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  1. #1
    Old but keen Mark Chase's Avatar
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    The cost benefit of CCR v OC

    I received my "In Depth" email from GUE yesterday and was reading up on the cost benefits of CCR? The report concluded you need only 39 tec dives to justify the ownership of a CCR????

    I was quite shocked.

    When I bought a CCR in 2004 I calculated it would take me about 18 months for the cost to go to positive from negative and that was based on my purchase cost of 3000 and about 2000 on training including travel costs (did tec in the red sea)

    But 18 months was about 75 dives?? I was averaging around 50 tec level (below 40m) dives in a year often with 100% of my diving being below 40m every year and most being in the 60-70m range

    My typical year started with a Tec diving trip and min 5 tec dives in somewhere with warm water, before returning to the UK to do the proper stuff with another tec diving trip when local waters were warmer. Typically id be doing two dives a week in the UK during the "season" which was pretty much April to October and one a week outside of that and trips.

    Quite aside from the GUE even mentioning cost as an issue (I was repeatedly told in the GUE's anti-CCR days that cost was never a consideration) I was horrified by A: the cost of a CCR today and B: the cost of Helium

    Which leads me to the question, how much is He in the UK today?

    It's quite sad really that a Tec diver must be looking at about a 15 - 20K investment in diving equipment in order to do deeper wrecks. I loved my time tec diving but I would seriously have to think twice today if I were considering that route and the costs are that high. No wonder diving in general is apparently shrinking in terms of sports activities.

    So who's gone into tec diving today and what sort of real-world costs do you think you incurred?

    Do you think doing 40-50 40m-70m dives in a year is economically viable anymore?

    Having recently returned from Egypt we are thinking of buying a property in Dahab, my immediate thought was, I should buy another CCR

    Perhaps deep air will have a resurgence in my diving life

  2. #2
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    If you follow the GUE rules, the OC diver is always on nitrox..... or any dive below 30m is a trimix dive.

    I can imagine the GUE divers benefitting from CCR cost a lot sooner than other agencies

  3. #3
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    My first and only CCR course was on the Cis Lunar Mk3P in the 1996 and was told on it that 50 trimix dives was the break even point for ownership and I never really understood that. An average mix dive was probably 40-50 in gas. 50 dives is 2500. The unit, if I remember right, was 7000 (me and my mate were planning on buying one between us and taking week about with it), plus consumables, so I don't get how they got to 50 dives but that was the official line.

    I bought my first KISS in 2005 for 1800 and a set of 2nd hand dumpy 3's to run it for 150. A flight to Cyprus to pick it up was about 70, I was there and back in a day so no other expenses. Call it 2000 all in. I didn't bother with training. Running costs were cells at 150 every 18 months, lime at about 4 a fill, oxygen cost maybe a couple of quid a dive and a trimix dil was maybe 8? Suit bottle fill was maybe 1.

    So per mix dive, 11 for gas, 4 for lime. Cells are a bit harder to cost. Say 40 dives a year and cells are replaced every 18 months then that's ~2.50 per dive. Around 17.50 all in per dive.

    OC gas at the time was maybe 50-60 a dive. So, just based on OC gas costs and ignoring equipment (which I owned anyway) then where n equals number of dives, the break even point is:

    • 2000 + 17.5n = 50n
    • 2000 = 32.5n
    • n = 2000 / 32.5
    • n = 61


    61 mix dives to break even purely on gas costs and purely looking at mix dives. For shallow dives then you have to factor in that it's probably more expensive on CCR dive for dive but you've also potentially got longer bottom times so may not be a fair comparison. If you were a regular nitrox user (I wasn't, I mostly dived air on shallow dives) then clearly you need to factor that in too.

    If you are having a toss-up between buying a twinset and buying a RB for mix diving then it's different. I can't remember what I paid for my OC kit but based on 2005 prices when I made the switch (when I stopped caring what OC kit cost), my twin 12's were about 450, an extra reg was about 150, backplate 80, wing 150. Call it 850.

    That comparison would be:

    • 2000 + 17.5n = 850 + 50n
    • 1150 = 32.5n
    • n = 1150 / 32.5
    • n = 35


    How much is a new unit? About 5500'ish? Then that looks more like 143 dives to reach break even.

