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June 2007    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 33, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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For or Against the "No-Pee" Rule? a steady stream of reader comments

a steady stream of reader comments

from the June, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

We got a lot of responses to the article “Scuba Shack’s ‘No Peeing’ Rule” in the April issue. Some of you were against it while others, especially those who have dived with Scuba Shack, prefer a urine-free zone. Either way, your opinions were vehement. Seems like Scuba Shack owner Charley Neal has gotten some feedback too. He wrote a caustic e-mail to an Undercurrent reader that, to us, seems very inappropriate for someone who supposedly won top marks for the best dive shop in Hawaii. We saved his comments for last.

Dear Ben: As a physician and diving instructor, I feel compelled to address some of Mr. Neal’s “aesthetic” points. Urine is sterile. If it were not, we would all have urinary, kidney, bladder and prostate infections. Sure, urine has waste products, especially ammonia, but not bacteria. While Mr. Neal may not like urine on his skin, he can be assured that he is not promoting bacterial proliferation in his wetsuit. The exchange of water in his wetsuit while diving has a diluting effect on the volume of urine in his suit. So the idea of dumping urine onto the carpet and the deck is not going to lead to infections. In fact, it is theoretically more unhealthy to spit in your mask and rinse it off in a community rinse bucket, although this too is unlikely to lead to sickness. The human mouth harbors more numerous and more toxic bacteria than the urinary tract. Divers are a “spitting” group -- we spit when we climb on board, when we have something in our regulators to clear out, and so on. Perhaps this habit needs to be banned as well! So I will continue to use hand sanitizers when appropriate, because shaking hands is far riskier behavior than peeing in your wetsuit.

— Steve Werlin, Dillon Beach, CA

Dear Ben: Scuba Shack can make the rule and customers can agree, but when the urge to pee hits, all rules are off. Most dive boat operators don’t put carpet in areas where salt water (and the plant and animal organisms that come with it) as well as urine will be. That Scuba Shack has chosen to do this is surprising. The thought of walking on carpet baked in detritus is not pleasant, and I would be surprised if you could smell trace urine over the stench that must come from everything else embedded in the carpet.

— Michael Jones, Gilroy, CA

Dear Ben: I was in Fiji for four weeks of diving and had my own wetsuit but was concerned about peeing in it. So each morning, I had a little coffee, a small juice and no water. I was diving almost every day, plus hiking and exercising, but I went easy on the water. At my last stay in Wakaya, I got up in the middle of the night and passed out, hitting the deck. The next day after diving and little water intake, I went down again. Wakaya flew me back to the U.S. I did every doctor test possible, and I am the healthiest man on Earth. I called DAN and DAN’s doctor said without delay, “Dehydration.” Now I drink tons of water, when diving or not. I feel much healthier but I pee a lot. The key word is Velcro. I took all my wetsuits to an alteration shop and got Velcro put in the right places. Now I drink juice and coffee at breakfast and water, water, water.

— Craig Condron, Spokane, WA

Dear Ben: I have dived with Captain Charley several times and have never found this rule to be unavoidable. There are other options for “relieving” oneself. Captain Charley provides a working head and Captain Valerie gives clear instructions how to use it after she tells everyone about the no-peeing rule. Perhaps “once underwater, the urge to urinate increases” but still, if a full-grown man in fit condition to dive can’t hold it in for the 70 minutes he is underwater, then perhaps he ought to see his doctor. Second, every captain has the right to make his or her own policies regarding their boat. Captain Charley stated his reasons for enforcing the no-peeing rule and provides an alternative. His rule seems reasonable, so why is he being reamed for it? You have given readers the completely wrong idea about Scuba Shack.

— Jenna Jackson, Mountain View, CA

Dear Ben: In a wilderness first aid-class, the instructor, while discussing irrigation of severe wounds, referenced the Army’s field medicine advocacy of using urine to flush wounds if no other sterile fluid is available. The idea of peeing into a chest wound sounds gross, but if the wound must be flushed and there is no other reliable sterile fluid, pee on it. There is a natural seepage of seawater through even the best wet suits. A few minutes of active finning will flush out nearly all of the pee. There is no way to generate a puddle of urine on his pristine decks. If Scuba Shack has decent rinse facilities, there should be no problem with odor. Best advice to Charley Neal: Stop endangering your clients with dehydration or the risk of a burst bladder.

— Peter A. Silvia, Falls Church, VA

Dear Ben: I had to laugh at the ignorance of the Scuba Shack staff. As the president of my daughter’s preschool, I had to deal with the safe handling of toddlers’ pee and poop. We parents agreed in an open meeting that urine was sterile, while handling poop needed training and caution. For the first 30 years of my diving, I worried about peeing. When I became a father and “Mr. Mom” and changed thousands of diapers, the subject became a lot less important. To answer Captain Valerie’s question: “Do you know how many germs and bacteria can breed in your wetsuit?” I believe that it depends on the sanitation of the local Maui seawater reduced by the action of the pee. So give up your “no peeing” rule or place prominent notice of this silly rule on your Web site. Because this is an uncommon rule, by not stating it before people commit their resources to come dive with Scuba Shack, you make yourself vulnerable to damages that a customer might incur in a last-minute cancellation.

— Steve Chaikin, Whitmore Lake, MI

(Chaikin also e-mailed his comments to Scuba Shack owner Charley Neal and forwarded us Neal’s reply below.)

Dude, it stinks. Pee stinks. If you would like to come use a wetsuit that a plethora of people have pissed in, we have a list of shops that have them for your use. I’m not on the list. I don’t pee in my cars, my pants, my beds, on my carpets and rugs, my hot tub, my swimming pool, my wetsuit. You, feel free. You can pee all over yourself and just revel in it and the stench. Roll around in it, it’s sterile! I hear people drink it too! Probably good for you! You just can’t come out with us and piss yourself. Sorry, we run with a clean crowd. You, I’m not so sure. I have received over 300 letters today of kudos, thanks and new bookings from clean people. We’re just weeding out the bed-wetters. Since you are obviously one of those people with no real life and nothing better to do than write complete strangers e-mails, why don’t you pass this letter around? I think you have a little too much time on your hands. Maybe you need to go pee.

— Captain Charley Neal, Scuba Shack, Kihei, HI

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