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Equipment care when sea-diving multiple days in a row

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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Between here and nowhere
The lockdown is over and the good weather and warm nights are here, so I'm planning a few multi-day spearfishing trips, either by bicycle or swimming. Now my question is:

How to care for the equipment, especially the suit, when sea-diving multiple days in a row?

I normally don't care for rinsing with fresh water (univeral recommendation given by manufacturers and on the internet) as fresh water is a precious resource over here and not to be wasted (I have to carry all my water from the public tap a few km down the road), however I do dry the suit. But is drying it needed/wanted/wise when diving on consecutive days, especially when dive-camping on the beach? Would it be better to keep it wet (with seawater) instead, by stuffing it in a big plastic bag or something? I could imagine hanging it every night for the whole summer season to be more damaging.

* added some extra seawater to the post to drown any confusion about whether I dive in the sea or in the bathtub.
 
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Mr. X

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Which country? No freshwater, grim :( Maybe add some Dettol to your wetsuit lube? Fit a pissette to your wetsuit? Flush it with saltwater?
 

marco15499

Laguneros Spearfishing
Apr 4, 2011
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In my experience, after a few days without rinsing, my wetsuit gives me rashes. I guess that it is because of bacteria, but I'm not sure. Thing is that after a long spearfishing trip (one week is the longest time I've been out there), I always throw it in the washing machine inside-out (it stinks!) and it comes out fresh and nice. :)

Is there a way for you to submerge the wetsuit in sea water? If so, I would bring some backing soda and pour a couple spoons into the bucket before throwing the suit (inside out) to kill the bacteria and the smell. In that case, I would keep it wet. Otherwise, I would hang it to dry in the shadow. Also inside out.
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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I only swim in the sea, not in fresh water. I think there has been some misunderstanding when I said that I don't rinse my gear with fresh water. I added that as that is what all the guides and manufacturer-advices say (the stanard "Rinse with fresh water after use and let dry. Store dark, dry and cool" advice, even for silicone+glass diving masks. :confused:)

What I do normally is I just dip the suit inside out in the sea after diving and let it dry at home. I figured the salt residue is so minimal it won't do great damage, and if gear really can't stand a little rough handling and neglecting of after-care then I can't use it.

So leaving it wet (with seawater) in a closed plastic bag would be ok? Would it then be smart to add extra water to the bag (a little, not flooding) to avoid open-cell layers sticking to each other?
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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Between here and nowhere
Of course I'm wild-camping whenever I'm on the road! :) And where I normally live isn't that much different from wild-camping either: in an old caravan in the middle of a friends olive field.

So really the *only* way is to dry the suit every night? Which means bringing stuff to provide shade and to hang it on as a sharp rock or tree branch isn't very compatible with the opencell sides of the suit. I hate it when outdoor stuff is designed for indoor people.. :grr:
 
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Nathan Vinski

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Apr 19, 2015
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If you "can't" dry it, you're other option is to keep is soaked.

Inside out, in a dry bag filled with water (wet bag).

Bring a disinfectant like detol, and add a tiny bit of that in the bag..

At all costs just avoid leaving your suit "moist".

Preferably dry, at least submerged (in disinfected water)
 

Andrew the fish

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Oct 17, 2010
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Burnaby BC Canada
I am thinking, Leander, sea water doesn't dry very well. And when it does, tiny salt crystals will be wearing out the fabric. I have seen this happening. I would rinse my wetsuit and let it stay wet, that is it. No Dettol or any other antiseptic liquids. Dettol is already diluted to 5% when sold to public, and diluting it further, to somewhere 0.005% concentration if you add "tiny bit" to a bag with sea water, will not do anything to protect from bacteria. On contrary, small quantities of dettol will train resident bacteria to tolerate higher concentrations of dettol.