    Neither figure includes training but presumably the training to get to CCR trimix and to get to OC trimix from the point where you are still diving a single is comparable. If you'd made some headway into OC technical diving like Advanced EAN or Technical EAN (I don't know if IANTD still use these names, that's what they were in 2005) then obviously that's down the plughole if you then switch to CCR.

    What is harder to account for is time. OK, I didn't do any training but even so, you are going to spend a lot of time on fucking about. A lot of dives canned early because of something you weren't comfortable with. A lot of time just trying to feel happy and relaxed. CCR diving isn't hard but it is harder than OC. There is a lot more to think about and be aware fo during a dive. There are a lot more things that need to be ingrained at an instinctive level than on a twinset. OC is relatively intuitive, CCR is not. My level of diving after 6 months of CCR was not anywhere near my level of diving after 6 months on a twinset and I don't think the best training on the planet would have evened that up. There is too much to take in, too much that you need to have just experienced. Even after years of CCR diving I still feel like there is something new it's going to show me. I never felt that on OC. Anyway, that's a long way of saying that fucking about time is very hard to account for, very expensive in terms of time and resources and very hard to quantify but cannot be ignored.

    I guess it all depends on what you are buying and where you are starting from. Clearly a second hand unit versus a new twinset is comparable to GUE's 39 dives to break even. On a new unit then that doesn't seem realistic. You can massage the figures to show whatever you want. For me, switching to CCR brought a huge saving very quickly. I remember my first week-long gas trip where the CCR divers paid about 200 and the OC divers paid close to a grand. But equally, I was doing a lot more mix dives on CCR compared to OC because cost was the limiting factor. Maybe 80% were now 50m+ compared to about 40% on OC. It gets really difficult to make fair comparisons.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  4. #4
    All hail ZOM Woz's Avatar
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    There are no good financial arguments to switch to CCR. The arguments are purely functional.

    CCR has 2 sweet spots- between 20 and 40m when you can fin around all day and do minimal deco, and when you start to add helium as you only have to carry enough bailout gas to get from the "worst case end of the dive racked up loads of stops" to the surface. And you don't drain your cyls between dives unless something goes wrong. Helium is expensive and in sort supply at the moment so CCR makes sense purely as you need less gas. I have a 15L full of neat He at home and a booster so getting a full 3 is trivial. Getting a full twinset isn't.

    The absolute rock bottom cost of getting say a normoxic ticket on CCR will cost you about 1000 for the training through BSAC (or about 3000 commercially) plus your unit (say 3000 for a half decent Vision) plus bailout cylinders and regs (if you don't have them). So say 4.5k as an absolute minimum, or if you are buying spanking new and going the commercial route, 8k for a unit, 3k for training plus bailout kit. Call it 12k. Then you have to keep all the cylinders in test and clean, and the unit serviced and in cells so there is an annual cost even if it sits in a cupboard. And every 15 months you have to dump all that expensive trimix to get your cyls cleaned.

    There was a manufacturer punting a "recreational rebreather" at the Cov show. 3k. The maths for that sort of diving simply doesn't add up compared to a single cylinder of nitrox. Until there is a unit for a grand (which there won't be as the market simply isn't large enough) then there is no way a recreational unit will make any headway.

    What the Gooers miss out is as they use the twin 7s on the back as bailout, they use a bit of that every dive. So at some point they will need to get this topped off, or you start each subsequent dive with ever decreasing bailout gas. Your blender won't be very happy trying to blend 50 bar of trimix into 3/4 full cylinders. Unless I'm missing something? The nice thing about just using a 3L for dil is you can do a whole weekend on one cylinder, and chuck a spare in the car if you do need to swap out. Plus I can have a dil cyl full of mix for the deeper stuff, and swap it out for air for the shallow stuff. Unless you have a spare pair of 7s kicking about that's not so easy with a GooeyJJ.
    Last edited by Woz; 17-03-2023 at 10:48 AM.
    I have nothing to do with BSAC any more apart from being a muggle member. So anything I write on here is likely to be complete bollocks. Hooray!

  5. #5
    Beaker is back!! edward's Avatar
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    I couldn't afford the boat fees these days, let alone anything else. I loved my time diving but for me, the type of diving I enjoyed is beyond my means now. Its a shame as I miss it, but other, cheaper hobbies now fill the gap.
    The worlds most boring man.

