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DiveRite Optima/O2ptima rebreather?

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There is a scuba shop in Ventura Ca that advertises having this rebreather available.

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This looks sweet. Part of my next job in Hawaii will be diving with rebreathers down to insane depths (400 ft :lol: ). The first thing I will do when I get there is to get certified, so I am very interested in the subject.

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Rebreathers are wonderful machines. They enhance your diving experience in countless ways. As Cliff from Silent Diving is fond of saying, "they make you an ambassador of the sea, not just a visitor." That said, moving to rebreathers should not be taken lightly as there is significant training and expense involved. And you need to use them regularly not only for mechanical reasons but for keeping your training and skills fresh and relevant as well. If you're a diver who takes a tropical trip two of three times a year these aren't for you. Like going from wet suits to drysuits, going from open circuit to closed (or semi-closed) circuit completely changes the physics of how you dive, and you have to practice to get good at controlling it.

 

If you're seriously interested in moving into this type of diving start talking to trainers who can teach on a variety of units to explain the pros and cons of each system. Talk to the trainers, not the sales people. Peter DenHaan(NAUI), Andrew Driver (MadDogExpeditions) and Tom Mount(IANTD) are three excellent examples of such folks. Of course there are others. Howard Hall has a number of articles on his web site about rebreathers from his early days with them to several close calls during extended diving activities. There are many rebreather options available today from a variety of vendors each claiming to be experts in their field. Consider that your "investment" doesn't end after the sale. The units need regular maintenance, supplies and special gas fills with 100% oxygen and diluents of either air or trimix. If you're thinking about deep technical diving you're talking a minimum of 75-100 dives before any technical agent will even sign you up for the tri-mix rebreather class.

 

The best advice I can offer is to choose a unit you have confidence in that has been in production for at a least a year, if not longer, and one with a financially sound company behind it that will be in production 5 years down the road. Choose one that's not coming from a one or two man show that will fold if one of the partners suddenly disappears. The worst thing that could happen is you spend $10-15K on a unit and a year or two down the road you can no longer get parts for it. Get trained from an experienced trainer - and practice! If possible dive with other rebreather divers whenever possible.

 

I'm not trying to scare anyone off, and you don't need to have "deep passions" to want to move to a rebreather. They are just as great at recreational depths as they are at technical depths. It just depends on what your diving goals are.

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I agree with the above. I've been diving semi-closed rebreathers for several years and a rebreather instructor for the last 2 or 3 years. I've just moved to closed circuit diving with the Sport KISS. I chose this unit for its simplicity and small size (easy to travel with). Unlike most other CCRs, the Sport KISS is manually controlled, not electronically. In other words, you and not the machine is in charge of keeping you alive!

 

Closed circuit rebreathers are great machines but deserve a lot of respect. If you are not meticulous with your preparation before the dive and awareness during the dive, they can kill you with little or no warning. Semi-closed units, on the other hand, are much more forgiving, but still require more preparation, training, knowledge of physics/physiology, etc. than open circuit diving. Certification with a semi-closed unit requires basic nitrox certification, 50 dives, some classroom, a test, and 240 minutes of diving on the unit. Basically, it can be done in a weekend. Closed circuit certification requires advanced nitrox certification, much deeper academics, a test, and 500 minutes of in-water time on the unit. (IANTD standards). Note: all certifications are unit specific. You have to get re-certified for each unit individually.

 

I would advise anyone interested in diving rebreathers to consider a rebreather "experience" on a semi-closed (SCR) unit to see if it is really for you. If you like it, consider either taking a SCR course to get some experience or moving on directly to a CCR if you are sure rebreathers are the thing for you.

 

There are a lot of really good choices in CCRs out there. Currently there is a lot of interest in the Sport KISS, Inspiration/Evolution, and the Megaladon units. The Optima is "new to the party" but getting a lot of good press.

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As long as the Optima only uses extendair cartridges I won't consider it. DiveRite is also sourcing parts from Farralon, PST, and Kevin Jurgenson to build this rebreather, and those three companies have about as poor of a track record w/ long backorders as any that exist. The use of nonstandard cylinders is a drag, too. With the rebreathers I use I can rent 13's when I arrive at my destination, giving me less to pack.

 

I've dove kiss rebreathers for over a year, and would highly recommend the sport kiss. The displays are garbage, but there are more and more aftermarket options hitting the streets every day.

 

If you are so involved with your photography that you can't monitor your p02, you shouldn't dive a rebreather, MCCR or ECCR.

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