FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

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FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » January 29th, 2018, 8:20 am

I wanted to have a discussion for those of you who have experience with the FRV to help those of us who are curious. I just purchased a used one on here and probably should have asked more questions prior to but I was pretty confident it was the right decision either way for me.

I try my darndest (is that a word) to not go into caves or ledges as much as I can. Sometimes with big grouper or pargo this is unavoidable. I'm sure I'll know more once this unit is in my hands but is it recommended to take the unit off when attempting these types of recoveries?

I had 20 more questions last night I can't think of right now. If you all who have used these units want to just jump in and give reviews or comments I think it will be a worthwhile thread for this forum. I'll write more about my thought process purchasing it when I have more time (outside of the great deal from Matt).
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby dctrjayyy » January 29th, 2018, 9:24 am

i love mine. the only complaint i have is that traveling with them on planes is workable but a pain.

i try to stay out of caves too, frv or not, but understand what you are saying. while the outside is pretty smooth, there is a little more chance of getting hung up. also, if it inflates, it is really hard to take off so that could be a death sentence if you are inside a hole.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » January 29th, 2018, 10:13 am

dctrjayyy wrote:i love mine. the only complaint i have is that traveling with them on planes is workable but a pain.

i try to stay out of caves too, frv or not, but understand what you are saying. while the outside is pretty smooth, there is a little more chance of getting hung up. also, if it inflates, it is really hard to take off so that could be a death sentence if you are inside a hole.


Is there a chance these things mis-fire? I'd imagine that has to be near zero possibility correct? Only if you stay under something past your time set?
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » January 29th, 2018, 10:18 am

Another thing I was wondering was how to set the vest up time wise. I feel like I dive so different all the time.

When I am in shape in the summer and doing multi day trips I may be doing 1:50 in the mid 80's, aspetto, etc. and diving up to 100'. While on day trips with really clear water I usually just drift to see fish and on those dives the max I may do all day is 1:30 because its very active diving using visibility. If I set my time for 1:55 and blacked out at 1:20 on a quick dive did I screw myself on the settings or would I be relying on the sink after ascent set-up to save me?

Or are the settings easy enough that I should be setting them every trip or spot depending on what I want?
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby dctrjayyy » January 29th, 2018, 12:48 pm

i can't comment on the misfire or not, just that mine never has.

however, i've triggered it a couple times on accident. one time, exactly what you are talking about. set it shallow for a shore dive and didn't change it the next day when i headed out to a deep reef and chased a fish down. the other time was bug diving and didn't get the minimum surface interval.

it is easy to change, you just have to take it off and unzip but easy to forget. i usually set mine for the day and leave it unless the conditions/area change dramatically.

if you set it too close to your average dive time/depth, you are going to accidentally trigger it often when you become distracted fighting a fish, etc. however, that is probably the safest approach. i set mine with a little bit more cushion, normally +30sec and +20ft but depends on location/conditions/how i'm feeling etc.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby kon » January 29th, 2018, 1:42 pm

I purchased my vest a few months ago and have used it on several trips. I couldn't be happier with it. It's not a replacement for a dive buddy but it provides a lot of coverage and protection. Knowing I can activate it manually for a multitude of reasons is helpful. Knowing it'll activate automatically if I exceed the set dive time or depth is even more important. It gives both my wife and I peace of mind when I'm out diving.

If you blackout before or at the surface and then sink, the vest will activate. If you blackout at the surface and stay at the surface then the vest won't activate unless you're using Surface mode, but not even Terry uses Surface mode since it's so easy to forget to push the arm button when you surface. So the main SWB case that's not covered when using the vest in normal mode is blacking out at the surface and staying at the surface.

I haven't triggered it on accident or had a misfire. My longest spearfishing dives have been 1:40 so I keep the vest set at 1:55. I only activated it once in Baja when I shot an amberjack at around 40ft and my shooting line wrapped in the bands. I had a floatline setup and could have let the gun go and likely retrieved it later, but I decided to avoid the risk and test out the vest. I activated it manually and it powered me and the fish up to the surface. I kept my gun and landed the fish.

I don't notice it when I'm diving. I think it adds a pound of buoyancy and I'm sure it adds a small amount of drag but it seem negligible. I didn't wear the vest when I took a level 2 FII course recently and my ascents and descents felt about the same in terms of speed and efficiency. I'm glad you brought up going into caves since I never even considered it. There's certainly an increased risk of snagging on something, and what happens if the vest activates automatically or the red manual activation cord gets caught on something? Like dctrjayyy said that would be a death sentence. Something else to consider is what happens in the event that you get wrapped by line and dragged under by a large fish? If you activate the vest immediately then the vest will pull your torso toward the surface and may prevent you from untangling a lower part of your body.

