Backplate and wing report

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Posted by seahunt on May 12, 2002 at 21:59:10:

Well, I finally got to try out my new backplate. It was interesting and a bit of a learning experience.
Now you might question technical gear report coming from person after their first try with new gear, but I think it appropriate, because this is when you make your clearest impressions and note the little problems that you never notice again.
Actually, one of the most important questions to me was its performance on the surface. Could I do long surface swims that I occasionally make when at the beach or when lobster hunting? Could I comfortably sit on the surface while waiting for a boat?
I had no trouble swimming out while using snorkel. It was a little more of a problem leaning back to talk to other divers than with a conventional BC, but that did not seem to be a big problem. At one point I sat back to see what it would be like to sit on the surface waiting for a boat. I did not like that. It was pushing forward. I brought my legs in front of me into a sitting position. I was able to stay in one place comfortably in that position. It would have been no trouble waiting that way. I did learn that too much air in the wing would make this more of a problem.
Basically, the backplate and wing worked fine on the surface.
Now is time to test it underwater.
I bought this model largely for the pull type deflator because that is the only kind that can take a secondary regulator. While swimming out, I had done a buoyancy check by lifting the hose above my head and deflating the wing. As planned, I was a few pounds negative on the surface. Now it was time to do the dive. I pulled on the hose to release all my air. I was not negative. Hmmmm.... I again lifted the hose over my head and deflated the wing the rest of the way. Now I think I remember why I never used the hose pull air release on my conventional BC. I also noticed that the air release dumped the air much slower than did my old Air2.
The bottom was about 60 feet and the visibility was pretty lame... Maybe a dusty 20 feet. I swam further out to the canyon and made what qualifies as a very uninteresting dive. There was something else I wanted to try to which involved doing a bit of a vertical flip. It didn't work real well and I kept crashing into the bottom. I suspect that the other diver behind me was really wondering what I was doing.
This was meant as a test and exercise dive, so the plan was to swim all the way to shore on the bottom. This was fun though because there a lot of little things in the sand to check out. There are crabs, snails, sand dollars, sea pansies, anemones and I even saw a nudibranch that I've never seen before. It was clear and about the size of a silver dollar. It was well carpeted with vivid orange stinging cells on its back.
As I got a bit into shallower water, I noticed that BC felt funny. I was obviously of bit light. I moved forward and back to see how the shift in air would affect me. It had a major effect. Since I was leaning forward the air was in the bottom of the BC. Well it only seemed natural to try to use the handy dandy bottom dump valve provided there. I had no trouble finding the knob and pulled it right off. Hmmmm. I think it needed a bigger knot.
I dumped air and the rest of the dive was uneventful.
There was a lesson in that though. In a conventional BC, the effect of the moving air would have been fairly minor. In the wing, it had a much larger affect. I think I have to write it down to higher performance, but I'm not yet sure.
Well, the wing did everything I wanted it to. It was plenty comfortable. Since it was a pretty casual swimming dive, I did not get a real feel for if it made much difference as far as drag is concerned. I will find that out in the rocks. It will take a tiny bit of learning and getting used to, but I think that I will come to like it more than conventional BC.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt

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