Nov 042013

Bailout drill on the wreck of the Liberty, Bali

When I bought my current dSLR, I knew I was choosing an underwater camera rig over a rebreather. I could barely afford one expensive toy let alone two. At the time it was absolutely the right choice. The camera has lasted me four years so far, and I hope to get at least another two out of it. Despite the release of a new model I’m still more than happy with the shots I can get out of it. Since investing in my camera set-up, I’ve had a huge amount of fun taking photos, learning and improving my skills. This didn’t mean I forgot about the rebreather though…

For me the rebreather advantage is significantly in the ability to use helium more often, for the dives where the expense wouldn’t be worth it on open circuit. I rarely felt narked in the 30m to 40m range on air until I tried taking photos at depth. While at depth I don’t feel narked but when I review the images after the dive I know I was off my head – the time I spent a third of my bottom time taking pictures of a tiny seastar with a 14mm lens springs to mind. The extended bottom times, reduced decompression, ability to sneak up on fish and reduce the silt raining down from the ceiling all appealed as well. The more I got into my photography, the more a breather seemed like a very useful tool.

Inside the Liberty

With my bank account looking scared, I’ve spent the last few months doing my research and quizzing my closed circuit dive buddies. Given the majority of my diving is caves I wanted something I could fit through smaller holes. I was a little bit tempted by a sidemount unit but not convinced they’re the best way to move from open circuit to closed. Perhaps just a little bit too experimental for me at the moment.

I was also philosophically attracted to the idea of a manual unit. I already cave dive with my focus split between photography, gas management, deco and swimming along the right line. When I add monitoring ppO2 to that list, I want it to be at the very top – no excuses. Learning to dive an mCCR instead of an eCCR will force that change in habits. One less part to go wrong doesn’t hurt either.

So at the end of all that thinking and research (and with the bank account still looking scared), I decided I wanted an mCCR rEvo. The difficulty was finding one on the secondhand market. There are a lot of very nice rEvos out there and most of them are very blinged up. Their owners are understandably looking for value on all their upgrades. Still looking for a unit, I signed up for the IANTD MOD1 course with Marc Crane at Orca Dive Club Bali using Marc’s second teaching rEvo.

The IANTD course allows trimix as a diluent to 48m, rather than having to wait until MOD2. I’d observed Marc and his air gun teaching a rEvo course in Mt Gambier in early 2012 and was pretty sure I wasn’t going to cruise through any course of his – perfect. Bali also put us more than half way for a touch of cave exploration the following week.

I had a great time on the course, learnt a lot, and spent 10 and a half hour underwater on the rEvo. I also carried the camera for a lot of those dives and learnt to manage both the simulated emergencies and the camera rig at the same time – check out the bailed out drill above. And somehow at the end of the week I came home with Marc’s second rEvo. It’s a titanium case mCCR, 5 cell, 2 rEvodream rEvo with a Shearwater Petrel on a fischer cable. It’s very functional and I’m loving spending time in the water making no bubbles at all. Stay tuned for photos taken on silent dives…

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