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Friday, May 14, 2010

Hooka Dive System - Hookamax

To say Val and I are avid SCUBA divers would be an understatement. In addition to having dived in waters all over the world (including Truk Lagoon, the Mediterranean, Roatan Honduras, etc.) Val and I are both Master Scuba divers, with ratings from both NAUI and PADI. It gets even more extreme. 8 years ago, I took a 1 year sabbatical from consulting, obtained a mixed gas card from IANTD and became a PADI certified Divemaster. With the professional rating, I worked aboard boats in Florida taking tourists down (and up!). It was an awesome year to say the least.

When we make the boat our full time home, sailing around the world, our basement will be the environment we love so much. It will be temping to strap a tank onto our backs, and go in .... everyday. Alas, SCUBA gear, tanks, refill compressors, and all the maintenance that comes with the equipment just doesn't fit into our KISS principle. Plus, our boat is simply too small for all the stuff.

Being on the ocean and not diving won't work, and taking all the equipment needed to dive won't work. Our solution is to get a Hooka dive system.

A hooka diving system is a surface supplied air system. Hoses from a compressor, resting above the water, carry air down to a diver. Hooka systems have been used for a long time. You can get gasoline compressors, you can get 120V/240V systems, and you can even get 12VDC ones. Each with varying diver capacity. The obvious limitation is that the diver is always tethered to the air source above the water.

Some of the systems can provide air down to a diver at 100 feet! Others are only good to 20 feet. Some can support two divers, and others four.

With our particular boat configuration, we've decided a solid 12V DC system would be best. They are light weight and can run right off of our batteries. This implies the time under water is limited by the capacity of our batteries (and other physiological constraints). However, 12V DC systems are typically the most limited in terms of diver capacity and depth. 2 divers, 20 feet deep, is about all one system can handle at a time. We suspect, though, that such limitations will not impede our enjoyment. Much of the oceans brilliance happens in less than 20 feet due to the penetration depth of sunlight. Will there be those times that Val and I want to go deeper? Yes, but we simply won't be able to go deeper short of a free dive or renting some SCUBA gear from a local SCUBA shop. It is a trade off.

After reviewing all I can on the Internet, including the potential of building my own Hooka system (plenty of DIY plans out there), the system we are interested in buying is the Hookamax Dive System, the E2005C-12V 2X50 model. It seems rugged, fairly priced, fully featured, and the photos on the site are great!

In addition to just exploring reefs, Hookah systems are also great for staying down to clean the underside of the boat and for spear fishing as you can just hang under the water for hours.

Underwater world, here comes our family!

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