Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Follow DPV basic rules and stay safe

Published on April 13, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

Diver Propulsion Vehicles (DPVs), also known as underwater/scuba scooters, are now commonly seen on yachts as part of their selection of water toys. There are numerous brands available (Hollis, SeaDoo, Bladefish, to name but a few), most are hand-held and controlled using switches on the handles, while others are made specifically for diving and can be strapped onto your tank leaving you hands-free. Whichever you choose – it’s important to keep some very specific safety rules in mind.


First off, specialist training is required and dedicated DPV courses are becoming more widely available. You really shouldn’t use one unless you’ve been taught how, as there are inherent risks involved which could result in some serious injuries.

Let’s take a look at some basic rules:
• If you’re going scuba diving – use only scuba-specific DPVs.

• Never conduct ascents or descents using a DPV – only activate or deactivate the equipment at the depth at which the dive is to be conducted. If you are foolish enough to ascend or descend the depths with the help of a DPV, you could end up with in-ear barotraumas, air expansion lung injuries and/or decompression illness.

• In case of equipment failure or a dying battery, don’t venture further than you can swim back under your own steam. DPVs are not designed for travelling long distances instead they are suited to covering ground in a tight radius to your pick-up drop-off point.

• Follow the ‘rule of the thirds’ – use a third of your air for the outbound dive, a third for the return, and the remaining third for the dive exit point.

• Never go with the current flow for the outbound leg, for it will take twice as long and heavy-duty battery usage for the return leg. Always go against current first.

• Newer DPV models have speed control settings or inhibitors. Always use the lowest speed setting as flying along at a high speed is both unnecessary and dangerous.

• Use the safety cord to connect the DPV to your person.

• Streamline all gear and ensure no hoses or equipment are dangling loose, this can cause drag or entanglements.

• Speaking of entanglements, beware of long hair. Securely tie long hair up or wear a swim cap that tucks it away. You definitely don’t want your hair getting fed into a propeller and wrapped around the prop – certain disaster.

• Do not use DPVs on wreck or cave penetration dives – this is a very specialised form of diving and requires yet more training.

• Finally, do not use for work-related activity – leave this to professional commercial divers.



When used safely, respecting the rules, DPVs can be a hugely fun and efficient piece of equipment to cruise the reefs with.

But remember, there is one other downside to DPVs which may make you think twice about taking one out at all – they are noisy and tend to scare the marine life away, so ultimately you will see less underwater magic than you hoped… you have been warned.

Stay safe!

Nick Stael von Holstein –


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