Snagging lobster pots & a DIY hookah solution

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

14 Responses

  1. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Ben’s telling me of his adventures in hookah got me thinking about options for repair dives on board Have Another Day. I’m certified so getting tanks filled isn’t an issue. And, in fact I’ve carried full dive gear with me for nearly all of my time cruising (except the one time I actually needed it which is a different story) but have decided a couple of times not to drag it all out because of the hassle factor of getting it all out of the various spots it’s stored in within the boat.

    A neighbor recently showed up with a tank, long air hose and inexpensive regulator. The same day he pulled the equipment out of his car we went for a boat ride and discovered his boat couldn’t get on plane. A quick trip down with just a mask and regulator revealed significant hard growth on his props. The tank based hookah rig turned out to be the perfect tool for that job and was much less fuss than a BC, weights, tank, etc. I’m going to add a long air hose to my gear to be able to duplicate his approach.

    While it does require certification the need for just a tank and no power might be the right fit for other boats. An 80 cubic foot tank at a few feet should supply hours of time under the surface.

  2. Ted says:

    All in all I think it’s a good idea. But 2 points. For a bit more expense you could make it a lot safer. You should get a real breathing air hose. You stated the hose you got was PVC lined. But the link you provided said ” The hose is constructed with hybrid which is blended rubber and PVC” which is quite a difference. The rubber could off gas and you don’t know if any oils where used in the manufacturing of the hose that you should not breath. .Second point is the filter you got is a 5 micron filter. A compressor that is sold for breathing air uses a 0.30 Micron HEPA inline filter. Respiratory injury can be serous.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Ted. You’re right that I misunderstood what “hybrid” means in the Hromee hose design, and I will reconsider my cheapness in that area. I did, however, test the regular air tool hose that came with the compressor and it has a distinct taste that the Hromee does not.

      As for the air filter, I took the advice of the same reasonable-sounding DIY video — https://youtu.be/pfRuQTmxKLg — that suggests getting a real diving hose. And I can’t find any HEPA filters that seem to meet your suggestion, including a search of Brownie’s Third Lung, which seems to be a top developer of surface diving gear:

      https://www.browniedive.com/why-choose-a-brownies.html

      Their compressor is specifically designed for diving, but it seems like they only use a particle filter with it:

      https://www.browniedive.com/store/p384/In-line_Filter_Assembly.html

      What am I misunderstanding and/or what could be a better filter for my rig? Thanks again.

  3. Alan V. Cecil says:

    Very pertinent information in this comment. Ben’s original article is such a grand solution especially for us older “short breath” boaters!

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sail magazine included this entry in their newsletter and it’s getting some negative feedback emails:

    “Is this an oil-less compressor? Are you concerned about oil in the air fee? I thought that air supply compressors were different and the air was cleaner?”

    “Yeah. Super don’t do this, or if you do, super don’t tell anyone else it’s a good idea because their widow(er) will have grounds to sue you. Mostly bad because of the high potential for inhaling toxic byproducts of hydrocarbons. Breathing air compressors use a combination of very special lubricants and very effective filters in order to produce breathable air. ”

    “please resend this email with the following warning: the air compressor must be of the oil-less type. Air compressors that use oil for lubrication and cooling will give off fine oil droplets or mist in the provided compressed air and that can cause lung issues/damage if inhaled.”

    Yike!

    First of all, I wrote about something I’ve done, not what I think anyone else should do unless they follow the path I documented, or similar, and come to the same conclusions. Google “diy hookah diving” and enter the fray. Lots of people are apparently doing similar (including sailors) and lots of others are concerned about it, but I’ve yet to find actual documentation of harm suffered from a DIY surface breathing kit.

    And, yes, the Porter Cable tool air compressor I used is oil free, as most inexpensive compressors apparently are. But there may be more than one meaning to “oil free” though I also think I can taste oil. As for hydrocarbons, I believe that’s just concern when the compressor is engine driven, not electric.

    Bottom line: if you do the research and feel the least bit uncomfortable trying this, please don’t. In the meantime, I have about 45 minutes use on this kit, detect no side effects, and will (try to) report here if I ever do.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      I am not an expert in this arena, but I’m a certified diver with some experience with surface air systems. I’m not seeing cause for panic. The reminder the compressor should be of an oil-less design is a good one and I think Ted is right that using a hose rated for breathing is a good idea. I’m not aware of any greater filtering than the 5 micron type mention already and it looks like that’s what others are finding as well.

