A lot of my friends always ask me which of my more than 800 dives was my best dive? I have given this question much thought over the years and my answer is…
MY BEST DIVE IS ALWAYS MY NEXT DIVE
Having a passion for scuba diving means that I am always convinced that on my next dive I will see something even more fantastic than anything that I have seen to date. I think this is what motivates a lot of people in this sport. I know it motivates me to always look towards my next dive trip with great anticipation and a great sense of adventure.
Even with years of diving experience under my belt, as I prepare for a dive, I am always thinking about how to make sure that my dive will be safe. I check my equipment. I check my buddies equipment and then check it again. I get my equipment serviced every year and that includes my BCD. Years ago I was on a dive when someone’s BCD relief valve flew apart while they were at 60 or 70 feet. They didn’t panic and it wasn’t all that dangerous but now I make sure that my BCD is also serviced regularly. I have an integrated 2nd stage on my BCD inflator hose. So to service this regulator, I have to also take in the BCD. This makes it very convenient to ensure that the BCD also gets serviced.
I have been a DAN member for a long time and I enjoy reading the articles in their Alert Diver Magazine. The photography is fantastic and there are always interesting articles about people who all share a common passion for diving and safety.
The one piece of equipment that I have added to my gear in the past few years has been a spare air bottle. Out of air emergencies are the number 1 cause of death for divers.
This has led me on a quest to find the perfect way to attach this spare air to my gear. I should point out that air tanks come in various sizes but when I was looking for the perfect size for me, I decided that I wanted a tank of sufficient size that I could safely surface from 100 feet using my emergency supply including the normal 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet. This eliminated the 3 cu ft sized extra tank and lead me to the 6 cu ft tank. It weighs 3 lbs including the regulator and hoses when full. I like it mounted level with my tank strap on my left side with the regulator extending around to the front of my BCD. I have the regulator connected to my BCD with a simple quick release so that I can grab it at a moment’s notice.
I normally dive with 8 lbs of weight. The spare tank accounts for 3 lbs mounted on the left, level with the tank strap. I put another 3 lbs into a weight pocket mounted on the right side of the tank strap and I put 2, 1 lb weights into the integrated weight pockets of my BCD. This gives me great buoyancy control in salt water when wearing a 2/3 mm wet suit.
I have spent much time thinking about the best way to mount this 6 cu ft tank to my equipment. Initially I had the tank in a bag with a Velcro strap that fit over the tank strap. The cloth strap was then pinched between the tank strap and the main air tank. This worked okay but the bottle was always flopping over and it annoyed me that was not the perfect solution.
The quest for the perfect answer to this problem led me to a company called Shark Manufacturing. Their web site is www.ponybracket.com. They have a product called a Pony Bottle Bracket which is fantastic. To see how the bottle attaches to the bracket, watch Tom’s video:
To see how clever they were to design this bracket for easy mounting to your main dive tank, watch this other video:
There is NO EASIER or BETTER way that I have found to attach my 6 cu ft spare tank to my gear. I purchased the spare air tank along with an integrated 1st stage and pressure gage from H20 Odyssey
H2O Odyssey has a simple method to fill this tank. They have an adapter that attaches to large tank and to this 6 cu ft tank and you fill the small tank from the bit tank. See photo’s below
That solved the issue of what bottle to use and how to attach it to my gear. I attached a Hollis 2nd Regulator using a Miflex hose to the spare air tank. You pay a bit more for these Miflex hoses but they are so much easier to deal with rather than the traditional rubber hoses. Why they even sell traditional rubber hoses anymore is beyond me.
With the Hollis regulator mounted on the end of the hose, there was just one issue left to resolve. As many people know, when you enter the water at the start of a dive, you will sometimes find that your regulator starts to free flow. You solve this annoying problem by holding the regulator upside down or pressing the purge button. However, with a 6 cu ft emergency tank, you don’t really want to even have 1 breath of air escape as a result of a free flow problem. So I found a very cool in-line value that I placed just before the regulator. The valve slides forward and backward and has a red band showing when the valve is closed and a green band when the valve is open. When you need the emergency air, I can easily grab the Hollis regulator and slide the valve forward to open it up. It works perfect.
When you set up your equipment on the dive boat, make sure the valve is open on the spare air tank and test the regulator to make sure its working. A small tiny inhale is enough. On every dive, I check to make sure the bottle value is open and the in-line valve is properly closed before entering the water.
And finally, practice, practice, practice. When I first got this gear, I would routinely use it on the last dive the of the day to ascend from whatever depth I happened to be at when the dive was over. It was important to practice quickly grabbing the hose and regulator while sliding in-line valve to the open position. The first time to use this gear should NOT BE THE FIRST TIME YOU NEED TO USE THIS GEAR. That is a bad plan.
If you are interested in buying this gear for yourself, I am thinking of selling all these pieces and parts as a kit on our web site. Email me if you are interested.