As mentioned earlier, reels are a great and effective way of keeping track of your SMB and finding your way back to the surface easily and efficiently. You can get different styles and designs but the most common by far is the wind up reel with a hook for attachment and nylon wire. The simple but easy mechanism ensures you can trace back to you SMB and avoid entanglements from any loose wire.
They are available in various lengths up to 100 metres to suit even the deepest dives and usually come with a quick release clip for removal in the event of an emergency.
Underwater torches can be vital, especially when deep diving or cave diving. They allow you to see in the dark; without them your eyes may be useless in certain waters and at great depths. Crucial in certain dive situations without natural light, a torch could be the only way to allow you to see your surroundings and help avoid any unwanted accidents when in unfamiliar territories. We strongly recommend you take a torch along with you on every dive you undergo, including ones in daylight.
A torch not only illuminates those lobster filled holes but they also help buddies to find each other. They are of course, essential for night dives. The best torches are the rechargeable type such as the D4R. They give a good light and save a small fortune on batteries. Most divers have a large rechargeable torch and a small backup battery torch.
An underwater light is both watertight and pressure-proof; you could take an ordinary toch underwater but the water shorts it out and ruins it, so don't try this! Underwater torches are designed with an O-ring seal that keeps them water tight. You will need to inspect, clean and lubricate this seal periodically, see individual manufacturer's instruction for full maintenance. As a general rule, store without their batteries for an extended period of time to prevent possible breakages from battery leaks.
Some additional points to consider are; Robust casing, sufficient brightness, a broad beam with a narrow bright spot is best and Buoyancy - neutral is preferred. A divers torch also needs a mechanism to prevent accidentally turning on. Many dive torches are designed to be cooled by water as they will burn very hot so be careful when handling in and out of the water. The torch used should be easy to operate with cold hands and/or large gloves. Some torches also have a dual bulb in case one blows. We stock a variety of underwater lights ranging in size, power source and brightness.
Lanyards are great for attaching dive equipment to your BCD. The usually come with hooks and straps which can be easily clipped onto D-rings on your BDC straps. They are available in various lengths and styles such as double hood, spiral chord for extra extension and some are suited to certain accessories, such as extra long ones for reef hooks or dive torches. You may not need any lanyards if your BCD and exposure suit offers enough pockets and attachments to store equipment. Conversely, you may require a few if you have a wealth of gear such as underwater cameras, slates etc.
The type you buy is entirely personal preference, you may find some easier to use than others so try a few out when buying one. It is advised that for expensive equipment, invest in a sturdy and strong lanyard as it would be a shame to lose something valuable such as a camera because you skimped on a cheap lanyard.
Sometimes you will need to carry things under water, whether this is equipment or accessories, sea life if are fishing responsibly or even rubbish for dive cleanups. A collecting bag, more colloquially referred to as a goodie bag is ideal for this. Again, there are various types and sizes to suit you but typically they are made from mesh nylon and a wire frame so that they drain superbly quickly and are easy to drag through the water; most have a lock so that they stay shut.
Remember when diving that you should not attach it to yourself or other equipment such as your BCD in case you need to drop it in an emergency. They are great for carrying equipment like your mask, snorkel and fins when you aren't in the water. For your other bits of equipment, see bags below.
You'll want to buy something to transport all your important dive equipment to and from the dive site both safely and easily. On a boat too, this keeps your gear together to ensure it is not misplaces or confused with the equipment of your fellow divers.
It is tempting to use a regular holdall or rucksack but think again; conventional carry bags which are not designed for scuba diving gear can corrode quickly due to the heavy equipment and salt water, damaging zippers and ruining the materials. Choose a bag large enough to fit in all of your equipment aside from your cylinder, weights and dry suit (if you have one). Cylinder and Weights have the potential to damage other equipment and dry suits have a fragile zip which needs protecting which is why you should carry them separately.
