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making your own sled

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Dairyland diver
Apr 7, 2001
We have all seen the fancy sleds that Umberto and Pipin ride, complete with coated cables to reduce friction!

But, who here has made their own sleds? After reading the no-limits thread it sounds like a blast. I am not looking to go down 500', but I would like to go down at least a hundered or so and play around- maybe deeper eventualy.

There is no doubt in my mind that CB is the more athletic form of freediving, but I am not talking about being a purist, just having fun.

So, step right up and show us your pictures, diagrams, drawings, improvements and mistakes! I would be interested in sleds with and without lift bags for ascent. Sven, where did you get to ride one?


I'll try to scan some sled diagrams that I have. Three of my friends made their own sled - it's not that expensive, but you need some skills to build it.

I have myself the simplest sled model, without lift bag - i'll post a picture of it, it is deadly simple, are really sufficient to go to 30:40m
Stop, think, listen

No-Limits freediving, like any freediving, should not be attempted alone... :naughty

No-limits or in fact any sled diving should have proper safety measures in place (safety scuba and freedivers) before you attempt it at all. You should seek advice from an already experienced sled freediver.

Without these measures in place you will risk severe injury or death.

I don't mean to be a scaremonger but we have to make sure your fully equiped to do this.
safety divers

Although I can't find too many freedivers up here in Wisconsin,:(
we do have tech and trimix divers comming out of our ears. It will be no problem to assemble a group of safety divers who are willing to go far deeper than I want to try it. :D

I do most of my freediving on the wrecks out on the great lakes while we are running our normal dive charters. I do my warm-ups while people start their dives and I get to my deeper depths when they come back to deco. This way I have a lot of people to watch me when I get to those critical last few meters. After the newbies get back on board I grab my scooter and go retrieve all of their lost gear for them.

Many of the regulars are my friends who range from rebreather divers to trimix instructors. I feel totaly comfortable with all of them. The sled would be a fun diversion for all involved. Maybe it would even drum up some interst for freediving in these parts.

I also want to repeat that I am not looking to break any records. It just sounds like a fun way to have a good time.

I know that Kirk talked about variable ballast training to get comfortable with deeper depths during the clinic- we just never got time to prcatice it.

Safety ...

Have a look at this Article on freediving safety ... wise words.

Freediving Safety - Part 1
Freediving Safety - Part 2

Here is an obvious but widely-ignored truth: there is nothing at all about another diver's presence, per se, that enhances safety ! Just because somebody has jumped off the boat with you and is splashing around in your general area doesn't mean that a buddy system is happening. As Kirk Krack likes to remind us, " Same day, same ocean doesn't count !"

Make sure your Tri-Mix buddies know what they're doing ....
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for a simple "sled"

why not just tie a boat anchor or other heavy object unto a rope, grab on and go? Can't get much simpler than that, and it gets you down there quik.

I've been thinking that there must be some co2 cartidge device for filling inner tubes .... If I find one I'm going to consider if that would work for the lift ballast, shouldn't be to tough to come up with some type of pressure relief valve so wouldn't blow up at the surface. Originally, I thought it would be a good way to take an inner tube along and fill it at the site without having to pump it up each time or have to carry it fully inflated.


I am looking to make something a little bit more complex than just the rope and the rock. It's not that I am planning anything that deep, it is just sounds like another fun thing to try and build over the winter in the north land. My father-in-law is a shop teacher and runs the boat that I work on. It could be a pretty cool project for his kids to weld together.
As far as the trimix buddies go, if I trust them to be my buddy on a mix dive to 250+ why wouldn't I trust them to be my support diver? I did the original scuba and rescue training for some of them and I know their abilities. If I were really going for some type of record, which I am not, I would put together this same team. I think that they would actually find it kind of fun.
I have talked with them about sambas and black-outs in the past. In addition many of us have been training the area dive rescue teams for quite a while now- almost 18 years now for me. We have also been involved in rescues and recoveries of other divers and their gear. Safety would be paramount.
I think that starting off at a depth that you can already do would be reasonable with a sled. It would just get you down there quicker. You can build in all of the open circut bail-outs that you want right on the sled.
Who knows, maybe this would be a way to get other divers interested in it around here. I have been bugging other divers to give it a shot and so far I have one former icediving student and one guy I play underwater hockey with intersted who are both in trying freediving this summer. Ironicaly, both of them are from Europe!
I need something to spark more interst in freediving around here- more training partners!:D

As far as the innertube lift device is concerned, I think that I might try a Halcyon closed lift bag instead. That way you could keep reusing it over and over again off of a small pony bottle. I assume that a regular liftbag might work as well.

