Things fall apart

I CAN’T QUITE UNDERSTAND IT. How did that happen? Every item of my scuba kit was fine when I put it away.

Perhaps it’s lockdown. Perhaps this always happens after a period of “dive hibernation”.

I’m finding it difficult to accept that items of my kit can expire in storage. The longer I’ve owned a piece of kit, the greater is my confidence that it’s pretty much indestructible.

I’ve had the same mask for more than 15 years; why isn’t it just the same as it ever was? This is not my beautiful mask. It’s looking battered and discoloured, with a split in the seal.

When I took my faithful old computer to the dive-shop to ask for a battery-change, the guy behind the counter shook his head.

He said they don’t make those batteries any more, which made me feel really sad, as if a part of my life had been declared obsolete.

So I dug out my much newer Suunto D5 dive-computer and found that the strap had completely sheared off – on both sides. It would now look more at home pinned to a nurse’s uniform.

For me, an important part of a dive-computer’s function is help prevent a leak through my wrist-seal. This is no good at all.

I excavated a diving pouch that I had left in the bottom of my crate and discovered that the batteries inside my back-up torch are covered in rusty sludge. So no big surprise that it wouldn’t turn on.

There is also a massive hole appearing between the finger and thumb of one of my dive-gloves. And they don’t seem to fit me any more – have my hands mysteriously grown?

I’m beginning to take this personally. I feel like a pet-owner, guilty of neglect. I’m wicked and I’m lazy. Perhaps it’s me that’s in a state of deterioration.

DIVER September 2021

OF COURSE BACK IN THE DAY, when newly qualified, I would worry about my scuba-kit failing me on a dive. Today’s dive-kit is actually incredibly robust and reliable. In reality, I’m more likely to fail my dive-kit than the other way around: fail to check it, clean it, or fail to put it together properly.

Or change the batteries. Possibly in my case, all four.

Being a bit slack about looking after your gear is actually a bit of a luxury. If you dive with a rebreather you’ll enter a whole new relationship with your kit, because now every piece of it is part of a system: your life-support system.

This system has numerous fascinating points of failure, some of which seem to occur secretively.

With scuba you only really have to worry that you have something to breathe. So just don’t empty your cylinder and lose your buddy; everything else is manageable.

With a rebreather you have to constantly monitor that what you’re breathing isn’t about to kill you.

This is an entirely different level of intimacy. You might as well set a place at the dinner-table for that rebreather now, because that’s how constant your attention is going to have to be.

This is now your wild, wild life.

It’s easy to get distracted, but nothing is staying still. Sometimes I just have to remind myself, things fall apart. It’s scientific.