Many divers, particularly those who live in cold climates or far from the water, do most of their diving on vacation or on dive-specific trips. But even those who dive year-round, unless they live in tropical areas, often have dive gear that’s specifically suited for the warm waters of vacation dive sites.
You may find when you pack your dive gear that it’s been dormant for a while. And save for blowing off the dust, there are several things you should consider doing to make sure your gear is ship-shape and dive-ready.
First of all, make sure all your relevant gear has been serviced within the past year or two. Consult your gear log if you have one. The most important gear to service is your BCD, regulator, computer and dive torch. If you have them and intend to bring them, check the last service date of your scuba tank and drysuit as well. All of these contain complex workings and internal parts that require special tools and/or training to ensure they’re working properly. If some of these require service, take them to your local dive shop.
Other dive gear doesn’t necessarily require service, but a visual inspection will suffice. So take out your mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit, gloves and boots (if applicable). Look for wear and tear, in particular on mask and fin straps. Go over your wetsuit, boots and gloves and look for holes in the neoprene. Ensure that zippers work and run smoothly; check that the fabric and neoprene where the zippers attach is intact, and check the cuffs (if applicable) for wear. Check the glass on your mask for scratches. Check that snap bolts and carabiners work smoothly. Check that your dive knife or shear isn’t rusty, and that the edge is still sharp.
Find what’s missing
As you go over your gear, also make note of any bits and bobs that may be missing. A missing octopus retainer or a lost depth gauge clip won’t end your dive trip, but they will make things just a little more cumbersome. Also consider everything you wished you’d had on your previous trip. I rarely go on a trip without coming back with at least a few items I need to get, inspired by the trip. At this point, also consult your trip’s itinerary, and make sure you have everything that’s required for it.
If you find any flaws during your visual inspection, start fixing the problems. Replace or lube snap bolts and carabiners, replace worn or broken straps, and mend holes in wetsuits. Sharpen your dive knife, if needed, and sand off any rust specks, then lube it up with Vaseline or similar to protect it from the salt water. Replace whatever cannot be mended, and buy what you need but don’t have.
All of this takes a bit of time, in particular if you need to have something professionally repaired or serviced, so it goes without saying that this is not something you want to do on the night before heading to the airport. It may seem cumbersome, but remember, if you take care of your dive equipment, it will take care of you.