I am also thinking, you could probably buy a real throw-away shortie wetsuit for like 30$ for those hikes, and save your open cell precious investment for other times. This is what I would do. It is warm season, almost at the skin diving temperatures, you don't need much of a wetsuit.
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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you could probably buy a real throw-away shortie wetsuit for like 30$ for those hikes, and save your open cell precious investment for other times. This is what I would do. It is warm season, almost at the skin diving temperatures, you don't need much of a wetsuit.
Well, it's not just 'those hikes' for me. I practically live on the road. This einter I had the oppertunity to borrow a caravan, but normally I am travelling continuously. That is also the reason I went for a thinner 3mm suit with an extra vest for the cold and windy winter days, it seemed to be the best combination of portability and function. If I am to add more stuff I will have to build a trailer! :)

But oth, as I am always more or less around crete, I probably can make a winter-summer stash here. Hmm, let's see who I can buy with a stringer full of lionfish. :)

But even in the summer, the sea surface might be 27°C, but if I stay in for 6-8 hours I will end up hypothermic. Not sure if a shorty would be enough...

You know, in the end it's just stuff, and no stuff has an unlimited life. If this suit fails prematurely because of leaving it salty, then it's not the suit for me and if its life simply gets shortened from say 4 years to 3, then meh, being comfortable in the sea for whole days at a time was so far more than worth it.
 
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Mr. X

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I don't think I've ever stayed in the sea for 6-8 hours. 5 hours certainly, maybe 5.5, that's enough for me. I'd be hungry, tired, cold (my circulation seems to slow gradually as I dive) and possibly thirsty or in need of the loo. If you haven't got enough fish in that time, it probably isn't going to happen and I think I'd be loosing interest. :D
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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Between here and nowhere
I'd be hungry, tired, cold (my circulation seems to slow gradually as I dive) and possibly thirsty or in need of the loo. If you haven't got enough fish in that time, it probably isn't going to happen and I think I'd be loosing interest. :D
It never feels like I'm in the water that long, but no matter what time I start, I always end up rushing back cause I see the sun slipping behind the horizon. And for loo... After some time in the sea a little warmth is very welcome hahaha. Most of the time I am either harvesting lionfish, dor when I brought the gun instead then my first fish is normally somewhere at the end of the day. I spend a lot of time just exploring and being amazed by the underwater scenery, hidden caves, behaviour of the animals, strange plants, etc, and not to forget: enjoying the nice time in a place without cars, noise and drama!

If I could breathe underwater I would move there permanently.
 
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Woohoo

Active Member
Aug 13, 2015
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You know, in the end it's just stuff, and no stuff has an unlimited life. If this suit fails prematurely because of leaving it salty, then it's not the suit for me and if its life simply gets shortened from say 4 years to 3, then meh, being comfortable in the sea for whole days at a time was so far more than worth it.
How many wetsuits have you treated like this that have lasted for 3 years? I can’t see how it wouldn’t be manky, smelly, salt stained and the zips starting to struggle by the end of summer. Nothing is designed to be used in the sea without being rinsed with fresh water.
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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Between here and nowhere
How many wetsuits have you treated like this that have lasted for 3 years? I can’t see how it wouldn’t be manky, smelly, salt stained and the zips starting to struggle by the end of summer. Nothing is designed to be used in the sea without being rinsed with fresh water.
It's still not smelly, even though with all the wild-camping I probably am. Salt water is really good at killing germs. I want to joke that the only stains are from the rocks underwater, octopus ink and fish guts (act like a fish, look like a fish, smell like a fish. It's called camouflage!), but the only visible degradation is the little nick in the fabric from a sharp rock. Zippers it doesn't have (2-piece), so no problem there either.

If I could rinse it in a bathtub full of lukewarm sparkling fresh water, with a splash of a dedicated wetsuit shampoo I would. But unfortunately the only fresh water I have access to is a public tap which is far enough not to want to walk with jerrycans of water for utility use instead of drinking. Rinsing the stuff at the public tab is no option, the dead might not mind, but the living probably will. Yes, the public source is the local graveyard.

Same for storage. When I live in the caravan it has all the space to dry and I can even store it laying flat, hanging, rolling, whatever, but a caravan in the Mediterranean sun can be quite an oven. Shouldn't be too much of a problem for neoprene or the nylon outer though; for the glue perhaps... But on the road there are not many other options than to dry it at night draped over my bike or in the shade of my tarp or a tree and then rolling it up and keeping it 'stored' in my backpack or one of the bike bags.

