• 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.

  • Five Ideas to Improve Your Diving.

    Get Your Trim Right . Often, divers carry the right amount of weight but in the wrong place. A drysuit diver needs to carry the best part of his weight in such a manner that his chest will come up slightly and his feet go down. Consider where the fulcrum or pivoting point of your body will be. Integrated weight pockets on a BC might be too high up on a long-legged diver.  A weight harness allows weights to be slung lower. On the other hand, a diver wearing a lightweight suit and using an aluminium tank might need to add some weight higher up and, if the BC in use has no trim-weight pockets, you can always add a couple of kilos to the camband that goes round the tank. You need to be comfortably horizontal in the water without any tendency to invert.Trim Deploy a Delayed Surface-Marker Buoy Easily in Mid-water. Why do so many divers make a mess of this? Is it because they haven’t been shown how to do it? Carrying a big camera? Learn how to do it easily with one free hand. Stream the buoy so that it floats above you. A tiny bit of exhaled air in it will help keep it up. Pull off as many metres of line that is practical, so that your reel hangs below you. Take the open end of the buoy and hold it with fingers and thumb above the upper side of the exhaust-T of your regulator while holding your head a little to one side. Have the line passing through but not gripped by your hand. Exhale into the buoy. It will start to ascend. Exhale again immediately releasing your grip on the buoy and grab the reel as it gets pulled up to your hand. Release the line from the ratchet of the reel. Watch the buoy go. Tighten off the ratchet as soon as the line loses its tension because the buoy will have reached the surface. Get Your Weight Right. The human body is more or less neutrally buoyant. Take a big breath and your float. Empty your lungs and your heavy head will go under. If we didn’t wear buoyant kit such as our suits, we wouldn’t need to wear weights. If you want to get your weight right, exhale hard at the surface and the weight of your head in the air should push you down. Add an extra amount of lead to compensate for the weight of the gas you might exhale out into the water during the dive and you’re perfectly weighted. So why do so many divers wear too much weight? Is it because they are used to plummeting to the seabed and trampling around before putting air into their BC of suit to make it back to the surface? Neutral buoyancy is the very essence of pleasurable diving. If you are neutrally buoyant near the surface in your drysuit, you will only need to add sufficient air during the dive to make up for the compression of the air that was in it when you started. If you need to put air in your BC too, there’s a good chance you’ve overdone it with the amount of lead you are carrying. Use Your Lung Volume. Don’t keep fiddling with your BC direct-feed inflation. If you are using conventional open-circuit scuba, varying your lung volume can be a useful adjustment when heading over or under obstacles. A big deep breath will stop you from crashing down lower than you intended and using the range at the other end of the lung-volumes you have available will enable you to cruise over things without inadvertently heading for the surface. You’ll soon find that you can do this almost unconsciously and it’s a great way enjoy a relaxed dive. You’ll also find it helps to keep station at a blue water safety stop. Wear a Suit That Fits. When someone asked me which was my favourite diving suit, I replied it was the one that fitted me best. If your drysuit fits your perfectly, there will be less of a drag when you are swimming. If your wetsuit or semi-dry is too big, cold water will flush around it under the arms and around the groin so that you’ll soon feel cold. If your drysuit is too small you either won’t be able to sit down in it or you’ll be limited to the choice of the undergarment you can wear with it. If your wetsuit or semi-dry is too small, it might interfere with your ability to breathe. Try a suit on before you buy it. That's what the changing rooms at Ocean Leisure are for! We're there to help you.

  • Choosing a Suit for Diving.

    Water is a great conductor of heat. It conducts heat twenty-five times faster than air, which is why we use it in our central-heating systems. However the same thing applies when we are surrounded by water. It conducts away heat very quickly and no matter how tropical it may be, unless the water is as warm as your normal skin temperature, you will eventually get chilled. The right suit for the prevailing conditions will keep you comfortable. You may only need a skin, or maybe a 3mm neoprene wetsuit, but it will make all the difference between a long and relaxed dive and maybe one that is shorter and ends with the shivers. People vary greatly in their physical make-up together with their tolerance for discomfort so there are no strict rules. While a 3mm suit might be right for one person, another might demand a 7mm-thick wetsuit. Ocean Leisure stocks a range of suits from the lightest of lightweight dive-skins through to the warmest of warm drysuits. What is really important is that whichever suit you choose, it fits you properly and the changing rooms at Ocean Leisure are busy with people checking just that. Luckily, the modern materials from which these suits are made of are so flexible that these suits are easy to slip in and out of.360836 You may feel comfortable swimming in nothing more than a skimpy swimming costume but another advantage of a diving suit is that is makes the wearing of scuba equipment much more comfortable and it also stops your skin from getting inadvertently damaged by knocks against coral or rocky substrate. Abrasions to your epidermis can be significant especially in the tropics as there are a plethora of pathogens in sea-water. Your skin is your first line of defence and a break in this can lead to infections that can end up being more than inconvenient. Not only that but a wetsuit can protect you against the ravages of man-eating plankton too. This minute zoo-plankton is formed from tiny animals that inhabit all tropical seas and in some areas its irritating effect is known as sea-itch. That’s why we tend to recommend a full-length suit. 310175A dry suits keep you dry while the insulation against the cold is provided by the garments worn underneath it. This can vary from a mere thin woollen undergarment that one might wear in Egypt’s Red Sea in the colder months to the full nine-yards of a thick undersuit more suitable for use in Britain’s chilly waters. If you are surprised at the suggestion to wear a drysuit in Egypt, bear in mind that while the water temperature might be equable, a cold wind can blow off the desert and this can leave those who climb out of their damp wetsuits feeling quite chilly while the drysuit user is still comfortable and warm.   132053Some people will tell you that the fit of a drysuit is less important. We disagree. A properly fitting drysuit will allow you to swim as freely as you would in a wetsuit. Whichever suit you choose, make sure it’s one that fits you properly. Spend time trying on more than one. The helpful people that form the staff at Ocean Leisure are there to help you choose the suit that’s right for you and the water in which you will be diving.

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