Flying with it is a bit of a hassle but not a big deal. I keep 1 cartridge in the vest and 2 spares, leave everything in my carry on and have TSA documentation with me to show the agents when I go through security. It hasn't taken longer than 10 minutes for me. I also received some good advice from a TSA agent on my last flight: take the bag containing the vest out of the carry on luggage and let it go through the scanner separately, that way you're open about it and they're not digging through your luggage for it.

For maintenance I bring some salt away concentrate with me on trips, soak the vest in it at the end of each day and then rinse it off. At the end of each trip I put WD40 Marine into the mechanism and dry fire it a few times. It's not a lot of work or time.

A couple of things that have been mentioned here before: it's not just for saving the person wearing it but can also be used to retrieve another diver. Also, if you have life insurance and you drown and your body isn't recovered, then the insurance won't pay out for a number of years. Food for thought.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby Bill McIntyre » January 29th, 2018, 4:16 pm

You didn't specifically ask, but a question for me is how much cushion to allow myself on dive time. I generally set it for about 10 to 15 second more than what I expect my maximum time will be, but two times that I can recall I've come within a second of activation before I hit the surface.

Its very easy to change the trigger time and depth numbers, but you have to be in the boat. I guess its possible to take it off in the water to do the changes, but that would be a PIA for me. My bottom times vary from shitty to abysmal from one day to another, so if at the first stop I find that I'm doing a lot better or worse than average, I'll change the time number before the next stop.

You really should go through the tutorial videos on Terry's web site, but I'll mention one thing. If you choose to the surface minder function, then you have to press the button within 30 seconds (?) of surfacing to let it know you are awake. Otherwise its going to inflate. The reason I'm not sure about the seconds is that I don't use that function and am too lazy to look it up for you. As has been mentioned, Terry himself doesn't use that function and neither do I. If I hit the surface pulling on my float line trying to keep a fish from getting to the bottom, there is no way I'm going to remember to push that button. But since most blackouts happen after the diver surfaces, it would obviously be safer to use surface minder. Think about what you want to do.

Someone mentioned it adding a pound of buoyancy. That hasn't been my experience. I use the same weights with or without the vest.

I really don't notice having the vest on. I even leave it on in the boat between stops, and it doesn't bother me sitting in my helm seat. One day last year I forgot to bring it along. I seriously considered staying out of the water, but when I did get in I felt different. I'm not sure whether it was a matter of feeling sleeker, or just a matter of feeling naked.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby phil herranen » January 29th, 2018, 4:52 pm

castronova wrote:
dctrjayyy wrote:i love mine. the only complaint i have is that traveling with them on planes is workable but a pain.

i try to stay out of caves too, frv or not, but understand what you are saying. while the outside is pretty smooth, there is a little more chance of getting hung up. also, if it inflates, it is really hard to take off so that could be a death sentence if you are inside a hole.


Is there a chance these things mis-fire? I'd imagine that has to be near zero possibility correct? Only if you stay under something past your time set?

If you happened to snag the ripcord, or push against a rock the button and pushed and held down it could go off , but the chance off that is almost impossible
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby Schwaman » January 29th, 2018, 9:02 pm

I use one since 2013, here are a few things I have learned:

- every now an then / after packing post inflation, use the manual inflation tube to suck all remaining air out. I got this great tip from someone and it eliminated the occasional gurgling it did when leveling off underwater.

- Surface mode is theoretically good and should be on, I was able to press the button after every dive as long as I did not shoot a fish. If I shoot a fish, I forget and blow up. therefore dont use it any more.

- I recently added 2 pounds of weight to the back of it so I have less on my belt - its convenient for our shallow, high-lead diving here in California might not apply if you dive deep and dont use much weigth

it works great, I hope I never need it
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » January 30th, 2018, 8:03 am

I appreciate everyone's feedback. I'm sure those looking for info on the vest will too.

I have read almost all of the manual and watched all but one video. I did that before the purchase, thats just the type of buyer I am.

Finding Terry's videos are not that easy. I found the first video, a picture of him with it on and clicked on his page. That page has 84 subscribers. There is that video and another with Juan Palma. I did a search again and had to go through a bunch of videos to find, one by one, the 6 video tutorial. Just as I was writing this I wanted to make sure I was right I found another Terry Maas account that has 3.4k subscribers and there were all the videos. But when you search "freedivers recovery vest" looking for Terry Maas videos the 3rd or 4th video is Juan Palma on "Terry Maas" page and if you go there it only shows 2 videos. Someone should pass that along to him.

Hearing everyone's personal opinions and how they use the vest gives new users a good head start into those scenarios which certain settings may be used. That has saved me a lot of time on how I may set up the vest when it arrives.

