Yesterday, Robert, Del Rio Dive Club president, and I met in person for the first time for a dive. I was fortunate to share my 50th dive with him and after successfully completing the dive we had a good conversation. We talked about diving and the conversation turned to the direct relationship between owning equipment and how often you dive.
There are many "certified" divers out there who don’t dive more often, because they don’t own their own equipment. They probably would dive more if they had their own, but think they can’t afford it. I own most of the gear I dive with, but I didn’t start out that way. The following is a brief story of how I came about obtaining my equipment and my first 50 dives.
In July 2008 I received my OW certification while assisting with a summer youth camp held by Paladin Community Services and at the time I didn’t own a single piece of equipment. The gear I used for my OW course consisted of pieces issued by my employer and gear loaned by other divers. Our instructor, Charlie, stressed to all of us the importance of buying our own gear. He stated we would dive more if we had our own equipment. He wasn’t trying to sell us anything, only keep us diving and I took his advice to heart.
After completing the class I was able to continue using all the gear, but had to return the mask and snorkle. A fellow counselor suggested Leisure Pro so I got on line and ordered a mask and snorkel to complete my euipment needs. Guess what happened, I started diving. I dove a few times and enjoyed it, but soon the weather turned cold and my exposure suit wasn’t suitable for cold water.
Charlie and I stayed in contact and I continued bugging him about diving, but we just couldn’t find a day warm enough. One day he said "okay, let’s buy some cold water gear and we’ll go diving." We got online and began searching for cold water gear. We found Leisure Pro offered a 7/5mm package at a great price and we both bought a package. Guess what happended next, we started diving more. We began diving late in December when the water was 50 (f), but we were equipped to do it.
January came along and I purchased two sets of used gear from a man who was no longer diving. The equipment was good quality, good condition, and at a great price. I had all of the equipment serviced and was ready for more diving. Our schedules matched well, so we were able to dive at least once per month, and most times once per week. The point is I was diving more often because I had the equipment. My skills were advancing and I loved it.
By now our income tax return had come and I had a small list of items I wanted to add to my equipment. So, back to Leisure Pro for lights, compass, "The Wheel" RDP, and other knick-knacks; slowly adding gear over time. I now have a complete set of equipment to use, most of which is mine. Most of the equipment I use was not purchased new, but I maintain it in good condition and it serves me well. Over time I will upgrade my equipment, but now I am using the same strategy to obtain equipment for my ten year old son in preparing him for his Jr. OW class.
Scuba diving, like most sports, can be participated with a small investment or an extravagent amount of funds. Don’t stop diving because you think you need to purchase a high brand, color coordinated set after your OW course. With guidance and research, you will find you can supply yourself with quality equipment over time. Even if you are buying used gear one piece at a time and upgrading later, do it. Don’t choose to wait until you can afford the top of the line before you buy equipment. Shop around, research, and buy what will let you dive safely until you’re in a position to upgrade.
You will enjoy your vacations more if you practice your skills regularly before you leave for vacation; and you practice more when you have all the equipment necessary to dive safely. Remember, having a "C" card means you can dive, but diving makes you a diver.