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Scuba or Hookah?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Liberty, Sep 9, 2015.

  1. Liberty

    Liberty Senior Member

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    Hi All

    After a year of refurbishment and polishing, we've settled into the beautiful "North West", a Fleming 65. Lovely boat.

    We're now using her to adventure to distant reefs and I'm concerned about anchor snagging. We anchor in water up to 15m (50').

    What are your opinions on Hookah vs Scuba on-board?

    Cheers
    Nigel
  2. dennismc

    dennismc Senior Member

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    Can't advise on that but, strongly suggest you have a trip line on the anchor if anchor a lot.
  3. leeky

    leeky Senior Member

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    I'm not qualified to give opinions on either, but the following is a quote from Ken Williams' blog. He and his wife have a 68' Nordhavn, and cruise extensively.

    "Install a hookah system – We installed an air compressor that allows for diving without air tanks. It was a fun idea and does work, but in actual practice it never gets used. The good diving is never “right next to the boat” and the hoses for the hookah system are cumbersome to deploy. Part of the vision was that guests would enjoy play-diving in the water, but .. we very rarely have guests on the boat. It seemed a good idea, and probably would be a good idea for someone else, but for us the system was a waste of money and space."
  4. Kafue

    Kafue Senior Member

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    If you are not a regular diver and snorkel most the time, then I would recommend a Hooka system for ease of diving to do a quick check on the anchor or running gear or retrieve something etc.

    No need to haul out a tank, so it is less hassle.
    However, as a keen diver, I always have 2 tanks and all my gear in the lazarette, so for me, it is unnecessary to have both systems.

    A few times I have had to make a quick dive to check the props or untangle a buoy from an anchor for a friend and I have wished that I had a portable Hooka system, just for the ease of gearing up. The portable type follow you on the surface, whilst the other type stay on the boat, limiting your movement. You also need a lot less storage space, no tanks.

    You will still need a Lycra suit, even in the warmest water due to the Irukandji. Not worth ruining a holiday for the sake of going without a "skin".

    Both dive systems have the pro's and con's. Nothing beats a scuba dive on a good day at the reef.
    For kids, the Hooka is a good way to introduce them to diving too.

    Get both, the cost is not so bad and getting a SCUBA licence gives you more confidence underwater! Hooka only requires a very basic training course.
  5. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Leeky has some good comments above that need to be considered. My wife does not like a regulator either way and loves to free dive and snorkel. I love tanks for diving (90 & 100s) and my Hookah is usually 5 minutes away. The Hookah is preferred when I work under the boat. 50' hose available from the ER port vent opening. I also take naps in shallow water around the Bahamas. I lay on my back in 10 feet of water with Bertie over me and relax my back. Ahhhhh.. Usually a barracuda watches over me and keeps the remora away.
  6. Liberty

    Liberty Senior Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I've wondered in the past whether that would make the problem worse with another line in the water ... but after some pondering this morning, if I use floating trip line and a float, I can make that work. Cheers!

    However ... that still doesn't fix the problem. I've been aboard a boat when the anchor chain wrapped itself entirely around a coral bommie. And the trip line wouldn't have helped.
  7. Liberty

    Liberty Senior Member

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    Thanks Kafue. I do hold a Rescue Diver Ticket from a lifetime ago (as does my wife), so not uncomfortable with SCUBA, it was more the maintenance, storage, usability etc etc.

    I'm just reluctant to add any more kit to the boat than I need to - particularly maintenance sensitive stuff like dive gear. There is enough stuff on-board that needs feeding as it is!

    There is an interesting report from the Hobart Barometric Trauma unit that quotes a higher hospitalisation rate from Hookah divers than SCUBA, but I suspect that comes from novice users (30% have no training and just jump in).

    Also the "portable" hookah units are 35kg (77b). Ouch, my back hurts already ...
  8. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Humm
    I'm guessing you referring to the Brownie rig? Why lug that around? We run the air hoses from our ship.
    I have an 5 hp oil-less compressor on board that drives our air powered wiper system and horns. Also for any air tools. When the gen-set is not running, a direct cam drive, bus air compressor directly bolted on our port main (12V71). Either provides air for 2 hookah or one hookah and a impact gun when removing props (ours or anything close). Two stone filters and two DOD breathable air filters to the Hookah rigs.

    You can't wonder far from the ship (50 feet from the port side). But anything further I grab a bottle and Josie hovers and watches from over head. She still surprises me in her free diving.

