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Scuba divers have gizmos and gadgets a plenty, with essential gear like masks, snorkel, BCDs, regulators, fins, booties, wetsuit, computers, weights, and tanks. While the use of equipment is mandatory when scuba diving, there are scuba accessories that you can bring along and assist you in obtaining a smooth, safe, and fun diving adventure.
Scuba accessories are different from the colloquial definition of “accessories.” These items are functional, and are not required on most fun dives. In this guide, we’ll cover the most common scuba diving accessories and explain why you might want them for your dive.
Table of Contents
Surface Marker Buoy
Signaling your underwater presence to others is essential, especially for passing boats and for the boat crew to track your whereabouts while on water. The only surface indicator of a scuba diver’s presence underwater are the bubbles exhaled from their regulator.
Surface marker buoys (SMBs) are inflatable elongated tubes, they look a little like an inflated hot dog — and are typically colored neon orange or red. Scuba divers deploy their SMB just before they ascend to the surface of the water. SMBs usually come with their own line and reel for easy deployment and recovery. While SMBs may become bulky when inflated, they are small and compact when not in use and attached to the side of your BCD through D-rings.
Diving is fun and it will be more fun if you share your experiences with your friends. While you can verbally describe your diving experience from a particular dive site, nothing beats an underwater photo. From images to videos, underwater cameras capture every moment of your dive journey. You can craft a dive vlog with scenes of you travelling to the dive site, preparing your equipment, and the moment where your adrenaline skyrockets after encountering the big boys of the deep. Or perhaps, a peaceful moment admiring a nudibranch.
Unless you have a full face mask with a phone buddy system, communication underwater is difficult and limited to hand signals. Capturing your buddy’s attention is a challenge when you’re not looking at one another, like when you see something special that you want your buddy and the rest of the dive group to see.
Attached to your scuba cylinder, a tank banger is an efficient diving accessory to capture attention. Made of hard plastic with an elastic rubber band, all you need to do is reach around your tank, pull the tank banger gently, and release it. You’ll hear a ting rather than a bang when it sounds.
If reaching your tank while diving is be difficult for you, consider a Dive Alert or Hammerhead. These accessories attach to the BCD’s low pressure inflator port and with a slight press will release air and make an oink oink sound.
Dive knives can come in handy if you ever need to cut loose from being entangled, or slice through fishing net or rope. You don’t need to hold the knife for the entire duration of your dive–it typically is placed into a sheath and held flush against your leg or BCD. Dive knives are sharp and an efficient cutting tool. They either have a sharp cutting edge or serrated on the side which is a design used for sawing.
Communication underwater is still quite rudimentary. With a slate, you can write messages–like when I wrote a love letter to my wife when she first joined me on a dive! Writing slates are used to take note of underwater observations. If you see a fish or shell you don’t know, you draw it on the slate using a pencil and identify it after the dive. You can also use it for communication and write down complex sentences with your buddy, like, There’s a seahorse in the seagrass meadow just beside the red-colored coral. How can you relay that message using hand signals?
Writing slates come in many forms. Some slates are compact wrist types and others are paper-length that attach to your BCD.
Underwater Torch / Flashlight
Who says underwater lights are only for night diving? While they are primarily used in night diving, underwater lights are also used in cave diving or just simply lighting up cracks and crevices during a day dive.
But day diving with a flashlight? Try and point it at a coral of your choice and you will be amazed at the vibrant colors that come to life under the light.
Cruising along the reef with just a press of a button? If that’s what you want, an underwater scooter will be your seaside chariot. This battery operated underwater propulsion mechanism will take you to great distances without consuming as much air and energy as divers traditionally do with fins. Divers using it claimed that having an underwater scooter is “comfort and style” rolled into one device. But as we all know, comfort and style comes with a price.
The next batch of scuba accessories are the ones left behind on the surface. These accessories can either help you during equipment preparation or after a dive.
Wallet, money, IDs, clothes, mobile phones and other personal belongings, we bring them on a dive trip and we don’t want them to get wet. Before, plastic bags were the go-to containers we used until the advent of durable dry bags. With dry bags, you can place all your personal belongings in just a single bag that is guaranteed to be waterproof, even if it is accidentally dislodged overboard.
You need to rinse your equipment after the dive and this may require space during hanging and drying. With dive hangers, you can hang and dry your newly rinsed equipment all in one place. A durable hanger can also handle quite a load of weight that your everyday hanger won’t be able to. Load ‘er up with your BCD, regulator, and wetsuit.
Good visibility is always a factor for great diving. But no matter how good the visibility is, it will be of no use if your mask is always fogging. By applying a few drops to your mask lens before a dive, mask defog can eliminate fog buildup caused by temperature imbalance (cold water surrounding and exhaling warm air).
Tip: In case you forget your defogger, shampoo or toothpaste can be a good substitute. Don’t have that? Mother nature has given us divers a natural mask defogger, saliva.
First Aid Kit
While we are always careful and practice safe diving standards, we will never know when an accident will happen. It is best to prepare for it through training, certification and having a first aid kit. A good first aid kit should have medications for wound, allergies, pain reliever and survival items like a reflective blanket in case of hypothermia. It should also be waterproof just in case it gets splashed or accidentally falls overboard.
Aside from photos and videos, a good way to document your diving experience is through a dive log. Every dive, fill out all the details and have your buddy, dive guide, divemaster or instructor sign it. In other words, it is an official dive document.
A dive log is not just about looking back on your early years of being a scuba diver. If you plan to go to the next certification level, there are a certain number of dives required before you can do the certification course. Your instructor will often look at your dive log and look at the number of dives you have made.
While traditional dive log is paper based, technology allows us to use electronic dive logs using epic scuba diving apps that can be synchronized directly to your dive computer.
You don’t need to bring every scuba diving accessory you own on every dive. Load up or down depending on the dive conditions. Otherwise, if you accessorize yourself too much, you might earn the nickname of ‘The Christmas Tree’.