by Randy Piper
Choosing, Mask, Fins and Snorkel
Tiger Woods can play golf with any set of clubs and does well. But, if one of professional golf's biggest stars faces a challenging tournament, the better his equipment the more adept his playing will be when it counts. Rightly, the scenario is the same with diving and scuba equipment. The better one's mask and fins are, the more fun and easier you will find diving. One of the reasons we have a pool at Poseidon is so that you can fit your equipment to let things work best for you. We have many people who come in after a trip, wanting their own equipment and one of the biggest culprits is the mask. If a mask doesn't fit, Scuba Diving will not be fun. This is such a visual sport that for a mask to continually leak does not endear you to the sport. The same thing goes for fins if you ever had a leg cramp. Probably the most abused piece of equipment is the snorkel. I was on a trip recently where there were three of us left on a dive after everyone else had run low on air or time. When we came to the surface, there were four foot waves awaiting us. That was OK, but an easy-but-time-consuming part broke on our boat. Without our snorkels, we would have been sucking in a lot of water (not fun). People who don't wear, or at least carry a snorkel when diving in the open water are idiots.
The following are some tips on choosing these most important pieces of equipment.
First, the mask is the most necessary piece of equipment one will use in either skin or scuba diving. The mask provides an air space in front of the diver's eyes, enabling underwater vision. It is important then that the mask fits well and feels comfortable. You will be wearing it for a lengthy period of time, so pick a mask that is soft around the nose and lip area. To choose the right mask when in the store, tilt the head back and place the mask on the face, without the strap engaged. Then inhale through the nose to assure a seal and lower the head while holding a breath. Making sure that the mask stays in place, check to see if there is an adequate field of vision. It should be noted that a prescription can be put into any of the masks that we have at the Poseidon Adventures. Clear silicone allows more light into the mask than the black masks, which allows for better vision overall, and silicone is a hypoallergenic material that lasts longer than rubber with more comfort. The user will also need a means for accessing the nose for equalization, while finger pockets are needed for equalizing the ears. In short, you get what you pay for, so buy quality and choose a well-known brand.
Second, fins are needed for underwater propulsion, especially when the hands are busied with items such as a compass or camera. A diver can choose between either a full foot or open heel style, depending on the type of diving that the individual will endeavor. The full foot style fin is advantageous for boat or shore diving where there are no rocks or broken objects. They are especially nice in warmer climates where boots are not needed to keep the feet warm. The open heel fins are adaptable for all environments, because the diver needs boots to go along with these fins. Open heel fins are more expensive, however, because one is purchasing the fins and the boots together. Regardless, the fit and comfort of the fins is important so that the diver does not get blisters. It's just like walking into the shoe store and with the sizes and colors available, it could take a while to find the right pair for you. Thus, one will want to make sure that enough time is allowed for finding a proper pair.
The third item that a diver will need is a snorkel. Among the choices that divers have are the flexible type which drops away when putting the regulator in the mouth or the "˜J' style which one physically moves when ready for the dive. There are also snorkels with a purge, which allows the water to drain automatically from the bottom and is great for people with lesser lung power or the non purge, where the diver exhales forcefully to clear the snorkel. The snorkel needs to breathe easily, the bore should be Â¾"? and the length from 12"? to 14"?. It should be comfortable when in place and fit into the mouth without chaffing or causing jaw fatigue, while providing minimal breathing resistance. One thing to remember is to pick the mask first, then the snorkel because a silicone mask should accompany a silicone snorkel and a rubber mask should accompany a rubber snorkel because the rubber will turn the silicone a yellowish brown when used in conjunction over time.
As any diver can see, choosing a mask, snorkel, and fins are of primary concern. There are variations on all of these pieces of equipment, so choose carefully as you should spend your money wisely, which is why we try to accommodate you with a good selection from which to choose. Hopefully, it is now obvious why this equipment is so necessary. As a matter of fact, we feel that it is so important that if you bought your equipment from us you will be able to try it out in the pool and if anything doesn't fit than you can exchange it for something that does. We want you to enjoy snorkeling and diving and if you have the correct equipment, we know you will.