      I’ve seen a lot of divers using surface supplied air in marinas for bottom cleaning and zinc work. From what I’ve observed that’s split about 50-50 between using a tank and long hose and a compressor. The tank does have the benefit of not drawing air from around you, so if there’s an engine running you won’t draw that air into the compressor.

      But, the other half of the divers I’ve seen all use compressors and these seem to range from tool compressors repurposed for breathing to purpose built breathing air systems. My conversations with a few of the divers indicates they haven’t seen much difference between the higher dollar purpose built units and the cheaper general purpose models. The man difference most of them noted was cost and noise.

      I’ve also observed that the sellers of hookah style units are frequently very vague about what might make them different from other compressor. That’s always caused me to wonder what differences, if any, exist.

      If there are major differences, I for one would love to hear them articulated. But, I suspect for occasional work on the boat this system is quite adequate, especially if that hybrid hose is replaced. And I definitely don’t think it’s a “Super don’t do this” sort of affair.

      -Ben S.

      • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

        I realized I forgot to mention that personally I’m made much more nervous by the systems that rely on a small gasoline motor to power the compressor. I realize care is taken to separate the exhaust and intakes but the proximity makes me uncomfortable.

  5. Ted says:

    Ben, I meant to respond to your comment about the filters. The spec I referenced was from a compressor for breathing air used for commercial paint spraying and sandblasting. So covered by a standard. And as a diver who has looked into filling my own tanks it made sense. But after you said you couldn’t find a filter that fine I tried. The only one I could find was one to bolt to that compressor. It went on the air intake. I did see that many of the diving line systems use a simple 5 micron filter. And I agree with you that the Porter cable compressor is oil less. It may have oil used in the manufacture but there is no oil fill. I have one.

  6. Cmgreeniv says:

    I use the Puma brand. Have a 1.5hp 115vac and a 1hp 12vdc. Both 2 gallon. I bought the regulators and hose from gator gill. Have 25 foot hose with splitter on end of it. Dual 75 foot hoses. Have had it down to about 25 feet with one person. Works great. Have the hepa filters. We’re a pain to find, got them from a dental supply company if I recall correctly! You can find the 12vdc unit on sale and eBay sometimes less than 200.

  7. Doug Day says:

    Thx, Ben. This is one of the neatest solutions to a question I’ve been puzzling over for a long time. Even in a short Maine season I can certainly see justifiable value in having the same compressor I use on my Swan’s Island roofing project (and just about everything else) to save myself when cutting warp free from prop. One of the other benefits is saving yourself from working in compromised cold and current. I sliced a thumb when I finally got the sharp-enough knife going when I was already tired. Holding on with left hand in current leaving little Green’s Island cove and sawing away with right easily slipped onto thumb. Had I not been also holding my breath I never would have allowed such marginally safe working conditions. Can’t wait to try this, with the upgraded hose.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      At least our waters are fairly shark free 😉

      Also, I just realized that there are some cordless compressors that could power surface diving:

      https://toolguyd.com/best-cordless-air-compressors/

      Unfortunately, while I’m happy with my collection of 18v Ryobi tools, I don’t think that little compressor is up to the task. But here’s hoping for a 40v Ryobi compressor (with serious power like my lawnmower, leaf blower, and chain saw). Cordless has gotten great.

  8. Mic says:

    Ouch! Talk about adding injury to insult.
    Hookah or not, Might be be a good idea for everyone to add a pair of “cut resistant” gloves to their prop clearing kit. ;-0

  1. December 10, 2019

    […] In fact, the detailed battery, inverter/charger, and solar panel data that Venus logs to the free Victron Remote Monitoring (VRM) service has vastly expanded my understanding of electron life on Gizmo. Individual loads aren’t identified, and neither is alternator output, but highly detailed voltage/shunt current graphing and other data can show you a lot about, say, the power cost of refrigeration or the performance of a smart regulator (and an odd recent example was checking out the power needs of my DIY hookah compressor). […]

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