Apr 5th 2008
In a recent live-aboard diving trip in the Maldives (15-30 Mar 2008), it was observed that the local dive guides and several divers carry equipment they considered as standard recreational scuba diving gear. Here is a short list of the common “must-have” as noted:
- Steel rod, usually solid stainless steel or aluminum, 12 to 18 inches.
Other names: the stick, pointer, muck stick, reef stick or lobster tickle stick.
Some may come with built-in noise maker e.g. shaker. Stainless steel ones are less likely to bend. May be illegal in some countries or states.
Usage: as a pointer, tank banger (noise maker), measuring device, sand anchor, stabilizer (for photography), bracing support (to anchor still or move against strong surge, drift currents), “touch” or explore unfamiliar marine objects instead of using your hands (since scuba hand gloves are not allowed in the Maldives).
Where to buy: Try here and here, or you can take an extra long galvanized screw-driver that comes with its own handle, obtainable from your neighborhood hardware shop.
Note: You can thread a metal bead or nut on a bungee cord around your tank to create the tank banger.
Update: See also here.
- Underwater lamp
By far the most popular underwater lamp, probably because most divers were from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, is from a well established German brand Hartenberger. There is an entire range of product options with different price points. One of the more expensive equipment that could be a real life saver.
Usage: artificial lighting for reef overhangs, coral cracks, holes, day and night diving (absolute necessity)
- Inflatable Signal Tube
Also known as inflatable marker tube or rescue balloon, it is important to include it as standard equipment tucked away in your BCD pocket. With the elevated height of the inflated tube above the water surface, this enables you and your buddy to be easily spotted in the vast open seas, especially if you find yourself drifting away from the boat (with loads of other boats around).
- Dive Computer
Dives on live-aboard are typically multi-day, multi-level, multi dives per day. This means that typically, you do not remain at a certain depth for the entire duration of any one dive. Hence, the standard PADI Recreational Dive Planner (RDP) table does not apply (except perhaps the first dive of the day to estimate the maximum allowable bottom time) but the wheel RDP is still applicable. Without your personal dive computer, you will not be able to profit from dive profiles that are unique to your individual dives in order to maximize your bottom time for each successive dive, air supply permitting. Hence, a dive computer is a mandatory equipment and should be one of the first personal dive equipment to buy. A number of divers were even seen wearing 2 dive computers each!
Check out Suunto, Mares or UWatec/Aladin for some options.
- Reef Hook
Looks like a recent trend resurged (or underwater fashion as one diver commented) as it became popular again in the last few years. A reef hook is essentially a piece of strong braised rope, with the brass clip end strapped to the BCD and the other end with a hook for securing to sandy bottoms, dead corals or rocks. Some argue that you can always hold on using your bare hands to avoid damage to aquatic life with a reef hook or a steel rod.
Usage: in strong drift currents or hands-free operations such as underwater photography. Handy tip: after a dive, you can uncoil the reef hook and build your own personal hanger to dry your wetsuit.
Where to buy: Try here.
- Wet Suit
Although temperatures hover around 28 to 32 degree Celsius underwater, make sure you bring your own personal wet suit to cover your multi-day diving trips (shorty or full body jumpsuit 3/5/7mm). Skin diving with just your regular swimming suit will not last long before you start feeling the cold creeping in underwater. And yes, even if it continues to register the aforementioned temperature underwater! Besides the possibility of going down with a bad cold (hence ruining the rest of the vacation), one more reason to get your own personal wet suit: the safari tour operator may not have the right size or cutting for you i.e. a medium is not the medium you may expect to get in your country.
- Underwater Camera
An underwater camera housing could cost as much or even double the price of the camera itself, and most are purpose made to a particular brand or model. To that end, different categories and types of cameras/housings, some custom made, others off-the-shelf, from simple compact cameras to high end ones with backup flash mechanisms and video recording functionality, were seen in action. Photography is not known to be an affordable hobby (ok, digital cameras have somewhat helped) and going underwater demands additional investments that are well worth it. It helps to capture that special moment, a new discovery or simply use to learn more about the magnificent aquatic life (and documentation). So, start looking around and plan to add one as part of your standard diving gear.
- Dive Buddy
This may seem like an odd entry here. Best practice dictates that everyone should have a dive buddy. At least for this trip, the buddy teams were seen to be either the entire family (father, mother, son), girlfriend-boyfriend, husband-and-wife or male-female partners/companions. Only a handful were solo, individuals male divers. And yes, single female divers is still a rarity but none was on-board.
For the lucky solo ones that managed to find a buddy, good for them. And diving experiences count too, as understandably, most did not want to keep waiting to get wet or have their precious dive time cut short (due to the newbie or inexperienced diver; but then again, who was never once there before anyway?). The unlucky ones may feel left out and discouraged, and will have to count on the dive guides for help to act as buddy (or assign one). This is in addition to their expected duties as dive guides, which in their own words, could jeopardize and cause dissatisfaction in their performance grading, and eventually show up as guest feedback at the end of each safari tour.
Therefore … go find your personal dive buddy/buddies and bring along with you for safari tours if possible!
1 Comment »
One Response to “Scuba Diving Must-Have (from the Field)?”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.