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April 2007 Vol. 33, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Scuba Shack's No Peeing Rule

from the April, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

If you’re diving with Scuba Shack in Kihei, Maui, don’t pee in your wet suit – you see, they don’t allow it.

Undercurrent subscriber George Entwisle (Cashiers, NC) dived with Scuba Shack in January and during the first dive briefing, boat captain Valarie Whitten told his group there would be no peeing in wetsuits in or out of the water. When someone replied it was common practice in diving, especially due to the need to stay hydrated between dives, Whitten said with great emphasis, “That’s disgusting. Do you know how many germs and bacteria can breed in your wetsuit?” “At first, we all thought she was joking, but to our amazement, she was dead serious,” says Entwisle. The second dive on each trip was a shallow one with bottom time of 60 to 70 minutes. “The only way not to pee was to stay unhydrated.”

Entwisle’s group had booked three days of diving with Scuba Shack and wanted to back out, but the dive shop didn’t refund with less than 48 hours notice, so they went ahead with the second day. But a distrustful Whitten told the divemaster to give the group a dive briefing before getting on the boat, and if anyone made any negative remarks about the “no peeing” rule, the entire group would be taken off the boat and lose their day of diving. Fed up, Entwisle and friends bailed out on the third day and dived with Ed Robinson’s Diving, which had a more “relaxed” view on peeing in wetsuits.

According to Scuba Shack owner Charley Neal, Whitten did not make the comments about the bacteria or not refunding their money, but he told Undercurrent he stands by the no-peeing rule. “The thought of putting on a rubber suit, filling it with pee, swimming in it for an hour, coming back on the boat, letting the urine run out onto our carpet and the deck where other guests are barefoot, letting the sunshine bake that pee into one’s skin, and then putting that same stinky rubber suit back on to do the whole thing again, well, yes, to me that is not only disgusting, it is gross and sick. Why would you use hand sanitizer yet think it is ok to soak your body in urine for up to four hours?”

Neal says he refunded the Entwisle’s group, and told us that he promptly filled their vacancies, due to his company’s good reputation. “I have the highest-rated dive operation ever in the State of Hawaii, because of quality and safety.”

Now Undercurrent is unsure from where Neal gets his number-one rating because Scuba Shack rarely appears in comments from our readers. Nor do we know from where comes the laughable notion that a cup of pee in a wetsuit, mixed in with gallons of ocean water, gets baked into one’s skin. Maybe we should introduce him to NY Mets outfielder Moises Alou, who urinates on his hands to toughen them up for hitting. Now that’s disgusting.

Truth is, peeing in one’s wetsuit is virtually avoidable and just fine. Here’s what “Scuba Doc” Ernest Campbell, M.D., wrote in these pages a few years back:

“Once underwater, the urge to urinate increases. During a dive, there is about a 60 percent increase in the work of breathing. Negative pressure breathing causes divers to lose about 350 cc/hour from their circulating blood volume. The cardiovascular system changes. Peripheral blood vessels constrict, driving fluid back into the core and stimulating urine discharge. There is no increased central blood volume and output from the heart increases up to 30 percent. The result? Urine flow increases four to five times during a dive.

“Holding the urine in could possibly be harmful. There have been cases of fainting when the stretch receptors located in the wall of the bladder are stimulated and a vagal nerve reaction—a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and a feeling of light-headedness— occurs. Fainting underwater is risky to say the least.

“So if you need to, go ahead and pee, even if it is against your sensibilities.”

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