It should be made from a heavy-duty material to resist rotting and have a large zipper which won't corrode, other optional extras such as shoulder straps, pockets and padding are down to personal preference. Remember, a good gear bag isn't cheap but will save you money in the long run as it will last you a while longer and you are less likely to lose of damage all your other equipment if you have one. If you're a seasoned travelled, you might prefer a hands free design or one with wheels!
When in use, remember to pack your bag in reverse order so the things you will need first are on the top, making kitting up much easier. Rinse after use and allow to completely dry before storing.
Essentially your dive log is the "resume" of your dive career. Your log book will demonstrate to any dive master or charter crew how frequently you dive, what types of dive you have experience with and so on. It is extremely important when travelling abroad as people will ask to see proof of your dive experience before letting you rent kit etc, it should be kept safe along with your dive qualification (ID card). The three primary reasons to have a log book are as follows:
• Remember your dive experiences- You might not think it at first, but once you've built up a few years experience, you'll have trouble remembering the details of all your previous dives, their locations, the depth you dived to and what you may have seen on that dive. A log book acts as an effective dive diary to help your memories live forever.
• To document your history as a diver, this is when it becomes important as proof of experience, being able to show an instructor or resort abroad your detailed activity will reassure them of your abilities and opens more opportunities to you such as dive master courses etc.
• You may require details for future reference- particularly when diving in the same areas, you may have recorded currents or lack of natural light, these details should be factored into your next ive plan for that area and help you to prepare better.
Make a habit of filling your book immediately after every dive and have your buddy or instructor sign it; this way, you are unlikely to forget anything! You can choose from simple log books which are similar to a basic notepad to advanced ones where you list equipment used, air use, dive site maps and more.
Dive slates are a great tool for noting down anything with ease underwater. Record species, keep tallies or simply write notes; they are available in various sizes from small to large depending on your needs. Usually attachable to a D-ring on your BCD, or easily slipped in your pocket, you can also get wrist mounted slates to ensure ease of use whilst moving around freely underwater and prevent the hassle of carrying anything.
Apart from basic hand signals, you may need to communicate with your buddy more efficiently; dive slates provide an easy way to do this. They can be cleaned and reused and come with special underwater pencils which won't snap like wooden lead pencils. Specialized slates have aquatic life identification, navigation utility or photo colours included!
Using a compass is an essential skill for any diver, and it takes only a little practice to become proficient. The help you know where you are and where you are going. They allow you to follow your designated course and find the exit point. They can also come in handy at the surface especially in difficult conditions such as fog and other low visibility conditions. Especially useful for divers who may become disorientated, yet some of the more skilled divers may be able to navigate without one.
You must be careful to avoid any interference from the ferrous metal you are wearing such as the steel cylinders on your back, and you should be aware that a magnetic compass is of little use to a diver within the confines of a steel wreck or if it is placed next to a steel computer or watch.
Console mounted models are located at the end of the pressure gauge and high-pressure hose. With a wrist model, it is sometimes better to take it off your wrist when using it and hold it with two hands. This makes it easier to hold its "direction of swim" or "lubber" line parallel to your body. In either case be sure to hold it level so that the needle or compass card does not jam.
As any diver knows, hand signals are one of the most effective methods of communicating under water, as are dive slates. But how do you get your buddy's attention initially? It's not like you can yell their name, well at least not very easily, with a regulator in your mouth. Many people use sound to get the attention of their buddy, as when swimming along they may be otherwise distracted visually. An effective way to do this is by banging or tapping on your cylinder. Because sound travels better under water than it does in air, they will hear this from even quite a distance away, although they may be looking around for a short while to try and determine where the noise has come from.
Tank bangers wrap around your cylinder and when pulled a few centimetres and released, will make a clanging noise to signal that you want the attention of your buddy. They work especially well on group dives, or for instructors wanting to grab the attention of the whole class. Be careful not to use in excess or when you are nearby your buddy to avoid annoyance and startling them. If you are nearby, you should probably just tap them on the shoulder!