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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Apr 5, 2001

I have been wondering about using a propulsion vehicle for freediving. A side from the cost, which is pretty high for most units, are ther any other draw backs? In particular I'm wondering about using one to get to some of the closer islands that are say a mile or two off shore. In the past I have found sleds and rope tows very useful and fun for searches, may be a dpv would have its place.

Thanks for the comments,

Hi Doug,

I do not know how these vehicles fair on the surface, however, I hear they are great for getting 'bent' if used to go deep while freediving. :hungover

Anyone out there used these things to cover surface distance?


why dont you use a Kayak? They're cheap and easy to use, especially the sit on top models. With them you can go wherever you want. I own a two place sit-on-top model that i use a lot to go diving with my girlfriend. One big advantage is that you can pass over very shallow reef, hit a couple of rock, right to your favorite hunting ground. One good advice, let the other person sit up front so you're the one who get to predend to paddle.
Hi Crazy,

I already use a 16' outrigger with a small motor, the problem is that it just won't dive worth a ***** and I understand the that the DPVs dive pretty good, perhaps too good.

Thanks for the advice,

I used my Oceanic Mako for freediving with ok result. The thing that concerns me most is DPV failure since it's so easy to go beyond my normal swimming depth with this thing. But it's an excellent way to cruise around the bottom while saving lots energy. I bought mine back in 1996 for about $1000 for cave diving but found it to be fun for freediving as well. It's neutrally bouyant, got nine speed setting and can run from 50 minutes as high speed to 120 min at lowest speed and range is about 2 to 3 miles.


The only draw back of the Oceanic is it's only rated to something like 180ft, so if you want go deeper you'll need the UV scooter, which is an evolution of the original Bill Gavin design used for deep cave diving. Think of the Mako but tougher and more configurable.


I don't like any ride on top DPV so I won't talk about them.


Hi Bubba,

Welcome to the list, and thanks for the information!
The 2-3 mile range of the Mako is with no safety margin I assume.
Do you tend to run the puppy dry or save 1/3? Also given the cost, which in Canadian dollars would be $5000, might require some sort of rescue system like a inflatable bouy to at least surface them. A friend of mine mentioned that he thought that they used something akin to motors used in battery powered outboards, which makes me wonder about trying to make one, ala some old issue of Popular Mechanics. Given your experience with the units, does this seem viable? A page like Kitto's on home builing would sure help.

Thanks again, and best wishes,

I don't recommend making one yourself unless you have other ways to bail you out when the DPV fails. There are a lot things that can go wrong and you don't want to learn all of them by yourself. If you're really good with tools and waterproof housing type of work, then you may want to contact one of those DPV guys (Jarrod Jablonski, George Irvine, Arnold Jackson) and ask them for advice.

The 2-3 mile range I mentioned is running the battery dry. It maybe more for a freediver. That range is for towing a fully equipped cave diver. Freediver is much more streamlined so the range maybe higher.

Hi Bubba,

There is a DIY scuba home page that has DPVs.


I'm with you on the bailout requirement. I'm not into building one either, but I'm going to explore it a bit, at least I'll be in a better position to evaluate what I find. Thus far the twin Farallon units interest me the most for what I'm into, no caves, but surface travel and diving with a co-diver.

Thanks again,

I use a Dacor sprint- can't even begin to afford a Gavin. :(
I use it mainly on Great Lakes wrecks. It makes it very easy to cover a lot of distance quickly. It also works really well to find all of the lost gear that people drop as their getting back on the boat.:D
I use a spare-air as a bailout. If my scooter would die at peth, I would just drop it and use the spare-air to get to the surface. So far I haven't had a problem. I can tell when the batteries start to die. My speed starts to go way down and I know I need to go up and change the battery.
If I were looking to cover a lot of openwater distance I would use my dive kayak. It is a lot cheaper and I find it eaiser to tow than a dive flag. I also trust it a lot more than anything you can take in the water that requires batteries.
Take care with these things guys, i've never used one myself (yet) but I have heard stories about mech' failure at depth, and people getting bent with them, also people forget to equalize, and very quickly perforate drums due to rapid descent.....in the meantime i'll find out what the time ratios are for not getting bent freediving.....

But I bet they would be great for getting out to those wrecks or spots that would take half an hour finning :)
surface intervals

Hi Crispin,

As I recall Kirk Krack or Eric Fattah posted something a while back about freediving surface intervals. Also as I recall Kirk commented on his experiences.

Thanks for the help,

Yeah I didn't read Kirks stuff I think - i'm trying to remember the journal that I read where they did tests and stuff - can't for the life of me remember it at the mo....
Hey Everyone,

If the poll about favorite type of freediving included DPV's I would have selected it :>)

While at Divetech in Grand Cayman I was very fortunate to be able to play on two different types of scooters and on a wall that was only a 5 minute scooter ride away to depths as deep as 3000 feet.

We had the Dacor scooters which are in my opinion the better of the small, plastic, non-riding scooters. With a new battery they are fast, mobile and with enough practice I perfected a 3 minute acrobatic routine that has a person, twirling, spinning and barrel-rolling along the reefs and sand flats.

It was also a really fun scooter to just go plunging to depth with if you could get the right technique to hold on to the thing, equalize and steer yourself. I used to love buzzing the scubadivers on our wall during their 100 foot dives, wave to them, then go plunging into the blue to around 160 feet and then up. I've had the Dacors as deep as 200 feet, but stopped there becuase the plastic body was making popping sounds. This was while wearing a spareair in case of flood :>)

We also had the Farallon Mark 7 (I think) which is an aluminum body torpedo shaped scooter that you ride like a sport bike. It was 50% faster than the Dacors, had foot holds so you were pushed and could hold the handles with one hand while equalizing or attempting to rip your partners mask off on the scooter beside you. Dan Hodgins will appreciate that memory :>)

The Farallons had a depth rating of 400 feet and I've used them several times to that depth while on trimix scuba. I also used the Farallons to depths as deep as 260 feet while freediving and Brett LeMaster and I used to take them to go and freedive a wreck called the Carrie Leigh in Cayman that started at 150 feet and went to 220 feet before a hurricane moved it deeper down the wall.

