Falling in Love with Recreational Rebreather Diving

To be quite honest, I had never really understood the whole "rebreather thing." It just seemed like a real pain without that much gain, but to be frank, I am in no way a "tec" diver.  I like warm water, minimal gear, shallower dives with plenty of light and color, and nice reefs and fish.

So, when the opportunity came along to try the Hollis Explorer recreational rebreather I thought, "Why not? I'll give it a try."  It seemed like a good concept, a purely recreational rebreather that is quick and easy to handle.

After getting off to a bit of a rocky start I am finally able to say: this machine rocks! For what it’s designed for, it is wonderful!   If you want to go deep and stay long, this is not the machine for you. But, if you want to dive comfortably on a tropical reef or wreck that is shallower than 130 feet with the sweet spot being 50-70 feet, then the Explorer is what you want.

Recreational Rebreather DivingThe basic difference between regular scuba, also known as open circuit, and a rebreather, or closed circuit, is that your breath is reused, so to speak, with the carbon dioxide removed and the oxygen used by the diver being replaced by your supply gas.  In the case of the Explorer, this gas is enriched air or nitrox. Here is the big difference, the diver is not “blowing bubbles:” this is what makes a rebreather  so very quiet!  Believe it or not this technology is not new.  The silence allows a diver to blend in with marine life.

I have been a diver for 36 years, and a PADI instructor for 30 of those years, but I have NEVER been able to interact with marine life and see the things I have seen while diving with the Explorer.  Imagine diving a reef and the only limiting factor being you.  After most of my dives on the Explorer, I am back on the boat after a 60-90 minute dive with the machine telling me I could have stayed longer.  Even though I may have had enough the Hollis Explorer is still raring to go.

When it comes to getting close to marine life the Hollis Explorer is incredible; the amount of interaction is unbelievable! On several of my Hollis Explorer dives I felt like I had to back up or get out of the way so as not to get run over by fish and even turtles.

I've found that traveling with the rebreather unit depends on how you are getting to your destination. If by vehicle then just put it in the back seat or bed of the truck and take off.  Air travel is a bit of a pain. I wish I could say otherwise, but it is.  However, I recently traveled from Mandeville, Louisiana to Turks and Caicos to spend a week on a liveaboard. After all the plane rides, and then a dinghy ride to the boat, and reassembly of the unit on deck, I can honestly say that it was worth all of the effort, and I would do it again. It basically boils down to having to check one more piece of luggage.  I hate to pay the extra fee and deal with extra bags, so that could be just a personal issue.

The bottom line is that I was  pleasantly surprised by the Hollis Explorer.  I am glad that I made the investment, not only in the machine itself but also in the proper training to enjoy it to it’s fullest. So, if you get a chance definitely give one a try. It doesn't require anything other than basic diver training for a quick trial in the pool in order to experience this awesome dive technology.

Hollis Rebreather in Turks and Caicos Tom Burns "Selfie with a Whale" in Turks and Caicos

Thomas Burns has been a dive instructor for over 30 years.  He recently became trained on a Hollis Explorer Recreational Rebreather through Seal Sports of Louisiana.  To sign up for an Explore Rebreather Diving opportunity or to learn more about Recreational Rebreather Diving, contact Seal Sports at: (985) 674-3088.  View our course and travel calendar.