Do You Have What You Need?
By Ken Kollwitz
I have been diving for quit a while and I am still learning. I read everything I can, take classes, help out where I can and always try to “Be Prepared”. Maybe being an Eagle Scout has something to do with it. Some people may not like this, but I believe when you think you don’t need to take another class or read another book because there is nothing new you will learn then you are just getting closer to trouble, and I for one hope it is not big trouble. One thing I always try and do is think of the “what ifs”. Sometimes that can be bad because some people look at it as being negative and it is at times, but I like to tell myself it is just being realistic. Hey, none of us are perfect and I am definitely not. Over the years I have had or been around some diving mishaps and continue to learn from them, so here are some random thoughts about gear and diving.
If you like to hunt and spearfish it can be good to have an extra tip (I have lost on dives), extra bands and shock cords (they break). Also a spare bug gage in your gear bag is good. I lost one on a dive and had to throw back 3 bugs as I had no gage and they were not worth a ticket.
If you have a drysuit it is not a bad idea to have an extra inflator hose (failed several times), repair kit, extra valves and under garments (good for floods and bad leaks).
If you have a computer it is not a bad idea to have an extra (they fail, happened to me) for longer trips, spare batteries/o-ring (mine have failed when camping/diving).
Also have spare backup diving tables and know how to read them (especially on a long dive trip).
It is always a good idea to have extra hoses. I have not had a failure, but I have seen quite a few and it never happens where you can get one (Murphy’s Law”.
It is a good idea to have an extra mask. Most of the time they get lost (happened to me), but sometimes they can break. Also the newer masks have a cheap plastic pin that holds the strap buckle to the mask and they break. I have had two pins break on me and had to repair with zip ties to finish the dives until I could fix them with a small screw.
If you dive Nitrox often your own analyzer is good to have. I carry one, but they are a bit expensive. Sometimes the ones on the boats may not be available when you need it or if they failed.
An extra burst disk for your tank valve is a good idea also. I have seen them fail and sometimes the person still gets to dive. There are not expensive and can be changed easily. If you can’t then someone else usually can.
Fin buckles do break (happened to me and others), especially the newer plastic ones. I have had to use zip ties on these, but an extra buckle can save the day.
Also the plastic weight belt buckles can break so a spare could be a good idea. I have seen it happen. You could also change it to a good metal bucket.
If you rent gear, write down how much weight you need or may need the next time. I have seen to many people have bad dives because they did not keep track of this and they were always guessing what they needed and they were wrong.
If you have a light a lanyard and a clip can help you not loose it. When I use my light I clip it to me until I need it. Some people don’t like to do this, but I have seen quite a few get lost because they only have a lanyard.
If you like beach diving like me make sure everything is held on tight or clipped on. You will loose gear and one fin doesn’t do you much good. I have seen much gear lost at the beach and most of it could have been prevented. Better yet, take a class and learn correct beach diving skills.
Learn how to do good pre and post dive planning (a buddy check is separate). It is the same as a briefing and debriefing. This can make the dive go much better and help you know where a problem might arise if there is one. If you dive solo this still should be done, probably even more.
I hope some of this helps. Most of these problems can be avoided if thought about before and good dive planning is done. Sometimes Mother Ocean is not on our side or we are just having one of those days. Either way, the more you are prepared, the easier everything will go. Of course the best thing you can do is to dive.