There's nothing like buying new dive kit, and Nick Herbert's money-saving tips for divers are nothing like buying new dive kit. On the other hand, they are money-saving
TWO LINES ON YOUR REEL
Buddylines are useful for those low-viz situations, but do tend to get stuffed into BC pockets or wrapped around other bits of kit, so that when you need them they're trapped or tangled up.
Solution: If you have one of those commonly used plastic SMB reels, remove the drum by undoing the central spindle nut and drill two small holes through the exposed backplate. These should line up with the mounting holes in one of those black plastic cleats you can buy at a yacht chandlers.
Bolt the cleat to the outside back of your reel backplate using two short stainless steel bolts and locknuts, ensuring that the bolts don't foul the drum. Clean, lubricate and reassemble the reel and check that the drum still spins freely.
Use a bowline knot to attach one end of your buddyline to the cleat, then wrap the rest of it around the cleat in a figure-of-eight. Secure the free end with the spring clip, which it is preferable to splice to the buddyline. This clips through the handle loop and then back on itself when not required.
WEIGHT OFF YOUR BACK
Weightbelts are wonderful, weightbelts are fine, but think of the wear that they cause to your spine. If you carry loads of lead on your belt, wouldn't it be kinder to your lower lumbar areas already straining under the weight of twin 12s if some of that concentrated weight could be moved elsewhere?
If your BC has a hard plastic backpack, one solution is to remove it and blank off any water drain holes at the top with duct tape. If there are two drain holes at the bottom, cover one with duct tape, but leave open if there is only one.
Mix about half a litre of two-part epoxy resin, as found in car or boat repair shops, then test some of it on a strong part of your backpack to make sure it is compatible.
Use a funnel to pour the resin into the backpack then, with your thumb over the hole, shake it to coat all the inner surfaces. Reinsert the funnel quickly and pour in as much lead shot as you want weight off your weightbelt - as much as 3kg. With your thumb back over the hole, give the backpack another good shake.
Reapply some duct tape to the hole and lay the backpack flat while the resin hardens. This will spread the weight evenly but you can move it to where it is most comfortable for you by standing the backpack upright or inverted while the resin sets.
Don't forget to peel any duct tape from the drain holes, and refit the backpack to your BC. Lumbar liberation!
PAMPER THAT DRYSUIT
It makes no sense to leave an expensive drysuit crumpled and salt-sodden in a gearbag until next needed. That's when you discover the punctured patch or split seal, and the zipper that doesn't.
Rinse the suit inside and out in warm water and fasten the boots, soles uppermost, to a length of wood using thick rubber bands (2.5cm car inner tubes work well).
Stretch them over the bar, over the boot and back over the bar. Suspend the hanger by a hook while the suit dries.
Make yourself a strong storage hanger: bend two lengths of 2.5cm pvc waterpipe to the shape of the drysuit shoulders using a hairdryer, and connect them to a shorter section of pvc pipe, drilled to take a hanging cord, with a T-piece. Use a dab of pvc adhesive for a permanent assembly. Cover the"arms" and "neck" with pre-split coldwater pipe lagging foam, held in place by duct tape.
Before hanging the suit up, dust lightly with French chalk around wrist and neck seals and lightly rub the zipper teeth with a stick of beeswax (from diveshops), opening and closing the zipper once or twice to work it in.
Proprietary dust covers are expensive, so use heavy-duty plastic rubbish sacks, the largest you can find. Stick a 10cm length of duct tape to the centre of a sack's lower seam, fold it in half lengthwise at this end, cut the corner off to make a small hole through tape and sack, then invert the sack and pull over the suit hanger you wish to cover. The tape reinforces the hole.
Hang it in a dark corner and, the odd spider apart, you won't get any nasty surprises when you next use it.
HOSE UNDER WRAPS
Many divers are switching their breathing gear from the standard 232 bar working pressure to high-pressure 300 bar systems. This is good for heavy breathers, but does mean finding a suitable high-pressure hose for your contents gauge. Standard swivelling gauges on thick hoses are unsuitable for the higher pressure, so thin hoses of 350 bar rating are required.
But then you find that standard hose-protector sleeves, which are a must for all hoses, just slide up and down the hose ineffectively. So how can you protect your hose from kinks and boat-induced damage?
From your dive shop, obtain a length of spiral plastic wrapping and two hose protector sleeves. Then, from an electrical supplier, buy a roll of self-amalgamating tape. This looks like ordinary insulating tape but has a peel-off backing layer and doesn't seem sticky when unrolled.
In fact this tape sticks to itself when you peel off the backing strip, and forms a watertight seal when wrapped around something like a hose.
Wind your spiral wrapping around the hose, from one ferrule to the other. Then wrap each hose end in amalgamating tape to secure the spiral wrapping. This will also build up the overall hose diameter (but not too thick), so that when you finally slide your protector sleeves over each end of the hose, they stay in place.
Losing a wrist-mounted computer under water is expensive and could be downright dangerous on a decompression dive. So how can you secure it to your wrist in case of strap failure?
Punch a small hole in the centre of a wide portion of the "buckle" half of the computer strap - usually it's the part with the line of holes in that breaks. Thread a wrist-lanyard from the dive shop or from your spares box through the hole. These come in a range of colours and have a spring-loaded plastic cord lock to tighten them up in use.
Once your wet- or drysuit is on, put the lanyard over your wrist before strapping the computer on properly. Should the strap break, the lanyard will stop several hundred pounds worth of technology disappearing into the depths.
Appeared in DIVER - November 1999