Doing it Right, WKPP

The following is the verbatim dialogue from the Woddville Karst Plain Project video "Doing it Right" provided by Sean T. Stevenson , which has come to be known as on of the most valuable resource for information concerning the Hogarthian style of rigging. Please note that the following text was meant to accompany video images, so it may not make a whole lot of sense


So we'll start with the very smallest things. Here's the drysuit, we'll get back to that later. That little thing is a spool. It's a safety spool. You don't need a great big reel or any convoluted reel. You need something that's very very simple, something that's foolproof that you can't mess up. All that is is a piece of line on a string. These are some gas analysis sheets. Every bottle is catalogued, serial numbered and its contents are marked on the gas analysis sheet. That's how we keep track of where we are. This is the harness, and again we're going to go put all this together again later, but we're going to pull it out and look at it first. It's a very simple harness. This harness is made from one piece of webbing only, except for the crotch strap which is separate. You see where the knife is placed on the harness. It's just a line cutter that's serrated. See how the crotch strap goes through the waist belt. And you'll see hoe the waist belt - the buckle, holds the light in place. You can see the backup lights are hung from the chest D-rings, and are held in place - in this case by a tank O-ring. They're out of the way of the front of the diver, they're actually underneath the arms. This is a hip-mounted/side-mounted canister. his particular light is a Gavin light - a Gavin designed light, similar to an American Underwater, and several other types. You see the buckle on the waist strap holds the canister in place. Anything you don't need, you don't put on your rig. If something can serve two purposes then it should as this buckle does, so the buckle just comes all the way around. The backup light is a twist-on, it's a 3 battery light, it has a bolt snap tied to it with cave line, that's hooked to the D-ring and held in place like I say either by a piece of bicycle inner tube, or in this case by a tank O-ring because they're a little more durable, but you can see it's out of the way completely, and doesn't interfere with the diver at all. This is a safety spool - again a simple piece of equipment which is what you need in an emergency is a simple piece of equipment. You can see the light is completely shielded by the arm and the shoulder, it causes no drag whatsoever and it doesn't add to the diver's profile either way. The cord should be enough length to reach the left hand outstreched. It can be held in that hand, or it can be switched around, for scootering. In this case for surveying it's hung over the neck, and it illuminates the book clearly. It's nice to have a van set up like this with tank racks and all, but in some cases that might be impractical. If you take a look at the strap here there's two D-rings. One in the back that's for reels and soforth, and the one in the front is the one from which the diver is towed by his scooter. The back ring is not really necessary. I use it when I'm wreck diving for a liftbag and when I'm cave diving for an exploration reel, but it's otherwise superfluous.

These wings are just standard DiveRite wings, but if you take them and you double-clamp the inflator hose, and you put a piece of rubber inner tube overtop of the bladder inside, you won't have any trouble with them at all. This particular set of wings is five years old, and has never had a leak. So you don't need double wings or any of these kind of things, or anything fancy. Just a simple set of wings will work, if they're properly protected on the inside with that sheet of rubber. These are what we call our "standard issue fin", the ScubaPro XL Jetfin. Those are old Farallon spring straps. It's just a stainless steel spring with a cord inside of it, so that if the spring broke the cord would hold it, and it has nickel bands holding it on. Here's the final rig, and again we're going to go back and go piece by piece but here's the final rig - you can see how simple and clean it is. The backup reg hangs around the neck and it comes from the left post. You should be able to reach down and pick it up with your mouth - it should be just that simple. The long hose is a big mystery to a lot of people; the long hose just hangs around the neck. It isn't going to choke you or anything else. You see - it will come right out over your head. It's the simplest, cleanest way to do it. If the intermediate pressure of the regulator is set properly to the second stage, you won't have any problem with ease of breathing. A good dive operation requires a decent gas setup. You've got to have all the proper gases. Here's the back of the tanks. I use this little pony rig to hold on my argon bottle. Any way you do it seems to be fine - I'm just paranoid about anything I can't remove myself. I hang it upside down so I can reach the valve. On these OMS tanks, you really need to add weight to make them equal to 104's, and if you're using a neoprene drysuit you'll probably have to use one of those weights with anything. The wings go on next, and of course the backplate screws on top of that, holding that weight in place underneath.

