Tag Archives: DPV

Product Review – Sea-Doo Explorer X

I have been using my Sea-Doo Explorer X DPV’s for several months now and thought that it was about time for me to write a review on them to let everyone know what experience I have had with them. I wanted to wait until I had a chance to really test them out under various conditions before writing a review.

When I first received the Explorer X DPV (Diver Propulsion Vehicle) I was skeptical as to how it would actually perform on a dive, especially the battery life. Sea-Doo claims that the batteries have a 2-hour runtime, so just in case I ordered a spare battery with mine.

I was also a little nervous after reading other reviews complaining about the seals not holding and the units flooding. Sea-Doo had apparently completely redesigned the rear end of the Explorer X and driveshaft seals to take care of this problem by incorporating a new three-stage waterproof seal.

I charged the batteries up overnight and prepped the DPV for its first voyage below the surface the next day by carefully inspecting it and installing its o-ring seal which I carefully lubricated with the supplied lubricant. Once the batteries were fully charged I installed the first one and ran a few tests on the scooters on/off switches and finger triggers to make sure that everything was working correctly. Everything appeared to be working correctly so I loaded the unit up for the days dives.

To start testing the Explorer X out I decided to do several boat dives with it, so that incase there was a problem with it I would not be stranded out in the middle of nowhere and have to swim back to shore dragging it behind me. For the next three months I dove with the Explorer X on just about every boat dive that I could as long as I wasn’t doing a training dive that would not allow its use.

I very quickly became a huge fan of the Explorer X. On land with its battery installed it only weighs 32 pounds, about the same as an empty 80cf aluminum scuba tank however in the water it is neutrally buoyant. Its hydrodynamic design allows it to glide through the water with ease and it has the strength to pull 2 divers along for the ride at up to 3.3 MPH.

Most recreational DPV’s in the same price range as the Explorer X (around $700) are very limited in the depths that they can be safely taken down to, many not even able to reach the 100 foot mark. That is one area where the newly redesigned Explorer X shines. It is depth rated to 130 feet (40 meters), and is tested to 160 feet (50 meters). I have had mine down to 125 feet so far with absolutely no troubles whatsoever.

As I mentioned earlier, I was wary of the two-hour battery runtime claimed by Sea-Doo, so I ordered a spare battery for my Explorer X yet I have never run the battery completely empty. I have used it continuously for a 90 minute dive at top speed circling the dive boat (for safety) and I ran out of air before the battery ran out of power. As a safety precaution though, I always change out batteries when I change out my cylinders on my surface interval.

Routine maintenance on the Explorer X is simple to perform. After the days dive’s I thoroughly rinse the DPV in fresh water allowing it to sit submerged for a few minutes to remove any salt deposits. I also start up the DPV while holding it in the water and let it work any salt from the driveshaft and propeller. Then I let it dry off completely before opening it up to take out the battery to recharge. While the battery is out of the unit I carefully inspect the o-ring around the battery compartment to make sure sand or other debris are not on the seal. I also make sure that there is plenty of lubricant on the o-ring before I drop in a freshly charged battery and seal it back up.

I love with the Explorer X so much that I now own two of them and have used them to show other divers how enjoyable they are when we dive together. A couple of the divers that I have allowed to use mine have loved them so much that they have now ordered their own. I actually dread shore diving without one now, thinking about how I will have to fight against currents, or make long surface swims to get out to a dive site. The Explorer X has become an invaluable tool in my dive trailer.

My Product Rating: 

Adapt . . . Improvise . . . Overcome

We scheduled two dives today with a group from Facebook to dive the Sharks Cove area this morning and I was really looking forward to it.

I wake up extra early, drive across the island to get to the North Shore early enough to find a place to park with my dive trailer. Two hours later everyone else shows up so we get ready for the first dive which will be entering at Three Tables and exiting at Firehouse.

After kitting up we walked all the way through the park to the entrance for Three Tables and started our surface swim out to the dive site. Since I am pulling the dive trailer with me I had to park up at the Sharks Cove parking lot and walk all the way to the entrance to Three Tables which is quite a walk caring all of my dive gear with me. By the time we reached the spot where we would descend I started having a minor asthma attack so I canceled the first dive and headed back to shore. A couple quick puffs of my inhaler and I was back to normal. I had not had an incident like that in years, then I happened to look at my inhaler and noticed that it had expired last December, luckily it still worked.

