Written by John Smythe
In January 2007 I was apprehensive about wearing the new 7mm dive suit in the 20 °C summer water.
My intention was to try out the suit when sea temperatures dropped
around April/May.I did not have to wait long and in fact was fortunate
that I had the suit on the boat when I went out for a dive in early
A cold upwelling had moved in on the east coast with a surface temperature of 12 to 13 °C.
This upwelling spread from Eden to Seal Rocks producing unusually cold water temperatures and keeping swimmers out of the water in the peak of summer. So I put on the 7mm Triple X. The first thing I noticed when I put on the suit was the ease to which it just slipped on. I used a plastic bag on my feet which wasn’t necessary as I just slid into the pants and it was a snug comfortable fit (I take off the shelf size Large). The second pleasing aspect of the suit was the comfort and flexibility out of the water and the coat can be easily removed without the help of the deckie. Having removed 2 kilo of lead from my weight vest I hit the water.The 12 °C surface temperature dropped sharply as I descended into my first dive and was I glad I had that suit on. I immediately noticed that the feet and arm seals worked to perfection sealing the suit around the extremities. I dived for four hours around 20 to 30 feet and was snug and warm all day.There was less strain on my arms from the flexibility of the suit and less strain on my back with the decreased lead. Getting back on the boat was easier than with any other dive suit I’ve worn and after a day in 12 °C water I still felt less worn than usual. Usually after four to five hours I feel like I’ve been in a straight jacket all day.
I wore the 7mm through into winter and during times when the water
warmed up again I found that by swimming with the flap undone and
sometimes with the hood pulled back I avoided getting too hot so
temperatures adjustment was relatively easy. I started wearing the 9mm
in July when temperatures were once again down to 13 °C surface
temperature. For a 9mm suit it was still comfortable and flexible and
easy to move around the boat. If I worked in shallow waters I would
have to leave the flap undone and was never cold or too hot.
In deeper water with colder temps and more pressure I remained warm and comfortable all winter.
From the 7mm to the 9mm I added only an extra half kilo of lead weights to my vest.