Review by Billy Snook
Rebreather technology has been around for about a hundred years but it hasn't been until recently that it has become practical for the masses of recreational divers. Bob Hollis & Company have done just that, and they are selling and promoting a truly recreational semi-closed rebreather aptly named the Explorer. The advantages of diving an Explorer are that the diver makes very little noise as compared to conventional open circuit diving, available dive times are much longer (as long as three hours), and you’re breathing warm, moist air instead of the cold, dry air and subsequent dry mouth characteristic of an open circuit system. Not blowing bubbles affords the diver much better marine life encounters and photographic opportunities and is ideal for wreck diving so as to avoid disturbing silt and drastically decreasing visibility.
The Explorer is very simple to set up and dive. It comes with its own computer that prompts the diver to properly assemble and check the system and uses only a single tank of 32-40% Nitrox. The Explorer simply adds Nitrox to the system as needed automatically, making this rebreather as easy as standard scuba diving. It has a simple heads up display to keep your status in sight. The counterlung volume is automatically maintained and vented as needed for smooth, easy diving.
Prior to the Explorer, rebreathers required much more involvement from the diver and were limited to highly experienced practitioners, but this is no longer the case thanks to this innovation from Hollis. Animal species that are skittish around bubbles are now accessible while diving the Explorer. The machine does emit some bubbles as needed periodically from the back of the unit, but is by far much quieter than open circuit SCUBA. One does not realize how much noise we make diving until we're making hardly any!
Contact your local Hollis Dealer to take the Explorer for a spin!