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TPott

Suspending underwater using a wetsuit

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I photograph a lot in shallow areas of lakes and reservoirs (2 to 10 feet).  Quite often, I am wearing my Bare 7mm Wetsuit and shoot while snorkeling. There are many times that I want to drop down a foot or two so that I'm level with the fish instead of shooting down on them.  Unfortunately, my wetsuit will not allow me to sink.  I'm wondering if a weight belt would allow me to sink to the depth I'm looking for without dragging me down.  Any feedback or other suggestions on the best technique would be much appreciated!

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Weights would be simple, but you would not be snorkeling as you would be deeper than the snorkel length. Using a line only, would cause carbon dioxide build up in the line and is not safe. If you own a tank, you could create your own SNUBA setup with a long 2nd stage line. A 10' line should be sufficient and you could even float the system with your current BCD.

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I did not know that it is possible to go snorkeling (this times snorkeling is called "Apnoe") in wetsuits without weights. Of course you can take a weightbelt, but take just as much that you are still positively counterbalanced. When you go down, the pressure will compress the wetsuit and you will have less buoyancy...

Please be careful: it is a general practice that people go snorkeling only with buddy, never alone. In case you are alone and get a blackout (not so seldom when snorkeling), you are dead...

 

Wolfgang

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With a 7mm wet suit and snorkelling I'd have thought it'd be normal to wear some weights otherwise you would be so buoyant on the surface you'd be wallowing around and could barely get your fins to get grip in the water.

Finding the right amount of weight is going to be a bit trial and error. Maybe start with, say, 4 kgs and see how that works.

Wolfgang warns about blackout but down to 10 feet is pretty much ok. 

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Yes you need some weight. You'll have to experiment.

 

You still don't want to make yourself neutral in 2ft of water, that would be over-weighting yourself. It would also then require some physical effort to ascend - something that often churns up silt, ruins images and is just dangerous.

 

Therefore even if close to neutral you need a way to stay down, either by continuing to kick down or holding on to a rock. A dive stick/pointer can help too. Of course never touch anything live.

 

But then you can only shoot 1 handed so you need a well balanced rig.

 

Chris

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6 hours ago, bill1946 said:

Weights would be simple, but you would not be snorkeling as you would be deeper than the snorkel length. Using a line only, would cause carbon dioxide build up in the line and is not safe. If you own a tank, you could create your own SNUBA setup with a long 2nd stage line. A 10' line should be sufficient and you could even float the system with your current BCD.

Thanks Bill!  I should mention that I don't yet own a BCD or tank, so I'm looking at the next best alternative for the time being.  

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6 hours ago, Architeuthis said:

I did not know that it is possible to go snorkeling (this times snorkeling is called "Apnoe") in wetsuits without weights. Of course you can take a weightbelt, but take just as much that you are still positively counterbalanced. When you go down, the pressure will compress the wetsuit and you will have less buoyancy...

Please be careful: it is a general practice that people go snorkeling only with buddy, never alone. In case you are alone and get a blackout (not so seldom when snorkeling), you are dead...

 

Wolfgang

Keep in mind that I am very new to all of this, so nobody mentioned that I should use weights or even that the wetsuit is so positively buoyant.  I was surprised when I first got into the water and floated ;).  I think what I may do is go to a local dive shop that has a pool onsite and get them to properly fit me with the correct amount of weight.  

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5 hours ago, TimG said:

With a 7mm wet suit and snorkelling I'd have thought it'd be normal to wear some weights otherwise you would be so buoyant on the surface you'd be wallowing around and could barely get your fins to get grip in the water.

Finding the right amount of weight is going to be a bit trial and error. Maybe start with, say, 4 kgs and see how that works.

Wolfgang warns about blackout but down to 10 feet is pretty much ok. 

Thanks Tim.  I think I will go this route and see if it helps.  I mentioned in another reply that there is a local dive shop that has their own indoor pool onsite.  I'm going to pop in with my wetsuit and see if they can fit me with the proper weight belt / weights to get me to where I want to be but in a safe manner.  

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5 hours ago, TPott said:

Thanks Tim.  I think I will go this route and see if it helps.  I mentioned in another reply that there is a local dive shop that has their own indoor pool onsite.  I'm going to pop in with my wetsuit and see if they can fit me with the proper weight belt / weights to get me to where I want to be but in a safe manner.  

That'd be perfect, Trevor! There will be a slight difference in the weight you need in sea water rather than pool water. (slightly extra needed of course in sea water) but this will give you an excellent start. Good plan!

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Yes, weight belt for snorkelling in cold water if you want to get off the surface. I'm not sure you need a dive shop to help you though...just some water deep enough to swim in, close to an edge to put the extra weights on. Put the wetsuit on, get in, add weights until you can duck dive a little under the water. Remove weights if you can't stay floating on the surface without swimming.

