Diving Equipment Essentials

by Capt. Eric Billips

Diving Equipment Essentials

Our sport is very gear-heavy but every diver should know how to use ALL of their dive equipment including the specialty pieces that sometimes get overlooked. These pieces are not only important, but can save a divers life. Here are my top 10 picks of essential accessories.

1. DMSB
A “delayed surface marker buoy (DMSB). aka, safety sausage. Its a long tube-shaped balloon, usually orange or yellow, that you inflate underwater with your regulator or octopus, sending it to the surface to signal the dive boat, someone on shore or other boaters of your presence. One of the most important pieces of equipment a diver should obtain. A $30 investment, just clip it on your bcd and forget about it. But trust me when its time to use it, you’ll be happy you have it. Practice deploying it underwater so when the time comes you’re prepared.

2. JONLINE
A jonline is a simple hook or carabiner attached to about 6 feet of webbing. If you’re stuck on a down 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 online to the down line, you can move away from the down line without being carried off by current, leaving more room for everyone else.

3. VHF RADIO
The simple VHF radio is still the most commonly used in marine communication, and it works even when out of reach of cell phone towers. Learn hoe to operate one, and learn the proper procedures for making a call. In an emergency, it could be a critical skill.

4. SNORKEL
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of snorkels, while scuba diving. But they make them today that literally roll up so you can stick in your pocket and it wont bug the heck out of you while you dive. Than if you surface a little far from your boat, especially if you’re low on air, bust out that snorkel so surface swimming will be much easier and less stressful.

5. SCISSORS
I would hope that everyone knows how to use scissors. This is more of “hey don’t forget to bring scissors on your dive”. Knives are more popular but often scissors can be even more effective. They can be operated with one hand, even while cutting a line; theres less risk of inflicting injury on yourself; and there is less potential for legal issues when traveling.

6. 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 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.

7. SIGNALING MIRROR
Just like the DSMB mentioned earlier, a surface signaling device is very important. I can’t stress this enough. Every diver should carry at least two types of signaling devices. A mirror is one. A diver on the surface does not 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 someones attention. So if you need to communicate with someone, either on land or boat, a simple signaling mirror can do the trick, even over fairly long distances.

8. DIVE COMPUTER
Most people have computers, but few take the time to really get to know their functions. Nothing is more disconcerting than seeing a warning go off during a dive a nd having no idea what it means. Read the manual thoroughly and get to know your new dive computers functions.

9. SLATE
There are many types, but any underwater slate will work. This comes in handy while trying to communicate underwater with your buddy. There are times when hand signals just dont get the job done. Having a device to write on can make a frustrating conversation go much easier. Plus you can identify species to one another, or even ask some one to marry you, I’ve seen it.

10. 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. Common sense is not so common unfortunately.




Capt. Eric Billips
Capt. Eric Billips

Author

As a Captain and  PADI Master Instructor Capt. Eric is an advocate for safe spearfishing and protecting our oceans resources, Eric has authored books, conducted seminars, and continually teaches this lifestyle at his dive shop. “The Islamorada Dive Center” a full service PADI dive resort located at the Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina 305-664-DIVE (3483)



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