  6. #6
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edward View Post
    I couldn't afford the boat fees these days, let alone anything else. I loved my time diving but for me, the type of diving I enjoyed is beyond my means now. Its a shame as I miss it, but other, cheaper hobbies now fill the gap.
    At the start of the 2020 lockdown I took my unit apart with the intent of fully rebuilding it as I didn't think I'd use it for a few months. It's still in pieces... but I'm aiming to get it back in the water in the next few weeks. I can't see myself boat diving (and therefore doing the dives I enjoyed pre-covid). I totally agree, boat prices are beyond what I want to pay. Especially when you see boats adding an extra 20 quid for "technical" days (when it's one dive, less work and no further out from port). I think this year I will be strictly shore diving on the west coast of Scotland and a boat will be an occasional treat.

    Maybe we are reaching a point where a handful of divers buying a RHIB is a far better investment than anyone buying a rebreather.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  7. #7
    Beaker is back!! edward's Avatar
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    I got there a bit sooner than you NDY, for me the cost got excessive in about 2018. But I live in North London so just getting to the coast is a mission. I was doing OC mix too as even then 4k on a unit would have been too much :-)

    If I lived near the coast somewhere you could shore dive a bit then I'd probably still be doing some pottering, but its just to logistically and financially challenging from here. Maybe, one day, when we move to the coast.

    Nowadays I fill the void with cycling. The kit can be just as expensive (doesn't have to be) but I can do it from my door here, go out early for a few hours without affecting family life and there isn't much in the way of fees and consumables to to consider. I do all my own mechanics so its only parts as a cost. Added bonus is the world gets to see a fat man with a big beard dressed in lycra gently coated with the sheen of exertion related snot, which is a real treat :-)
    The worlds most boring man.

  8. #8
    Established TDF Member
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    How things turn full circle. Our club is back doing things that I did when I first started diving back in the mid-60's - camping and shore diving. Boat cost, accommodation and travel cost to the coast are pushing siving out of reach for many inland clubs. One group from our club went to the Scillies, Due to the weather, they managed 8 dives in a week. It cosy them over 2000. Another group, including my wife and I did a Red Sea liveaboard. We did 19 dives in a week. Total cost around 1600. Is it any wonder that UK diving is in decline.

  9. #9
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edward View Post
    I got there a bit sooner than you NDY, for me the cost got excessive in about 2018. But I live in North London so just getting to the coast is a mission. I was doing OC mix too as even then 4k on a unit would have been too much :-)

    If I lived near the coast somewhere you could shore dive a bit then I'd probably still be doing some pottering, but its just to logistically and financially challenging from here. Maybe, one day, when we move to the coast.

    Nowadays I fill the void with cycling. The kit can be just as expensive (doesn't have to be) but I can do it from my door here, go out early for a few hours without affecting family life and there isn't much in the way of fees and consumables to to consider. I do all my own mechanics so its only parts as a cost. Added bonus is the world gets to see a fat man with a big beard dressed in lycra gently coated with the sheen of exertion related snot, which is a real treat :-)
    To be honest, I was getting that way towards the end of 2019. It was more the time than the money, diving was pricey but still affordable. But having to find time to go for fills. Then a minimum 2.5hrs each way to get anywhere. Trying to do it all in a day or being stuck somewhere you don't want to spend the night in with people you don't particularly know. Sitting on your arse for hours on a boat. Then the inevitable time spent rinsing kit and putting it away. I got to the point I really could not be arsed with it for a couple of hours in the water. It was from the minute I stopped work on Friday to the minute I was back on Monday, the entire weekend taken up with it. Bored me rigid.

    The thing I really love about CCR is that I can disappear for a few days up the west coast. Go camping and exploring and I need absolutely no support. No fills, no boats, no dive shops. Hard to do on OC. I keep thinking about investing in a little inflatable. There's a guy on Youtube (Donny Wilcox) who does epic journeys round the Hebrides in a tiny little squidgy and the idea of mini-expeditions like that with some diving really appeals.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  10. #10
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    FYI. BOC list price as at 23/01/2023

    Oxygen 64.85
    Helium 430.94 plus a surcharge that charges like the wind, at that time 47.24
    Cylinder rental 18.55 a month
    If you collect the cylinder 22.49
    if delivered 82.95
    Oh & they are all PLUS VAT !!!!!!!

    BOC are running an allocation system for Helium based on a % of your "normal" monthly usage & if you do not have a cylinder to return then you have zero chance.
    I trust my rebreather implicitly I just don't trust the owner

    Onwards & downwards.


 
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