Manta Divers August 2006 Newsletter
Remember complaining about the cold, sunless days of February? On some of these sweltering days, they seem, to me, just a dream! I am enjoying the heat, though, because I know these days won’t last forever! The water locally has been warm and the visibility, while not exactly Caribbean-like, has not been bad for this area. Mike and I have been busy diving and certifying divers! (Check the new diver page!) It’s been great to hear the stories of all of you out there diving locally and taking advantage of our short Wisconsin summer. A customer who’s been out there diving came into the shop and told me his BC gave off a rank smell when he went to inflate is orally, which brings me to this month’s topic: Gear Care.
What would happen if you never changed the oil in your car? How would it look if you never washed it? How would it smell if you dumped lake water in it a couple of times and never shampooed the carpets? Well, the same holds true for your dive gear. You bought quality gear and if you want it to last a long time, you have to maintain it.
As part of our scuba class, Mike and I always have the students participate in the wash out after dives. Now, some of our students probably think we were just trying to get out of doing it ourselves, but the truth is we want students develop good gear care habits. I have written in the past about the importance of maintaining your regulator through regular professional inspections and rebuilds, as the manufacturer recommends, but after each dive, you need to do a little maintenance of your own. Gently rinse the first and second stages of your regulator (with the first stage dust cap in place) with fresh water to remove any mud, sand, salt or plant matter that may have gotten on it. Gently rinse your mask and snorkel, and fins as well.
Next, rinse your BCD. We use a clean 44 gal. Rubbermaid barrel and a 70 gal Rubbermaid tank for this. The BCD can be dipped into the water to rinse the outside. The inside should be rinsed as well, not only for the health of the BCD itself, but for the health of our lakes. Just as boaters are instructed to thoroughly rinse their boats off and drain their bilge to prevent the spread of invasive species from lake to lake, dive gear should also be rinsed to rid it of any possible contaminants. The oral inflator can be depressed to allow fresh water from the hose to gently fill the BCD through the inflator mouthpiece. After you have some water inside, orally inflate the BCD and swish the water around inside. You can then drain the water from the BCD through the inflator, or the overpressure relief valve. It is a good idea to use a commercial BCD cleaner at least once in a while to cut down on fungal and bacterial growth (the cause of BCD bad breath!) inside the BCD. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the cleaner out of your vest with freshwater. Your BCD should be stored, out of direct sunlight, partially inflated.
Anyone who has been on a week long dive trip knows what “diver funk” is, but for you novices, let me tell you. Diver funk is a foul odor that permeates dive gear, especially wet suits, when they have been exposed to salt or fresh water over several days. At the dive shop, we treat or gear with MiraZyme or wet suit shampoo after every dive, but while on a dive vacation, this may be impossible. This smell will not go away on its own! Therefore, you must bear the nasty looks of fellow travelers who wonder what kind of dead thing you are trying to smuggle into the country and treat your gear as soon as you get home. Again, at the shop we use a couple of large tanks, but 18 gal. Rubbermaid storage boxes can work well. Fill your container with the freshwater and 2 capfuls Wet Suit shampoo per gallon of water and the other one with freshwater. The shampoo will clean the wet suit and get rid of sweat, salt, chlorine, urine and other residue. The suit should be rinsed in the fresh water after shampooing. You may want to let the suit soak over night in the water if it you were really diving hard and the suit is very saturated with salt. In order to make your wet suit smell April fresh, (this is recommended especially if you store it in your closet with your clothes), dip your suit into a tub with 2 capfuls of MiraZyme per gallon of water. This product removes residual odors and bacteria from the neoprene. There is no need to rinse after the MiraZyme. Allow your suit to dry and store with zipper open on a wet suit hanger. Conventional hangers tend to put strain on the shoulders of your suit which will eventually decrease the insulating quality of your suit. Neoprene booties, hoods and gloves can be treated the same as the wet suit. There are also hangers available that are specially designed for drying these accessories.
Dive gear is a substantial investment and I always tell customers that if you buy quality, you only have to buy it once. However, no matter how great your gear is, if you don’t take care of it, you will not have it long. So, just as your car needs regular maintenance and care, so does your dive gear!
In other news:
Official Team Manta tuques are in and available for purchase! Now if only the Speedos would come in, we'd be set!
Congratulations to new divers, Netasha Tolliver, Mike Ruffolo, Austin Lee, Kathy Strache, Trevor Rische, and Ian and Eric Lunderskov.
SPECIAL OFFER! Advanced Open Water Certification is only $135 ($60 savings) for divers going to Bonaire with the shop group Jan.20-27. (Price includes book and DVD)