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Thread: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

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    Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    This is being posted at the request of Capt. Frank of Spree Expeditions. This is a draft rebreather policy that could be put into action soon. Please feel free to make comments.


    -----------------------
    Although the Spree offers (almost) unlimited rebreather use during tech trips, we haven't allowed rebreather use on sport trips for many years, due to some nasty accidents during the 2001 season. Due to quite a bit of customer interest in using rebreathers on sport trips, I have come up with the following draft rebreather policies for sport trip rebreather use. Can these policies be lived with, or are they too onerous? We have reasons for each one, including past vessel damage, severe DCS, and insurance company requirements. Feedback is appreciated, as I would like to announce this at DEMA. Does anyone care about diving rebreathers during sport charters at the Flower Gardens or Dry Tortugas?

    SPREE REBREATHER POLICY FOR SPORT DIVING CHARTERS

    1. Only experienced rebreather divers will be allowed to use rebreathers on the Spree during sport trips. The following options will be available to prove experience.

    a. 25 hours of logged bottom time on the particular unit you will be diving on a sport charter.

    or

    b. A personal recommendation from a rebreather instructor/supervisor who is known to the owner of the Spree.

    or

    c. Diving under the supervision of/buddy with a certified rebreather supervisor/instructor.

    2. Rebreathers that have been modified beyond manufacturers/OEM recommendations will not be allowed on the vessel. Examples of allowable modifications include a tee in the breathing loop for an oxygen sensor for use with a VR-3. Examples of disallowed modifications include non-standard oxygen/diluent gas cylinders. Homemade rebreathers of any kind will not be allowed.

    3. Divers must bring full cylinders. Available fill options on sport trips are air or 32% Nitrox. Divers requiring any other gas must bring appropriately filled replacement cylinders.

    4. Bottom times will be limited to bottom times similar to open circuit divers. Divers will be limited to a total run time of 1 hour per dive, within no decompression limits.

    5. Buddy diving will be required for all rebreather divers. Buddies may be on open circuit or rebreather. The rebreather diver’s buddy must be close enough and aware enough of the rebreather diver to affect a rescue of the rebreather diver in the event of rebreather failure or shallow water blackout.

    6. Absorbent changes will be performed on the swim platform. At no time will absorbent be allowed to blow where open circuit divers have their gear set up.

    7. Flooded rebreathers will not be allowed on the main dive deck until they have been cleaned and serviced. The water/absorbent mixture will be placed in a 5 gallon pail provided by the boat for transport out of the sanctuary; the components of the breathing loop will be washed out by garden hose on the swim platform.
    Last edited by PacketSniffer; 9th November 2006 at 03:42.

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    Quote Originally Posted by PacketSniffer  View Original Post
    Examples of disallowed modifications include non-standard oxygen/diluent gas cylinders.
    What does he mean by this bit? Seems a tad harsh to me specifying what cylinders you can / can't use... Half the units on the market don't come with cylinders, so what are "standard" cylinders for these?

    Also, if he won't allow you to fill your O2 on the boat, will he let you put a larger o2 cyl on your rig?

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    Quote Originally Posted by PacketSniffer  View Original Post
    This is being posted at the request of Capt. Frank of Spree Expeditions. This is a draft rebreather policy that could be put into action soon. Please feel free to make comments.
    Ok. Just remember - you asked for it! :D

    1. Only experienced rebreather divers......
    a. 25 hours of logged bottom time on the particular unit you will be diving on a sport charter.

    or

    b. A personal recommendation from a rebreather instructor/supervisor who is known to the owner of the Spree.

    or

    c. Diving under the supervision of/buddy with a certified rebreather supervisor/instructor.
    How does one "prove" 25 hours of use? Is a total logged time counter (if the electronics have one) acceptable? A logbook (realizing how easily that is faked!)? A computer or data logger dump (trivial to fake in that the time may not be on a/the subject CCR, especially on a non-integrated unit - e.g. a Vytec in gauge mode)?
    2. Rebreathers that have been modified beyond manufacturers/OEM recommendations will not be allowed on the vessel. Examples of allowable modifications include a tee in the breathing loop for an oxygen sensor for use with a VR-3. Examples of disallowed modifications include non-standard oxygen/diluent gas cylinders. Homemade rebreathers of any kind will not be allowed.
    That leaves some interesting "production" system options out. The Shearwater on a Meg is an "unsupported" configuration, or a Shearwater on a KISS, or a HammerMeg, or for that matter a Hammerhead on an Inspiration!

