Scubagear checklist: New in underwater equipment
The choice of scuba diving equipment should be taken seriously. Of course, you can always rent all the equipment, it is both cheaper and simpler – one and a half dozen kilograms of diving gear will not have to be dragged to another country or to another continent. However, an experienced diver, captain or yacht owner will always confirm that it is much better to have your own equipment, first of all it is a matter of hygiene and self-confidence. The mask, costume, boots fit to the naked body, the regulators are generally located right in the mouth. You are unlikely to prefer someone else’s toothbrush to yours. There is the same point here.
In addition, due to the coronavirus, many trips and plans have to be postponed or canceled altogether. And those who decide to dive in Ukraine should also take into account that rental equipment may not always meet all the requirements and requests of the diver. In general, it would be better to get your own.
In order to determine which equipment should be chosen, the Yachts Review experts decided to give some recommendations on diving equipment and what is needed for diving in general. Conditions for scuba diving can be totally different (depending on the water area the water can be warmer, if it is, for example, the Red Sea, or colder, as in the Arctic Ocean or some Ukrainian quarry), we will focus on universal options.
Before we will consider each gear more detailed, we suggest you look through our checklist, which can be useful for diving. Here you can find out whether you need to check the size or technical suitability of your equipment or make sure you need to buy something or not. We filled out the table while checking our own equipment, it is clear that you have to make your own checklist to your preference.
|to wear||to check||to repair/to buy|
|2||Mask||+||+ NG (Not good)||buy|
|7||Belt and weights||+||+ OK||–|
|8||Buoyancy control device||+||+ NG||repair|
|10||Accessories||–||+ OK||to buy battery|
|11||Bag||–||+ NG||to buy|
A wetsuit is used to keep your body warm in the water. When water gets under the suit, it is warmed by the body temperature, so it is comfortable to dive in the water. Typically suits about 3 mm are used for warm water. 5 mm wetsuits will do too. For cold waters (12-18 degrees) 5-7 mm wetsuits are usually chosen. The colder the water, the correspondingly thicker the neoprene layer should be chosen.
A dry-type wetsuit is designed for cold water, it is designed on the principle of a spacesuit – no water gets under it, plus there is modern synthetic insulation, so you won’t freeze in one. Warm clothing is available in the form of thermal underwear under the suit.
A wetsuit is an individual thing, different brands make them according to different patterns and you need to focus on many different criterias: weight, height and other physiological characteristics of a diver. The most popular suits are Scubapro, 4element, Santi, Henderson, Aqualung.
You need a mask to see underwater. While choosing it you need to pay attention to the soft silicone and hypoallergenic aspirator, soft silicone spout. Masks can be mono-glass and double-glass. The only difference between them is that you can install lenses in two-glass masks if you have poor eyesight. You can choose Hollis m1 or Aqualung Micromask, for example.
There are also two types of fins: open and closed heel. In warm waters closed-heel fins can be used, they are worn on bare feet. Open heel fins are designed for diving in cooler water and are worn over neoprene boots. They are adjustable to fit your foot, and the foot is protected from the cold under the thick sole of the shoe. Scubapro Jetfin or Mares Avanti Quattro fins can be a great addition to diving in any area.
Gas mixtures help scuba divers to breathe underwater. They are filled in special cylinders, which differ from each other in volume and material of manufacture. Usually tanks are made of steel or aluminum, but in recent years composite ones are gaining popularity. They contain ordinary air that we breathe on land (not pure oxygen), and under pressure it compresses 200 times.
Typical diving cylinders volumes can range from 1.5 to 18 liters. Most often, divers take with them a main tank (from 10 to 18 liters), an emergency tank (also called bale out, from 0.4 to 1 liter), and a pony tank (an additional small cylinder). The rebreathers which we will highlight below usually use small volumes 1 to 3 liters.
The computer is an integral part of your diving equipment: it displays depth, water temperature, dive time and no–decompression limit. In case of a computer, consider the Shearwater Terric or Suunto Zoop. Both options have proven themselves well with experienced scuba divers.
