FINS AREN’T ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM
You will have noticed that I specified good manufacturers. There are some brands on the market from manufacturers that do not think their designs through completely in terms of failure points.
Two fins, one with a steel strap fit for purpose, the other just cosmetic.
An example of this can be found in the recent fashion for stainless-steel fin-straps, an idea that originally came from the world of cave-diving.
The thinking behind using coiled metal straps bolted into the body of the fin is primarily to remove the failure points represented by flimsy plastic buckles, making it less likely that you will lose a fin on a dive.
A side-benefit for cave-divers is that there are no flapping bits of rubber on the ends of their feet that might get tangled in a guideline. However, if you look closely at many of the models produced by manufacturers that have jumped onto this bandwagon, you will see that they have coiled stainless-steel straps, but the straps are attached to the fin by plastic buckles.
They look similar to the real thing, but the failure-points that the metal-straps concept was designed to remove are still there. The change is purely cosmetic.
Steel strap with plastic buckles.
What can you do? There are potential failure points in every piece of gear with which you dive. Recognise that they are there, eliminate them when you can and, where you can’t eliminate them, ensure that you have a plan for what to do when the failure happens – a plan that works, and one that you have tested in a pool or shallow water.
When you’re planning to buy equipment, compare options with the concept of failure points in mind. Although, as I mentioned earlier, all BCs have multiple potential failure points, some have more than others.
Some have an internal air-cell to keep the wing functional if the external casing is torn, or the material around the dump-valves gets worn. Some have double cylinder-straps to ensure that the cylinder never falls through.
You must also assume that a cable-tie anywhere on your gear will fail at some point, usually at the worst possible time, and double it up.
As technical-diving pioneer Billy Deans used to say: “Two is one and one is none.”
Here the steel strap is bolted into the fin body.
Either that or, in the case of a regulator-mouthpiece cable-tie for instance, prepare for it to break, and know what to do when it does.