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Unsolicited Packing Advice
eljayar - 1/31/2008 4:57 PM
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Category: Personal
Comments: 0
Howdy buckaroos. I`m in the midst of packing for a week of live aboard diving on the Aqua Cat out of Nassau. This will 6th live aboard trip in the last 3 years and I`m starting to get a handle on how to pack. Without a doubt, the best piece of gear I`ve purchased has been a wheeled carry-on. I`ve got one made by XS Scuba, but there are several others out there that would probably serve as well. What`s so great about it? I can get all my essential gear (except fins) inside it. That`s a BCD, 3 mil wetsuit, mask, regs & computer, swimsuit, a couple of t-shirts, and some other miscellaneous and sundry items. Once again I hear you ask "So? What`s so great about that?" Peace of mind, that`s what`s so great. I know my gear is going to get off the plane when and where I do. Arriving at a dive resort and discovering that your bags didn`t get loaded is a pain. But with any luck, your stuff will show up within 24 hours or so. Just kick back, order some kind of drink with an umbrella in it, and relax. And there`s always rental gear as a last resort. But showing up for a live aboard without your gear is a little bigger headache. The boat leaves the dock at the specified time, missing gear or no. There`s no waiting on a miracle from the luggage fairies. Most boats have gear you can rent, but there`s no guarantee. Some friends from the shop and I went to Roatan last February. We were flying from Indy to Atlanta, changing planes and flying on to Roatan. We were supposed to have about 2 1/2 hours between flights in Atlanta. But due to bad weather (and missing flight crew members) our departure from Indy was delayed by an hour and fifty minutes. I started having a bad feelings on the flight to Atlanta. I figured we were going to be lucky get to our terminal, check-in and board in 40 minutes. I didn`t have much hope for our baggage getting unloaded, moved across the airport complex, and reloaded in that time. Usually I pack my dive computer and regs in my carry-on. But for some reason (probably stupidity), I packed all my gear in my checked luggage. The only carry on item I had was my laptop. I can remember thinking hen I packed that we had plenty of time between flights and luggage transfers wouldn`t be a problem. I was really beginning to fret about my gear on the race through the Atlanta airport. We hustled ourselves onto the tram and headed over to our departure terminal and another sprint down to our gate. During the ride I happened to mention my worries about our bags to one of the other divers. He just smiled this laid back grin and pointed to his carry-on. "I`ve got all my dive gear in that. Got a swimsuit and a t-shirt too. What else do I need?" We made it to our flight, but just barely. All the way to Roatan I stewed about the baggage. Needlessly, as it turned out. All of our luggage made it (although the trip back was another issue; but hey, we weren`t gonna dive anymore so who cared if the bags got lost at that point?). But I`d learned my lesson. After our return to Indy I went to the dive shop and found a carry-on into which I could cram all of the above mentioned items. There`s a place on the back of the XS bag to strap your fins, but they`re kind of exposed and I don`t think you could fit bag & fins into an overhead compartment. The next trip after Roatan was the Caribbean Explorer I out of Georgetown in the Bahamas. My new gear bag worked great. And the peace of mind from knowing that your dive gear made the trip with you is more than worth the price of the bag.