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Spools, reels and SMBs

Discussion in 'General Scuba Diving' started by Wibble, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Tel

    Tel Super Moderator
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    I've not ever used an itty-bitty blob in the UK sea :)

    Mind I also carry an itty-bitty blob on hols when blobs are not (supposed to be) required and where the vast majority will not have one.
    It's a simple open ended tube with 10m of line wrapped around a 1kg weight folded flat in a pouch and yes this is in a pocket :)

    Again it's the perception of risk dictating the right tool for the job.
     
  2. Dave Whitlow

    Dave Whitlow Super Moderator
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    WTF is the point keeping an SMB in a pocket, to satisfy some fashion objective, when removal and deployment at 60m will add extra deco that wasn't needed.

    Crack bottle, or CO2 SMB, attached to a ratchet reel and clipped to a D-ring for quick deployment at the end of the dive is the only, IMHO, sensible approach. Anything else is just silly!
     
  3. Tribal Chestnut

    Tribal Chestnut Well-Known Member
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    That’s exactly my point; train/practise and make sure you’re competent with whichever method you prefer.

    There’s absolutely no reason why a pocketed blob cannot be deployed smoothly and quickly if you’re not a prat, likewise there’s no reason why a clipped on reel should become a problem through being lose/snagging/whatever.

    I’m a D ring clipped KT reel user by the way.
     
  4. JohnL

    JohnL Well-Known Member

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    I am the classic inept DSMB launcher, rarely tried and usually poorly executed. Didn't do too badly today, but still pretty messy. So, I'm determined to get better and the answer is practice, practice, practice.
    Meanwhile, there was some twinset training going on by the club - first dive, 58 minutes at maximum depth of 5.6m! Second dive about the same duration but got to about 20m. Looking at them trudging back, I've no desire to lug that amount of gas around - a single cylinder is quite enough weight.
     
  5. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Time for some pictures...

    Just a note that I only dive to 60ish metres and that I use a 60 metre spool. Obviously one puts a SMB up from the top of a wreck -- don't want it banging into anything on the way up -- so I'll be inflating it above 50 metres.

    IMG_4549.jpg IMG_4563.jpg
    Spool attached to the SMB, showing how the bungee loops in my pockets attach to the two bolt snaps (one double-ender, one attached to the webbing on the SMB).

    To launch, I reach down to my RH pocket, lift the velcro flap and pull out the SMB and reel. When loading my pocket I made sure that all was ready for this manoeuvre. and that it wouldn't snag and the bungee loop is clear to come out.

    I can then bring the SMB in front of me to disconnect the two bolt snaps from the bungee loop and put the pocket flap back in place.

    IMG_4550.jpg IMG_4552.jpg
    The double-ender is wound up "cave style", so is very easy to unclip, but only when I decide


    IMG_4553.jpg IMG_4555.jpg
    After removing the double-ender and clipping it off to my chest D-ring, I wind the (yellow) string up and hold the smb with one hand.

    At this point I am free to do what I want, such as move on to the second part of the deployment...

    I unravel and shake out the SMB - there's a bungee loop.

    I disconnect my suit inflate hose (or if using a suit inflation bottle, I use the suit inflate connected to my back gas (and gaffa-taped to my SMB HP hose). I can disconnect my suit inflation hose single handed, but if necessary I can use the hand holding the SMB to help. I've never had problems disconnecting it.

    Then it's a matter of lightly locating the suit inflate valve over the SMB nipple. Another pause point to check around me -- don't want anything above me to snag on the soon-to-be-launched SMB.

    To inflate, I then press the suit inflation hose into the nipple and the bag fills. I tend to lean over a bit so that plenty of gas goes in. I hate flaccid blobs -- I've got a big one and I'm proud of it.

    When the SMB starts to lift me, I simply release my index finger holding the valve on top of the spool and off it whizzes. I tend to leave my thumb in the hole whilst it spins and with the other hand attempt to reconnect my suit inflate on my suit with my right hand.

    I can 'brake' the spinning spool to get some blob-assisted ascent going, but I tend to wait until it stops spinning. Then off I go, ascending and winding the spool back on. Pretty simple and not that dissimilar to someone winding a reel.

    The design of the Apeks spool is such that it doesn't snag and is easy to hold. The hole is smooth so gloves -- even large winter ones -- don't snag.

    The one and only time -- out of ~200 launches -- that it did slip out of my hand, it simply stayed put in the water whilst spinning. Nice; really impressive!

    IMG_4569.jpg IMG_4570.jpg
    The Apeks spools are wonderful designs, but there's a couple of drawbacks. The first is the line is flat, so can easily slip through a bolt snap.

    IMG_4571.jpg IMG_4572.jpg
    To workaround this, just put a twist into the line when the bolt-snap's connected.


    Continued....
     
