I was on a Lake Michigan charter this past year diving one of my favorite shipwrecks out of the Chicago area, the Straits of Mackinac. We were with a group of recreational divers and in rare form, I was diving single tanks as apposed to diving my doubles. One of the divers on board the boat asked me why I was diving a long hose on my single tank rig. He thought that the long hose was only for technical divers. While there are a number of reasons why technical and cave divers use the long hose, recreational divers can also benefit by diving the long hose.
Of course the long hose helps facilitate swimming single file in order to get through a restriction. For recreational divers, that could be a shipwreck. The short hose makes swimming single file almost impossible, unless you are top of teach other. Shipwreck penetration is done at recreational limits, but many recreational divers are not prepared to handle emergencies that can occur. Imagine this, two divers enter a shipwreck in 40 feet of water. Diver A runs out of air while inside the wreck. Now if the divers are on short hoses, not only will the divers NOT be able to swim single file to get out of the wreck, but they will most likely stir up the fine silt that exists inside shipwrecks. Now the dive team just experienced a major event with the out of air. Then to compound the stress with a low/no visibility exit. If diver B donated to diver A with the long hose, the team could exit single file and still maintain touch contact in the low/no visibility environment.
The long hose also makes for a much more comfortable air sharing ascent. During my open water class, I was taught to lock arms with my buddy and ascend. I do have a couple problems with this method. First, when you lock arms with your buddy, you are now going to perform an ascent with one arm. Assuming you are locking your right arms together, you only have your left arm free. This works for dumping gas out of your BCD and dry suit. When I teach students on short hoses, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hit in the face by students dumping gas out of their BCD. If that were a stressful situation (like a real out of air), a smack to the face may dislodge a regulator or knock off a mask causing more problems (or cause active panic). The second issue I have for this method is that if a diver runs out of air and shares air with his buddy, he is still highly stressed. This elevated stress level can cause a diver to swim to the surface more rapidly than a normal ascent. If I’m sharing air and holding onto a diver who is on an uncontrolled ascent, then I’m rocketing to the surface too. The long hose forces the receiving diver to slow down and stay with the regulator. If a diver decides to bolt to the surface, there is almost nothing you can do to stop them. However, if a diver is still stressed and able to maintain some control of themselves, there is no need to hold onto each other.
If a recreational diver ever decides to transition into technical diving, then they won’t have to learn how to use the long hose. It will be a smooth transition and allow the diver to focus on technical diving skills rather than fundamental skills. Because most dive stores and charter operations do not rent long hoses as part of their rental units, I teach my open water students on both short hoses and long hoses, with more emphasis on the long hose. Overall, I feel that the long hose is the better choice for recreational divers.
Thanks to Duane Johnson of Precision Diving