I'd pass


As has been said over and over again here, strapping onto a sled is somthing that takes more brains than balls. One of the reason's it's not done widely, here in the US anyway is the amount of personnel and support gear it takes. Consider where you have toi hang the downline from- I don't trust the tree branch over that 100m creek, so there you need a boat, and i'm not talking your run of the mill Sears Gamefisher. Then the support guys are going to want, if they're smart, at least a surface air/comm setup and then a chamber, if they're genuine. Then the line, preferably cable, the weight, preferably a fridge filled with concrete, and then you get top the sled, which is akin to a red wagon/pallet with a dead man brake. Ever wonder why they call 'em dead man?

And then on the way up, you've got your bag and the bag for the sled. Then the winch.. on and on. If you've got a couple other loonies there that have game, fine, you can split it and amortize the costs... figure $1200-1400 per ride, if you really scrimp.

No thanks.

My rides were in the Med, and then off a homemade job in Santa Barbara. I gotta tell ya, the thrill goes away once you're hooked in and everybody steps back. The realization that for the next 30 seconds or so, all you're going to want to do is eqaulize, makes me want to pass on the experiences again. Once I got down I was so jacked up about hauling my ass to the Sun, I completely forgot to look for singing dolphins, sunlit angels and all the other stuff they'll tell you happens...

Unless the guys at Perf Freediving or Tanya want to carry the insurance and liability and gear, I'd be very, very wary of trying this on my own.

sled problems

The main problem around hereis getting regular freedivers to do constant ballast with.

Support crew is no problem, as I stated before.

Boat is no problem, 28 person 30 ton steel slavage vessel with a lifting boom.

Bottom weight is no problem, lifting boom on the back of the boat.

Depth is no problem, I would only start out doing it at depths that I can already hit- 100'.

Building it is not going to be a problem, fully equipped shop with friends who actually know what their doing. :D

I just need some plans to work off of. I know others are doing the same thing out there. I just want to make a recreational one for fun- no teflon cable here!:duh


OK - if your totally serious about wanting to pursue this then I want you to speak to a bunch of people...

Kirk Krack, Tanya Streeter, Aharon & MT Solomons, Frederic Buyle and Loic LeFerme are all people who you need to speak to in-depth before you even consider building a sled.

All the above have years, or in some cases over a decade worth of sled experience and will be able to advise you...however don't be surprised if they stipulate you should go on a sled course before attempting any sled diving.

I personally know several of the above and only hope you do speak to them before attempting anything, even with Tec Support.

On a final note, I have spent a lot of time with an up-and-coming No-Limits Freediver here in the UK and one of his biggest comments after doing it for 6 months was saying how he was totally unaware of how far he could push it on a sled and how he would most probably be dead now if he hadn't been training with Loic LeFerme and the whole team of Freedivers out of Nice, France.

Think extremely carefully and seek a tremendous amount of advice before pursuing this without experienced (by that I mean sled experience) backup.
Jon - Before last October, I could barely do 33 feet without feeling like I was being crushed. After proper training from Kirk Krack and Brett LeMaster while at the POerformance Freedive Clinic, I was able to do PB's of 67 feet in CB and 87 in Variable.

I would never have attempted such depths witout the proper training I received from both of them over those 4 days. There were guys who had never gone deeper than 40 feet who made it to 105 feet - but only after being instructed how to adapt to the pressure, proper ventilation, etc.

What I am getting at is that unless you have actually taken a sled course to be shown how to use it correctly, you are possibly putting yourself and others at great risk should something goes terribly wrong.

I am to the point in my freediving now where I am taking my Instructor Certification with Pipin and Carlos Serra at the IAFD next month so that I can impart that necessary information to those seeking it.

After that point, I'll be in a position to advise in a more professional role after that.

I am only speculating here, so please don't take offense if it comes across as so, but it seems you're very determined to experience sled diving and our points are trying to make sure you do this in the safest and most controlled environment possible.

I would hope that you would reconsider your position on this matter and take a sled diving course to understand the FULL ramifications of what it means to use one - Safely.
not a record setter

I am not talking about going past my present depth limit.

I have taken the Performance clinic as well.

I am not a daredevil.

I have added extra safety features into my diving as I found out about them, like when I first met Kirk at Dema a few years ago and we disscussed using spare-airs as bailouts for our scooter dives. I carry one all of the time now when I do that.

I think that your giving people the idea that I am going to try and dive to the Fitzgerald or something. That is not my intention.
It would be really cool to zip down, heads up, and spend more time on the bottom shooting pictures. It would also be cool to just play with the lift bag ascents.

I know that the rock and rope routine would be easier, but where is the challenge of building the thing?

We do a lot of things to entertain ouselves up here in the winter time because we can't swim with dolphins, and the only thing we're allowed to spear is carp.

To make up for that we ice dive, not as dangerous or exciting as it sounds; play underwater hockey, and drink some beers afterwards; run charters out to the shallow wrecks in the winter; have pool party dives; and teach scuba, always a great excuse to get into the pool a couple of times a week in the winter; and, when we can afford it, we go south for a week.

