A good diver have proper equipment and accessories
Keep continuing with the theme of autonomous diver, and in particular the mandatory safety equipment. Before buying the last featured regulator, few divers think to acquire the basic safety equipment. Inexpensive, often ignored, almost never used (thankfully), but greatly useful in critical situations.
Some small devices that could save your life
Did you know that it is mandatory to have at least two signaling tools ? One auditive and one visual device. For the audio part, it is a simple whistle. Usually attached to the BCD, make sure that you have a whistle to call for help without breaking your voice. For the visual tool, I highly recommend a Surface Marker Buoy (SMB). A mirror can do the trick, but it is fragile, it is easy to forget as one can lose in your affairs. The SMB has many uses. We will have the opportunity to come back further.
The compass will help you orient yourself underwater. When used properly, it will give you satisfaction in combination with natural navigation. However, if you only focus on the needle instead of enjoying your dive, it will quickly become a nightmare. We subsequently develop the proper use of a compass. An analog compass is not very expensive, but it is increasingly common to find this feature in some dive computers.
If there is a tool is that you will never use, it is the dive knife. It could be also a pair of scissors, pliers, wire cutters or a Z-knife. There is with any type of metal, all sizes and for all budgets. In my career, I had to use it three times actually. There is much discussion about the usefulness of a cutting tool and its location. Vast subject that deserves an entire article.
Decompression sickness are invisible, but the risks exist
Finally, you should remember that as an autonomous diver, you need to have a decompression method. You have two options :
- Use a watch (or timer) coupled with a depth gauge, and using dive tables, you can set your dive profile.
- Have a dive computer. A dive computer has the advantage to cumulate timer+depth gauge +tables within a single device. Even before buying any equipment, seriously consider acquiring a dive computer. A recreational dive computer (including Nitrox) is affordable.They are discreet and can be worn like a watch. Service is easy. A dive computer is light compared to a regulator, and you will keep it much longer than a wetsuit.
The cumulative purchase all this equipment is much less expensive than high-end regulator. Yet these tools are often wrongly ignored. I strongly advise you to acquire these tools in priority, particularly the dive computer. The latest models are economical, and will bring you more comfort and safety throughout your diving career.
Practice those accessories with your instructor
The PADI Open Water course is certainly the most complete training for the approach of the diver’s equipment. During the course, I will teach you how to use a whistle, how to deploy a SMB, orient yourself underwater using a compass, when using a cutting tool, and finally how to use dive tables and use a dive computer to fully enjoy your dive.