I get this question often. My answer is always the same. If you are going to be a diver, yes! Owning your equipment plays a big part to you comfort and safety underwater. It makes your more confident and safe while diving. There are many benefits to owning your own equipment. Lets look at some ways that owning your equipment makes your a better and safer diver. Also, I've included some tips for your consideration when you decide to make your gear purchase.
Familiarity Builds Confidence:
Diving with the same piece of equipment every time that you dive will build confidence in yourself and in your gear. You can customize your gear and add accessories that stay put. When you rent different gear every time you dive, you will have to relearn where everything is. Being familiar with your equipment will drastically cut down response time to issues. For instance, knowing where your line cutter is during an entanglement issue will make the situation go much smoother rather than having to search for it. After purchasing your new equipment and getting your accessories placed, you should go to a pool or a familiar dive site and work on developing muscle memory and practicing skills with it. This builds confidence. I will put my BCD on in my house and practice taking on and off the line cutter, lights, reels, and etc. This makes me more efficient and confident when i’m diving. Never believe that without practicing these skills that you will be able to perform well when its needed. I’ve heard it said, “the worst you perform during training will be the best you perform during an emergency”. Practice makes proficient.
What should I buy?
Most divers already own their personal gear (mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit, and boots). The life support system is considered: the regulator system, the BCD, cylinder, and the dive computer. In my opinion, you need to own the following at minimum; dive computer, regulator system, and BCD. There are generally 2 ways to buy your equipment. Piece by piece or a complete package. You will save a good deal of money when you buy a complete system. Many manufactures offer discounts that save several hundred dollars when you buy a gear package. Check out these packages below.
However, if you decided to buy your gear piece by piece I would suggest that your purchase a dive computer first. Not all dive shops rent dive computers and this is especially true if your going on a trip out of the country. Owning and learning your dive computer is one big part of your diving safety. The dive computer at minimum monitors your ascent rate, your no decompression limits, your depth, surface interval, and most even log the dive profile. There are many makes and models with tons of bells and whistles. Most entry level dive computers can be bought for around $250-$300. Chose one that meets your diving needs and don’t buy twice.
New or used?
Buying used gear sometimes can cost you more money than buying brand new gear. The first thing you must do when buying used equipment is to have it serviced by an authorized gear technician for that particular brand. Gear must be serviced yearly. Don’t chance it and kill yourself trying to save money. Die of something awesome instead. You cannot survive underwater without properly working equipment. There are parts that move every time you breathe and they take wear every time you breathe. It will wear out. If you cannot afford to have it serviced, you cannot afford to own equipment. Rent instead. Simple. Rant over. If someone local cannot do the service, the gear will have to be sent off. That generally takes at least 2 weeks. Most shops charges $35-$50 per stage (A reg set has one 1st stage and two 2nd stages) plus the rebuild parts. That can cost you around $200-$250 per year. Buy the time you pay for the used gear and have it serviced, you may have more invested than if you bought new gear. You need to take that into consideration when purchasing. Some companies like Oceanic and Hollis offer great warranties and free parts for the rebuild for LIFE! That will save you around $100 per year in service parts. Check out below some of these offers:
If you have any questions about purchasing gear please feel free to contact us! We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. Thanks!
Working with divers almost on a daily basis, I’ve observed some bad diving habits that I want to point out. Most of these things are slips of the mind or just plan carelessness that causes trouble later in the dive. Check out below some of these bad habits.
Not checking air pressure before getting into the water.
Don’t skip this step. Before ever putting your equipment on your body, you need to know if the cylinder has sufficient air. I’ve been on many boat charters where divers gear up, jump in the water, and descend only minutes later to find that their tank was near empty. O’rings fail and can leak air out with you hearing it. Sometimes dive operators make mistakes and can skip a tank during filling. It is your responsibitiy to know if you life support equipment will support your life. Check your air and all of your gear.
Not discussing a dive plan.
Many times divers jump in the water without discussing any type of dive plan. At minimum you should discuss with your dive buddy maximum depth, maximum time, minimum air pressure to surface with, and who is leading the dive. You need to know how deep your going, how long are you staying (what’s your NDL?), how much air will you surface with, and are you leading or following? These are just the bare minimum things you need to discuss. This simple conversation can save your life. Don’t dive without a plan. Most all diving deaths and accidents happen when divers are diving beyond their limits. Decompression sickness is real. If you overstay your limits, you will get bent. If you run out of air you can drown. If you don’t stay together you will get separated and spend most of the time searching instead of diving.
Rushing and Overheating
There is no reason to rush to set up your equipment. You are entering into an environment that you cannot live in without the support of correctly operating scuba equipment. Do not dive if your equipment isn’t working correctly. Every year there are multiple diving deaths because divers choose to dive with a known equipment issue. Don’t be that guy. Bring extra equipment and/or know when to call the dive. During the summer a lot of divers overheat. They rush setting up their equipment and skip steps trying to get into the water to cool down. Take a few minutes and jump in the water to cool down if your getting hot. It is better on your body. It helps avoid decompression sickness. It will help you conserve air because your not jumping in already worn out. You are less likely to make mistakes in setting up your equipment when your not overheating. Slow down and you will speed up.
Not hydrating before diving
It is believed that a leading cause of decompression sickness is due to dehydration. Start drinking water a day or so before your dive and stay hydrated. You blood becomes thicker when your dehydrated. Imagine a bubble rising in syrup and then one rising in water. The bubble will rise much slower in syrup. We are taught to ascend slow. We are infact decompressing on every dive we do and trying to eliminate bubbles and bubble formation. Staying well hydrated will aid in this process. Also, don’t drink alcohol before diving. Not only does it impair your judgement, it also dehydrates you. Save that for later.
Having bad buoyancy control
Buoyancy control is a skill that you will continue to develop the more you dive. However, it is a critical skill for safe diving. Just about everywhere I dive, I see divers new and old silting out the bottom with their fins. Divers come to see and experience the dive site, not silt. Don’t be the guy that ruins visibility for everyone else. Your body should be horizontal in the water column and none of your gear should be dangling about. Kicking coral can kill years of growth. Between oil spills, toxic water discharging and bad environmental choices by big cooperations and government, we have plenty of other things already killing it. We definitely do not need divers helping with that. Imagine yourself in a 3rd person view. How is your body positioned? Where are your fins? Bad buoyancy control shows a lack of diving skill. Read last months blog to learn how to weight properly and/or take an advanced buoyancy course with me.
These are many more bad habits that divers tend to hold on to. Think through your diving habits. Are they safe? Make changes to become the best and safest diver that you can be.
The Dive Blog
Diving tips, techniques, and disciplines for safe diving.