    Of course it eliminates a system like my K1 too (since its a homebuild)

    I guess if you want only stock-production units then that's what you're going to get. I'd like to understand where this comes from - if this is claimed as an insurance issue, can you cite chapter and verse (e.g. who's the insurer, and the specific language that requires this?)

    While I certainly have a personal interest here as a homebuilder, I suspect that a lot of people who have been less-than-satisfied with stock options will be even more upset, as most people who make changes like that do so because they perceive significant benefits in either ease-of-use or safety (and sometimes both.)

    The obvious "gotcha" for a "barred" unit is of course a Hammerhead on an Inspiration, but from what I've seen there are a lot of people out there who modify stock units in one way or another. How many people, for example, put a BOV on a unit that didn't ship with one? That's not an OEM-sanctioned modification - and thus is barred!

    Second, "non-standard gas cylinders"? Huh? Why is that a problem? Cylinders aren't even provided with a lot of units!

    You have a very comprehensive waiver. I fail to understand how that is not legally sufficient. What are you trying to cover here?
    3. Divers must bring full cylinders. Available fill options on sport trips are air or 32% Nitrox. Divers requiring any other gas must bring appropriately filled replacement cylinders.
    I'd be a bit unhappy about the lack of a significant O2 supply on board. The obvious question beyond being able to refill a rebreather cylinder, given the somwhat-remote location of the Flower Gardens and this being a "liveaboard" experience is "what if you have an incident on board that requires copious amounts of O2 to treat before you can arrange an evac?" No big O2 supply means someone goes without who needs it. Why not carry some "T"s on board and a small booster, since you have drive gas in the form of a compressor? Charge for it if necessary to make the hassle/numbers work.

    In reality on a 2-day trip (which it appears most if not all of these are) it probably isn't that big of a deal in terms of supply. Worst-case is that you probably have to bring a second O2 cylinder with you. How much bottom time within recreational diving limits, most of it being in the 80-130' range, can you accumulate in 2 days?
    5. Buddy diving will be required for all rebreather divers. Buddies may be on open circuit or rebreather. The rebreather diverís buddy must be close enough and aware enough of the rebreather diver to affect a rescue of the rebreather diver in the event of rebreather failure or shallow water blackout.
    But the converse does not apply?
    6. Absorbent changes will be performed on the swim platform. At no time will absorbent be allowed to blow where open circuit divers have their gear set up.
    I understand this and provided that the platform is of sufficient size and well-enough protected to permit this to be done without undue risk of losing components overboard it wouldn't bother me. If not, however, it's a deal killer; most commercial units have expensive bits and obviously if you lose one overboard this way beyond the expense your diving is done. From what I can see of the boat on your web site this is only going to be ok in what amounts to calm conditions -in even a moderate chop I suspect the platform is not going to be stable enough to reasonably do this job. Obviously, getting seawater in the cartridge while charging it is not going to be acceptable to anyone. And - what about people using ExtendAIRs - there is no loose 'sorb there at all! What do you propose to do with the spent absorbent? I assume dumping it overboard is not acceptable (it wouldn't be from my point of view); are you going to provide container(s) for spent absorbant or does the diver need to bring his own with him?

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    Quote Originally Posted by PacketSniffer  View Original Post
    SPREE REBREATHER POLICY FOR SPORT DIVING CHARTERS

    1. Only experienced rebreather divers will be allowed to use rebreathers on the Spree during sport trips.
    Seems fair enough, though actually being able to judge it beforehand won't be easy as mentioned.

    2. Rebreathers that have been modified beyond manufacturers/OEM recommendations will not be allowed on the vessel.
    What Dave said, half the breathers come without all bits and pieces.
    The MK series on the other hand has tanks which aren't DOT certified, so transporting them across state lines filled could cause problems.

    Seems ridiculous to exclude HH on YBODs and Megs and allow them on Optimas.

    Suggestion would be to exclude homebuilds and SCR to CCR conversions unless the diver can show proper training/experience of the kind of RB he will use. Having an SCR ticket but diving a CCR conversion may be one of those insurance issues I think.

    3. Divers must bring full cylinders. Available fill options on sport trips are air or 32% Nitrox. Divers requiring any other gas must bring appropriately filled replacement cylinders.
    Fair enough, a 3 ltr O2 tank should work for a couple of 1 hr dives, and dil can be topped off.

    4. Bottom times will be limited to bottom times similar to open circuit divers. Divers will be limited to a total run time of 1 hour per dive, within no decompression limits.
    Pretty much a standard request for a sport diving trip.

