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May 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Integrated Weights Vest: Helpful or “a Piece of Junk”?

from the May, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Ben,

Regarding the story in your April issue, about the death of the police officer whose power inflator failed, when all one needs to get to the surface is to swim up to it, then the macho sounding "power inflator" isn't required.

When divers are not properly ballasted (like they're all wearing 40-plus pounds of lead), they are a menace to themselves and anyone in the water with them. If someone needs air admitted to a vest in order to get to the surface, then he or she is overweighted, and that's wrong.

Nearly every diver's inability to dump his or her lead from integrated weights vest is a classic problem. I'm the captain of the Cape Ann charter boat Easy Diver. My crew regularly wrestles the lead out of the dangerous devices known as "integrated weights vests." To be absolutely sure that such a piece of diving junk would "work" on every dive, one would need it to be "serviced" before every dive, and still one couldn't be sure.

We need to stop blaming the victims. The latest buzzwords to percolate through this activity include "maintenance" and "service." No one needs to service the quick-release buckle on the "standard" weight belt.

- - Fred Calhoun, Gloucester, MA

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