Charles Davis

How Long Will Equipment Last?

I had just finished a wonderful dive at Subic Bay, Philippines and was waiting my turn to get back on the dive boat when a diver asked me if I had bought my gear new. I told him I had, about 17 years ago. He replied that my mask was showing its age as was his. We had the same mask, one of the few available 17 /18 years ago that took optical inserts. When we got on-board and started on our surface interval we continued talking of our equipment and experiences with it over the years. The other divers joined in and I will say all were veteran divers. The diver that ask the original question was an Instructor from British Columbia on vacation. Joining the conversation was a technical instructor from the U.K. Two of the divers are pensioners, one also from the U.K., and the other Scotland. They spend about five months here when the weather is cold in their homelands and do at least ten dives a week. The last of our little group was our dive master, Henry.  Henry mostly used the resort's equipment. It has been at least 12 years since I first dived with him.  The area we are diving is a marine sanctuary and local regulations require a dive master in the water each dive.

One of the interesting things was that each of them still had items from their original kit that they still use. Both of the instructor said that they still use the first BCD and regulator they purchased after certification. The gear had been relegated to a secondary role, in both cases they were being used in pool sessions during training. The pensioner from Scotland remarked that he had the same model of Sherwood regulator that I was using. He bought his in 2000 and used it until two years ago. He said he reconfigured his rig and needed a different set up. He said nothing was wrong with it, and it is still in use on the 5 meter hang bar of his dive club back home. He traded in his BCD when he started cold water diving, the BCD did not fit over his dry suit. The other diver said he had purchased gear better suited for tropical waters and it did not fit his style of diving at home as he became more experienced.

 The surface interval was an hour and a half so we covered a lot of ground. Some of it sounded like old people talk, you know things like, these young people don't respect their gear like we did sort of stuff. One of our sub-topics focused on was the need to upgrade. Everyone agree is that your first purchases need to be well thought out. Here are a few of the suggestions:

-> Do not buy the cheapest, pay a little extra to get a better quality that also has a wider range of use. Consider the diving that you might want to try in the future.

-> Do not buy on holiday/ vacation. Buy at your local dive shop. This lessens possible warranty issues, as well as gets you do know your local contacts.

-> Research your purchases and get only brands will an international service support.

-> Keep a service log

If you follow this guidance, then the need to upgrade is driven more by different types of diving then just improving typical recreational diving. Most of the group felt that dive computers are the items that are needed to be upgraded for efficiency and safety. Other items can be used almost indefinitely with proper care and maintenance.

 When I started my open water training in 1998, I purchased my mask with optical inserts, booties, fins and snorkel. A few months later, I purchased my kit.

-> Dacor Nautica BCD – This has integrated weights, which was a key element in selecting the BCD. I never felt comfortable with a weight belt. I still use it and it now has over 450 dives. The color has worn off on a small patch on the right shoulder from friction with the regulator hose. Other than that excellent condition. Never used in the pool.

-> Mares fins- I did not like my first set, so I tried a few different models on some dives and found a set that worked well with me and still do. I have replaced two straps.

-> Sherwood Regulator set/ with octopus.  Also, over 450 dives, annual service. Most service did not need parts.

-> Two instrument console Originally it housed a pressure gauge and depth gauge with a compass on the reverse side. Now it is a pressure gauge and my computer. The original two gauges were destroyed in a boating accident.  A part of the fiberglass hull pulled apart acting like a break on one side. The boat spun around and nearly flipped end over end. Equipment and people flew everywhere.

-> US Diver Snorkel. Did not like the mouthpiece on the original I purchase at the start of class. So, I purchased a new one with my kit. I seldom take it on a dive but do use it at other times.

-> Henderson 3mm shortie- I do not like anything on my arms so I wanted something short sleeved. I retired it after a long life and still using my second 3 mm shortie.

-> Genesis Nitrox Resource. Purchased just a few months after my kit. I still use it but am considering replacing it soon. It does not interface with a computer and it can be time consuming reviewing dives during a surface interval.

-> Mask. I bought this at the beginning of my training but wanted to mention it. The strap has been replaced once. The strap and skirt are discolored, kinda of yellowish. Still, the mask is very functional. I do have to clear it on some dives, but I think it is more age wrinkles on my face than the mask fault.

As you may have noticed from previous articles, I do my best to take care of my gear.  Both with after dive cleaning and periodical services. After a dive trip or monthly if diving locally, I do an extra thorougher cleaning. The image with this article is some of the kit I just mentioned. My gear has been an excellent investment for me, right about $2 a dive and slowly going lower.

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