We’ve wanted to transition to doubles for a while now; partly because we want to start getting used to them for going further with GUE training and partly due to laziness of not wanting to change tanks between our dives in these shallow Texas lakes. Because neither Tina or I have any formal instruction on diving doubles, I read the forums and watch you tube videos incessantly until I had a good idea of what to expect. I’m not always the type of person that tries to “wing it” but my threshold of understanding of doubles was good enough for a try in shallow water. Both Tina and I have also dove with divers in doubles a handful of times now and it didn’t seem all that scary. The main issue I kept finding people bring up was the “head heavy” feeling from having more ballast over your shoulders. With the manifolds, bands and extra first stage your center of gravity would most likely move forward. Because I already have a tough time being head heavy I was careful to analyze my rig for balance. I calculated the overall buoyancy of my rig with cave filled LP85’s and decided that a Halcyon 40 pound lift wing wold be just fine for Tina and I.
I scored a “never been wet” Evolve 40 wing on Ebay for less then $200. Tina wanted a cool custom grey wing so we put an order in for her through Extreme Exposure. Tina also needed an aluminum plate. Based on my initial calculations with steel tanks, having the lighter aluminum plate allowed us to move some lead around into a tail weight pocket if needed. Along with Tina’s order we threw in a pair of Halcyon V weight pouches for the purpose of having places to stash lead. The custom wings take about 3 weeks so that gave us time to order the other stuff we needed like bands and manifolds. We ordered manifolds and bands from Dive Gear Express to convert out LP85’s into doubles. I went with the DGE brand bands and manifolds because they seemed like a good quality for the price. My online research found that they looked pretty much identical to Halcyon manifolds of a few years ago. We also got some used AL80 tanks from one of the divers in SCUE (South Central Underwater Explorers) and I plan on converting these to doubles eventually as well. This will give us 2 sets of LP85 doubles and 2 sets of AL80 doubles and I’ll still have two single AL80’s left for fun diving or stages in the future.
Once all the components arrived in the mail, I watched a youtube video on how to assemble doubles. It was from Dive Rite I think and the assembly went pretty well because the video was very good and explained the finer points in detail. Not to mention that I’m an engineer and not afraid to turn a wrench, I felt I could handle it. “Trust me I’m an engineer” famous last words.
My first impression of wearing doubles was the fact that they really didn’t seem all the much heavier then having singles on. Part of that has to do with the fact that we were able to reduce the overall lead ballast required in the rig. Since we now had an extra steel tank, bands, extra first stage and manifolds, overall it didn’t seem like I was lugging close to 100lbf on my back. Don’t get me wrong the total weight was more then wearing a single tank, but it didn’t feel that bad with it on my back. Tina felt the same and we were glad because I did have concern about her knee that has been scoped twice. We booked a shelter at Blue Lagoon the following weekend and planned on spending the entire day just working out the doubles and getting used to them.
The next weekend were both super excited to get in the water with our new gear and we arrived at Blue Lagoon early to beat all the classes in the water. We took our time gearing up and making sure we didn’t miss anything. I figured it would be the “learning dry suits” all over again so I was mentally preparing for the worst. None the less I grabbed the Go-Pro and put it in my left pocket on a bolt snap. I figured I’d film if things were going well (or bad for posterity). We did flow checks of all the valves on the back of the truck before we got into the water. We also took our time getting into the water to be sure we didn’t fall down or trip etc etc. Once in the water I could tell I had more mass but it wasn’t that bad. We kicked out on the surface to a platform and did our GUE EDGE. This was the first time we’d get a chance to try a flow check in the water and it went surprisingly well. I could reach all my valves just fine and Tina could too. After the GUE EDGE, we gave the thumbs down. For this dive we planned on doing 40 minutes with the option to call it and head to the surface and talk if things weren’t’ going well. We also planned on a descent drill with a stop at 10ft. We gave the thumbs down and our first dive in doubles was under way. I had read that most people having not been used to doubles pretty much nose dive into the bottom because they dump all the air from their BC. Because of that, I made sure we slowly let the air out of our wings. We stopped and stabilized at 10 ft and then continued to descent to the platform at 20ft. Neither of us crashed into the bottom and I was extremely surprised at how quickly we both took to doubles. Within a few minutes it was pretty apparent that we weren’t going to have the issues like we had with drysuits. So I broke out the go pro and started filming. We filmed for about 20 minutes and soon our 45 minutes was up. We thumbed the dive and began our ascent. The ascent went swimmingly. No issues stopping and we held the stop well.
At the surface we talked about some things and formulated another dive plan. And we both had brought some energy shots and a Clif Bar in our pockets so we ate those during our surface interval for some energy. We are experimenting with pocketable foods that won’t get wet and can be eaten with ease on the surface. So far energy shots and clif bars work at least in less then 30ft of water they don’t get wet. After about 20 minutes on the surface we another GUE EDGE and went back down for a second dive. This dive also went well and I filmed some more. We explored some of the wrecks and stuff in the lagoon as I filmed. It was a really fun dive and we both felt very comfortable. We did not try drills in doubles on this dive because we just wanted to take it easy and have fun. Below is the video of our first dive in doubles.