Waterproof Cruises

Polar Diving

Expert advise on Cold Water Diving in Antarctica and the Arctic.

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About Polar Diving

The dive operation managed by the Waterproof Cruises & Expeditions, relies on more than 15 years of experience in Polar diving. It is organized by polar diving experts who have experienced many extreme situations in the field. They are trained to search for the best diving opportunities, taking into account the unpredictable weather and ice conditions. We maintain the highest level of safety in combination with quality diving.
We don’t dive through a wide hole in the ice, but in a controlled environment around small grounded icebergs, near the shore, a zodiac or an ice shelf. Even for the most advanced divers this is truly a unique experience. You will see amazing ice formations and marine life seemingly from another planet.

Map

We advise you to bring your own diving equipment and complete a few dives with it before coming on the voyage so that you are familiair with your full equipment and can start polar diving in a comfortable way.

• Mask, fins and snorkel
• Dry suit with hood
• Dry gloves or thick wet gloves
• Thick and warm undergarment (2 sets)
• Two separate sets of environmentally sealed regulators
• Stabilizing jacket or BCD with quick release.
• Weight belt & weight keepers
• Pressure gauge
• Depth gauge, watch or computer
• Compass
• Knife and a small torch
• Safety buoy

Contact your airline about their luggage restrictions and request a special allowance for your dive equipment prior to departure. All excess baggage is at your own expense.

Although diving in the Polar Regions is not considered more dangorous or technical than normal scuba diving, the conditions and gear required to dive safely do require a experience and training. Participants must demonstrate capability in the primary skills required by cold water diving:

• Clearing the mask
• Changing the main regulator to the reserve and vice versa
• Tapping into the buddy reserve regulator
• Conducting an emergency rising to the surface while breathing via the buddy reserve regulator
• Buoyancy Control
• Communicating with the buddy and with the tender

It will be necessary to demonstrate these abilities to the dive staff in the course of the check dive.
Divers without the necessary experience are kindly asked to abort diving and join the landprogramme for non-divers.

The voyage will start with a check-dive so all divers can get used to the cold water and adjust their weighting and equipment. Before most dives, there will be a briefing about the location of the site, the weather and ice conditions and the procedure of the dive.


Safety First


Diving in these remote Polar areas is no more dangerous than normal scuba diving as long as one important rule is adhered to: Safety First! All divers looking for dangerous stunts or want to make deep dives are kindly asked to stay at home.
There is no decompression chamber and medical care in these remote polar regions is almost non-existent as there is hardly any infrastructure. We have a first aid emergency kit and oxygen at hand. We do not accept risky ventures from any of our divers.


Buddy System


We dive in a mandatory 'buddy system'. This is one of the most important rules for our Polar Diving Expeditions. If you don't have a dive-buddy, one will be assigned to you.
There is no ‘in-water’ dive guide leading the dive. The divers are expected to be experienced enough to read their instruments, and look after each other with good buddy technique (arms-length) in order to have a safe dive.

Dry suit
The only adequate protection against water as cold as -1ºC/30ºF, is a well-fitted comfortable dry suit. Neoprene dry suits have the benefit of having good stretch and extra insulation. Shell suits provide no extra insulation but are lighter and dry more quickly. These require extra layers of garments to be worn under the suit.

Dry suit Accessories
If a hood is not attached to your dry suit you will need to bring one. A 10 mm neoprene hood with face and neck seal is recommended. Regular 7 mm neoprene semidry gloves or mittens can be used with any dry suit. Three finger mittens are warmer than five finger gloves. You can also use special dry gloves that seal on the arms of the dry suit, however these require additional practice to use.

Undergarments
Undergarments trap air against your body to stay warm. The colder the water, the more (or thicker) layers of undergarments are required. We advise you wear two or three layers, depending on your suit. As a first layer you should wear a set of polypropylene liners to wick away moisture from the body. As a second layer wear thick insulating material, such as fleece, synthetic pile, thinsulate or similar. As an outer layer you may wish to wear a windproof shell. The one piece suit is the most common and available in a variety of thickness depending on your dry suit and the water temperature.

Face mask
We recommend using a standard mask or a full face mask if you prefer. Make sure to bring an extra face mask handy in case your regulator free flows. You will be asked to demonstrate swapping masks underwater, a difficult thing to do in the polar temperatures. It is best to avoid spitting into the mask for defogging, as this can freeze. Use commercial defogging agents instead. Straps can also become brittle in cold weather, and it is highly recommended that you bring a spare mask strap and fin straps.

Regulators
Normal regulators will not function in polar water as both the first and second stage will freeze. You are required to bring two sets of environmentally sealed regulators (1st & 2nd stage), suitable for cold-water/ice diving. In case your primary regulator freezes up and causes a free flow, you should be able to switch to your back-up regulator. The dive must be aborted in this case. Good buddy techniques ensure this happens seamlessly.
We use 12L steel cylinders with two separate outlets, fitted with a “Y” or “H” valve configuration, with DIN or Yoke (INT) adaptable connections.

Instruments, gauges and computers
One pressure gauge is sufficient, as any free-flow event would automatically result in terminating the dive. Some electronic instruments will not function well in sub-freezing temperatures. Liquid crystal displays may be slow to and batteries will run low quicker. We advise to change batteries (for transmitters etc.) before the expedition.

Post-dive wear
Bring a warm hat and some warm wind and waterproof gloves to wear before and after the dive. A small dry bag can be ideal to keep them dry in the Zodiac. You may also wish to bring a wind and waterproof jacket.

Equipment on board
On board we have a Bauer compressor (200 litres) and steel 12 litre, 200 bar cylinders with DIN and Yoke adaptable connections with two separate outlets. This allows for the attachment of a primary and a secondary regulator, so that either regulator can be isolated in case of malfunction or a free flow. Note that DIN fitting regulators are preferred, but Yoke fittings are also useable.
Dive weights are also available on board.