About an hour later the guys reached Firehouse and exited from their first dive, so I grabbed my gear and met them for the second dive, from Firehouse to Sharks Cove. Since I had the issue which canceled the first dive I decided to take my DPV with me for the second dive so that I could relax and not exert myself to avoid a relapse.

As we entered the water at Firehouse I put my mask and gloves on and started putting my fins on preparing to start the dive when a buckle on one of my Oceanic V-12 fins broke off in my hand. I carry extra fin straps in my dive trailer incase one breaks, but this time the stud that holds the buckle onto the fin broke off, so there was no quick fix to save the fin for the dive. I also noticed that my iGills backup computer had malfunctioned and would not start logging the dive. Since I was already in the water I could not open its case and reset it, so no iGills.

After thinking about it for a minute I got the feeling that someone just flat did not want me diving today. Murphy’s Law came to mind . . . “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. It seemed that Murphy was working overtime on me today.

Then I remembered a Marine Corps mantra . . . “Adapt, Improvise, & Overcome”. I decided that nothing was going to make me miss both of todays planned dives. Murphy had beaten me once, he may have won the first battle, but the war was far from over. I would make this dive even if I didn’t have a pair of fins to use.

I strapped the broken fins to a d-ring on my BCD, grabbed my DPV and headed into the ocean. Not having the weight of the fins on my feet made me off balanced to say the least. The first few minutes of the dive were comical as I fought for control of my balance and trim in the water. John, one of the other divers on this excursion suggested that I at least put the one good fin on, which made control in the water much easier. I placed the one good fin that I had remaining on my left foot, then hooked my ankles together and used a modified “Mermaid” kicking style for the remainder of the dive which helped quite a bit.

I got quite a few stares and inquisitive looks from other divers that we ran across on the dive. I bet they had never seen someone dive with a single fin like that before.

About half-way through the dive we came across a very large Hawaiian Monk Seal (#32) swimming overhead and I reached for my GoPro to snap a few photos as it was playing with a snorkelers fin at the surface. Just as I turned the GoPro on and got ready to start snapping photos it locked up on me preventing me from being able to use it or reset it.

With all of the problems on this dive, from dive computers and cameras not working to fins breaking and asthma attacks, I’m not even going to log this dive. Maybe I can try it again next time and have better luck.

UPDATE:  Since my camera was having issues, here is a video shot by John Dooling and some photos of the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, Hawaiian Monk Seal, and other sea life that we saw on the dive taken by Lisa Zick-Mariteragi.

Dive 82

Date: June 25, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 2 of 2

Time In:  16:54  Time Out:  18:04  Time:   :70

Dive Location: Kahe Point Beach Park (Electric Beach),  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop: N/A

Purpose: Fun Dive

Dive Type:  Shore      Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  1-3′ Swells, Mild Current & Surge   Wt:  14lbs

Visibility: 30-40′

Air Temp:  82° F    Btm. Temp:  81° F

Max Depth:  29.2′    Average Depth: 13′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 2,726   End PSI: 1,417      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 3cf Spare Air, Oceanic V-12 Split Fins, iGills, DPV

Notes:

Second dive of the day was another Fun Dive with Logan from DiveBuddy.com playing around with the DPV’s.

Saw several Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, and 3 different species of Moray Eels on this dive. Also spotted a Lion Fish.

iGills Snapshot

Dive 81

Date: June 25, 2013         Repetitive Dive: 1 of 2

Time In:  13:27  Time Out:  14:35  Time:   :68

Dive Location: Kahe Point Beach Park (Electric Beach),  Oahu, HI.