Personally I have always loved the idea of the FRV but the cost was high the last time I looked into them. Not seeing the vest around a lot keeps it out of sight and mind as well. As I wrote on the for sale thread I just had a kid and got married so a lot has changed for me. I have always been very safety conscious. I keep a good first aid kit on board, tourniquet, eprib, VHF with DSC, give routes of long trips to someone on land, etc. etc. But none of that protects me in the water like this will. Unfortunately even though we dive great viz for the most part I can't say I always have the best dive buddies. When the water is clear and there is abundant life it seems divers start to forget everyone else. I've stopped inviting most of the selfish divers altogether but it still happens that I make a drop and come up to someone too far away. And sometimes it's just unavoidable, the vis could be bad or we can be diving very deep and the person on the surface just cannot follow the diver through the entire dive. Those situations beg for the vest as a solution should something happen.

The only part I still need to figure out is if and when I need to travel with it. I think after getting used to it the answer will be always but I don't know. I am making a trip very soon but its bluewater diving. I will have good dive buddies near the whole time and probably wont do a dive past 60' or hang much more than 1:30. I'm just not sure I want to add this to a sport tube, and extra gear bag, a back pack and my camera with housing.

Thats most of my thought process for what it's worth.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby kon » January 30th, 2018, 8:15 am

The CO2 cartridges are likely to get confiscated if you pack them into your checked in luggage. The safest way is taking the vest and cartridges in your carry on and having the TSA rules on self inflating life vests with you to show the agents at security. That way you're also not adding weight to your checked in luggage. Note that if you're flying internationally like Mexico then you may not be able to fly back with the cartridges and will have to leave them there or toss them.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby phil herranen » January 30th, 2018, 8:36 am

kon wrote:The CO2 cartridges are likely to get confiscated if you pack them into your checked in luggage. The safest way is taking the vest and cartridges in your carry on and having the TSA rules on self inflating life vests with you to show the agents at security. That way you're also not adding weight to your checked in luggage. Note that if you're flying internationally like Mexico then you may not be able to fly back with the cartridges and will have to leave them there or toss them.

I fly with mine all the time and have never had the cylinders taken in any country, I allways take it as carry on. I have the tsa page bookmarked on my phone and have a print out with me , and the security guys in other countries have accepted that every time I have shown them . Mine has been to Panama and mex
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby kon » January 30th, 2018, 8:52 am

I was warned against flying back with them from other countries although it sounds like it should be fine. Good to know, thanks Phil.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby dctrjayyy » January 30th, 2018, 9:27 am

phil herranen wrote:
castronova wrote:
dctrjayyy wrote:i love mine. the only complaint i have is that traveling with them on planes is workable but a pain.

i try to stay out of caves too, frv or not, but understand what you are saying. while the outside is pretty smooth, there is a little more chance of getting hung up. also, if it inflates, it is really hard to take off so that could be a death sentence if you are inside a hole.


Is there a chance these things mis-fire? I'd imagine that has to be near zero possibility correct? Only if you stay under something past your time set?

If you happened to snag the ripcord, or push against a rock the button and pushed and held down it could go off , but the chance off that is almost impossible



yeah, next to zero chance of a snag fire. just would be is you exceeded time/depth.

i carry mine on as these guys say, panama, fiji, new zealand, etc. always got them through but takes a bit of negotiation at times. i normally just leave them there to not have the hassle again coming back. plus i'm getting a pretty good stock of them now in cool places i plan on going back to.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » January 31st, 2018, 6:01 am

Thanks guys. Maybe I can get this to fit in my pelican my camera is in. That would be ideal.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby Sir Rob IV » January 31st, 2018, 9:15 am

castronova wrote:I appreciate everyone's feedback. I'm sure those looking for info on the vest will too.



Finding Terry's videos are not that easy. I found the first video, a picture of him with it on and clicked on his page. That page has 84 subscribers. There is that video and another with Juan Palma. I did a search again and had to go through a bunch of videos to find, one by one, the 6 video tutorial. Just as I was writing this I wanted to make sure I was right I found another Terry Maas account that has 3.4k subscribers and there were all the videos. But when you search "freedivers recovery vest" looking for Terry Maas videos the 3rd or 4th video is Juan Palma on "Terry Maas" page and if you go there it only shows 2 videos. Someone should pass that along to him.

Hearing everyone's personal opinions and how they use the vest gives new users a good head start into those scenarios which certain settings may be used. That has saved me a lot of time on how I may set up the vest when it arrives.


If you still have those videos saved any chance you could post them up and save us lazy people the hassle of searching for it?
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » January 31st, 2018, 12:24 pm

Great idea, here you go.






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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby BigJim » January 31st, 2018, 1:32 pm

I took mine from Oakland to New Orleans and back earlier this month and had no problems.

I put it in a duffel bag with a wetsuit and some other stuff and checked it in.

The FRV bag has the TSA tag thingy on it saying the cartridges are allowed in checked in bags with the unit...I had two cartridges in there with it and they were not confiscated.

