Unfortunately, that blow-up lilo the kids bought you last Xmas just won’t do. Your diving rig needs to be as stable as a landing barge, turn like a tank, be waterproof as a submarine, fly like a fighter and transport you and your gear like a troop carrier. Paul Miller put together a shopping list for the perfect diving rig.
1. WAVE SLAYING
Some of the best dive sites can only be accessed via gnarly bars and entrances, so wave-piercing platforms with tough breakers and draining decks are advisable. Some of the more prominent brand names dominating the bars are Sea Devil and Edencraft, with modified Seydel Craft and Haines Hunters also in the mix. Flooding keeled boats will help stability in the slop when picking up divers. Foam-filled hulls will assist buoyancy should she turn turtle. RIBS are also popular because they’re unsinkable and some of the good ones offer a surprisingly good ride, better than most ’glass boats!
2. TWINS FOR THE WIN
Spearo boats tend to cop a flogging and water on the decks is unavoidable. Sometimes that water can find its way into the electronics and fuel tanks, leaving you stranded at sea. That’s why I run twin engines with separated fuel tanks I’ve come home on one engine more than once – and when I find the guy who left my fuel cap off last time … Ryan! Twins also give you optimum low-speed manoeuvrability around reefs, rocks and ramps.
3. AWESOME ACCESS
Getting in and out of the water is priority one. “Dur”, I hear you say. But consider the need for a rapid exit when a goliath great white has designs on your derrière! Inflatables and RIBS offer low 360-degree access. Low dive doors come in handy, as do steps on the transom. Failing that, a ladder or rope will do.
4. TOP-SECRET TECHNOLOGY
Clear navigating to the hot spot is another priority. The GPS has to be shockproof, waterproof and idiot-proof so anyone can get a clear map to the magic grounds. Once in the hot spot, the GPS can be used to determine drift rates. The sounder is critical for sounding out structure and bait – and if you’re reading it properly, you should be able to see underwater currents. Radios are compulsory; pie ovens (to warm up the lobster mornay) optional.
5. WATER EXTRACTION
Just because you get in the water, doesn’t mean the water should get into your boat. If your rig doesn’t have scuppers get it out with big bilges. You should also have back-up bilges on separate systems standing by. Having these on automated float switches is a must. There’s nothing worse than spearfishing for a few hours and coming back to find your boat is now an artificial reef.
6. STORAGE KING
With fins as long as the family wagon, and more guns than a SWAT team, you’ll need room for the arsenal. There are also floats, bins, camera gear and eskies to fit on board. And you might even come across a random floating FAD you have to return to its rightful owner. Or not. Roomy side pockets, seat storage and under-floor storage are a must for serious divers.