Shearwater Petrel with Fischer Cable – by Chris Davies
About a year ago I purchased a Shearwater Petrel to use as an Open Circuit Mixed Gas Computer and also as a back up computer to my JJ-CCR.
I bought the computer from Dive Gear Express which is a really good online store to buy from, based in Florida, shipping to my business Octopus Diving in St. Martin is a breeze.
The Petrel is such a great computer, not only as a mixed gas computer but I have been using it for regular Air and Nitrox diving too and it is so easy to use.
As a Dive shop owner and IANTD Instructor Trainer, I am regularly asked, which computer would you buy? There are so many computers on the market and I have used virtually all of them, but I am just astounded at how good this computer really is.
Benefits of the Shearwater Petrel and Shearwater Predator:
Gradient Factors (GF) – GF basically allow the user to set the conservitism for the computer and the high gradient factor can even be changed on the fly to get you out of the water faster, if you need to. It even shows how saturated your tissues are and how close they are to the M-Value.
The Algorithm is a ZHL-16C algorithm which means that there are 16 tissue compartments offering the user a safer approach to Decompression planning and the Buhlmann algorithm is a well tried and tested algorithm.
Clear Display – the Display on the Shearwater is just incredible, it is easily seen in any conditions and I recently did some wreck penetration in low vis in the UK and it really made a massive difference against other computers.
So far I have completed around 200 hours of diving on the Petrel and there isn’t a scratch on the screen, it has a laminated display which can be removed and replaced easily and can be purchased from Dive Gear Express.
User Friendly – So many computers nowadays have buttons that are difficult to press, have strange labelled menus that really mean nothing to the user. The Petrel really makes a huge difference. The left button scrolls through the menu and the right button selects which makes life really easy, especially while gas switching on the fly. Menus are simply labelled with “next” and “exit” clearly marked allowing user friendly control, even with clumsy 5mm gloves or dry gloves.
PO2 – As a back up to my JJ-CCR (which uses the big brother to the Petrel, the “Shearwater Predator”), it works really well. I can change the PO2 from low set point to high set point or just set it to change automatically at depth. It won’t follow my exact PO2 because it isn’t verifying my gas in the CCR, but it will get close enough should something happen to my onboard computer. I can of course use my HUD to get me out of the water, but having the extra back up makes a massive difference, especially while teaching courses.
Open Circuit or Closed Circuit – Switching between the 2 is effortless and extremely convenient, especially if using a CCR and if you need to bailout.
Bluetooth – The Petrel and Predator both easily connect to a Mac or PC using bluetooth technology so logging dives or examining a dive profile after a training dive couldn’t be easier.
Nitrox and Trimix– The Petrel and Predator allow 5 Open Circuit gasses and 5 Closed Circuit Gasses. For the kind of diving I do, this is a really great idea. Allowing me to store my favorite Deco gasses 32%, 50%, 80% and 99% and also my favorite back gas like Trimix 18/35.
The build quality is also top notch, I personally use a 3.5V SAFT battery, standard AA batteries don’t last very long so this really makes a big difference.
Straps are easily adjusted for wetsuit or drysuit and even with a thick undersuit I still have enough length on the straps.
Price – Dive Gear Express retail the standard Petrel without the Fischer cable socket for just under $1000 and with the socket for $1500 and I think its worth every penny.
To have a computer that has over 200 hours and hasn’t had any issues is just amazing and I hope in 2 years time I will re-review it to see how it is still performing.
Top Tip – Buy the case that is offered online, its neoprene and makes a big difference to keeping it in great condition.