    I'm still a gorilla diver. Get me under 10 feet and I'm negative with out weights.
    Gad I miss diving.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
  9. Silver Lining

    Silver Lining Member

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    I carry two complete scuba setups. I also took an older regulator and set it up with a Brownie 50 ft line that I run off one of the tanks. Anytime I work on the boat or to check/repair something underway I always use the Brownie regulator. Much easier and more maneuverable than a scuba setup. My favorite is hanging out under the boat at Staniel Cay with the sharks on the Brownie. Most of the time I'm away from the boat I'm either spear fishing or conch diving so no tanks, only free diving.
  10. Kafue

    Kafue Senior Member

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    Ditto on the Rescue Divers licence. Got mine before PADI got so bad that they started issuing certificates at any excuse, as long as you paid! I am surprised more novice divers are not lost considering how this organisation qualifies it's divers, especially with resort dive industry.
    Interesting records from the Trauma unit, maybe because most the abalone divers, if not all, use Hooka?
    Mate, if you are running out of storage on the new 65 now, maybe you should order the 75':)
  11. rgsuspsa

    rgsuspsa Member

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    As a diver since the age of seventeen, I have used tanks and floating hookah units. Trying to cope with a floating hookah unit being pulled behind you, to your side, or even in front of you in anything other than a flat calm sea condition is an exercise in self abuse. Takes enjoyment right out of diving. Would never desire to utilize a floating hookah again. In cases where one is willing to be constrained by an onboard compressor, and the hose length limitation, there is utility, but little else to recommend that type of hookah, in my opinion.
  12. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I agree with you mostly. The south east Florida diving does require a free tank diving attitude. I put a weight on my tank top, and drift drive inverted for the longest time. Everybody else has already swam ahead like torpedoes and scared everything in the path. Along I come truly drifting, calm, buoyant and barely moving and the reef fish take no notice. In 20 feet of water 90 or 100 cf bottles can last forever. With just one or two kicks, I can still poke down for a closer look around mounds without startling any of the fish.
    In the keys or Bahamas, We can grab a moor ball or gently anchor and utilize the hookah. Again, suspended and not swimming about, the scenery is usually good and the fish come to you. Again, nitrogen absorption is minimal if any at 15 to 20 feet (barely 1 atm).
    Our anchorage around Taloo is sand, shell on the edge of grass. In 10 feet I can nap while others play around Josea's stern.
    The real little fish will settle down and come about me, check out my mask and hide around me when the Barracuda come close. I fell asleep once watching a conch make way at the grass edge.
    Ah, my back feels so much better when I crawl out with out the weight of a tank setup.

    The utility; recovering or working on your boat. Hookah of course.

    There is a good side to both methods.
  13. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    Nigel

    For clearing the anchor or props, I'd recommend a small 20-30 cu ft tank (rescue tank sized) and a real simple outfit, probably don't even need a BCD just a tank harness and a dedicated regulator. Quick and easy to use and stow. For your recreational diving I'd stay with the tanks - aluminum 60's or 80s
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  14. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    An other good point with another thought back;
    One of the great treats of hookah, no tanks to refill. I ran a boat that had a HP tank compressor. Another high maintenance item. Save the pony bottle for quick hops to clear the anchor. In& out, no farting about to clear props on a hookah.
    Again, we all have done it both ways. It's all good stuff.
    As I ask my kats all the time,,, What do you want???? It's easy to have it both ways...
  15. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I'm thinking, your still thinking the hookah is the Brownie rig. I'm trying to reflect to shallow dive from an on board compressor.
    I can jump on the Anti wagon quickly;;; I'd never drag a Brownie floating pump behind me.
  16. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    rc
    Agreed it's all preference. 10 ways to skin a Kat. I can fill my rescue bottle about 4-5 times off an 80. I have the air gauge right at the J valve - don't need no darn instruments if I'm only going 20 feet. Think of this too, why the heck is he anchoring in the reef. I was taught to anchor in the sand outside the reef and let the wind or current carry me over the nice stuff? No? If you're worried about losing the boat use a wreck reel tied off the stern
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  17. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    AND
    Lots reefs have more moor balls over them. I try to get one that the boat will drift over the live line. Non divers and relaxers can hang off the swim platform and calmly peek at da good stuff.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  18. RT46

    RT46 Senior Member

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    I use the hooka to do zincs and clean the props.
  19. Liberty

    Liberty Senior Member

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    Thanks for all your responses guys.

    To answer some questions, where we go is remote. 12 hours straight out from mainland Australia, not see land or even another boat for 4 days, remote. There are no mooring buoys, or any buoys for that matter. And the reef charts are dodgy to non-existent. "Unsurveyed". But a wonderful adventure.

    I'm of course not parking deliberately over reef, but inside most lagoons or around reef structures it can be tight and even though you anchor over sand, wind shifts during the night can have you the potential to snag a coral "bommie". What I was after was a backup rig to help recover an anchor, instead of dropping it and all the chain. I've had to do that once, and I'm not intending repeating.

    After some consideration of your input, I have bought a regular dive rig with two full tanks. It represents the least overhead for me, most flexibility and its something I'm comfortable with.

    Many thanks!
    Nigel
  20. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    Nigel

    You wasted our time, You said you were worried about too much kit. Now you tell us it does not matter/ Blah, We all could have told you to put 2 80's on in your first post
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015