TRAIN­ING

BE­COME A HU­MAN TOR­PEDO WITH A DPV

Scuba Diving - - Contents - BY ERIC MICHAEL

Feel­ing the need for speed? A DPV is just the trick; div­ing over­weighted isn’t just a drag — it can be deadly; video tips for still shoot­ers.

DPVS might be the most fun you can have un­der­wa­ter. Pulling the trig­ger on a self-pro­pelled mo­tor­ized scooter is the ticket to ex­panded range, ex­tended bot­tom time and pure speed thrills. From en­try-level recre­ational mod­els that of­fer easy op­er­a­tion and long bat­tery life to high-pow­ered tec-ready rigs that can han­dle ex­treme depth and chal­leng­ing con­di­tions, to high-tech rock­ets that strap onto your cylin­der for jet­pack per­for­mance, there’s a DPV ride for every breed of diver.

“DPV div­ing adds the ad­ven­ture of speed and gives you the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore to a greater ex­tent,” says Liz Parkin­son of Stu­art Cove’s Dive Ba­hamas in Nas­sau. “As you fly over the reef or around a wreck, you also tend to see things from a dif­fer­ent an­gle, which adds a new di­men­sion.”

“Three of the big­gest draws of DPV div­ing are the ex­hil­a­ra­tion, the util­ity and the ‘cool fac­tor,’ ” says Ryan Mable of Ocean En­ter­prises in San Diego. “Speed­ing across sand flats or weav­ing through kelp with your buddy gives you the sen­sa­tion of fly­ing un­der­wa­ter, or maybe rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle.”

“DPVS of­fer new skills to learn,” says Dave Ross of Tech Asia Divers In­sti­tute in Puerto Galera, Philip­pines, “new ways to ap­proach your div­ing,”

Here’s some ad­vice from dive pros who teach oth­ers the way of the pro­pel­ler.

GET THE RIGHT SKILLS

Be­fore you grab hold and ham­mer the throt­tle, there’s a learn­ing curve. Train­ing to prop­erly pre­pare and op­er­ate a scooter is rec­om­mended by most ex­pe­ri­enced DPV pilots and in­struc­tors. Be­yond sim­ple mas­tery of driv­ing skills, there are cus­tom dive plan­ning and buddy pro­to­cols to con­sider, not to men­tion nav­i­ga­tion and trou­bleshoot­ing.

“We rec­om­mend that you com­plete a DPV spe­cialty course be­cause it teaches

you how to be safe un­der­wa­ter with a DPV, how to care for the ma­chine, and how to get the best out of your ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Parkin­son. “Work­ing with a ve­hi­cle un­der­wa­ter that has the ca­pa­bil­ity of tak­ing a diver on a rapid de­scent or as­cent comes with a cer­tain level of re­spon­si­bil­ity. We want our guests to have fun, but first and fore­most to be safe.”

“At a min­i­mum, we re­quire an ori­en­ta­tion dive with an ex­pe­ri­enced DPV in­struc­tor who will su­per­vise trainees in con­trolled con­di­tions: flat bot­tom, good vis­i­bil­ity, noth­ing crazy in terms of cur­rent,” says Ross. “If we are go­ing to be head­ing out on more-ad­vanced dives, such as a wall or places with deep wa­ter nearby or strong cur­rents, we’ll ask peo­ple to go through a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that teaches them most of the ‘what if’ worst-case sce­nar­ios, like a flooded scooter be­com­ing very neg­a­tive, what to do if the trig­ger throt­tle were to stick on, or how to avoid buddy sep­a­ra­tion.”

“Divers who want to use a DPV need to be strong in their buoy­ancy and trim,” says Alessan­dra Fi­gari of Cave Train­ing Mex­ico in Playa del Car­men. “Train in an open-wa­ter area and build your skills, be­cause us­ing a DPV re­quires be­ing able to ma­neu­ver it with­out da­m­ag­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.”

OPEN NEW DOORS

DPVS can open the world of scuba to divers who might not oth­er­wise be able to pro­pel them­selves.

“We first started hav­ing DPVS in the shop be­cause sev­eral of our staff are Hand­i­capped Scuba As­so­ci­a­tion in­struc­tors,” says Mable. “We are also very proud to run a scuba cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram ex­clu­sively for vet­er­ans, many of whom are nav­i­gat­ing their post-ser­vice lives with se­ri­ous dis­abil­i­ties. DPVS have helped our stu­dent divers get around un­der­wa­ter when the usual method of finning isn’t fea­si­ble — for ex­am­ple, a stu­dent with a leg am­pu­ta­tion or some­one par­a­lyzed from the waist down. We now stock sev­eral DPVS in our rental room.”

EX­PLORE FUR­THER

In many dive des­ti­na­tions, a DPV al­lows divers to ex­plore ar­eas that wouldn’t be ac­ces­si­ble un­der their own power.

“The abil­ity to ef­fort­lessly and grace­fully cover huge dis­tances is a great at­trac­tion,” says Elena Ra­vani of Red Sea Div­ing Col­lege in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. “With a DPV, you’re out in front of the other divers, head­ing into cur­rent, open­ing up the pos­si­bil­ity of see­ing large pelag­ics that would oth­er­wise be out in the blue, away from the nor­mal dive routes.”

“The fun of a DPV for me is be­ing able to reach a far­ther point in a cave that would be hard to reach by swim­ming, or to be able to dive a wreck in full in the ocean,” says Fi­gari. “Riviera Maya has long cave sys­tems, and some of them are wide enough to al­low long pen­e­tra­tions where us­ing a DPV is per­fect, but con­sid­er­ing the highly dec­o­rated frag­ile sys­tems we have in this area, only very ex­pe­ri­enced and well­trained cave divers are sug­gested to use a DPV.”

“We’ve got out­stand­ing div­ing in nar­row, of­ten high-flow chan­nels where DPVS shine be­cause they al­low us to visit un­der al­most any tidal con­di­tions,” Ross says. “The cur­rent brings out all the big life but can mean a swim­ming diver can’t al­ways get to it. Now we can go where we want to in­stead of where the wa­ter wants us to.

“The im­pact of DPVS on deeper dives is im­mense,” he adds. “Time is ob­vi­ously lim­ited at greater depths, and a swim­ming tec diver can hardly cover any ground — let alone the fact that hard work at depth is not very safe — so DPVS are a nat­u­ral tool to in­cor­po­rate as your div­ing grows.”

“Our divers love the DPVS,” Parkin­son says. “It is al­ways great to see the ex­pres­sion on divers’ faces when they get out of the wa­ter. Get­ting pulled along un­der­wa­ter at speed — who wouldn’t en­joy that?”

“TRAIN IN AN OPEN-WA­TER AREA AND BUILD YOUR SKILLS, BE­CAUSE US­ING A DPV RE­QUIRES BE­ING ABLE TO MA­NEU­VER IT WITH­OUT DA­M­AG­ING THE EN­VI­RON­MENT.”

DIVE HACKS What you need to know about div­ing with DPVS P52 LESSONS FOR LIFE Fail­ure to un­der­stand proper weight­ing has tragic con­se­quences IMAG­ING Are you P54 a video dab­bler? Light­room has tips and tricks for that too P56

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