Here, the inflator hose runs through a piece of bungee on the left shoulder strap which is fixed in the same place as that left side D-ring. There's that line cutter again. This is just a clip marker - an outrigger clip that I use. I keep it right on the front of the strap for marking in a cave if I want to mark something. Here's the right post regulator. It has the infaltor, and the long hose on it. It has strain reliefs, which are extremely necessary. If the hose vibrates it will wear the swedge out. This is basically a Hogarthian rig using DIN. There you see my little clip to clip off my long hose if I'm not breathing it, and that's tied on with cave line. The DIN outside port manifold is a little different than the old Hogarthian rig, so this is the way I do it. The hoses all cross behind my neck so I can hear any flowing in the hoses whatsoever. The long hose comes down, underneath the wing and comes around. The inflator hose I stick through little pieces of bicycle inner tubing along the big hose, down to the inflator, all of which goes underneath that bungee cord to hold it down, so I can always find it. This is pretty interesting. If you have the position of that fixed, over your shoulder out of the way, and you have your drysuit inflator on your chest, watch what happens. You're going to be able to operate both inflators from the same position. I set my drysuit on auto-deflate, so I can deflate with one hand, or I can inflate with both. Here's the left side post. This has the pressure gauge and the backup regulator. In a situation where you were diving air or nitrox and were inflating your drysuit without an argon bottle, you would run the drysuit inflator from that side as well. The hoses need to be straight up and down, they need to have the strain reliefs on them, they need to be the right length so that there's no excess hose and so you aren't straining anything. The backup reg hose and the inflator hose are both 24 inches, the pressure gause is 26 inches, and the long hose, of course, is 7 feet. 9 feet is just too much. With the wings underneath the high pressure hose as you see and the HP hose clipped off to the hip, you can reach down and grab it and look at it while scootering or with your light in your hand, or anyway you want to do it. It's always right there and it's out of the way. It's also not going to vibrate in the breeze, and it's not going to cause any additional drag.

This particular battery system is one that's auto plug-in. I always check my bettery prior to doing a cave dive. You need to know what the resting voltage of your battery is charged, and you need to check that every time. It's well worth doing it. You don't want to get in the water with something that's not working. You want to do the same thing for your scooter batteries, which are those orange batteries you see laying there. I test it through the charging port the other two plugs
where the gold plated connectors that plug the scooter in. You can tell with lead-acid batteries if something is charged by the voltage; you can't do that with Ni-Cads. With Ni-Cads you just have to know they're charged, and that's a whole different process and that's done with a computerized charger. You test both batteries, too. You don't want to have one bad, one good, because as soon as the bad one goes down that's the end of the show. The other thing you always want to check are your backup lights. You want to check the bulb, make sure that thing's working. You want to check the voltage of these batteries, and you can check the whole stack at once and if it's faulty you check them one by one, but the point is here, you want to match the voltage of the cells to the voltage of the light bulb itself. This is 4 1/2 volts, it's registering 4.58, it's a 4 1/2 volt light bulb. You don't want to be running 6 volts against a 4 1/2 volt light bulb, or a 4 volt bulb, because what's going to happen - you're going to blow it when you need it most in an emergency. Now see that D-ring there? I've bent that in a vise so it sticks up a little bit and it's easy to clip things onto. I don't have to hunt it down I can snap right off to it. You just stick it in a vise, tap it with a hemmer and bend it outward. This somewhat simulates the old US Divers D-rings. You can see the pressure gause, the safety spool... I put the safety spool in my pocket usually but most people hang it one the outside. If you put it in your pocket you have to have it clipped off in your pocket.