The name speaks for itself, this device regulates the air pressure in the cylinder to the ambient pressure. It is also called the “diving octopus” – due to the large number of hoses it vaguely resembles an octopus. The regulator has a first stage, which is screwed into the cylinder valve and reduces the pressure to 8-12 atmospheres; it includes two breathing air sources (one on a shorter, the second on a longer hose). Air enters the second stage, which already reduces the pressure to ambient. The second stage has several hoses, one of which is attached to a barometer (shows the pressure in the tank and the amount of air), as well as a hose that connects to the buoyancy control device.
There are summer and winter regulators, so you need to choose one that suits the water area where you are going to dive. In addition, while choosing the device you should pay attention to the materials from which it has been made. For example, membrane regulators are resistant to clogging in dirty water conditions and can also be used in cold water. Piston regulators, in turn, are distinguished by their durability due to a reliable spring mechanism.
The market leaders today are the Apeks, Atomic or Aqualung regulators.
Belt and weights
Due to the wetsuit, the diver has excessive positive buoyancy and therefore requires lead weights. They are worn either on a weight belt, which is attached at the waist, or can be placed in the BCD, if it has connectors for them. The belts are made of latex, nylon or rubber. Latex is the most expensive, nylon is the most durable, and rubber is the most practical one. In order to achieve zero buoyancy you need to know your weight, the thickness of the wetsuit, where exactly you will dive, whether it is sweet-water or a salt water, and the depth. How much cargo you need will depend on this. Here you can stop at Scubapro, Beuchat or Best Divers belts.
Buoyancy control device
The BCD is needed to regulate buoyancy: inflate it to stay in place, or deflate it to dive and go deeper. There are two of the most popular types: vest expansion joints and wing expansion joints. Usually beginners start training with vests, while more experienced divers prefer the wings as they help maintain a horizontal position in the water and have more lift due to the larger displacement.
One of the best BCD available today is the Halcyon. Their devices are reliable, made of durable materials, and a special system allows you to effortlessly adjust the length of the monostrope. There are built-in weight pockets for lead weights, which will be highlighted below.
You can also pay attention to the Scubapro X-Black model. It greatly simplifies the buoyancy control and is easy to use even when the chambers are completely filled with air.
Special attention should be paid to modern breathing devices – rebreathers. Scuba gear is a system of an open breathing cycle, the rebreather is more complicated – it has a closed cycle. In it, carbon dioxide released during breathing enters a container, where computers analyze its composition, after which the mixture is enriched with oxygen to the level required for a certain depth. The result of the treatment is fed to the diver’s breath. In fact, this device replaces all the main devices at once – a regulator, a buoyancy control device and tanks.
Rebreathers come in different configurations and the choice should depend on the purpose of the dive. For example, it will be enough for underwater photographers to dwell on simpler models that will not allow diving deep, but will allow them to stay under water for a long time. Those who want to set dive records often choose more sophisticated devices. In general, the device is not intended for beginners and amateurs. And the price bites: the price of new models can reach 16 thousand euros.
Depending on the purpose of the dive, additional accessories can always come in handy with the main equipment. Buoy and reel are needed in seas where there is a flow. Diving lights come in handy for night dives or sunken object research. A lance and a net will be needed for spearfishing. Lycra T-shirts, neoprene helmets, gloves, knives, even underwater scooters – there is a huge variety of additional elements. Lets not forget about the camera in order to capture all the beauty seen under the water… But the most important thing is a bag for all the uniforms, in order to neatly accommodate everything and conveniently transport it to the right places.
By the way, an excellent addition to the yacht will be a compressor for “filling” tanks so you will not have to depend on supplies and do not worry about where to get new resources of compressed air while traveling (of course, if the size of the engine room allows you to place the equipment).
A compressor for “filling” tanks may be very handy, so you will not have to depend on coastal services and worry about where to replenish stocks (of course, if the size of the engine room allows you to place the compressor).
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