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Posts on topic: Recreational Diving

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We love diving, whether it's technical diving to explore deep wrecks or just sport diving to search for seahorses or nudibrancs, we can't get enough. We also like to try different equipment and enjoy sharing what we have experienced and learned. We hope you find our blogs interested and that they help you make the most of your equipment and diving.  If you like our blog posts, please feel free to 'like' them and share them with your friends.

 

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Save a Dive kits

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 Save_a_Dive_Kit

Here I am, out of the water with a torn leg muscle - so to fill in time I thought I'd sort out out my save-a-dive tool kit.  Regular equipment servicing maintains warranties and reduces the chance of missing a dive but even so ‘stuff just happens’, so I always carry a small plastic tool box of bits, which goes in the car for each local dive trip.  At one time or another each item has proven to be useful.  So, based on the contents of my tool box, here are some ideas that will hopefully help you to also "save a dive".


The contents of a save-a-dive kit will depend on what you’re doing.  If going on holiday to a resort with a well-stocked dive store there may be little to worry about, if you’re out with your buddy for a weekend dive you’ll want a 'few things just in case', and for a major expedition you’ll want to be well equipped.  The list below fits in the 'few things just in case' category of save-a-dive kits.


When making a save-a-dive kit it’s useful to think about two groups of items – spare parts and tools.  You can start with some ready-made save-a-dive kits or start from scratch, either way here’s some things to consider.

Spares: Tools:
  • tank valve O-rings for your size tank, or for example:
    • size 014 for ‘international’ valves, and
    • 112 for DIN fittings.
  • mouth piece and long cable tie.
  • rubber fin strap (if you don’t have springs).
  • mask strap (they don’t break often, but …).
  • snorkel holder (if you believe in snorkels).
  • single or double-ended bolt snaps (always handy).
  • more cables ties / zip ties in a range of sizes.
  • spare strong cord and learn how to tie a bowline.
  • spare DIN caps for regs and valve (if applicable).
  • hex keys for port plugs (sometimes you need both imperial and metric).
  • spanners (wrenches) for hoses and BCD - single tank adapters. You may need two of a size, or one and an adjustable wrench or multi-tool.
  • side cutters for cable ties.
  • brass O-ring pick (steel ones may damage gear).
  • silicone grease for torch and camera housing O-rings.
  • small brush for cleaning screw threads and O-ring grooves.
  • oxygen compatible grease (for O-rings for reg hoses, etc).
  • an eraser or slate cleaner.

 

DT-1_multitool

I’m a fan of cable ties – they are handy for so many things.  Use them to hold broken plastic clips together, secure a corrugated inflator hose if it comes off (rare) and secure a fin strap if a side clip is lost.  They have many uses and not limited to dive equipment. On a dive holiday three years ago I had to fix a strap on one of my Crocs – I still wear the Crocs, complete with cable ties! On our last holiday my wife also used cable ties as light-weight D-rings.

 

If you’re away for a while or just want to be prepared for more eventualities, consider adding the following to your save-a-dive kit:

 

Spares: Tools:
  • DIN to yoke adapter - if travelling with DIN regulators.
  • pliers.
  • matches for heat-sealing cut nylon cord or webbing.
  • valve knob driver / double headed driver – tank valve handles may loosen in time and need tightening.
  • Schrader / core valve tool (if not on a multi-tool) for leaky inflator hose valves.
  • rubber / neoprene repair kit.
  • inflator hose air blower (dry small items and camera housings with air from a tank).

 

The above lists of tools and spare parts should help you out in most situations.

Occasionally you’ll find a need something extra, and add it to your kit.  On a recent holiday we had ‘an urgent need’ for a 1.5mm hex key to tighten a hex bolt on a camera housing – it has now been added to my kit.  Of course, if you have upgraded your regulators or mask, it can be handy to take the old ones along as spares (I've lent mine to friends a couple of times). 

As a final note, when looking to buy tools think about what they’ll be exposed too – especially if you dive in salt water.  Cheaper tools may not be made from marine grade stainless or suitably coated chrome-vanadium steel.  Remember to wash and dry your tools if they’ve been used on equipment that was exposed tosalt water.