Dive Shop:  N/A

Purpose: Fun Dive

Dive Type:  Shore      Environ: Ocean / Salt

Conditions:  1-3′ Swells, Mild Current & Surge   Wt:  14lbs

Visibility: 40-50′

Air Temp:  82° F    Btm. Temp:  81° F

Max Depth:  24.9′    Average Depth: 12′

Safety / Decompression Stops: None

Start PSI: 2,735   End PSI: 856      Air/EANx:  21%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: 30cf Pony Bottle, Oceanic V-12 Split Fins, iGills, DPV

Notes:

A DiveBuddy.com member was on island this week and wanted to do some shore dives so we decided to try out Electric Beach. The visibility was a little lower than normal today, but we still had two good dives and I got to put my new Dive Trailer into use.

We saw a couple Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, Hawaiian Barracuda, and a Moray Eel, but no sharks today.

Logan had never used a DPV before so I gave him a “crash course” in safely using a DPV, he loved it and plans on purchasing one for himself now.

To keep him from having to rent gear for the dive I loaned him a set of fins, weights, and 2 tanks. No need to go out of the way to the dive shop.

iGills Snapshot

Logan from DiveBuddy.com learning to use the DPV safelyLogan from DiveBuddy.com

Divemaster Mapping Project

As part of my PADI Divemaster training I am required to create a map of a dive site to teach me underwater mapping and reinforce the underwater navigation skills that I learned in the Underwater Navigator Specialty course that I took last month.

For this task I was allowed to choose Koko Craters, a popular dive site off the South East coast of Oahu. Because I dive this site very often, and had already started a rudimentary map of the location in the Underwater Navigator Specialty dives it would save me some time.

Normally the mapping project is done by a group of Divemaster Candidates (DMC’s) who collaborate on a finished map. Since I am doing this mapping project alone I would have to do everything myself, which would mean multiple dives at the location to get measurements, compass headings, etc.

Unfortunately we have been getting hit with a south swell for the past couple weeks that has made diving on the south shores almost impossible. Most of the dive boats have cancelled their dives and everyone is shore diving up at Sharks Cove for the past two weeks. In order to work on my map today I was forced to do a solo kayak dive in very rough waters.

I ended up getting rolled 4 times today while trying to get out to the site. Once I was offshore out at the site the seas were much calmer and I was able to get some diving done. Unfortunately the visibility was very poor for this location, normally we have around 100′ visibility at Koko Craters, but because of the south swell today it was only 10 to 15 feet, which made working on my map very difficult. There was also a strong current which also added to my challenge, luckily I had strapped one of my DPV’s to my kayak in anticipation of the strong currents and surge. Using the DPV I was able to overcome the current and get some work done on my map.

Here is the map I made of the Koko Craters Dive Site. Hopefully it will be good enough to pass and I can get signed off for this project. I don’t see how I can make it much better.

KokoCratersDiveMap

You can download a Printable .pdf version of the map by clicking here or a larger .jpg image by clicking on the map above.

Dive 56

Date: April 21, 2013       Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii, Hawaii Kai, HI.

Location: Koko Craters,  Oahu, Hawaii

Dive Type: Boat    Environ: Ocean / Salt   Conditions: Surge

Visibility: 40-60′      Air Temp:   81       Bottom Temp:  75.1      Weight:  18lbs.

Time In:  15:16    Time Out:  15:48

Max Depth:  35′       Average Depth: 26.2′     Time:   :32        Safety Stop: 15′ 3min

Start PSI: 2,874    End PSI: 1,159      Air/EANx:  32%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: Spare Air, DPV

Notes:

We tied up at the Little Buda statue and toured the Koko Craters area on the DPV’s. Since our first dive was so long and we had not fully warmed up from that dive we got cold quickly and ended this dive early. Not much life visible today, only saw 1 Moray Eel on this dive.

 

Dive 55

Date: April 21, 2013       Dive Shop:  Island Divers Hawaii, Hawaii Kai, HI.

Location: West Side of Turtle Canyons,  Oahu, Hawaii

Dive Type: Boat    Environ: Ocean / Salt   Conditions: Surge

Visibility: 40-60′      Air Temp:   88       Bottom Temp:  76.6      Weight:  18lbs.

