Manta Divers, September, 2016 Gear Maintenance
The summer of 2016 has been a season jam packed with diving for me. I dove in both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, made exploration dives in Butternut Lake in Oneida County, picked weeds and did some science in Lake Lulu, and made several trips to Pearl Lake and Haigh Quarry. With Mike laid up, I was lucky to have our newest instructor, Scott (Tater) Duban there at the ready to take over some of my classes. I also could not have done it without my divemaster, Justin (Baby Face) Packan and my newly certified divemasters, Sheryl (Boom-Boom)Brandes and Anthony (Andrew)Townsend. Thank you to all for the help and support! Now that the local dive season is winding down, it is time to do a little maintenance on the gear so it is ready to go again for our winter tropical adventures!
The first thing I like to take care of is my BC. I check all the Velcro and clean it out the hook (the rougher) side. It is amazing how much hair, fuzz and organic material gets stuck in there! An old toothbrush is a great tool for this job. The loop side of the Velcro can get sand and other dirt stuck in it, so, with the fastener completely dry, you can just “beat” the loop to knock it out.
Next you want to clean and rinse the bladder. I rinse the inside of my BC after nearly every dive outing, but in the Fall, I go all in and give it a really thorough cleaning. Put a few capfuls of BC cleaner into your BC via the inflator. Commercial BC cleaners help condition and protect your equipment from damaging salt crystals, chlorine and organics. With regular use, your bladder is less likely to become stiff and develop cracks. Follow the BC cleaner with some fresh water. Inflate the BC and swish the solution around inside of it, then hang the BC upside down and drain. Finally, rinse the inside thoroughly a few times to remove any residual cleanser. Inflate again and allow to dry overnight. The next day, check to see if the BC remained inflated. If not, bring it in to the shop!
Regulator maintenance is best left to trained technicians, but you can inspect all of the hoses, especially at the connections and under hose protectors, if you have them. If you’ve been diving in salt water, give your reg a good overnight soak in warm freshwater. I also like to soak my mouthpieces in a little 50% mix of Listerine and water to freshen them up. Applying a coat of UV tech to your hoses will offer protection from sun damage. (UV Tech works great on BC’s, too, to prevent fading.) Remember to keep your regulator on its regular maintenance schedule, generally, an inspection and pressure check yearly and rebuild every 2 years.
Your mask and fins probably can use a good wash in mild soap, using a toothbrush to get sand particles out of the fin buckles and mask skirt. Rinse and dry your fins and mask. Silicone conditioner or UV Tech can be applied to the fin straps as you inspect them for cracks or weak points.
Finally, your gear bag may benefit from a thorough cleaning. You may wonder how there is sand anywhere else with all that has accumulated at the bottom of your bag! Turn it inside out and hose it down thoroughly. Salt and sand can wreak havoc on zippers, so they may not be working at peak efficiency. A good soak in warm freshwater will help dissolve the salt, adding a little BC cleaner to the water will expedite the process. You may want to employ that old toothbrush again to really get the zipper’s teeth clean! Once the zipper is moving again, put a little Zip Tech or other lubricant on the teeth and run the zip back and forth to ensure that everything is moving as designed. Hang your bag to dry and run a fan on it to ensure that all sides are dry and so no mildew will form.
Before packing everything away, make sure that if you've marked your gear, that those marks are stil visible. Touch them up if needed. Gear maintenance is important to protect not only your investment, but your life! Take an hour or two before you store your gear for the winter, or however long your “dry spell” will be. You will be thankful when you take that gear out again and see that it is as ready for some watery adventure as you are!
In Other News…………
A few lucky divers can still join team Manta in Curacao this January. Call the shop or check out the “Team Manta Dive Adventures” page for details.
Congratulations to new Open Water Divers, Don, Dave and Sue Hill, Ronen Bordoloi, Connor and Savannah Walsh, Aaron Singer, Adam Rossman, Anthony Paparelli, Anthony Ciuris, Derek and Itzel Alcala, Julie Volbrecht, Rebekah Ritchhart, Michele Stone, Justin Albrecht, Luke, Sophia and Roger Cepeda.
Congrats to new Advanced Open Water divers, Joe Petkus, Mike Smith and Mary Beth Townsend
Congrats to new Deep Diver and Solo Diver, Justin Packan
Congrats to Anthony Townsend and Sheryl Brandes on their promotion from “Shlepper-in-Training” to “Professional Shlepper.” We are proud (and fortunate) to have you as our newest divemasters!