Maintaining Your Dive Gear

29 June 2010 By Ryan Sputh

Snorkeling and scuba diving are equipment sports. The owners’, guests’ and crew’s lives can be dependent on the care and maintenance that you provide their wet suits, gloves, booties, buoyancy compensators (BCs), tanks, tank straps, cummerbunds, fins, masks, regulators, and snorkels. This equipment is essentially a life support system that keeps the diver alive underwater.

Underwater adventurers count on their gear, made of metal, rubber, and plastic; all fallible materials. Equipment must be checked before and after each use for cuts, scratches, worn areas, tears, suppleness, separated seams and rust in the tanks, hoses, fabric and straps. Longevity of use is directly related to the original quality of the gear and proper maintenance.

Ninety-seven percent of all of the water on earth is saltwater; as such, most diving is done in this isotonic solution. Saltwater is corrosive and should be eliminated from diving and snorkeling equipment immediately after use by rinsing it with freshwater. It’s easy to procrastinate and think that you can clean your gear mañana. Don’t fall into this trap.

Use copious amounts of fresh water and rinse the gear until the water runs clear. Consider the practice of tasting the water following your final rinse to see if there’s any salty flavor -- gross, but effective. A rinse tank is optimal for good care, but most yachts do not offer that luxury. A freshwater hose or a bath tub is the next best option.

Be aware of the water pressure of your freshwater hose. High pressure can force sand and salt into the cracks and crevices of your equipment and decrease their life through abrasion. Pay special attention to rinsing the seams and sealing points of all of the equipment. Seals are easily compromised by seawater residue. Saltwater forms rock salt when it dries and can cut like fiberglass. Salt and sand in cracks also are not conducive for the next snorkeling or diving adventure, nor is it healthy for the gear.

Dry your equipment before you stow it. Don’t spend the time to rinse properly if you are just going to leave it in a heap on the deck or throw it in a locker to mold and corrode. Make use of the sun or other drying processes, but avoid direct, hot sunlight as it can cause deterioration of the rubber.

Keep your gear organized and store it in a cool, dry place with a large loop in all of the hoses. Small loops can pinch and destroy the integrity of the hose. Separate the different sizes by a hanging system in a locker, plastic tubs or mesh bags. Use extra large hangers for storing to prevent creasing, which can promote rubber deterioration. Lubricate all of your zippers before storing.

Don’t forget to clean and oil your knives and rinse your underwater camera and lights so that they will be ready for the capture of either a fish or a memory.

Respect your crewmember’s and owner’s personal dive and snorkel equipment by marking them with the appropriate name. Never borrow anyone’s gear without permission.

Finally, have your gear checked at least once a year. Do your research when choosing company to inspect your SCUBA and snorkel equipment. It is important to see the parts of your gear that have failed or need to be replaced to learn from cleaning or storage mistakes. Even if your equipment has been professionally serviced, always double check it personally before jumping into the deep blue sea.

Diving and snorkeling are incredibly rewarding sports, but are inherently dangerous. Meticulous care of this sport’s accoutrements not only will extend the life of the equipment but also give peace of mind when owners, guests and crew are safely using the gear that is entrusted to your care.

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