By the time this issue of California Diving News reaches your dive center, we’ll be well into springtime, a time of renewal. Days lengthen, temperatures climb and spirits soar. Even long-suffering Chicago Cubs fans will be bursting forth with tiny new buds of optimism.
For a lot of divers, spring is the time when gear that hasn’t been used in a while gets hauled out of storage, and upcoming dives get planned. It’s easy to think that nothing happened to your gear while it sat idly in storage, but that is not necessarily the case.
A little over a month ago I went on a tropical dive trip. To make the trip I packed my lighter weight BC. Everything was great on the first two days of diving, but I ran into trouble the next day. I descended to my planned depth of 70 feet, and with the intent of leveling off I tapped the inflator button to my BC.
The valve stuck in the wide-open position. At first, I tapped the inflator button again to see if I could get it to close, but that didn’t work. Next, I tried to disconnect my inflator hose, but I couldn’t get a good grip on it. By that time my BC was filling with air and I was headed for the surface. I made sure to exhale continuously, but despite pulling the dump valve and kicking downward, I made a too-quick ascent to the surface.
Luckily, I wasn’t injured.
When I reached home I took the BC inflator valve to the equipment specialist at my local dive center. He spotted the problem right away; a badly corroded Schrader valve was the cause of my incident.
How did that happen? Apparently I neglected to thoroughly flush the BC’s inflator mechanism with freshwater at the end of my last trip — and then the BC sat in a storage locker for several months, corroding.
I could have avoided the entire rapid-ascent experience had I been diligent about maintaining my gear, or taken my gear to my local dive center to have it overhauled before my trip.
I am upset with myself for not having done either of these two things. But I promise I have learned from my mistake — and I hope that you will, too. If your gear has been sitting around unused for a while, take it into your local dive center to have it overhauled before your next dive. Doing so will greatly increase the odds of making your next dive a great one, and a safe one.