  6. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    The second drawback is the double-ender can disconnect from the spool if it's connected on the inside to the outside, when the bolt-snap blob catches against the spool. I'm pushing it by hand in the below photos, but when the line & spool bounces due to a wave on the surface, this can happen by itself -- the root cause of my runaway spool issue on Monday.
    IMG_4576.jpg IMG_4575.jpg IMG_4577.jpg


    The way to tie off the spool when it's dangling from the SMB above is to use a 'cave wrap' which holds the double ender upwards and away from the self-disconnect position.


    IMG_4579.jpg IMG_4580.jpg IMG_4581.jpg IMG_4582.jpg

    Then it dangles without any issues.


    When I'm at deco I'm flat in the water and let the spool dangle a couple of feet below me, or more if it's rough on top. I make a loop with my thumb and forefinger and pass the line through, so the spool bounces below me (hence I couldn't catch the sod when it disconnected on Monday). If I'm there for a long time, I'll hold another double-ender to stop the string from rubbing on my glove - the string rubs against the metal and it's less tiring to hold.

    At that point I drift off into that zen-like calmness; if the spool touches my hand, I've sunk slightly low, if I notice it's a way down, I've floated up.

    Obviously as I'm not hanging on the SMB, I've no issues with buoyancy, but the bag will be laying on the surface. Hence it's a big stiff one that everyone can see.
     
  7. Tel

    Tel Super Moderator
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    By the time you've undone the velcro flap on your pocket, my DSMB is in my hand and ready to launch :)

    If you need that many pics to explain the process, maybe the process is too long :p
     
    Nick Ward and Dave Whitlow like this.
  8. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    I'm only posting that lot as a reference - probably need to put this into a different thread.

    I used to use reels and have had loads of disasters with them, not least some string catching on the handle and the lot flying upwards. Sure, practice, etc.

    I did buy a man-sized KT spool and a crack-bottle bag but utterly hated it for the one and only time I used it. I'm sure it would have been fine if I'd persisted, but I'm happy with my chosen tools and method, and particularly pleased that my two bags are identical, so there's no emergency drill to learn and they're lightweight.

    The main thing I hated was how it changed my buoyancy when I moved the circa 2kg of spool and crack-bottle off of me and discovered I was very light, so ended up holding on to the reel for my 15 mins of deco and dumping all the gas from my suit.
     
    #28 Wibble, Aug 16, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
  9. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Twinsets are sodding heavy! Can't be far off of 50kg by the time the tins + manifolds + weights + backplate + regs + torch and other danglies are taken into account.

    However, they give you redundancy -- very important below 30m -- and loads of gas, so you can have ages on the bottom; I'll often get an hour at 40m and even longer at 30m. For that I'm prepared to put up with the weight, not forgetting the additional deco stage cylinder(s)!
     
  10. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    (Would anyone object if I move this topic to it's own thread?)
     
  11. nickb

    nickb Well-Known Member

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    I object to you using a contraction in place of a possessive. Otherwise, fill your boots.

    You are clearly wedded to this bullshit Glenn so I’ll take no further part in this discussion.
     
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  12. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Just to clarify, I'm not saying pocket-stored SMB+spool is the only answer, nor the perfect solution. If deep launching or to reduce task loading the big reel+self-inflating SMB is probably a better solution. Also when pockets are obscured by stages -- getting at pockets in Sidemount is a right palaver and they're best stored in a bum-bag.

    I've a feeling that my technique and opinions will drastically change when I eventually move over to CCR.
     
  13. Dave Whitlow

    Dave Whitlow Super Moderator
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    As you say, it comes with practice. DSMB deployment features quite often in uncontrolled ascents incidents so is worth the effort.

    A common avoidance tack is to let your buddy do it. That is fine whilst your buddy is happy to deploy but when you find yourself separated you are then alone and executing a task with which you are uncomfortable. That may not have the best outcome.

    I'll not bother arguing again silly spools when I think I've already covered that. Repetition and pictures don't make a poor idea any better.
    Agreed. Twinsets are often presented as a progression from single cylinder and pony and this isn't really the case.

    Most club boat diving involves 2 dives; normally a deeper dive followed by a shallower, commonly a drift, dive. A 15l (with optional pony as personal reserve) for the first dive and a 12l (with optional pony as personal reserve) is a better solution than a twinset as it offers a good reserve on both dives, less excess weight on the first dive, is simple and requires no additional drills.

    For dives where the single cylinder provides insufficient gas, typically 40m or more, then a twinset starts to make sense, as does the addition of a bottom stage. However, with the extra depth, trimix is a safer option and with high helium prices and growing shortages that is looking a poor solution with CCR clearly the best route for the deeper dives.
     
    Wibble likes this.
  14. nickb

    nickb Well-Known Member

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    I'm not gonna get drawn into the spool/reel thing but...

    Having spent a lot of time crewing on various boats, I can authoritatively say that bagging-off is one of the most common precursors to a less than elegant arrival at the surface.

