Generally speaking, the more you dive the more gear you will collect. There are always certain bits of equipment that you need for certain dives, such as a reel and a torch for a wreck dive, or a white slate and camera for photography dives. Some equipment is essential for every dive, such as a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and an audible signalling device such as a whistle.
However it is important that you carefully select what equipment you take with you on a dive, so you avoid looking like a ‘Christmas tree’ underwater. In the same way that you should ensure you have a proper place to store your alternate air source and your SPG so they do not dangle while diving, you need to have proper places for any extra equipment that you take with you too. Making sure that we are ‘tidy’ whilst diving is very important for several reasons. Firstly if we have stuff hanging everywhere then it creates unnecessary drag, which results in us using more air as it is harder to move underwater. Secondly any piece of equipment that is not stowed properly can be a hazard to the reef, as it could drag along the bottom without us even realising, creating a bulldozer effect on the reef, destroying anything in its path. Also things dragging along the bottom is not only damaging the reef, but also damages the piece of equipment that is being dragged, and it can even be an entanglement hazard.
I know it is very tempting to take everything you own on a dive, maybe your primary torch fails so you need your back up to look under that rock, or maybe you find something that you want to lift from the bottom so you need to carry your lift bag. The problem with this, is that it is almost impossible to fit everything on your person. You need to decide what is important and what is not. Think safety first, what do I need in the event of an emergency (pocket mask, DSMB, knife, whistle) and then think about what type of dive you are doing next. If you are intending to go down to get a great picture of a Clown fish, then you probably don’t need a 100 metre wreck diving reel. If you are night diving then you should take your torch and back up, but maybe leave the lift bag on the boat. Remember that space is limited, and you should utilise it well.
Luckily there are places on our scuba equipment for us to store things. Unless you use a travel or light weight BCD, there should be a pocket on either side, which can normally hold a decent amount. It is important not to over fill your pockets and I would recommend only one or two items per pocket. When you go to take something out it is very easy to accidentally pull something else out with it, and when that happens the other objects almost always sink to the bottom of the sea, and you won’t even realise until it is too late. Most BCDs will also have either plastic or metal D rings on them, which is a good place to attach small items (such as a finger spool) using sliding gate clips. Again anything that is attached here should be small so it does not hang off your body, and if it is a larger item that will hang then you should have a way to keep it streamlined against your body.
If you feel that you need more space than your BCD offers then you can get wetsuit pockets. These are usually large enough to carry quite a lot, and have D rings inside so you can even clip the items inside, so things can’t fall out when you are rummaging around inside. These pockets can be clipped around your leg, or the better thing to do is have them sewn onto the wetsuit. With wetsuit pockets and your BCD pockets you will never run out of storage room again!
Having space to store all of your equipment needs is just half of the battle, you need to be organised with it so you can find anything you need, when you need it, and without having to move other stuff around to get it! Personally I have a system with my equipment, I carry my DSMB in my right wetsuit pocket, along with my back up torch, which is clipped to the D ring inside. I don’t use standard slates as a communication method as they are overly bulky, a better option is to use wet notes, which is basically an underwater note book with around 50 pages. This is always stored in my left wetsuit pocket, along with a pencil, although I try not to use it too often. In my right BCD pocket I keep a pocket mask, and in my left BCD pocket is my primary torch. And clipped to my BCD is my 45 metre finger spool, which is required for my DSMB. My knife, and whistle are attached to my inflator hose using cable ties, so then can be easily accessed at any time without the fear of losing them. This is just my personal equipment set up, and you can choose how to set yours up however you like. As long as everything is neat and tidy, and easy to access when you need it, then you have done well.
‘Be a Tidy Diver’ was written by Mike