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I wanted to updated everyone on my situation.  I stopped into the dive shop on Friday.  They set me up with a dive belt and two 3 lb weights.  I went out to a local reservoir on Saturday and tried them out.  I was still buoyant enough to float on the surface but it brought me down a few inches lower into the water.  I tried a duck dive and used my fins to get me down.  When I relaxed, I instantly shot back up to the surface without any effort.  Do you think I might need a bit more weight or would what I have be about right?  I definitely still felt comfortable and safe with the weight belt attached.

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15 minutes ago, TPott said:

I wanted to updated everyone on my situation.  I stopped into the dive shop on Friday.  They set me up with a dive belt and two 3 lb weights.  I went out to a local reservoir on Saturday and tried them out.  I was still buoyant enough to float on the surface but it brought me down a few inches lower into the water.  I tried a duck dive and used my fins to get me down.  When I relaxed, I instantly shot back up to the surface without any effort.  Do you think I might need a bit more weight or would what I have be about right?  I definitely still felt comfortable and safe with the weight belt attached.

Ya 6lbs is nowhere near enough for freediving with a 7mm suit. I'd suggest bringing extra weights and experimenting when you're in the water. As I explained in my post above, you should still be positively buoyant when you're down, but minimally so you can grab a rock and stay in place. Just be careful to not overweight yourself. I hope you're doing all this with a buddy.

 

Chris

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usually, for diving with a 7 mm wetsuit, you need in weight your weight divided by 10, minus 1.

For free diving, I do not know if you should use more or less. But it is a matter of trial and error.

When you find yourself comfortable, it is the right weight.

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1 hour ago, pbalves said:

usually, for diving with a 7 mm wetsuit, you need in weight your weight divided by 10, minus 1.

Is this advice in metric? What is the source of this advice; I've never heard it before, and it contradicts some other guidelines like PADI, which says (for a 7mm wetsuit in salt water) 10% of body weight PLUS 1.5-3kg. Conversion to fresh water (the OP's "lakes and reservoirs") then means subtracting about 3.5% of the body weight. So the PADI guideline for a 7mm in fresh water would be 6.5% of body weight, PLUS 1.5-3kg. Example: 80kg person would need 5.2kg plus 1.5-3kg, so 6.7 to 8.2kg. The OP's in-water test with 6 lbs was way too little; 15-18 lbs would be closer to the guideline. I'd run the test again, varying the weight a lot.

 

Interestingly, your "weight divided by 10, minus 1" gives the same answer for someone who weighs about 92kg....

The point is, the buoyancy of the 7mm wetsuit is what is important, but the actual weight needed depends on the volume of neoprene in it, which is correlated with body weight, and depends on salt or fresh water. I agree completely that all these calculations are only guidelines, and in-water tests are the only number to believe.

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6 pounds of weight seems grossly underweighted for a 7mm wetsuit, even in freshwater. I don't really know why the dive shop just gave you 6 pounds and not more for you to experiment with... In water as shallow as 10 ft, you won't really benefit from the effects of neoprene compression at depth.

I would try 10 lbs and go from there. You should be trying this at different depths. My guess is even if you get the weight "right" you won't be taking many photos down at depth; as soon as you stop descending you're likely to begin ascending... unless you overweight yourself. Plus, a giant black thing descending down toward a fish comfy on the bottom is liable to scare the living daylights out of them. My experience in freshwater has always been to avoid this behaviour whenever possible as it seldom if ever works.

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On 9/8/2019 at 9:26 PM, tursiops said:

Is this advice in metric? What is the source of this advice; I've never heard it before, and it contradicts some other guidelines like PADI, which says (for a 7mm wetsuit in salt water) 10% of body weight PLUS 1.5-3kg. Conversion to fresh water (the OP's "lakes and reservoirs") then means subtracting about 3.5% of the body weight. So the PADI guideline for a 7mm in fresh water would be 6.5% of body weight, PLUS 1.5-3kg. Example: 80kg person would need 5.2kg plus 1.5-3kg, so 6.7 to 8.2kg. The OP's in-water test with 6 lbs was way too little; 15-18 lbs would be closer to the guideline. I'd run the test again, varying the weight a lot.

 

Interestingly, your "weight divided by 10, minus 1" gives the same answer for someone who weighs about 92kg....

The point is, the buoyancy of the 7mm wetsuit is what is important, but the actual weight needed depends on the volume of neoprene in it, which is correlated with body weight, and depends on salt or fresh water. I agree completely that all these calculations are only guidelines, and in-water tests are the only number to believe.

As you probably know, the amount of weight you need depends on several factors: the suit (not only the thickness but also the number of layers) but also your own density, and all the equipment you are using (steel bottle vs aluminium bottle, and other accessories).

Padi want to grant that their students to be  heavy, to avoid quick ascents. That’s the way to start. 

The guide works in any measure. You just need to use the same for the body weight and for the plumbs. Basically it is 10%. And from there you add or subtract weight depending on how you fell yourself underwater.

in Portugal we use mainly steel bottles. this 1/10 rule works fine for first approach. 

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You could always do a free diving course, where they will teach you about proper weighting and how to safely stay down longer.  You want to be neutrally buoyant at some depth so you don't struggle to get back up again.  Again there are guidelines for this in the course. 

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