BCD

  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

    Modern divers don’t know how lucky they are. An example of all the equipment sold in Ocean Leisure has been used and evaluated by someone on its staff and we are confident that it will all do what it promises. However, only twenty years ago there was a lot of diving equipment on the market that was not as good as it might have been. CE regulation and market forces have seen the products for diving mature and the bad old days are long gone but as a scuba diving journalist working for the leading diver’s magazine at that time, I took it upon myself to identify the good, the bad and the downright unattractive! I upset a lot of retailers at that time by promoting a regulator made in the UK by Apeks Marine Engineering. The company had little or no reputation for making good regulators at that time but it came up with a world-beater and I took pleasure in telling the world about it! I took a group of divers to 50-metres deep breathing off a single first-stage. The rest is history.

    Apeks regulator test Apeks world-beating regulator test back in the early '90s.
    Products were not always good. At the same time a manufacturer with a strong reputation came up with some new fins that were patently ineffective. I told the world. They were soon taken off the market.  There were plenty of other products that proved not to live up to their promise: A curved mask that gave distorted vision; a regulator that gave a wet breathe; a full-face mask that had some design defects that were quickly rectified by the manufacturer after I travelled over to Italy to dive with its boss and chief test diver. Then there was the computer that promised more bottom time. It was positively dangerous! The list goes on. There were even some BCDs that exhibited obvious defects once they were under water. You won't find any of those BCDs for sale at Ocean Leisure. Although there was plenty of good stuff too, the list of the less good seemed never ending back in those days and I didn't make myself a favourite with any of the manufacturers. I tried to make comparison tests as fair and objective as possible, for example taking computers on deco-stop dives attached side-by-side on the same rig. I even tested fins with teams of divers using underwater speedometers that I had especially made for the job.
    Underwater speedometer for comparing the performance of different diving fins. Underwater speedometer for comparing the performance of different diving fins.
    I'm pleased to report that all the diving fins offered for sale at Ocean Leisure did very well in the tests and most of those that did not have sunk without trace. So now when customers are confronted with a choice of similar products we can have the confidence to say that the right one is the one that suits you! The people at Ocean Leisure have masses of accumulated experience and they are happy to pass it on to you. Come in for a chat.

  • Two BCs for Travelling Divers

    Aqualung Zuma in use. The Aqualung Zuma in use by the author.
    Cressi Travel Light in use John Bantin uses the Cressi Travel Light.
    Your BC could be the heaviest part of your diving equipment save actual tank and weights. While packing for a recent trip, I noticed that my chosen BC weighed so much that I thought it still had some lead stowed in it. With an eye on my miserable airline checked-baggage allowance, I knew I needed something less substantially made and lighter-weight. A long time ago, before many of you had taken up diving, I reviewed for Diver Magazine, where I was Technical Editor, a little compact wing from Seaquest called the 3D. It was stylish and minimalist. It was like wearing a little rucksack. The one-piece continuous harness meant that one size fitted all. Compared to other BCs available at the time, it was revolutionary. When it came to packing for a flight, it weighed in at less than 2kg. This was in the days when men were men, women made sandwiches, the BSAC ruled diving and every diver had a dual-bag BC, with an independent emergency inflation cylinder, designed for military divers and built to withstand the effects of dropping into the sea from a helicopter (not that they ever did!). My review of the rather feminine little SeaQuest 3D was suitably enthusiastic. It was one of the first bits of kit I reviewed during a 21-year career that genuinely impressed me. I was so impressed that I actually bought one, and have it to this day. It’s also ideal for single-tank drysuit diving. Alas, nobody else then seemed to agree with my findings, and few bought one. It was soon discontinued. Time passed and Seaquest BCs are now marketed under the name of the parent company, Aqualung. Times change. Far more people now see scuba diving as intrinsically linked with travel to tropical destinations, and girls go diving too! Fuel prices have risen in the interim as well, and suddenly lightweight BCs are at last finding their place.
    Aqualung Zuma The Aqualung Zuma is exceptionally comfortable.
    The Aqualung Zuma is that little Seaquest 3D, resurrected, re-thought and adapted to include some modern innovations. Without a hard backpack, you can actually roll it up. The Zuma is for the travelling single-tank diver. It comes with an integrated-weight system but only a small pocket. You need to clip your reel and SMB to a D-ring. Not only is it very comfortable to wear but we get reports from satisfied users that because it has such generously padded shoulder straps, it's very comfortable when used without a wetsuit where the water is warm enough for that.
    The Aqualung Zuma is minimalistic. The Aqualung Zuma is minimalistic.
    If the Zuma is too minimalistic for you, the Cressi Travel Light BC has all the features one might reasonably expect in a conventional BC, including pockets, an integrated-weight system and trim-weight pockets but it is just as lightweight. Trim-weight pockets can be very important to have when using a floaty aluminium cylinder. I’m not the world’s best diver, but during my active instructor days I was happy to demonstrate buoyancy control using an upturned plastic bag in place of a BC. The core function of a BC is very low-tech, so you can be confident that, however much of a compromise the Travel Light might be, it does the job.
    Cressi Travel Light has all the features you might need. Cressi Travel Light has all the features you might need.
    The otherwise conventional looking Cressi Travel Light is made from a very lightweight nylon material, and has no hard backpack. You can actually roll it up tightly for packing, so it takes up no space, either. It even has an additional Velcro-covered strap to keep it tidy when rolled. It comes with three ways to dump air not including using the oral inflation valve at the end of the corrugated hose.
    The Cressi Travel Light The full-feature Cressi Travel Light.
    Trying to strap a BC with no backpack to a cylinder by its camband could be very unsatisfactory, but both the Travel Light and the Zuma provide a second strap to stabilise the tank. The cost of a BC like these might well be recovered in excess-baggage charge savings. Don't be misled by divers who say these BCs are too fragile. I've had a Cressi Travel Light in regular use for several years and I ever use it when drysuit diving in colder waters. My wife even used it in Vancouver and in Iceland.

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