BC Northern Diver Sea Eagle
I have never seen myself as a technical diver, more a logical diver.
When I started diving independently of clubs and dive centres in the early 80s, from my own boat and accompanied by perhaps just one other diver, I started having to think about redundancy. So I decided to take a second complete aqualung with me, in the form of another cylinder and regulator, the whole configured as a twinset. And by chance it had a manifold with an isolation valve, although for all intents and purposes I could have used independent singles.
Today, I have to admit to a certain amount of envy for those diving alongside me with twin cylinders when I have only a single. I am getting to the point at which my air no longer lasts as long on a dive as it once did, and because I have got used to wearing twins simply for the purposes of comparing regulators during dives, I have probably stopped being so careful with my consumption. When you have more than enough air, you tend to breathe it and be damned!
Of course, if youre wearing heavy steel cylinders, as I was all those years ago, true redundancy includes a second BC bladder. Although there are those who for some reason abhor the idea, a well-designed (dare I say it) technical divers BC can include this feature without becoming too intrusive.
The Northern Diver Sea Eagle is a twin-bladder BC with a stainless-steel backplate hidden behind a generous comfort cushion.
It has two direct-feed controls and corrugated hoses, 10 stainless-steel D-rings and two pockets, each big enough to hold a spare mask or delayed SMB.
Mine was supplied with two sets of twin cambands for twin tanks, although I suppose you could use it with a single 15 or 18 litre tank fitted with a Y or H-valve (for two regulators).
Because of its steel backplate, the Sea Eagle is no lightweight. It weighs in at close to 7kg, which is something to think about if your journey to the dive site involves more than a car ride.
The two cambands slipped quickly and easily over the two rented and independent cylinders I was using. On my back, I found it very comfortable and was able to stride down to the waters edge, even if my return journey after the dive included a few feeble stumbles.
The corrugated hoses tended to be pulled back so that they seemed a little short, but they certainly didnt get in my way, and the velcro-covered epaulets made sure that the hoses were to hand when I needed them.
I made a series of shore dives, which meant 15-minute swims out to the point at which we dropped down. I found it very convenient to swim on my back with one bladder fully inflated. The over-pressure valve on each bag is positioned at the lower back in conjunction with the dump there, so when this burped it felt as if I had eaten too many beans for breakfast! Naturally you use only one bladder and keep the other as an emergency item.
Under water, the elasticised cords that restrained the buoyancy bags kept everything from flapping and it all seemed rather neat. At the same time there was no way in which they could restrict full inflation of either bag or both. I always felt that my body was at the angle I wanted, and I had enough buoyancy to keep my head well clear of the water once I surfaced.
Of course I had to endure the scorn of a proper technical diver, who told me that the Sea Eagle drew heavily on the design of the OMS wing. So whats wrong with that Are other manufacturers not allowed to give us choice in the marketplace
I just take the gear diving and find out by experience, and this technical divers wing provides a useful alternative in an area in which there is not too much choice.
The ND Sea Eagle costs £325
  • Northern Diver 01257 254444, www.ndiver.com

  • Divernet
    + Redundant wing
    + Neat
    + British supplier

    - Heavy, like all technical BCs with stainless-steel backplates