Diver Propulsion Vehicles – Scuba Diving Safety measures

Diver Propulsion Vehicles (DPV’s) or underwater scooters are now commonly seen on yachts as part of their selection of ‘water toys’.  There are numerous brands available and some specificaly made for diving.  Almost every yacht has Sea-Do’s onboard for example.


Often times DPV’s on a yacht are used for snorkelling and in these cases, they should only be used for surface activites not for descents or ascents.  When using the DPV’s for diving there are some very specific safety rules and considerations to keep in mind.

First off, specialty training is required and there are Diver Propulsion Specialty Courses avaibale to train people.  No one should use DPV’s if they have not received training.  There are inherint risks if used improperly which could result in serious injuries.

So here are some rules:

·     Only scuba diving specifc DPV’s should be used for diving. 

·     Never conduct ascents or decents using a DPV.  The DPV should only be activated and deactivatd at the depth at which the dive is to be conducted.  Descents with a DPV can result in ear barotrauma and ascents can result in air expansion lung injuries & decompression illness.

·     Don’t travel further away then you can swim back on your own in case of equipment failure or a dying battery which could mean a very long surface swim back to shore or the boat and loss of th DPV due to having to ditch it. DPV’s are not designed for travelling a further distance away but for covering ground in a limited area close to the entry/exit points

·     Follow the Rule of the thirds – This means, using a third of your air for the outward part of the dive, a third for the return and a third remaining for the end of the dive at the exit point.

·     Never use a DPV to flow with a current first, it will take twice as long and require heavier battery usage to return.  Always go up current first and then with the current for the return.

·     Speed controll limiter – Newer models have speed control settings or inhibitors.  Always use the lowest speed setting.  Flying along at a high speed is unecessary and dangerous.

·     Attach the DPV using a safety line that connects to you.

·     Streamline all gear and ensure no hoses and equipment are dangling loose whicah can cuase drag ans entanglement

·     Do not use on wreck or cave penetration dives – This is a very specialised form of diving and requires even further specific training.

·     Do not use for any ‘work-related’ activity – This should be reserved for professional commercail divers

·     Believe it or not, consideration should be taken for having long hair.  Tie long hair up into a secure knot or wear a swim cap that tucks the hair away.  You definitly don’t want hair getting fed into a propeller and wrapped around the prop. Disaster!


Different designs – DPV’s can be configured in different ways. Most are hand-held and controlled using switches on the handles while others can be strapped onto a tank on your back, so you are hands free.

When used safely and respecting the rules, DPV’s can be a fun piece of equipment to cruise the reefs with.  As a general rule, however, we recommend not to use these for scuba diving activities off a yacht but if they are used, then follow the above guidlelines as a minimum.  There is one other downside to DPV’s, they are noisy and tend to scare the marine life away, so ultimatley you will see less marine life than more.

Big Bubbles, No Troubles & Be Safe!


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