A few weeks ago we talked about how the difference between renting gear and buying it can improve your early diving experiences. If you are renting now, you already know that most dive shops that rent gear have a “Bring it back clean” policy and will often add a surcharge if you take rented gear back salty or dirty. They do this because they know that salt and dirt left on gear is not good for it, and shortens its life.
When you have invested more than a few dollars in your own gear, it’s even more important to rinse it as soon as possible after the dive. Watch the experienced camera users, and the better charter boats – they immediately immerse their gear in a freshwater dunk tank before they even take it apart.
Salt water is pretty corrosive stuff, but DRIED salt is both corrosive and abrasive. Dried salt crystals embedded in any fabric part of your gear – wetsuits, drysuits, BCs and webbing – can cause unseen damage, make your gear look old before its time, and cost you money.
At the very least give all the gear a good hosing down with fresh water and hang to dry, hopefully in a cool dark place. (UV is no friend of dive gear either…) Make sure the dust cap is back on the first stage of your reg, and then leave it in a tub of freshwater for at least the same time at it was in salt – especially if the salt water has dried, because you are back to those salt crystals, and you have to dissolve them.
There are many articles on the net about specifics of rinsing individual pieces of gear, but most of it is common sense. Remember that hot soapy water will wash just about any lubricant off gear, so keep it away from O rings etc. Read the manufacturer’s advice about how to get oil or creosote off your suit – solvent based cleaners can be death to neoprene.
Lastly, one of the most important reasons to always rinse your gear and store it well, is that it gives you an opportunity to inspect every piece for loss or damage BEFORE you are on the back on the beach or boat for your next dive and discover you are short a glove, or you have blown an O ring, or that mask strap has finally torn in half. Most divers carry a “save a dive kit”, but it’s been my experience when you are in a hurry and something is broken or missing, it’s always the ONE thing you don’t have a spare for.
Having your gear rinsed, dried, inspected and put away properly means you are ALWAYS ready for that last minute or unexpected opportunity to go diving, fully confident that everything is present and working, and you won’t have that embarrassing moment when everyone else is ready to jump in and one small lost or broken item ruins your day.