IT’S A LONG TIME since I learnt to scuba dive alongside John Young, in the Caribbean. He had been a police-diver, so I asked him why he would want to learn to scuba. Didn’t he already know how to do it
He pointed out that what he did, groping around in the dark at the end of a rope, feeling for what might be missing corpses in various states of decomposition, was not like scuba-diving as we know it. He added that he had never dived in clear blue water, where he could see what he was doing.
From time to time, motoring magazines review vehicles such as the Bugatti Veyron. It’s not that we VW Golf or Ford Focus owners are likely to buy one, but it’s interesting to read about. The drysuit in this review falls into this category. It’s designed for the likes of John Young when he was at work.
It always amuses me when people buy environmentally sealed regulators because, rather than being designed for use in cold water as is now commonly believed, they are intended for use in polluted or contaminated waters.
Similarly, the point of a full-face mask, if underwater communications are not to be used, is to protect the wearer from the environment.
I think that as leisure-divers we should avoid any water that demands these precautions.
On the other hand, it could be argued that all bodies of water are contaminated.
I was hoist on my own petard recently when an unusual drysuit from DUI came into my possession. The CXO is specifically intended to protect the wearer from anything nasty in the water. Used with a full-face mask and an environmentally sealed regulator first stage, it forms part of an encapsulating system that does more than simply protect the wearer from the cold.
Obviously, it’s intended for use by divers involved in public safety. That includes police diving teams that have little choice about the cleanliness of the water in which they dive.
It’s not just a matter of using a material that keeps the water out, either.
Zip, seals, valves and hood are all weak points that must be addressed, and the heroes who jump into canals, ponds and dirty rivers looking for weapons or dead bodies must be protected from the likes of Weil’s disease and bacterial or chemical contamination.

The Material
The suit is strongly constructed using a polyurethane laminated fabric, and the seams are doubly reinforced with a covering of tape. It’s a lot less flexible than the suit material we have otherwise become used to recently, but it’s a lot more lightweight and comfortable than a traditional heavyweight vulcanised rubber suit.
In fact, while trimming the conical latex neck seal to fit, and wrestling with the suit as I did so, I reflected that it was a bit like the material used in some inflatable boats. There are reinforcing pads at the knees, waist and shoulders.
The cross-shoulder zip is of polyurethane too, and there are built-in suspenders in a contrasting white so that they are easily visible if they need untangling in the cavernous dark interior of the suit.
The legs come closed with sock-ends, so it’s important to wear some footwear over them to keep them from being punctured. I used a pair of Rock-boots.
DUI supplies this suit already fitted with its patented ZipSeal system. This includes a hard plastic ring at both wrist and neck, and affords quick replacement in the event of a latex seal getting damaged.
The seal is conical, so it’s easy to trim it to suit your neck size, and it certainly keeps the water out.
There are ZipSeals at the wrists, but these carry dry gloves that are used with woolly liners. The dry gloves have Velcro-covered ribbons used to tighten them at the wrists.
The inflation and constant-volume dump-valves are interesting in that although they look like standard Apeks issue (albeit with DUI branding) the inlet valve has fluorosilicone O-rings, and the dump has a check-valve made with fluorosilicone too.
It would be a little silly to go to all this trouble to keep the dirty water at bay and then wear a wet hood, so an attached dry hood is included.
You must be careful using this type of hood, because it’s all too easy to get a reversed ear.

In Use
Luckily, I’m much the same size as DUI founder Dick Long so, although I found the suit supplied to be slightly over-capacious, DUI had one to go off-the-shelf.
It didn’t feel sleek. It felt as if I was climbing into one of those giant helium-filled inflatable radio-controlled fish that you might have seen at the Dive Show. But I got the legs on and struggled my sock-ends into my Rock-boots. I then pulled the legs up and donned the braces.
Next I, donned the woolly glove liners and inserted my arms and hands into the rubber dry-gloves. This left me with a problem.
The dexterity provided by the dry-gloves was not enough to ease me through the neck-seal and into the dry-hood, though I managed somehow.
My buddy closed the dry-zip for me, and I knew that his help would be vital later when it came to taking the suit off. There was no way I was going to be able to grip the neck-seal with those rubber gloves.
Safely sealed inside the suit, I was able to put a tuck in the waist to take care of some of the surplus material. Enclosed in the dry-hood, I felt a bit like Wicked Willy must feel once enclosed and connected to a P-valve.
I certainly wasn’t going to catch anything untoward, other than gasps of astonishment from those riding their bikes along the towpath of a particularly dirty part of Old Father Thames.
I waded out in what was probably the biggest and brightest condom ever seen, and in a startlingly obvious shade of scarlet.
It was almost impossible to swim in. There seemed to be swathes of material impeding my progress.
I reflected that John Young had told me a harrowing story of walking about in a lake and bumping into a much older and softer body than the one he was originally looking for.
This suit was obviously not designed with swimming in mind!
I don’t expect many readers will decide to buy such a suit, and luckily police divers don’t need to work in the water every day. Thanks lads.

COMPARABLE DRYSUITS TO CONSIDER:
Various professional-diving drysuits are made by the likes of Trelleborg-Viking and Typhoon

SPECS
PRICE £2200 (approx)
FABRIC Polyurethane laminated
SIZES Short, regular and tall variations of S, M, L, XL and XXL plus made-to-measure.
CONTACT www.sdswatersports.co.uk
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