Category: Diving

May 25, 2016

Hammond Diving Dry Suit - HDS Pro Elite

I obtained my PADI Dry Suit Diver Specialty quite soon after I qualified as an Open Water diver as I do a lot of diving in the UK and this type of suit is much more suitable for diving in colder waters. Dry suits feature seals and heavier insulating materials to keep the wearer dry in cold water conditions whereas wet suits let water in and are used in warmer water temperatures.

Until recently I’ve been used a rented dry suit which wasn’t always ideal since quite often the suit would leak and became more of a wet suit. Certainly some of this was down to my technique but quite often I felt the suit just didn’t fit me well. With this in mind and considering that I was planning to continue diving in the long term I decided to invest in a custom made dry suit. Having done a bit of research I eventually decided to get a suit from a company called Hammond, a locally run family business here in Kent. I liked the idea of supporting a British business and being local meant that the servicing and support for any problems would be easier.

Richard Byrom in his HDS Pro Elite Dry SuitThe suit I decided to get was the HDS Pro Elite, pictured here. Hammonds web site states this is for the more experienced technical diver with a robust Cordura to Cordura fabric for a longer life and is fitted with a wealth of extras as standard. The extras/custom specifications I went for were: -

  • Neoprene socks and rock boots – I was told this would be better than fitted boots when it came to maintaining my buoyancy
  • Self Donning – to allow me to be more independent
  • Comfort zip

In addition to the dry suit I also bought a 4th Element Undersuit. Another nice extra supplied by Hammond was a suit bag. Hammond Dry Suit Sports Bag

I’m looking forward to using this suit in the future. I have a pool dive scheduled to test it out before I jump into a lake or the sea.

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February 2, 2016

PADI Deep and Wreck Diving Specialties at Stoney Cove

In October 2014 I passed my PADI Deep and Wreck Diving Specialties having completed the required dives at Stoney Cove near Leicester. I had previously attained my PADI Advanced Scuba Diver Certification which qualifies you to Dive to 30m but I was quite keen to have the possibility of diving deeper as the Deep certification allows you to Dive to 40m. Furthermore, I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to Dive wrecks in various locations around the world.

What you learn in the Deep Speciality Course

Your training starts by reviewing reasons for deep diving and how important it is to know your personal limits. During four deep dives with your instructor, you’ll go over:

  • Specialized deep diving equipment.
  • Deep dive planning, buddy contact procedures and buoyancy control.
  • Managing your gas supply, dealing with gas narcosis and safety considerations.

What you learn in the Wreck Specialty Course

There are many different types of wrecks, some of which are protected by laws that guard their historical and cultural significance. Your training starts by reviewing guidelines for researching and respecting wrecks. During four dives you’ll learn:

  • Safety considerations for navigating and exploring wrecks.
  • Surveying and mapping a wreck.
  • Using penetration lines and reels to guide exploration.
  • Techniques to avoid kicking up silt or disturbing the wreck and its inhabitants.

I really enjoyed doing these two specialties and I also got to do my dives on Nitrox having passed that specialty two weeks earlier. The Stoney Cove Dive Site has plenty of features and wrecks to explore as shown in the map below

Stoney Cove Dive Site Map


1 Viscount Aircraft Cockpit
2 Nautilus
3 Archways Beneath the Pub
4 The Wessex
5 The Bus
6 The Monster
7 The Galleon

8 Aircraft Wreck
9 Deep Hydrobox
10 Submerged Trees
11 Tower (pole)
12 Blow-Off Preventer (BOP)
13 4-metre Block House
14 Wooden Boat

15 Stanegarth
16 FV 432 APC
17 Landrover
18 Block House
19 The Winch
20 Work Frame
21 Small Hydrobox

22 MG Cars
23 Anchor and chain from Stanegarth
24 Tug Boat Defiant
25 Trawler MV Belinda
26 Gresham Ship c1570

For my wreck certification I explored an old Tug Boat called the Stanegarth.

Richard Byrom undertaking his PADI Wreck Dive Specialty Stanegarth at Stoney Cove

As part of my Deep Certification I got to dive down to the deepest spot at this particular dive site and managed to get down to 35m. Here’s the dive profile provided by my Suunto D4i Dive Computer

Richard Byrom's Dive profile from the Suunto D4i at Stoney Cove

Once you pass the PADI course you’ll obtain a card in the post which looks like this. Of course you can always have an electronic copy via the PADI App. I certainly recommend these two certifications if you want to take your diving to the next level.

Richard Byrom's PADI Wreck Dive Specialty CardRichard Byrom's PADI Deep Diver Specialty Card

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January 30, 2016

Suunto D4i Dive Computer and Wireless Tank Pressure Transmitter

Suunto D4i BlackIn August 2014 I obtained my PADI Open Water Diver Qualification. Since I’d already booked my Advanced Course and had plans to go further with my diving I decided to get my first Dive Computer. Having done a bit of research online I decided to go with the Suunto D4i Dive Computer which has proved to be a great entry level diving watch.

One of the reasons for going with this watch is I quite like the Suunto Brand and ecosystem. I previously wrote about the Suunto X6 which I purchased for my Kilimanjaro climbing expedition. A number of divers I spoke to also felt that Suunto was also better recognised and supported globally compared to other brands.

Key Features of this watch are: -

  • Full continuous decompression algorithm - Suunto RGBM
  • Four modes: air, nitrox, free and off
  • Innovative apnea timer, and a timer in air/nitrox modes
  • Updateable firmware
  • Optional wireless air integration – current cylinder pressure, remaining air time
  • Built-in dive planner
  • Detailed graphical logs and dive data on your PC/Mac using Suunto DM5 software

As mentioned the ecosystem surrounding this watch is great, in addition to the User Guide there’s an online learning tool and an iPhone app. Simply Scuba also has quite a good review: -


Suunto-Wireless-tank-pressure-transmitterA welcome accessory to the watch is the Suunto Wireless Tank Pressure Transmitter which enables you to monitor tank pressure and air consumption data wirelessly from your dive computer. According to the Suunto site: -

The Suunto Wireless tank pressure transmitter gives you current tank pressure and remaining air time with just a glance at your wrist. Before your dive, simply pair the transmitter with your dive computer and you’re good to go. The transmitter’s handy green LED light lets you know that it’s on.

Key Features:

  • Compatible with all Suunto air-integrated dive computers, including DX, D9tx, D6i, D4i, D9, Vyper Air, and HelO2
  • Monitor tank pressure and air consumption data wirelessly from dive computer
  • Green LED light indicates active data sending
  • Battery life approx. 2 years (100 dives/year)
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