Time In:  13:28    Time Out:  14:36

Max Depth:  36′       Average Depth: 24.8′     Time:   1:08        Safety Stop: 15′ 3min

Start PSI: 2,938    End PSI: 900      Air/EANx:  32%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: Spare Air, DPV

Notes:

Saw a coupple moray eels, several Trumpet Fish, a Coronet Fish, and a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. Was a lot of fun using the DPV to “cruise” through the canyons. Unfortunately I had a problem with my GoPro and the video did not record.

Dive 54

Date: April 8, 2013       Dive Shop:  Dive Oahu, Honolulu, HI.

Location: Kaiser Reef / Channel Reef / Kewalo Pipe,   Oahu, Hawaii

Dive Type: Boat    Environ: Ocean / Salt  Conditions: Surge, Swells, & Mild Current

Visibility: 40-60′      Air Temp:   82       Bottom Temp:  75      Weight:  18lbs.

Time In:  14:22    Time Out:  15:06

Depth:  58′       Time:   :44        Safety Stop: 15′ 3min

Start PSI: 2745    End PSI: 1915      Air/EANx:  34%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: Spare Air, DPV

Notes:

Completed all of the required skills for the DPV Specialty course on the first dive so we decided to just do a “fun dive” and tour the area. Instead of riding the boat from the first dive site to the second dive site we decided to use the DPV’s and tour a large area on the way to the second dive site.

Got to tour Kaiser Reef, Channel Reef, and finally Kewalo Pipe and the coral reef around it. Saw Trumpet Fish, and Moray Eels on the dive. At the boat harbor we saw a Stingray with about a 6′ wingspan gliding under the boat at the dock looking for fish scraps dropped from the nearby fishing tour boats.

Dive 53

Date: April 8, 2013       Dive Shop:  Dive Oahu, Honolulu, HI.

Location: Kaiser Reef,  Oahu, Hawaii

Dive Type: Boat    Environ: Ocean / Salt   Conditions: Surge & Mild Current

Visibility: 40-60′      Air Temp:   84       Bottom Temp:  75      Weight:  18lbs.

Time In:  13:09    Time Out:  13:45

Depth:  39′       Time:   :36        Safety Stop: 15′  3min

Start PSI: 2792    End PSI: 1897      Air/EANx:  34%

Exposure Protection: 5-Mil Full Wetsuit, Hood, Boots, Gloves

Equipment: Spare Air, DPV

Notes:

First dive of Diver Propulsion Vehicle Specialty course. Went over required DPV skills while doing a tour of Kaiser Reef. Saw a White Tipped Reef Shark sleeping under a coral ledge, a couple large moray eels and a few small ones. First time diving this location, I like it a lot for a shallow dive. Great location to run the DPV’s.

Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) Specialty

Today I went out with Oahu Divers to complete the in-water portion of my Diver Propulsion Vehicle (DPV) specialty course.

This specialty course was way too easy for me since I currently own two matching SeaDoo Explorer-X DPV’s that I dive with almost every day, but I wanted to complete the specialty anyway so that when I become an instructor if I want to teach the specialty I have a better idea of how to go about teaching the class.

The in-water portion of the class comprises of 2 dives. Since we were able to complete all of the skills required for the course on the first dive, the second dive was just a fun dive. We used the second dive to tour a wide area near Kewalo boat harbor that I never get to see normally since the dive shop that I normally use does not dive at these dive locations.

Since this area was so close to Waikiki I was afraid that there wouldn’t be any good coral reefs to see, I was surprised. We started off at Kaiser Reef, and meandered our way west toward Kewalo pipe crossing under the channel just after a huge yacht named “Rising Sun” owned by Larry Ellison passed through the channel.

Mr Ellison, CEO of Oracle is currently the 3rd wealthiest man in America and the new owner of both a majority of the 141 square mile Hawaiian island of Lanai as well as Island Air, a small airline that services the island of Lanai as well as other Hawaiian islands.

Even though I have been using my DPV’s for a few months, this was the first chance I had gotten to dive with someone else using a DPV. It was a real change to not have to slow down or stop so that my dive buddy could keep up with me.  I have got to find dive buddies that also have their own DPV’s, lol.

Note: Even though I completed this specialty course on April 8th, for some reason the instructors at Dive Oahu did not process it until April 22, so that is why there is a discrepancy in the certification dates.

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