What Spare Gear To Bring On Your Dive Trips
You're finally going on that dive trip you have been dreaming about for ages. You saved all your pennies, and have scraped up enough money to book your trip, Now you finally are on that liveaboard you wanted to go on, and find yourself in the middle of nowhere. It is sunny and the water looks great. You get ready to strap on your fins for that first dive. As you tighten your strap you hear a snapping sound. If you packed correctly and are prepared this is a minor issue. If you didn't prepare it is time to start sucking up to people or you might be sitting out this dive or worse.
Last year I did an extended trip on a liveaboard. We stayed for 7 days in the middle of nowhere with no available rental or repair shop. Between the 10 people on this trip we had one regulator failure, issues with gloves, fin straps, lights, and cameras. Luckily this time no one lost a mask or hood although it came close. We all worked together, and managed to solve most of these issues. This was because we were a bunch of experienced divers and were prepared. You might not be so lucky.
What spare gear you need to bring really depends on how crucial your equipment is to the enjoyment of the trip, and how close the nearest rental or dive shop is. As a diver you should minimally have some basics like a spare fin buckle, and strap, a mask strap. If you have dry gloves you need to bring replacement gloves. A bucket of O-rings, different type of tapes, glues, tools and spare batteries should also be part of your save a dive kit. If you have a hard time finding a good fitting mask, bring a spare one.
Do you have equipment that is so crucial that when it breaks, its a show stopper, like video or photography equipment? If so, you should also include spare gear to service or replace broken parts. If your BCD or dry suit have special connectors so normal quick disconnect hoses won't fit, you should bring either adapters or spare hoses. I am not even starting to talk about rebreathers, as those people are nuts (Yes I am). The amount of spare o-rings and dingemebobles I need to bring for that thing is scary.
A lot of issues can be prevented by regular maintenance, and gear preparation before you go on your trip. Check out all your gear at least a month before you go. If you get your regulator serviced, do some test dives to see that it works. Fill your BCD with air and let it sit for an hour or so to see if you have any leaks. Check to see that your BCD and drysuit inflator buttons don't stick. Check your dive computer batteries. If you are not sure when the last time was you replaced it, maybe it is a good idea to put a fresh battery in your computer.
You might think that all this is overkill, With an average cost of a dive trip being over a $1000, sitting on the sideline because of lack of preparation sure would suck. I don't know how often I have bailed out somebody because they did not bring a save a dive kit. The result of my kindness is often that at the end of a trip I am running around trying to recover the equipment I lend to those people (Spare gear is expensive). There is no shame in having to borrow gear or spare parts (It has happened to me many times), but don't be that diver that does not prepare. Be sure to thank the people who helped you, and return the gear you borrow.
o make the preparation easier create checklists. Replenish your save a dive kit regularly. Place a little booklet with a pen in your kit to write down things you might miss, or have used and need to be replaced. We enjoy using a whiteboard at home for putting down items we need to remember before a trip.The initial cost of starting a save a dive kit can be expensive, but I remember feeling so great after the first use of it. It made the difference between doing a dive or not, and it made me look like a million dollars because I was able to solve the problem.