My Diving History leading up to the design and building of the Abyss

Errol Harding models the AbyssI began diving in the early fifties using home-made scuba because diving equipment was not available at that time. When one did arrive on the market, I purchased a Porpoise unit and soon after followed by Sie Be Gorman twin hose Aqualung.

When Dräger Dolphin SCR's became available in South Australia, Mike Wescombe-Down and myself did a rebreather and mixed gas course with Andrew Poole over in Perth.

A very common inherent fault with most rebreathers I found is that they are bottom heavy, the breathing bags are at the top, and the valves are at the bottom. The Dräger company overcome this problem by placing four heavy leads, two on each shoulder. I cannot help thinking not much thought was put into the design of this unit. Rebreathers are heavy enough without having to carry eight pounds of lead on your shoulders to bring the unit back into balance.

The exhaust valve bubbles off every three to four breaths making it not much advantage over the open circuit apparatus. All the above and other issues, such as electronics and salt do not mix, set me on a course to develop a unit which was balanced, light, low profile (to my knowledge there is no CCR even close to this profile), and streamlined - making it easy for the diver to swim with.

One point with electronics: they will without question sooner or later fail. Hopefully, if maintained regularly, the percentage of failing will be minimized and hopefully the diver will not be using it at the time! I mention this because there have been too many accidents with electronics and battery failures etc.

After diving for over half a century, it is the first time in my life that I have felt at one with the ocean. Diving the Abyss is a dream.

Errol at the President Coolidge