    Getting dragged to the surface by an SMB can happen so quickly that even the most strategically-placed knife or line-cutter wouldn't be any use. A lot of, even fairly experienced, divers are, understandably, terrified of it and seem to go to all sorts of lengths to avoid having to be the one to bag-off. This of course results in them rarely getting any practice and, as Dave says, practice is the only way to perfect any skill.

    Using equipment specifically meant for other, unique, purposes such as drysuit hoses and second stages for inflating SMBs is plain daft. If you want to use a bag that doesn't have its own means of inflation, add another inflation hose with a dog-dick or such on the end of it. A small pneumatic inflator is a lot less likely to get caught-up in the SMB or line and doesn't need to be reattached, like a drysuit hose, when other more pressing things are happening - just let it go.

    The AP is by far the most common self-inflating SMB that I encounter. I even had one myself for a short while about 15 years ago but soon ditched it as it was too big and cumbersome.

    I always use a CO2 bag now, aside from a Halcyon one that I use as a small lift bag for scalloping or bagging-up small or light objects (not as an SMB) and I inflate it from my bailout. Smaller 16g CO2 bags have the advantage of being instantly deployed without a huge amount of buoyancy that could drag you to the surface if you got the line a bit tangled. You get a small window of time to sort it out. Indeed, at depths of greater than about 50m you can inflate the bag and hold it there indefinitely while you sort your shit out or wait for your buddy whose AP auto bottle hadn't been refilled ;)

    On the one occasion the bag didn't inflate - probably due to a duff cartridge - I reached into my pocket and pulled a spare out and used that.

    I'd recommend them to everybody. You can even use a 12g cartridge whilst practicing as these won't inflate the bag so much and will be less likely to drag you to the surface.
     
    Iain Denham likes this.
  15. Tribal Chestnut

    Tribal Chestnut Well-Known Member
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    Anyone use the double CO2 cartridge DSMBs?
     
  16. nickb

    nickb Well-Known Member

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    I've seen a few but they seem like a bit of overkill unless you need a really big SMB. My 16g bag is about the same height as the 4.5' Halcyon, only thinner.

    I buy the cartridges in bulk and they work out around 60p each but I'd be loathed to use two on every dive.
     
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  17. timmyg

    timmyg Super Moderator
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    Absolute rubbish, and another example of people posting their opinions as fact.

    If I'm diving off Chesil Beach, I'm not going to lug my twinset over the cobbles, I'll go in on a single, or even a single sidemount. It's the same for caving when removable sidemount cylinders may be the better option over a twinset.

    A DSMB and reel or spool is exactly the same - it's the correct tool for that particular job. And to say putting it in a pocket is silly is insulting to the plenty of people who do this with no issues. I could say that having a dangling snag hazard is silly, diving without a long hose is silly etc... but I don't. Because simply none of it is true. Thousands of dives are carried out safely in various configurations every year. Opinions are just that.

    In terms of removal = extra deco, granted there's always the oh $hit moments when you need to deploy a DSMB now, but generally (in my experience) you know well before the end of the dive whether you're making it back to the shot or not. Therefore, in the last few planned minutes of bottom time my hand is in my pocket & my DSMB is out, prepped & in one hand ready to go. As soon as the thumb is given the bag is away.

    To any newbies reading this, there are pros and cons with a reel or a spool. There are pros and cons with stowage locations. Allow your instructor to explain both. Ask your buddy why they use that particular method. But then go away and find out what works for you.

    TPG
     
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  18. Dave Whitlow

    Dave Whitlow Super Moderator
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    Probably the better plan as some on here have curious views. :D
    That seems a classic example of not reading the post quoted . I only post my opinion and do not claim this to be fact. In the quoted post I even made this clear (highlighted text above in the quote).
    In my experience, return to shot almost never happens from UK boat diving, other than the deeper offshore stuff, and bagging when leaving the wreck is the normal requirement for dives to 10m all the way to 70m dives. Beyond that there is usually lazy shot or trapeze and return is indeed a requirement.
    Are you saying you use a spool from your pocket for all bottom DSMB deployment? :eek:
    Do you wait until the DSMB breaks surface before you commence winding too? If so, how long does it take to wind a spool from 60m to that first stop?

    IMHO that does sound rather silly! :cool:
     
  19. timmyg

    timmyg Super Moderator
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    Unlike you, my experience of my boat diving is return to shot unless it’s a scenic/drift.

    Do I deploy a spool from 60m? No. I will use a reel if I have to, and I take one with me to those depths if required, but my preference is to ascend quick and deploy mid-water.

    As I said, right tool for the job, and whatever works for the individual.

    TPG


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    #39 timmyg, Aug 16, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
  20. John F

    John F Active Member

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    To me, this comes across as a load of very capable people arguing over something that they all do perfectly well, in there own chosen way.
    What is all the fuss about, as several people have already said, just practice you preferred method. Job done.

    But that’s just my opinion.
     
    Wibble likes this.

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