What Do I Buy or Bring to NC When I Dive?

Thursday, May 26, 2011 12:27 | Filled in Dive Equipment, Dive Safety

Assembling Gear on the Boat

Assembling Gear on the Boat

There is a list of equipment that you will want to make sure that you have when you dive the North Carolina coast. Some of this you may already have. Also, I have mentioned much of the gear in some of my previous posts. This equipment will help to make your dives much more enjoyable and safe.

 

Of course, you will want your standard gear. This includes your BCD (Buoyancy Compensation Device) or backplate and wing, which accomplish the same goal, except from a technical diving perspective. Also, you will have your mask, fins and a regulator along with an air tank or two. A SPG (submersible pressure gauge), depth gauge and bottom timer or a dive computer that combines all those functions is required, as well. The rest of the items I list are not essential for diving, but are highly recommended for diving around here.

 

DAN Surface Marker Buoy Kit

DAN Surface Marker Buoy Kit

First, lets discuss some safety items. You will want to carry a SMB (Surface Marker Buoy). I use the DAN SMB which I like a lot. It is six feet tall and orange with reflective tape. It has a pocket for a light stick, whistle and mirror for use on the surface. I go on to state that as a diver, you should always carry a SMB. No matter where you are diving, if you get separated or come up in the wrong location, this device may be the best and only way for you to get the attention of others.

 

Speaking of DAN, another item you should carry is diving insurance that DAN provides.  DAN is the Divers Alert Network.  They are a nonprofit organization dedicated to making diving safer for everyone.  They provide extremely affordable supplemental diving insurance to cover expenses that most normal health plans will not cover.  DAN also acts as a 24/7 hotline for diving emergencies and sponsors a lot of diving research.  They do much more than I can discuss in a single paragraph.

 

Dive Knife

Dive Knife

The next safety item is a knife. You want a knife you like, is sharp and easy to access. Many of the wrecks we dive off North Carolina are also frequented by fishermen. The knife should have a way to cut fishing line in case you get caught up in it.  It can also be a useful accessory.  I have used my knife to retrieve snagged fishing lures to give to friends that fish. I have also used my knife on occasion to successfully stab a flounder. I like to tell new divers that we also carry knives in case we encounter a shark. If the shark starts to attack, you can use the knife to stab your buddy and swim away!

 

If you have an SMB, you will want a wreck reel. It doesn’t need to be big or fancy. Just something to tie off to a bag that you may inflate while at depth to mark your position or to give you a line to use to stabilize your ascent and stops. You may use the line to navigate as I discuss in my last article on fossil hunting.  Personally, I have a large reel for use as a navigation line and I have a small spool I keep in one of my pockets for emergencies.

 

Wetsuit Pocket and Finger Spool

Wetsuit Pocket and Finger Spool

I dive with a 3 mm full wetsuit.  This suit covers 95% of my diving needs.  The temperature of the water around here is nice in the summer, reaching the low 80′s, but for multiple dives, you will usually want some sort of exposure suit.  I cannot say exactly what kind of suit you should dive since each person is different.  I tend to be very warm when I dive.  I wear my 3 mm wetsuit close to 60 degrees before I add my 3/5mm hood.  Other people I know dive with a drysuit year round.  Also, I have a fabric pocket that I purchased from my local dive shop that I used wetsuit cement to glue to my left thigh.  I can’t tell you how handy it is to have the the extra pocket permanently attached.

 

Along with your wetsuit, for protection, you should also get a pair of gloves.  Any sort of gloves that will protect your hands from barnacles and other things will be good.  I know there is a debate in the diving community about gloves and touching coral reefs.  I won’t take either side here.  I will say that if you are swimming through wrecks, searching for fossils or grabbing a lobster here and there, I strongly recommend getting a pair of gloves.  Find a pair that look pretty durable on the fingertips, because the barnacles and other things can take a toll on the your gloves.

 

Underwater Light

Underwater Light

A underwater light is very important to have.  A light is not just for night dives.  You will want want to shine in all the nooks and crannies that you will find on the wrecks and limestone ledges.  There are a lot of cool things to see in these spaces.  I have seen a lot of stuff that I might have missed if I did not have my light on me.  I recommend a light that uses a LED ‘bulb’.  The lifespan and power consumption of these lights make them very efficient.  Find a light that can do at least 100 lumens and brighter is usually better.  I keep a light in my wetsuit pocket along with my small finger spool for every dive.

 

Photo of Author Being a Geek Again - Credit: Glenn Benton

Photo of Author Being a Geek Again - Credit: Glenn Benton

Personally, I think a camera is necessary.  As I get older, I find that having a permanent record of my dives is extremely helpful to compensate for my failing memory.  I can also share these pictures with friends and family to show them how cool the dive was and how jealous they should be that they weren’t with me at that moment.  In an upcoming post, I will unveil Helmetcam 3.0, which is my helmet mounted video camera.

 

This is a good initial overview of the core accessories that you will want with you when you hit the water.  You may want to add to this list to satisfy your own personal preferences and for specific dives that you may do such as spearfishing or fossil hunting.  Make a checklist, get your gear together and lets go diving!

 

-Frank

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1 Comment to What Do I Buy or Bring to NC When I Dive?

  1. toasty redhead says:

    May 28th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Good points

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