Now here's the light arrangement. This is a Bill Gavin light. The beauty of this light is that it has no moving wires whatsoever. He made mine short because I want the extra weight. I don't want it to have any buoyancy because I need all the weight I can get with the drysuit, the C-4 thinsulate. The reason for that is that if you do have any kind of a low on gas emergency you're going to have a problem if you're not well weighted. This battery turns and fits into a slot in the bottom, and then the head is positioned properly, and everything's ready to go. I always brush everything off and clean the O-rings, and make sure there's no dirt anywhere before I put the light or the scooter together. It's a good idea to have a strain relief on the cord of your light, and like I said before it's a good idea to have the cord exactly matched to the length you need so you have no extra cord hanging down. If you start yanking and jerking the cord around as it catches things it's going to break the wires inside and it's going to fail when you need it most. It's just like everything else in life, so this thing has to be maintained properly. Now, the light is left clipped off right here until it's being used, and I tend to make a practice of clipping the light off and not letting it hang down. The thing about that light - the light has a Goodman handle so I can hold it in my left hand, but it also has a separate handle so I can hold it in my right hand on my thumb. I can operate it completely, I can spin it around and flash with it and so on and soforth, so if I'm going down into the cave or dropping down on a shipwreck, I can operate both inflators with my left hand, and my light and my scooter with my right
hand. This is a typical video light that we use, notice the bulkhead in the center. These things have to be bulkheaded, there's a standard calculation for this stuff - when and where you bulkhead them. If they're not bulkheaded, you're just kidding yourself at some point if they'll wobble and they'll break. It looks exactly like the little light only it's carried like a stage bottle.

Here's a Lamar-English miniature exploration reel; Bill Gavin builds a big reel like this, but the idea of this reel is that there are no external handles or things to be caught on things, it's easy to operate. It's mostly made for putting line out not taking it in, but nonetheless it's a nice simple arrangement. Putting the gear on here... you can see the drysuit hose comes right up underneath, and it's going to fit right there where the inflator is which means I can operate both inflators with one hand, which is important. It's extremely important that you have ease of operation of gear and no convolutions whatsoever, and that there is nothing unusual you have to do to operate the gear. I can operate both inflators and clear my nose with one hand, and operate my scooter and my light with my other hand. That's what you've got to be able to do because what happens when something else comes up?

Here you can see the full hose arrangement. That's extended to the left hand, that's how you share air, real tough, no problem, the only thing is you don't want to have helmets or things like that on your head, it will come right off. This is extremely simple. Nothing on the front of the diver, nothing in the way, you can turn the light off right here, the switch is protected, the light is under your arm, it's protected and nothing's going to hit it. The only problem with this is that it weighs 90 pounds when it's full, not counting the argon bottle. Here we go, now see where everything fits. We can check our air, we can inflate, we can get the backup regulator, we gan get this regulator, we can share gas, we can turn the light on. Everything is out of the way. There is nothing on the front of the diver. There's nothing sticking up. If I hit the ceiling, I hit the roof, I'm not going to break the regulators off, I'm not going to break any hoses, there's nothing sticking out to catch in the current, there's nothing in the way, nothing unnecessary, nothing I don't need but I have every piece of safety equipment that I could possibly imagine. If I was wreck diving I'd stick my liftbag on that back D-ring and it would be underneath the back of those tanks, completely out of the way and not causing any drag whatsoever. If I wanted to carry other identifying tools or EPIRB or anything else it would go in the same position. Right where my left hand is is where the EPIRB would go on the belt, and if I wanted to use a signal flare kit it would go right down there as well, out of the way and underneath.

The best thing to use on these drysuits is some kind of talc. It's not a good idea to put soap on them because it's just going to ruin the neoprene. Also, you don't want to use any kind of silicone on here, because if you do have to change the seals you're not going to be able to get them to adhere to the material again properly when you've got to glue them back on. That's our patch. It's a helium atom around a compass rose. That's the manufacturer of the drysuit. This is an interesting zipper because it's a double-sided two pull zipper. It pulls from both sides at once. This is a self donning drysuit which is the only kind I like to use. It's a trilaminate suit. It's extremely comfortable. It's basically a Navy seal combat suit. You can swim across the surface with this thing. It's got side pockets - you don't want the pockets on the front. They've got to be on the side so they don't cause drag by getting in the flow. I carry a little stopper in my pocket in case I lose the balance chamber to the overboard discharge. Here you can see the overboard discharge. It's shielded away so it won't break off if it catches on something. In the inside it has a balance chamber so that it offset the pressure. I keep the key to my van on that thing as well. Here you can see the overboard discharge arrangement. It's covered on the inside so that it doesn't cause any problems from sticking into the flesh, from the rough edges. It's extremely important to have all of these things positioned properly, and have the right length and to have no problems with any of this, and to have it done right, because otherwise you just can't stand the long exposures. The thing about this particular suit that's so nice is that it's self donning. You don't need any help, you can get it on over large insulation. You can do anything in it and it doesn't restrict any motion whatsoever.