Be prepared and don’t miss a dive!

 

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XDeep Zeos

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Taking the Xdeep Ghost on holidays over a year ago I loved it so much that I’ve been using it at every opportunity where a single-tank backmount system is called for.  It still looks like new after use in some tough conditions, but by being so good it delayed me from trying the Zeos – but the time has now come.

XDeep Zeos

The Xdeep Zeos is promoted as an “out of the box” system, suitable for the new diver and able to ‘grow’ with their needs. I was after the benefits of a backplate, harness and wing system, and tough enough to handle rough entries and exits, being knocked around by breaking surf and able to withstand getting washed up onto rocks …yes, OK, conditions do need to be quite bad to keep me out of the water.

I chose to keep it simple, a basic harness without the optional deluxe set shoulder or back pads.  A steel backplate would mean less lead to carry, but rather than be rational I chose a vibrant blue aluminium backplate with matching single tank adapter (STA), for a bit of bling. I moved the Xdeep weight pockets from my Ghost to the Zeos (interchangeable); why wear a weight belt if you can transfer the weight to a backplate? The left weight pocket has a D-ring, so I shifted the existing D-ring to the right side for another attachment point. I also chose the 28lb / 13kg wing, instead of the 38lb / 17kg wing, with the idea of a smaller wing being more streamlined; I don’t see the need to exert any more effort than necessary!

My test dives were a couple of boat dives with the aim of finding grey nurse sharks just off the NSW South Coast. Although I had a couple of new divers to keep an eye on, it seemed like my first pleasure dive in a very long time.

I’d adjusted the shoulder straps the night before so had no problem slipping into the harness.  In the water the fit was secure and comfortable – a 7mm semi-dry wetsuit gave me enough padding, and the backplate is a good comfortable shape with well positioned slots for the harness.  The Zeos trimmed to a near-horizontal position but I found my head hitting the first stage regulator – my error by fitting the STA by the top bolt hole of the backplate, it needed to be lower, an easy adjustment (after diving).

STA

The double-layered wing construction of the Zeos is similar to the Xdeep Hydros technical BCD, making it a very rugged unit – you don’t normally see this kind of construction in sport BCDs.   The double layer adds a little bulk compared to the Ghost, however the Zeos was nicely streamlined when pushing into a gentle current - my old jacket BCD now feels like a sea anchor.

28lb / 13kg lift is similar to a small - medium jacket BCD, but it's a lot of lift when correctly weighted and the weight of gas in my tank will only change about 5lb during a dive. The less weight the less lift needed. At the end of the first dive, bringing the newer divers to the surface, another diver lost his weight belt climbing on board. So back down to 20m to pick up a 24lb weight belt, being deliberately 2lb overweight for this test dive and with half a tank of gas – that’s about 28lb of lift needed, the same as the wing! At maximum inflation I was neutrally buoyant but with all the lift in the wing sitting behind me I was comfortable and trimmed, unlike a jacket where full inflation feels like being crushed to the point of restricting blood flow. (I had an Xdeep closed SMB if extra lift was needed.)

Some other notes.  Some divers worry a back inflation BCD will push them face down on the surface; the Zeos had an upright surface position - the wing shape is well designed for streamlining and when on the surface.  The Zeos wing has a large-toothed zip making it easily to unzip and wash out salt between the inner bladder and outer shell. Jacket BCDs have pockets (often half filled with integrated weights); however, more D-rings can be added to the Zeos harness and the Xdeep pouch is also a more versatile option rather than pockets.  The Zeos is offered “out-of-the-box” in a couple of configurations, but it can be customised to individual needs.  The wing and STA can be swapped for a Hydros wing and twin tank configuration, providing an upgrade path.

In summary, the Zeos appears simple, as a harness back plate and wing, but the attention to detail in its design means that it performs brilliantly and, as a sport diving BCD, it is very rugged. I also think it is a great BCD for new divers - forget the jacket and go straight to the benefits of a tec-style BCD.

Finally, we saw crested horn sharks, Port Jackson sharks and Wobbegong's but no grey nurses. They were enjoyable dives nonetheless because of the gear I was using.

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