Yo-Han Cha considers the contents of his emergency scuba toolbox, and the events that led to their inclusion.
“Does anyone have a hairdryer I could borrow please?”. You might find it hard to believe, but that’s not a sentence I use often. However, due to some poor camera housing maintenance, I’d had a small leak during my dive and after mopping up the water that definitely doesn’t belong on the inside of a camera housing, I was looking to speed up the drying process.
This, embarrassingly, was not the first time I’d had to borrow a hairdryer. So, this got me wondering if I needed to add small hairdryer to my motley collection of tools that I take on dive trips. It then had me reminiscing of when I was a new diver, and thought all dive kit just worked and never went wrong. I now take an increasingly heavy toolbox with me everywhere.
Before I started diving, the only tools I owned were a screwdriver and that thing you use to bleed radiators. B&Q felt like the kind of shop where I should only be when under my dad’s supervision. But the more I dived, the number of dives saved by friends and strangers with spare O-rings and Allen keys increased.
Eventually, I figured I should be able to save my own dive from any minor technical issues, and I started to build a motley collection of tools. My selections were usually borne out of necessity. There’s now an Allen key set, a set of spanners and then some more spanners as it turned out not all manufacturers use metric. As a somewhat clumsy photographer, I’ve got a set of dome polishing solutions. This all was getting unwieldy to carry around so I bought myself a proper toolbox, even though I didn’t feel mature enough to own one.
Does anyone have a hairdryer I could borrow please?
Rooting around in my toolbox now, I find a road map of past dive kit issues. A tube of superglue was pressed into service in an effort to my make my broken plastic drysuit zip last a bit longer. Cable ties are scattered throughout, because divers always need to tie things together and the world as we know it is held together with these ubiquitous fix-alls. Then a couple more bags of cable ties because when I really need some cable ties, I can’t find any and no-one sells them individually.
There are scissors that were mainly used for trimming trainees’ cheap hoods to size. Insulation tape and WD40 for sticking or unsticking things. Masking tape from that time when divers kept mixing up the full and empty cylinders. More superglue - it must’ve been on offer. Allen keys from assembling flat pack furniture, but they could still come in handy. A spare mouthpiece, as I seem to bite through them regularly. More cable ties. Batteries for an adventure light that I may or may never use again.
Let’s dig deeper into my box of treasures and you will find: A tube of Black Witch, after that time I put my thumbnail through my neck seal. An old mask strap, just in case my current mask strap fails on me but is now the one that’s more likely to go. A set of micro screwdrivers I had to use recently to scrape some salt off some contacts of the damp sensor in my camera housing.
Finally, there is a tub of silica gel for greasing O-rings, almost certainly for my underwater photography equipment. It doesn’t look like I’ve opened it in a while. Perhaps I should – then I wouldn’t be thinking about buying a hairdryer.
Article ‘The Hairdryer Treatment’ by Yo-Han Cha first published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 139 October 2023.