This is a typical stage bottle regulator, with that little short hose. They won't break or anything if you do that to them, they're made for it. They don't move around or anything if you secure the short hose. If you leave the short hose free it's not going to work, it's going to get broken. The hose has to be the length according to how it feeds off the regulator, but you don't want excess. This is what a stage bottle generally looks like. The handle is just to operate it underwater, it's not to carry it with, it's just to handle it in the water. It's just a piece of inner tube, there's a hose clamp. The stainless steel bolt snaps are the best thing to use for this. They don't jam up, they're the easiest to operate. The hose should also have a clip on it so you can stow it away but you can also clip it off so it doesn't come undone. I use the same kind of regulators for all my deco bottles. This is the position it would sit in. You can read the gauge - the hose just goes around the neck. Now, you'll notice that the bottle is marked as to its contents - in this case oxygen - and the depth. Oxygen is the only one we mark with the contents, the rest of them are just the depth. It says oxygen, it says oxygen all over it, I can see it's oxygen no matter how I look at it or pick it up I know it's oxygen. My trimix bottle on the other hand just says 300
feet - that's the maximum depth at which the bottle can be breathed. It's got my name on it, it's got 300 feet - I know what it is. This is the type of full face mask we use for long decompressions at 20 feet, it's just a simple ScubaPro facemask. It can be taken on and off quickly, and any ScubaPro regulator will plug right into it. So the key is, to be able to interchange regulators, and the other thing is, you've got to be able to get these things off and on quickly, without them drowning you, and you've got to be able to clear them easily, otherwise you've got a big problem. This one's a really simple mask, it also has antifogging built into the lenses - you just change the lenses out when it wears out, but it's easy to take on and off.

This is our scooter arrangement. Scooters have to be easily disassembled. This scooter you can take completely apart in 38 seconds, and can take the motor out in 2 minutes and change it out in another 2 minutes. We carry all modular plug-in spare parts to these things. My biggest fear in cave diving is going up to the Springs and not being able to do a dive, so I carry everything spare, modular and as simple as it possibly can be. All my dive partners do the same thing. This thing is really easy to put together. We just plug the battery in, as you can see the motor compartment is sealed off from the rest of the scooter, so it's not a problem with the offgassing. It will just blow the O-rings out if it offgasses, it will blow them outward, not inward, as the inside compartment has a surface seal and a barrel ring. This scooter charges from the top, or it can be taken all the way down. The bodies are interchangeable and the battery pack are interchangeable. All the scooters are identical on the team. We can interchange battery packs, bodies, lowerr sections, upper sections, nose cones. If we have a problem we can swap things out. One team can run bottles, then come back and hand off their scooters, we can change the batteries then send them back in with another team. We can put the short bodies on and tow them, or we can put the long bodies on as a primary. Now this is the longest range scooter we've got. This scooter will go 2 1/2 hours at 200 feet per minute, which is really quite remarkable. And you can see it's real tough to assemble. ;) These things are tow-behind scooters, but we also tow them if we need to. The strap that tows the diver is also serves to be the strap that tows the scooter. It goes up through the collar, and hooks to the back ring. There's the strap in the left hand, there. That's the strap that we run the tow cord through to tow the scooter itself. This is hooked to that D-ring I showed you on the harness, and that pulls the diver through the water. This basically allows for one hand free operation. They're triggered on the right. This leaves the left hand to look up and down tunnels with the light and to operate the rest of the equipment. It has a spring-loaded trigger action that quits when you let go of it. It's a real simple mechanism, it's just a relay and a read switch, and that's it. There's no circuitry other than that of any kind and everything is gold plated and double plated and through plated. We've never had one of these scooters fail in four years of operation. This one here is my oldest scooter. It has the end of the line in Wakulla, it has the end of the line in Turner sink, it has the end of the line in Cheryl sink. It's a Ni-Cd powered scooter. It will burn 2 hours at 200 feet per minute, and you can see the small size of it. This is the one I like to tow normally, but I also love to dive this thing, because it's a real masterpiece. It's a quarter pound negatively buoyant. I like to listen to these things with a mechanics stethoscope to see if there's any problems. You can hear if there is a problem with brushes, magnets, bearings, seals. You can hear all the stuff like that.

Now that we've taken a look at that we're going to go ahead and go diving.


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Revised:13 July, 2002