I’m a really keen snorkeller, but as a scuba-diver I just don’t get this thing about always wearing a snorkel on your mask-strap. After all, you’re hardly likely to go snorkelling in your scuba kit. It would be like putting on your motorbiking leathers and helmet to drive your estate.
In fact, wearing a snorkel on your mask-strap introduces scope for human equipment fail-points. I’m sure I’m not the first diver to have made the mistake in training of switching between regulator and snorkel at the wrong time – as I descended.
In fact, as an instructor teaching alternative air-source use, I wasn’t fast enough to stop my own student putting his snorkel into his mouth instead of his regulator 3m down.
Plus, when I did toe the agency line and wear a snorkel on my mask, it would vibrate in current or catch on wreckage as I stuck my head in a hole, and then my mask would flood.
That said, there are real reasons why you should carry, rather than wear, a snorkel on almost any recreational scuba-dive.
One is in case you want to fin to the dive-site at the surface to save air. Far more importantly, a snorkel can be a lifesaver if you’re on the surface and out of air in a choppy sea. In that situation, it’s all too easy to drown.
It’s for this reason that I always carry a snorkel when I dive – only not on my mask-strap.
So where to keep it? In the old days it would be stuffed down the straps of the man-sized Navy dive-knife on your calf, where it would survive a few dives, then fall out and be lost.
The modern solution is the one Scubapro and some other manufacturers use – make a snorkel that folds.
A flexible snorkel can be rolled up and stuffed into a BC pocket until needed. I’m a convert, having carried one for more than a decade.