan or Lake Superior becomes exciting, not scary. Diving in May or October is not an issue. You can now not only dive two extra months every year, you can dive the thousands of wrecks that lie in the Great Lakes. Yes there is an investment in the dry suit, but those exciting dives are now only a day trip and a few dollars for gas. You have increased your investment but have also added to the value of your previous investments by making them more usable, more often, and more exciting.
|Photo by Scott Durban|
Do your particular math. You spent X dollars for Y dives per year. Now consider X+Drysuit for Y+Cold Water dives. As a total percentage of your dive dollar, the dry suit will pay for itself over time. Of course the time, number of dives etc. may vary from diver to diver but the math really can work in favor of a dry suit.
Picking out a dry suit is like picking out most scuba gear. There are lots of options and price ranges. Heavy duty and lightweight materials, bootie options, colors and trim, valves and zippers. I will leave those details to the capable experts at Manta and Bare to help you sort them out. The Dry Suit night at Manta is very helpful. Even if you miss it, they usually have the information available for a few days afterwards.
There is one other advantage to owning a dry suit. Not only do you get to do more dives in more places there is the added benefit of telling people you have a dry suit. Watch for the look of admiration as you scoff at the idea of diving in 40 degree water. It is the same reaction one gets describing seeing sharks, that look of 'are you flippin' nuts?'. I just smile and think to myself....you don`t know what you are missing.
See you in the water...