Last Single Point of Failure

As I descend rapidly with my trigger finger hard against the DPV throttle, I begin to realise that the little trickle of water running down my neck isn’t just a little leak, but instead has quickly turned into what feels like a geyser. Before I know it I’m on the bottom in 80m with a fully flooded suit thinking “How did this happen?”. I quickly got out of Dodge before my predicament went from unpleasant in the 20C water, to life threatening an hour or two later.

The cause of my drysuit flood turned out to be the SI Tech silicon neck seal, which had pulled out of the ring that holds it in the suit. I suspect it pulled out progressively whilst doffing, though can’t be certain. What I do know for sure if that I’ll be inspecting my drysuit before any major dives in future, as I was meant to be diving the SS Federal in 120m on that day, so was lucky it happened on a Sydney wreck instead.

Complacency is also a factor in my demise here, as I had a minor leak on an earlier dive last (presumably due to a milder version of the same fault). I failed to inspect my suit, which would have trapped the error. An overwhelming sense of “she’ll be right mate” and laziness is no doubt to blame, which is stupid when you consider thermal protection is really the last single point of failure in our technical diving configurations.

On a side note, I’ve otherwise found the Si-Tech silicon neck and wrist seals to be both comfortable and reliable.

I’m a grown man, and I pissed myself

I’m a grown man, and I pissed myself. There, I’ve said it!

Before I begin my rant, here’s Pee-valve 101 for the uninitiated. You put a one-way pee-valve in your drysuit, put a disposable, self-adhesive condom style device over your you know what, and connect the two via a hose. All going well, you’re able to take a leak with your drysuit on (above and below water). There are pitfalls however, including kinked hoses, complex shut-off valves (see below), and the mythical bug that can swim through the valve, up the hose and into your penis (I still get shivers about that one!). You might think YUCK, but when you’ve got to go on a 4-5 hour dive, something has to give. The alternative is adult nappies, to which I say YUCK. For the laddies, I’m aware of a device called the She-p, however I’m woefully unqualified to provide an opinion. 

With my brand new drysuit zipped up, I jumped in the water and began to relieve myself. Immediately I thought “OOOH NO! – there’s too much back pressure”. Moments later I came to the realisation that I had urinated inside the drysuit and had to face the ridicule of my peers, all of whom laughed as they heard me scream like a girl on the surface next to the boat.

Some say I’m incontinent, but I deny those rumours and am blaming the poor instructions that accompanied my Si-Tech pee-valve. Before you ask, I read the instructions thoroughly, which stated “Push the lid down and turn to close (off) and turn top open (on). When using, turn the valve open and then urinate.”. “Turn top to open “, what the hell does that mean? What they neglected to say was that the valve has 3 states, fully left is closed, full right is closed, and open is in the middle. Like any normal person, I assumed that a turning mechanism would use the same logic of “righty tighty, lefty loosey”, which was a mistake!

To be fair to Si-Tech, I’ll add that on subsequent dives I have used the device and am now master of my domain. I’m far from an expert on the topic, but have used a few models to date including the Dive Rite and OMS ones. I can’t tell you which is better, as all the balanced models seem to work, though the Si-Tech model does seem to have the need to check for an open state.

So be warned kids, if you choose to plumb yourself into such a device, you may want to test it by blowing through the hose  prior to soiling it. Oh, and before you ask where to buy the condom things from, I get mine from in Oz.