It was always a blast to freedive the wreck with the scooters. You started down the mooring line to meet the wreck at 150 feet near the stern where the wheel house was located. At around 90 feet the wreck would come into site and we would break from the line and head to the bow to touch and go and then follow along the wreck, which sat at around a 30 degree angle bow down, back to the stern to the wheel house and then up the mooring line. We would do this several times while alternating as buddies.

Now the words of CAUTION! These were great experiences and were a ton of fun. Unfortunately, lack of education and information at the period for us also led me to experience an DCS hit while scooter freediving. Because you can get down very deep, very effortlessly and repetitively without much surface interval, you can saturate nitrogen (N2) into your system just like on scuba. The real problem comes with ascents that near 300 feet/min and short surface intervals becuase there is really no apparent need to rest because theirs no effort.

While practicing to set the first ever depth record in freediving on a DPV (demonstration record for Farallon) I suffered type II DSC hit. It was also contributed to from my many trimix and technical dives that I would perform routinely, but at the time I believed that a week surface interval would offset the risk of accumulated DCS problems from scuba.

Luckily now a Dr. Batle from Spain has worked on and developed a set of freediving tables. These tables were developed after many spanish spearfishermen using DPV's developed DCS while working in the 50-60m range. Keep in mind that it's just not scooters, but any form of deep REPETITIVE freediving without adequate surface intervals. It was this form of table that he developed, a table that specifies surface intervals between freedives.

Example with Dr. Batles tables;

If you attempted a freedive to 21 meters for 1:30 (spearfishing) you should wait on the surface 2:20 before your next dive.

If your next dive was to 36m for 1:30 (intermediate level competitor) your surface interval (SI) should be 3:27.

A dive to 69m for 2:20 which is typical of an expert competitive freediver the surface interval before any other freedive is 9:13.

He developed a simple rule of thumb; If the depth of your freedive was < 25 meters then your SI should be twice your total dive time.

If your depth was > 25 meters then your SI should be a minimum 8 minutes.

His article/paper is called "The Attitude a Breath Hold Diver Should Take to Avoid Arterial Gas Embolism". He's Associate prefessor of University of Balearic Islands (Spain) and Chairman of Medisub, Hyperbaric Research Institute.

Hope this helps and if you get the chance to freedive on a scooter, it's well worth the rental price.

Reading you post I gather you didn't use a tow strap with the Dacor. With the pull behind scooter the tow strap is necessary, IMO. My freediving strap is simple, one piece of 2" webbing with a 2" diameter loop on each end and a D-ring near one end. This crotch strap attaches to your weight belt or just a belt if you don't use weights. Get a piece of rope and loop each end around each handle of the scooter, then put a clip on the rope so it slides freely. When using the scooter, simply attach the clip to the D-ring on the crotch strap. Use one hand to hold one handle and trigger and steer. The other hand is free to do whatever (equalizing, hold light, etc). The scooter tows you by the rope and crotch strap. It's very comfortable, I have done it this way for over 4 hours continuesly.


I like to tow straps for simple cruising along the reef or on scuba with one or five tanks. For manauevers. twists, turns and barrel roles it gets in the way :>)
fancy trix


The spins, loops, and spirals sound like big fun. I used to try do do them with my sled. It would do spins quite well, no loops though. The responses to this post have been very helpful, thanks for the comments and ideas.

Best wishes,


anyway, how much does a scooter cost, not as much as my bikes i hope..

i have tried many different types of canoes and i would probably go with the open canoe, they are usally wider and more stable then any closed hull canoes.

hope this helps
Hi Thin_Air,

The DPVs cost more than mountain bikes and less than most scooters. The Oceanic Mako MSRP is $2,495, the UV entry model is $3,635, and the Falleron entry machine is around $5,000.

They are all a lot more than my 16' Dagger Royalex canoe, outriggers, motor mount, and 1.4 Evinrude. It won't loop, and I avoid spins, but we almost did one New Year's day when the down wind ama broke off in 25 knots.

Best of trix,

i hate to admit it but thats how much a good mountainbike costs

thats expensive though i sure its probably posible to make our own i should start checking the net because if i want to be able to afford that im gonna have to stop mountain biking (or at least stop crashing and breaking parts, but thats part of mountainbiking)

well i guess im gonna start searching,, i will post what i find
I have known friends who picked up used scooters on E-bay for $700-800. The cheapest new one that I know of is the torpedo- I think that it retails at less than a grand.
I use a belt with a crotch strap and a sccoter ring like Bubba does with his. The scooter cliups into the ring and pulls me with very little effort on my part. It is the same set up I use when dragging around doubles and stages. While freediving it allows me to keep one hand on the throttle and the other on my nose for ear clearing. :D
Kirk has a slicker way to do it. He rides it betwwen his legs and holds onto the throttle with one hand so he can clear his ears with the other. I haven't had the guts to try it yet because the vis is not always the best.
You can get going VERY fast with a scooter while freediving. If your visabilty is less than perfect you can run into things- like hull of a wreck 70' down with you head!:waterwork It sure the heck is one creepy sound to hear all of you neck vertebrae go crunch at depth- no bubbles means no other noise. I was alright, only a stiff neck for about a week or so.:duh
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