You have just finished your last of many diving courses and now you are a certified diver.
You learned a lot of new exciting things and a whole new world has opened up to you.
This includes a lot of new cool dive equipment. During the course you learned to use the basic rental scuba equipment, and now you want your own.
A lot of the equipment used for diving is expensive, with the exception of fins, mask, snorkel and small accessories.
Most beginning divers can’t buy all the dive equipment at once, but choose to buy one or two pieces at a time.
Here comes the big question: which piece of equipment to buy first?
Many choices in Scuba Diving Equipment
There is a lot of equipment to choose from, with many different brands, models and so on. In this article I’ll focus on the piece of equipment that I feel every diver should own and why.
Before I tell you which equipment to buy I want to tell you a short story about when I realized that this piece was the most important.
We were all experienced divers, except one in the group who had just finished his PADI advanced open water course, let’s call him Marcus. Reaching the end of the island side the reef stopped. The guide signaled us to swim left, behind the reef to get into cover from the current.
This we all did with the exception of Marcus, who continued straight forward past the reef. Here he turned around and started fighting the current to get behind cover. His buddy swam to his aid but wasn’t much help. I tucked in my Camera, and I too swam to their aid.
This was of course an impossible thing to do, swimming against a strong current which also was pushing us a bit downwards. We signaled the rest of the group that we aborted the dive and started ascending.
Here's more on Safer Diving: Situational Awareness.
When we stopped swimming against the current we were immediately taken out and away from the reef. This forced us to make an ascent in “blue” water, with no reference except the small bubbles.
Loss of control
At this point we had no idea where we were, where to go and how long we had been there… Confused? So were we!
After the swimming and all the stress I must admit I was confused, I don’t know how long I’d been swimming against the current or at what depth.
But, if I’d been diving without a computer, there would have been no way to know or calculate bottom time, ascent time or if a deco stop were necessary.
A table planned dive that goes wrong, can easily go very wrong when nature interferes.
Read more about Safer Diving: Team Emergency Planning for Scuba Diving.
It was during this ascent that I realized how important it is for all divers to have a personal dive computer.
No matter how much you plan, something can always come up during a dive, which makes you drop your plan.
Here's more on Safer Diving: Always Have a Backup Plan.
However, a dive computer will calculate and then give you a new dive profile.
Here it was the current which took us far away and forced us down to an unplanned depth, but on every dive there can be unseen factors that can make you change plans. Knowing this, you should know that it’s important to be able to fast calculate your new plan.
A dive computer is able to do this for you during a dive, which frees your mind to take care of other factors.
We didn’t have any problem with the ascent, we all came up in one piece and were all just fine afterwards. But what got me wondering was the fact that this could happen to anyone in a different way and they might not be that lucky.
When you go diving with a dive center or resort you can almost always rent relatively good equipment: mask, fins, BCD, regulator and so on. But it is not many places where you can rent a dive computer.
This is, of course, due to the very high cost of dive computers.
Therefore I find it a good idea to purchase your own dive computer. It might save your life one day, and if not you still own a piece of equipment that makes dives much easier.
After the Dive
A dive computer also has advantages on land; after a dive when you are logging the days dive it’s always hard to remember all the data.
This the computer does for you, most will keep data like depth, bottom time, ascent rate, deco stops, temperature and more.
It provides all you need to fill in your log book, except the dive spot and what you saw.