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Low Tech, Low Cost diving aids

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New Member
Aug 21, 2001
Some might have noticed from my posts here that I'm not very high tech or gear queer when it comes to diving toys. I've been extensively using two totally low tech, low cost dive aids recently, and thought I'd share in these two posts.
First up, my inner tube. Boats and kayaks are neat, but I've never found anything as good for my purposes as my trusty tube. It cost me $4 (well, 40 pesos), is durable, lightweight, and can be deflated and rolled up for travel. It also makes a good beach lounger, and I've slept on it. Not to mention a way cool surf rider, which is a blast even in conditions when you can't get up on a board. I love bobbing around in it, and started remembering that some of my favorite childhood moments were bobbing in inner tubes of Cape Hatteras or the Taiwan coast. It's so calming I've been known to doze off waiting for the next set.
But it's a solid, no nonsense tool. Most people here in Mazatlan assume I'm a fisherman when they see me with it. The oyster divers use them all the time. They rig a net around it, hanging down like a basketball net, and slamdunk oysters until it's full then swim them in. Usuall keep a beer or two in the net as well. Industrial proven. (In Cuba people ocean fish off tubes. Locals call these tube anglers "pneumaticos". I call them maniacs. But they're real relaxed.)
I bought it as a platform for going to islands a mile or so offshore. They have no beaches and I'm in rotten shape, so having a little support along seemed like a good idea. It's been a revelation. I've developed several new modes of surface swimming using the tube (and sometimes just sit in it to rest, skulling a little with my fins). One mode is swimming with my head inside the tube, so my snorkle is surrounded by a wall of rubber...seems to keep waves from splashing in as much. (Maybe.)
I've done several rigs. Sometimes I take along a couple of fathoms of rope and "anchor" by tying it to something on the bottom or on a wall. (Generally I just let it float and find it on the way up--trying to come up inside is just one more of my juvenile games.) I've put it in a net bag, forcing into an oblong shape like a life raft, and at time had a rope around it. I can carry stuff with me that way, like a thermos, a drybag, etc. I've thought of making a tube bag with a sleek bottom and mesh top with zipper for access to the "hold".
Inner tubes aren't revolutionary, but people always seem to think it novel when I show up with one. I'm sure a lot of guys use them, but would heartily recommend them to other divers who haven't tried them as a platform, vehicle, or wagon.
(I have a tubular bicycle pump of the "on frame" type for inflating mine, but it's a rough way to go. Haven't had such a sore elbow since I had my first "Playboy". One of my oyster-diver chums has actually blown his up by lung power a few times...build your lung power and get a free natural high when you pass out. Basically, there are a lot of filling stations and bike shops in the world and carrying an inflated inner tube to the water, even on a city bus or down jungle trails, isn't all that difficult.
Another cheapskate dive dodge

My other wheel re-invention is the use of a nylon, mesh-top, zippered fanny pack with wide, Fastec buckled straps. Basically, it solves my problem of where to leave you stuff while you're out there underwater (and the little buttheads are up there stealing your gear). Now I just take it with me.
Down on Roatan, Randy and those guys used to wear shower sandals out to the airport, then tie them around their waists with rope for the drift dive back into town. My variation is the fanny pack and a pair of slim, lightweight "aquasocks" with good sole inserts. I head down to the water wearing the water shoes, carrying fins and mask, with my knife and a waterproof (supposedly) around-the-neck O-ring doodad with my house keys in it, maybe a few pesos for if a beer comes along.
Once at the water, I put on the knife and stow my shoes in the fanny pack and set out. When I come back, I put on the shoes and walk home. It's a great system, except you don't get a towel at the beach.
I have not found the fanny to be a hindrance. It's drag, but I don't notice it either surface swimming or diving. The only time I've ever become aware of it was when threading through gaps in rocks, once in a cave on the bottom, once in a cleft I was timing my passage through with the wave motion. Both times I got quite startled to find myself constricted, and both times I reminded myself to remember the damn pack next time.
Once you are bringing the fanny pack along, by the way, you realize you have a boot now: room for other stuff. I could bring a couple of wine coolers along. Maybe one of those waterproof walkmans...submarine jazz! My harmonica probably wouldn't work out. A joint or two would be a snap. Possibilities are limited only by the size of your fanny.
It's something you might try out, an alternative to "Will you watch my stuff for me an hour or so." And very freeing. I once swam all completely around the point here, and took a bus home. (Got some looks, but people in Mazatlan have learned that there's no telling what gringos will do.)

Today I need a good laugh, and as usual snorklebum comes to the rescue. You are what is classified as a "character", mi amigo ;) . Actually, it sounds like you and FD48 could be brothers.
Thanks buddy,
Erik Y.
hey snorkelbum your a genius,

anyway.... you say you use an innertube that has a standard bike valve on it?
if it does you can get a CO2 inflator (the ones made for threadless cartridges) and get a couple of BB gun cartridges and that should be all you need to inflate it.

what type of tube do you use? i had thought of using a normal mountainbike DH tube but i decided against it because of the large size and low lift capacity.

i have a normal diver down bouy that i keep at my grandparents place in florida that works fairly well. but im trying to find something that could be used and carried very easily (my dad is a pilot so i travel alot by air and everything has to fit in a carry-on baggage.

you are on good character though

I used to use inner tubes, but don't anymore, but my buddies in Victoria swear by them. I found that currents and wind tend to move them around a lot unless they are anchored. Now I use a non compressable net float or a large boat fender. The boat fender is inflatable. I got onto this idea from watching subsistence divers in Cuba who would fish 2-3 miles offshore. The down side to the two that I use is that as soon as a harvesting bag is attached to them they create quite a drag, which does not happen with the inner tube if a mesh bag is rigged so that it does not contact the water very much. The big fender is about three feet long and 10 inches in diameter. It has holes on either end that gear clips can be attached to.

Best wishes,

So the tender is tapered at the end like the lifeguard bouys? That might work really good.

I´m just using the valve that comes in an automobile inner tube and a mountain bike pump. I don´t think those CO2 things would blow up a whole tire, much less a truck tire. And don´t know where i´d get them around here. Say, maybe a restaurant supply house would have those Nitrous Oxide cartridges, that way I could....waitaminute, I´d better leave it right there.

The boat fenders inflate with a little neddle, like you would inflate a basketball with. The little neddle just screws on to the pump, it is threded just like a car tube valve. It might beat Ready Whip as a source of N02.

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