    5. Buddy diving will be required for all rebreather divers. Buddies may be on open circuit or rebreather. The rebreather diverís buddy must be close enough and aware enough of the rebreather diver to affect a rescue of the rebreather diver in the event of rebreather failure or shallow water blackout.
    I wouldn't want to buddy up with someone who doesn't.

    6. Absorbent changes will be performed on the swim platform.
    Unacceptable deal breaker for me. Most boats have the exhaust back there, not what I want to get into my loop. Unsafe when the sea kicks up. Plus, as mentioned, I wouldn't want to loose anything.

    7. Flooded rebreathers will not be allowed on the main dive deck until they have been cleaned and serviced. The water/absorbent mixture will be placed in a 5 gallon pail provided by the boat for transport out of the sanctuary; the components of the breathing loop will be washed out by garden hose on the swim platform.
    Same thing, "servicing" on the swim platform. NFW!. Drain them on the platform, fine. But I wouldn't want to fix and assemble anything there.

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    Quote Originally Posted by PacketSniffer  View Original Post

    2. Rebreathers that have been modified beyond manufacturers/OEM recommendations will not be allowed on the vessel. Examples of allowable modifications include a tee in the breathing loop for an oxygen sensor for use with a VR-3. Examples of disallowed modifications include non-standard oxygen/diluent gas cylinders. Homemade rebreathers of any kind will not be allowed.
    This is a dealbreaker for me - my rebreather is modified so I can't take it. Most (all basically) of my RB buddies dive modified rebreathers as well.

    Usually when I see a non-modified RB it is in the hands of an instructor who uses it to teach (so s/he wants a stock unit for the student).

    steven

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    Quote Originally Posted by steevke  View Original Post
    ...a non-modified RB it is in the hands of an instructor who uses it to teach...
    Uhmmm.... :)

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    While I'm happy to hear he's considering allowing the use of RB's again many of the rules would be deal breakers for me. Servicing on the swim platform, and required buddy for RB's but not for OC (if I'm reading it right) is bothersome to me.

    Obviously, it's his boat and people will abide by his rules if they want to go out but I'm not so sure that a lot of RB divers will choose to go out under these conditions.

    Just my .02

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    Quote Originally Posted by decoweenie  View Original Post
    Uhmmm.... :)
    Steven did say 'Usually'

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    I can understand the responses. However, Capt. Frank and Melony run a safe operation and want it to stay that way. It's a huge shift for them to allow rebreathers back on the boat. I can understand where they're coming from on some of these rules.

    As of yesterday, Nov 9, Capt. Frank was not a member here. I've asked him to join so he could respond directly to the comments/questions. I too asked for clarification on the oxygen/diluent cylinder issue. I'm not sure what the intent is there but we'll get that and the rest of the questions answered.

    The trips are usually two whole days. For example, you board the vessel on Friday night at 20:00. They leave the dock at 22:00. They motor 110 miles out to the Flower Garden Banks and arrive by ~06:00. Upon arrival, you wake, eat, suit up, and jump. If you want to follow the tight schedule, you'll make five dives on Saturday which includes a night dive. You then get a good sleep and run two dives the next morning before they begin the haul back to Freeport, TX. One of those may be a rig dive if conditions are right. You arrive at the dock somewhere around 17:00 or 18:00 on Sunday but that depends on seas of course. Max depth on your first dive of the day is 130fsw. All dives after that are 100fsw max. There's big and small stuff to see out there.

    The MV Spree is a 100' crew boat. Since I have been on the boat before, I can tell you that the swim platform is huge and I don't see an issue with changing absorbent at that location. They shut down the engines and just run generators during diving. I don't see exhaust as an issue. Edit: Of course if seas are raging, this will be a problem. I tried to find a pic of the swim platform but can't find one in my photo library. I do have a shot from afar though.

    As far as modifications go, I believe the intent is to remove units that have been altered in a way that has not had extensive manuf. testing to prove their reliability/safety. I don't know how flexible they will be on this issue. I'm definitely not going to speak for them, however, I would tend to think BOVs would be allowed. We'll see. I have no idea how they will handle the unit/handset combinations.

    All divers on the MV Spree require a buddy. The is applies to OC too.

    As far as experience, Capt. Frank and Melony know a lot of people in the industry. They will know if you are not experienced. ;)
    Last edited by PacketSniffer; 6th April 2007 at 11:28.

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    Re: Spree Expeditions: Rebreathers on livaboard dive boat sport trips

    Do they have the familiarity to know if a unit has been modified by looking at it? A lot of mods are not overtly noticeable. It's relying on diver honesty and speaking for myself I'm fairly dishonest when it comes to filling out forms where I know the answers will lead to further questions.

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