Scuba Equipment – My Way!

My equipment configuration has evolved over many seasons diving into, what is for me, the perfect set up for diving from a RIB. My equipment does not change with the type of diving, be it training in shallow water or deep wreck, but is added to with extra equipment to suit the conditions. The basic set up is used on every dive simply to eliminate confusion between different kit configurations and reduce task loading.

Cylinders

I use Faber 10 and 7 litre twin sets depending on the diving I am undertaking, the 7’s are used on dives up to 30m and for training and instructing while the 10’s are used on deeper dives. The twin 10’s are manifolded with an OMS manifold which I find a little on the stiff side to operate but is a good reliable unit and has not leaked. My other twin set has the new style MDE adjustable manifold and I have to say what joy this is to operate, the new oval knob is perfect for women to turn and the valves turn easily when pressurised. I hope this is the case at the end of this season’s diving.

The stage cylinders I use are an aluminium 3 litre and a steel 5 litre, both Fabers. The new 5 litre is perfect for me in both capacity and size. Both cylinders are side slung when in use with the regulator hoses bungeed along the length of the cylinders.

Reef Safe Sunscreen

I pay attention to the type of sunscreen I use when I go for diving or snorkeling to make sure the harm to the oceans is minimal. It is still chemicals but mineral based sunscreens using zinc oxide as the main ingredient seems to be the best protection for coral reefs. There is a comprehensive list of reef safe sunscreen brands here.

Wing and Harness

My wing and harness is a heavily modified Zeagle Tech Pack. The original 70lb bladder was replaced with a 45lb bladder to aid with stream lining and reducing drag as I do not require that amount of lift due to my small frame. The 45lb bladder can easily support twin 10’s and side mounts on the surface. The next item for change was the waist belt, this was originally very rigid webbing with a plastic weight belt style buckle. This is now a more flexible webbing fastened with 50mm fastex buckle to distinguish it from my weight belt buckle, fixed to this webbing are two D rings welded in position to help when clipping equipment with one hand and a scooter ring in the middle which I find invaluable for clipping torches and reels, I also carry a line cutter on the waist belt velcroed into a small pouch.

I have various pieces of bungee attached to my wing for holding and carrying equipment mainly regulators and DSMB’s.

Regulators

I use Poseidon Cyclone regulators as my main regs which are a very good breathe and I find the second stages to be very light and comfortable in my mouth. The first stages configure well to allow excellent hose routing and prevent damage to hoses while wreck diving. My back up reg is held by a bungee from the top left D ring on my harness, this allows me to find it immediately in a emergency. The Cyclones are left and right handed which allows me to keep everything off the left cylinder coming over the left shoulder and the same with the right cylinder. I have one contents gauge to minimize high pressure failures and this is fitted to left first stage so if my main reg fails and I shut it down I can still read my cylinder contents. On my deco reg is a Spiro Nitrox, it is totally different in size and shape to my main regs, this has a 90cm hose fitted to allow it to route under my arm and over my shoulder keeping it neat and tidy when in use. The contents gauge is on a short hose again for neatness and is a different colour to my main gauge to avoid confusion.

Suit, Computer and Other Equipment

My drysuit is an Otter Superskin, which I won as a prize at Divewise. The suit is a membrane type and beneath this I wear a weasel two piece undersuit. The suit is very easy to wear both in and out of the water, before this suit I wore a Northern Diver CNX 200 compressed neoprene which was slightly warmer but not as flexible as the Otter suit. Both suits are equally hard wearing and at the moment the Superskin is the preferred choice, it has one cargo pocket fitted with slate pocket behind. Inside these pockets I carry my primary DSMB and a ratchet reel, slate with back up tables, clip with line and a pair of trauma shears. On my harness I carry my bottom reel which is of the free spooling type and a second DSMB, yellow in colour this is used for a prearranged signal such as poor vis, missed wreck or I have come of the shot line, etc. On my left arm I use a Suunto Vytec, this computer supports 3 gas mixes and as I have been using a Suunto Solution for years I am very happy with the latest offering and it is a massive improvement over using slates and timers. I still have my timer on my right arm as back up. My main light is a Kowalski 620 torch and I can not say enough good things about my favourite piece of dive equipment – it really is that good!

How to Snorkel

How to Snorkel

Snorkelling is great fun, whether you’re 9 or 99. It’s something the whole family can get involved with! But where do you begin, and how do you actually snorkel?

1. Get the gear!

One of the first things you need to do is make sure you’ve got the correct equipment. You don’t need to spend much money at all, just make sure that what you do buy is the right size. You’ll need a mask, and obviously, a snorkel. You want the mask to be comfortable so you can enjoy it as much as possible! Snorkelling is no fun if you’re having to find your mask that has fallen off. Trust me on that one! Depending on where you’re planning on snorkeling will depend on whether you’ll need a wetsuit or some fins.  Here are some tips.

2. Find somewhere to practice

If you’ve never been snorkelling, or you’re not confident about going out on the open water, find a swimming pool to practice in. This way, you can get a feel for your equipment and how to use your snorkel. To see if your mask fits properly, hold the mask on your face and then breathe in through your nose. The mask should stay on your face if you let go of it. If it does, you know it’s the right size mask. If not, keep looking!

After making sure your mask fits, you can have a test drive in the pool, or wherever you choose. Before you set off on your big adventure, it’s a good idea to get used to breathing in and out of a snorkel. You should quite quickly get used to the feeling of it. Just put the mouthpiece in your mouth, and breathe! It’s as easy as that. Just remember to keep the top end of the snorkel above the water level. Don’t worry if you don’t, though, if water comes in, you can easily blow the water out.

A lot of people mistake snorkelling with diving. Unlike in diving, snorkelling doesn’t involve much swimming. It’s more of a floating activity. Try not to move too quickly or you’ll miss out on the beautiful sea life! Fold your arms across your chest if that helps.

3. Put your practice into action!

Now you’re prepared for your big snorkeling adventure. Remember that you should find somewhere that has little to no current. You don’t want to get bashed by big waves or taken by the current. Snorkelling should be a relaxing experience! If you do panic though, don’t worry.  Just lift your head up and roll on to your back. Simple! You’ll be amazed by the beautiful sights that snorkelling can open your eyes to.