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March 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 31, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Time to Replace that Old Wetsuit?

selecting the one that will last ‘til your last dive

from the March, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Water conducts away heat about 25 times faster than air. Since we rarely dive in water at the same temperature as our skin, no matter how much epidermal fat - natural insulation -- you might carry, eventually you will get cold. Besides staying warm, there's another reason to wear some coverage, as I reflected when I lay in a hospital bed in 1999 while doctors considered amputating my right leg!

A dive suit will protect you from the slings and arrows of misfortune and what I call man-eating plankton, what some in the Caribbean area call 'sea itch.' I had snagged my ankle on something, probably coral, while wading out to a liveaboard's tender without my shoes on. It was not a cut, just an irritating abrasion, so I covered it with Vaseline and went diving for the week.

A month later, a hematoma appeared on my lower leg. I continued to travel and dive, but my leg didn't get better. Eventually, another more massive hematoma appeared, my leg became twice the size, and my lymph glands were working overtime, signs of a serious infection. Surgery under full anesthesia and time with drip antibiotics saw me eventually recover, left with nothing more than the scars. So that's a good reason for wearing a suit whenever you're in the sea.

Few ever called a dive because they were too hot underwater!

Our senior editor, Vanessa Richardson, had been renting ill-fitting and smelly wetsuits on dive trips, but decided to spring for her own. With all the styles, thicknesses and qualities to choose from, not to mention price ranges, her research will guide you if you're ready to replace your old ill-fitting, smelly wetsuit....


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