I've wiggled into some pretty tight cracks with it...got some scratches on reflective tape on back of vest but besides that no problems so far...

I do notice a tiny big of drag dropping down and coming back up...but I suck more than most so doubt anyone else would notice it. ;)

:greetings-wavingyellow:

Sincerely,

Jim
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby dirtydiver76 » February 1st, 2018, 1:56 pm

BigJim wrote:
but I suck more than most so doubt anyone else would notice it. ;)

:greetings-wavingyellow:

Sincerely,

Jim


Wow pretty forward of you now BigJim.....always knew it you progressive big guy you. :gay:
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby BigJim » February 1st, 2018, 2:02 pm

dirtydiver76 wrote:
BigJim wrote:
but I suck more than most so doubt anyone else would notice it. ;)

:greetings-wavingyellow:

Sincerely,

Jim


Wow pretty forward of you now BigJim.....always knew it you progressive big guy you. :gay:



:rofl: :rofl:

:p ;)

:romance-threesome:

:greetings-wavingyellow:

Sincerely,

Jim
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » March 1st, 2018, 6:15 am

Yesterday I finally got the chance to try the vest out. Setting it up was as easy as advertised. Putting it on took about as long as putting on a weight belt. I had adjusted it a little in my house without a suit on and had to adjust it a little more on the boat. I still need to get it a little more snug so it doesn't move any. I haven't been in the water since December 24th and mostly went after wahoo so I didn't do a lot of deep diving. The vest really just disappears after a few dives. I forgot completely about it. I did a little bit of reef diving around 50' and again just forgot it was there.

I didn't use the surface minder for a few reasons, the first being I had never used it. Secondly I hadn't dove in a couple months so I knew my spacial awareness would need to be polished up a little. Third, I was going after wahoo with a great dive buddy and usually don't dive deeper than 30' or for more than a 1:00. I just wanted to get it on and start getting used to it.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby Donzi Paul » March 2nd, 2018, 7:02 am

Thanks buddy.

Cheers, Don
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby Rob102 » March 2nd, 2018, 10:42 pm

Once you get your FRV you need to test it.

I had two misfires, which I thought one might have been me. A week later I took it out and dove all day. One last drop before coming in, I hit bottom at 45’ and got situated. A buddy was filming me. I thought about waiting for the timer to set it off but I had it set at 2:00 and my buddy would have had a hard time. I decided after about 30 seconds to press the button. It inflated very, very slowly. It took 45 seconds from the time I activated it until I hit the surface.

I contacted Terry. He said it was unacceptable how long it took to bring me up and that the misfires couldn’t have been my fault and told me to send it back. After checking it out he told me it had some old programming that should have never made it to me. He fixed it and sent it back right away, he even refunded my postage. I haven’t taken it back out to try it yet.

I have no doubts about the vest and nothing bad to say. I have never heard of anyone else having a problem, and I’ve never told this story until now. I don’t want to give Terry any bad press, but make sure you check it before you start relying on it to save you.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby Bill McIntyre » March 3rd, 2018, 4:47 pm

Rob, you're certainly right that a new owner should try it out to make sure it works. I'm just puzzled at how slow inflation could be a software problem. I would think that if the pin fires and punctures the cylinder, then its going to inflate normally. If it doesn't fire, it won't inflate at all. Is it possible for the pin to just barely puncture the cylinder so that the gas just seeps out? And could software do that?
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby Rob102 » March 3rd, 2018, 6:45 pm

I was curious about the same thing Bill. Terry explained that it was software so I take him at his word. But being a “gun” guy I thought it was a firing pin issue. When I actuated the firing pin manually without a cylinder it was a good sharp release, so unless the pin was not set to penetrate deeply enough to create a large enough hole or wasn’t allowed to return and let the gas out of the cylinder... I’m not aware of a regulator that only allows a certain flow, and of course I didn’t disassemble anything to investigate.

I figure anyone would check it first time, but diving off a kayak I didn’t because it would be a PITA to reset.

The first misfire I was on the surface in bull kelp. I thought it was possible, but Terry said kelp wouldn’t do it.

The second misfire was in the back of the truck from my house to the beach, about 200 yards. When I went to unload the gear the vest was inflated. I thought maybe something pushed the button.

The test was at the end of the day. I had been diving deep and pushing my down times because I knew the vest would save me. I still believe it would have saved me but it would have taken 2 minutes to go off and another minute to surface from 80 feet. That still within my breath hold but I’m not looking for something to save me after a BO, I want something that will get me to to surface before it happens.
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Re: FRV - Freediving Recovery Vest General Discussion

Postby castronova » March 5th, 2018, 5:20 am

Thanks Rob.

I certainly was going to test it at some point but this makes it seem much more important. Sounds like next dive day might be a an hour or so of safety practice for me firing and repacking the vest on the boat.
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