It's all not ideal, but it's how it is. So far the suit, which is my first suit, is a little over 6 months (10-20hrs/week) in use and still looks good, feels fresh, remains elastic and hasn't got any mushrooms growing on it and the residual smell is that of the baby-shampoo I use as suit-lube. I will see how it lasts. It might turn out an expensive mistake, but already I used it so often that it was more than worth it.

When I started this thread I was just curious to hear how for example the boaters do it when they go on a multi-day as they would have the same restrictions of space, water, shade, etc.. I was also interested to hear if there were better options than to search for a way/place to dry it every night, if there would be just 8-12 hours between getting out of the water and getting back in. I remember seeing the 'keep it wet in a bag'-thing in a spearfishing-contest-video once. But so far the average answer to this thread is that the most important it is to get the stuff dry, salty or not. I understand and fully agree with that answer. I just hoped to hear "just stuff it all in a bag, it'll be fine", but heh.. can't have it all. :)

I am really curious how much this stuff can take though... So far it's proving to be much more resistant than I expected.
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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Nothing is designed to be used in the sea without being rinsed with fresh water.
I write and compile software on a phone as my primary workstation; I did my first two bicycle tours across the continent on a fixed gear bike with homebuilt bikepacking mounts (before bikepacking became a thing); I bake bread in a pan on a camping stove... Taking stuff beyond the intended use is quite normal here.
 
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Woohoo

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I had a hunch that this was your first wetsuit and I’d put money on it being horrible long before the 3 year mark. Having said that I don’t understand how it’s not disgusting after 6 months so what do I know.

I can see how if you used it every day for a week or two where it never really got a chance to dry out, how that might not be so bad as long as it was washed thoroughly when you eventually got home. I routinely rinse mine with clean water and then put it back on wet the next day. I don’t think it drying out is as important as other people have said if it’s being used constantly, only that it’s thoroughly dry before it’s put away for any length of time.

However, I simply can’t get my head around the scenario where it’s never cleaned with fresh water, is allowed to dry out repeatedly and yet doesn’t end up being disgusting, smelly and salt stained. Goes against science and everything I’ve ever experienced with wetsuits.

At the end of the day if you don’t have any other choice then it is what it is. If it lasts long enough until you can afford to replace it when it needs replacing then it’s not an issue. The fact you’re getting to use a wetsuit that regularly is the most important thing and well worth any compromise needed. Enjoy.
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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I am very much wondering about that too. Here's my theory:

Perhaps the washing-with-seawater I do after the dive flushes out any accumulated oils and other stuff that would normally make something nasty. So far I always dried it as soon as I got home, mostly within two hours from ending the dive. Stuff that grows needs water, so a fast drying prevents mold and other nasties, and would leave the surface salty, so it might be sort of salt-preserved. My normal clothes get stiff and sticky during long wild-camping-tours, no matter how often I wash them in the sea. They don't get smelly, the salt prevents build-up of bacteria. I guess it's the combination of oils from the skin and salt that eventually makes the fabric stiff and sticky as oil-infused salt cannot be washed out with water; it needs soap.
But with a diving suit the nylon outside of the suit doesn't get in contact with the skin and the neoprene inside is hydrophobic and impermeable... and get's 'washed' by the shampoo I use as lube as well. So only the outside could see a build-up of oil from the fish and salt. My gloves for example I do need to wash because of this, but so far the suit remains as new.

But in the end it's all a test. I wasn't even sure if I could properly combine bicycle touring and spearfishing when I started. If it turns out that I have to start carrying a portable washing tub and a bottle of wetsuitshampoo then so be it. :)
 
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Leander

Leander

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Oct 17, 2017
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Between here and nowhere
I had a hunch that this was your first wetsuit and I’d put money on it being horrible long before the 3 year mark.
Perhaps I should update this thread for the next three years to create a timeline of it's deterioration and after that change the title depending on the outcome, "the wearable petri-dish / how not to care for your gear' or something. :D
 
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popgun pete

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Jul 30, 2008
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Buy a plastic bin and use it to dunk your gear after each dive, ideally water should be changed, but you can use the same lot as sand travels to the bottom. Don't throw your mask in, just swish it around to stop sand scratching the glass. Old style plastic trash can with lid works.
 
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