9 Pieces of Gear Every Diver Should Know
By Thomas Gronfeldt
Properly using these 10 items will make your dives safer and more enjoyable
1. DSMB A delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB), or safety sausage, is a long, tube-shaped balloon, usually orange, that you inflate underwater with your regulator or octopus, sending it to the surface to signal the dive boat or someone on shore of your presence. It is often used in situations of moderate to high current to let the Zodiac know where you are after a dive ends. But simple as it sounds, it can be tricky to use these properly, and divers tend to get tangled up in the line or to ascend uncontrolled along with the DSMB, so practice is important.
A jonline is a simple hook or carabiner attached to about 6 feet of webbing. If you’re stuck on a shot line during a safety stop with lots of other divers, it can be difficult for everyone to stay within the safety-stop zone. By attaching the jonline to the shot line, you can move away from the shot line without being carried off by a current, leaving more room for everyone else.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of snorkels, but if you do bring one, make sure you know how to use it. Take the time to learn how to breathe effectively in it, how to clear it, and how to place it properly so it doesn’t get in your way. I’ve seen a number of people nearly drown from inefficient snorkel clearing.
4. Trauma shears
Knives are popular, but often trauma shears can be even more effective. They can be operated with one hand, even while cutting a line; there’s less risk of inflicting damage on yourself or others; and there is less potential for legal issues when traveling.
5. Line reel
Line reels are one of the multi-tools of scuba diving. Often used for an easy return to a specific point, such as an ascent point or an exit point in a wreck or cave, or to tether onto a surface buoy, they are inexpensive and reliable. They do tend to get into a tangled mess if you’re not vigilant, so learning proper line-handling skills is important.
6. Signaling mirror
A diver on the surface doesn’t have a very large profile, making him hard to spot even for people who are actively looking. And the ambient sounds at sea make it nearly impossible to shout loud enough to get someone’s attention. So if you need to communicate with someone, either on land or on a boat, a simple signaling mirror can do the trick, even over fairly long distances. At night, a powerful dive torch can do the same.
7. Dive computer
Most people have computers, but few take the time to get to know their functions. Nothing is more disconcerting than seeing a warning go off during a dive and having no idea what it means. Read the instruction manual thoroughly and get to know your new dive computer’s functions.
8. Reef hook
A controversial piece of equipment, the reef hook is used to hold on to a reef if you need to come to a stop in a strong current, either to wait for a potential marine life sighting, to prevent yourself from being swept away, or as part of a safety stop. If used incorrectly, they can damage sensitive coral reefs, but when used correctly they can be a lot less damaging than holding on to the reef with your hand. Place them only on the rocky part of a reef, and check for plant or animal life first.
9. Common sense
While not, strictly speaking, a piece of gear, common sense is still the single most important thing to use before, during and after a dive. Remember your training, respect your limitations and don’t do anything stupid. This, more than anything, will keep you safe.
Get ready for the 2014 dive season
Posted by Natacha Gajdoczki
The 2014 dive season is underway and if you aren’t ready to grab your dive bag and head off for your next exotic location, what are you waiting for? Before you strap on your gear, be sure that you are completely prepared for another season of underwater adventures. It takes more than the right gear to get you ready for everything the water will throw in your direction. Your body must be prepared for rough conditions as well as the physical and lung strength it takes to successfully complete a dive.
Don’t get out of shape during your off-season. Before you plan a dive, get a quick health and fitness assessment to ensure that you are safely taking the plunge. You may not have to be in Iron Man shape, but it is important to not have any injuries or health issues that may affect your ability to dive. Consult a medical professional to give you the green light if you have recently had any changes in health. Diving will give you a good workout, so be sure that your legs, glutes and core are ready for the journey.
Another item you will want to check off your list is your equipment. Be sure that it is in peak condition and ready for use. You may want to have your equipment professionally serviced to ensure its safety. An equipment failure is not something to take lightly and can be prevented with regular service and care. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that your gear will continue working like new with every dive. Finally, if your body and equipment are ready to go, make sure that the skills required are fresh in your mind. Brush up on important information, or even take some courses to learn new skills.
Should I Get A Dive Computer
By: Charles Davis
Dive Computers are a Sign of Dedication
Each diver will have to decide for themselves if a dive computer is a must have, nice to have or a waste of money. Most serious divers swear by their computers but in reality they were most likely diving for quite a while before purchasing their computer. Dive computers are relatively new in the overall scope of scuba diving and will most likely be your most expense purchase, even more than the training and basic equipment. The variety and capabilities of the different computers on the market are staggering. However, before you even start sorting through the different manufacturers and models, you really need to determine do you need one and how great is the need. You learned the dive charts in your training and they have served you well. When you plan your dive, you look up your limits and adjust your plan to ensure that you stay within the safe limits. Before your second dive, it is back to the charts to look at your residual times. When you start doing dives that are a little more difficult to plan such as a multiple level dive, then you can start using the dive wheel. However both require you to stay within the plan. Also they assume that you are at the same depth for the same amount of time that you calculated.
What is a Dive Computer
Before getting to involved with the topic, I think a brief definition should be included. While there are numerous features on different models we will stick to the basics. Technically it a very difficult process. The computer is able to take its own pressure reading and can accurately keep time. Inside the dive computer are what are referred to as compartments. The number varies by model, but they are calculations designed to mimic the effects of nitrogen on different type of tissue within your body: such as fat, muscle, tendons and so forth. Tissue types absorb and release nitrogen at different rates. Every two seconds or so the computer take a pressure reading, calculates the lapse time and updates the compartments. Using a logarithm based on dive tables it calculated and displays your NDL and other information. The computer is calculating on the performed dived not on how it was planned. Computers are not perfect, there are items that affect the absorption rate that the computers can not measure, such as your activity level, the presence of drugs or alcohol in your blood or your level of hydration. The use of a dive computer allows you to maximize your time underwater using real time data while keeping you within a safe profile.
What is Your Normal Dive
The types of dive you do will be a factor whether it is a must have, nice to have or a waste of money to get a dive computer. If you only dive infrequently and at shallow depths then a dive computer may not be necessary for you. A dive at 30 or 40 feet can easily be managed using the dive tables. If you are doing dives around 60 feet but at a single depth then there may be some use for a computer but it is still limited. If the 60 foot dive is also able to be done as a multilevel then you will see some benefits of a computer allowing a little extra dive time. It is not unusual to an additional 15 or 20 minutes to a dive that goes to 60 feet but returns to 30 feet during the dive. Once you start diving beyond 60 feet then a computer becomes a very useful tool.
If you have not used a dive computer yet, I would suggest you rent one for a few dives. Many dive centers have computers for rent. Some center are even making a computer a requirement for deep dives. Deep being defined at below 60 feet. Plan the dive as you normally would but, use the readings from the computer during the dive. Afterward compare what you were able to safely dive with the times listed in the dive plan. This should help illustrate the value of the computer for your diving style.
If you are thinking of getting a computer, project how many dives will you do in a year, also how many of those are deep dives. Also take the cost of the dive computer you are interested in and divided it by the cost to rent the computer. This will tell you how many dives it would take to pay for the computer based on the rental cost. These three number should show you the economic benefits of buying instead of renting.
Dive More Safely
Dive computers have helped many divers maximize bottom times while still staying in a safe range of risk. They are also able to warn a diver that has exceeded his NDL and to provide guidance to reduce the risk with decompression stops. Given the serious injuries that can result from DCS, a dive computer should be considered for anyone who dives near the edge of the dive tables maximum time.