The other thing that we do in the winter is re-rig our kit and try to build new things for the summer dive season. One of my personal favorites are the surface powered video lights that a friend of mine built, complete with surface generator and 200 of cable attached to three light heads. It wasn't as functional as a cave light but it sure was fun to play with- it was just like a Jacque Cousteu special!

Another friend built his own cave light with a battery pack the size of an 80.

The best one yet was a gas mixing station, very coast effective and useful.

Full size diving planes that you can lie on top of are also fun.

Other friends have made their own gas switching blocks, one of the major dive manufatureers were interested in that one.

I also know a guy who made his own conversion block for his AGA so that he could run two sperate second stages to it at the same time. The same guy also made his own electrically heated drysuit underwear almost a decade before DUI came out with it.

The sled is another fun thing to build in the winter and play with in the summer. It seems lie child's play compared to making goggles that let you when flooded with water.

If I actually had any intentions of going to greater depths I could see taking a "sled" course. As long as I stay within my own constant ballast limits, and have safety divers, OC bailout, no weightbelt, and surface support, I don't see where I am pushing anything too far.

If you are uncomfortable with this information being available on your site in general I respect that.

Glad to see you expounded more on your experience for this topic...
Bon chance Jon, but if I had that kind of time, I'd dig a silo in to train with...

Just kidding. Hey whatever floats your boat. I understand Stephan and Cliff ( impart the wisdom, o Obewan...) are covering their and DB's coolective jewels, but the rest of us having been there are just letting you in on the best way, that being, go slow and listen to your body. Let me know if I can steer you in a direction safe for you and everyone else.

I can totally understand the C.Y.A. attitudes of the moderators.

I am pretty comfortable down to 100'. Playing with a sled would be down to 100'. When I use my scooter I stay above 100'. I don't have the luxury of a constant freediver buddy.:(
But, I do have a lot of great scuba divers that I can use as back up.
I am not interested in competing or breaking any records- not that I would have a chance to compared to the rest of the guys, and gals, out there.:D
I just want to play around and see what the big boys do, in my own small, and shallow, way.
What I really need is a way to drum up some more interest in the sport around here. Maybe that will come eventually.
I wish that they woudl release that Imax film around here pretty soon. I know that would generate some interest.
If people would want to e-mail me privately with their plans I would appreciate it. That way I don't think that there would be much of a legal issue.:confused:
Most of my diving is constant ballast or free immersion. I really like free immersion but I screwed up my shoulder swimming a couple of weeks ago so I don't know how much I will be doing right now. Having a regular training partner would be nice for the pool and make me want to ty for some deeper depths out in open water. Right now I do all my statics on the couch and only do limited underwater laps that I know are well within my capabilities.

Dive safe,


Also, where is the spell check on this site?
Originally posted by Jon
...If you are uncomfortable with this information being available on your site in general I respect that...

Originally posted by icarus pacific
...I understand Stephan and Cliff ( impart the wisdom, o Obewan...) are covering their and DB's coolective jewels...

Originally posted by Jon
...I can totally understand the C.Y.A. attitudes of the moderators...


Don't mistake our genuine concern for your safety and more importantly the safety of others, for wanting to with-hold information. We do not have "crown jewels" to look after, we are a resource and our policy is to give people information wherever possible.

I have never done any sled diving however know several people who have...hence why I gave you a list of people to speak to publically.

My concern is not necessarily that you would not be capable of doing it (which you have explained you seem more than capable and have a sensible attitude), however bear in mind that for every 1 person that posts there are 10 people who just read the post and may be only starting out yet have access to materials and depth to try Sled diving by themselves without proper backup.

I hope i've made that clear...we're friends here not secretive enemies, I want us all to share but we have to draw the line when we feel potentially dangerous information could start being given out without proper advice (as we are not qualified to give sled diving advice).

Also, where is the spell check on this site?
The software that runs this forum does not have a spell check option. This is due to the licensing costs for it. There was a big debate by the developers of the forum software on whether to include one or not...they finally opted for "not".
Re: for a simple "sled"

Originally posted by fjohnson
why not just tie a boat anchor or other heavy object unto a rope, grab on and go?

On a sled, you have a break to control the descend speed. Also on a sled, you are in a head up feet down position which help a lot. You can also fit a bottle with regulator in case of trouble and a lift bag to get you back.

I am still looking for plans or drawings if anyone has some that their willing to share- I hate to reinvent the wheel.


Bernard Chabannes (inventor of the Paradisia nose clip) has been working on a mini-sled since about 2000. The sled was supposed to be out by now and retail for around $600. It was a head-down sled, with a brake and an automatic inflation system when the sled hits the bottom plate--no boat required. It sounded really promising--perhaps you can contact him and see what's up with it.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
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