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Below is a list of links to the main pages about my yacht, Catlypso and My Yachting Adventures:
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  • My Yachting Adventures.
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    Michael's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of my Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
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    "The MV Malabar has an identical sistership in Port Moresby Harbour called MV Macdhui"
    My Dive Gear - Details
    Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - My Dive Gear During the mid-1990s, many people in the dive industry, especially in the Sydney area, were fed the story that I have received some sort of support from the Australian dive industry. This support was said to relate to the provision of free dive gear and maybe free diving. These people had then been repeating this story to all and sundry.

    If this is in fact the case, and these manufacturers/importers are indeed providing me with free dive equipment, I think that you would never buy the equipment considering the condition of it (and presuming that it is almost new because I get it for free). Read on to see about my gear in the attached photograph taken early in 1997. Note that as so much has changed from that original photograph, (eg due to the number of dives I do, I had to purchased some new gear), this fun dig has been modified suitably.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I am provided with a brand new pair of the top line imported American made booties every three months.

    Fact: The booties in this photo were purchased in mid-1991 and I did more than 700 dives using them. They had many holes in the toe areas, there was a huge hole in the back of one and the velcro had broken off the other. Water poured in and out of them but despite this, they were very good booties. I had to replace them in May 1997 but as you cannot now buy the old brand in Australia, I had to purchase what I considered to be an inferior brand. However, they were not too bad and I ended up doing almost 690 dives. In June 2002 I purchased a new pair for about $45. I pruchased new ones in 2006 and still have them in 2010.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I receive a pair of colour coded top range fins every year from a European manufacturer.

    Fact: Up until early 1997 my fins were the only ones I had ever used diving. After almost 1100 dives they were still going well, although at least one set of straps had been purchased. Based on the cost of less than $40, these Land and Sea Sports fins certainly represented good value.

    Unfortunately, over Easter 1997 some bastard stole my fins off a boat and I was forced to buy a new pair of Mares Avante fins for the normal retail price of $149. So far I have done over 3,150 dives with them (as of mid-2020) and have not even had to replace the straps, although I did change them to spring straps for convenience. They are still going well in mid-2020. In June 2020 I purchased a new set of Mares fins for $130 (made in Bulgaria of all places) as my new drysuit's boots are too big to fit in my old fins. I will revert to the old ones once I start using my wetsuit again.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have a $100 top class dive knife given to me by a major Australian importer.

    Fact: For a long while I did not have a dive knife as burglars stole my $15 one. The one I purchased to replace it at a cost of $20 was lost by me and an identical one was also lost. For about 4 years I did not have a knife. In April 2002 I purchased another knife for $30 which I still had till 2009 when I lost it on a dive. I have since lost another one and currently do not have a knife.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I receive a top of the range imported drysuits every year.

    Fact: In the attached photo I am wearing my Neptune top of the range 5mm wetsuit which I purchased in late 1992 at full retail price of $520. In the photo it has many small holes, minor tears, a lot of glue and is probably only 3.5mm. To make matters worse, the entire lining had come away from the wetsuit leaving only rubber underneath. It was very difficult to put on, requiring the use of plastic bags and lubricant (just joking about lubricant). I still thought at the time that it was the best wetsuit of the three I had purchased to that date, even though it was then twice as old as the other two when they were retired. I did about 500 dives with it, the cost per dive was about $1.10 before getting a new one.

    At the end of May 1997 I purchased for $620 a new Neptune Elite Wetsuit (despite the hatred the owner of Neptune seems to hold towards me) as I believe them to be the best wetsuits available in Australia. I used it for approximately 980 dives which means it cost me $0.63 a dive. I was still quite happy with it till about the 950 mark. However, in 2004-5 the Long John tore many times around the upper section and I was continually repairing it with wetsuit glue. It also started to get quite a few holes/tears elsewhere (knees, bum etc). I had hoped that it would last until the start of Winter 2005 but it actually lasted till Summer 2005.

    In November 2005 I purchased another new Neptune wetsuit at a cost of well over $700. This was a top of the range Neptune Inferno Semi-Dry. This is 7mm on body and 5 mm elsewhere. My suit was a standard fit one but had to be made to order. My wife, Kelly, had her suit made to order. Both took over 6 weeks from order to delivery. Pitiful considering they are made within a relatively short distance of where we live. Within one month I had problems with the suit. Both my suit and Kelly's had failures about the same time. Kelly's neck seal became separated from the wetsuit body and my spine pad became separated from the back. Both these were due to failure of the glue. The were sent back for repair and I am happy to say that they returned within five days. However, I am a bit disappointed in that you try to support an Australian operation and it takes too long to get the item and it is then faulty.

    Anyway, having used it for about 22 dives before sending it back to get repaired, I think that it was was the warmest I have ever been on a dive in Sydney at this time of the year. I was happy with it, although I had thought that the zip may have been a better type.

    After about 75 dives the end of the zipper became separated from the wetsuit. This let water in and my arm got cold. I was going to put it in to get repaired when I went on a non-diving holiday in late September 2006 but after Kelly's experience with getting hers repaired a second time (over three weeks and they did not repair, ruining a dive weekend away when she had to use a crappy old wetsuit) and how her wetsuit has fallen apart since then, I will never, ever buy another Neptune wetsuit.

    By 2010 it has a large hole under the right armpit which I need to repair and now one under the left armpit. The spine has again come away from the wetsuit. In addition, there are two holes forming on the shoulders that will soon let water flow in. I now wear a vest under it in colder waters and a cover over the end of the zip to stop water filtering in. At the moment, I will continue to use but I suspect that the way it is going, I will need a new one before the end of 2010. Till February 2010 I did about 635 dives with it at a cost of $1.20 a dive. How poor is this compared to my old one?

    Just after this I bought a second hand Neptune Inferno Semi-Dry via Ebay for $200 (I really am stupid). It was hardly used. It lasted till late 2015 when it ended up with holes under the arms, between the legs and around the bum. This let in a lot of cold water every time I moved. I probably did about 500 dives with it, good value considering what I paid, but poor considering the full price of it if I purchased it new.

    In November 2015 I purchased a new Seatec Predator Pro semi-dry wetsuit (made to measure) for $605. So far it has been brilliant. I am still using it in 2020, with only the neck seal replaced.

    I also bought a second hand Apollo drysuit in 2010 that I used till the end of winter 2019. I replaced the neck and wrist seals at least twice, perhaps three times. In the end it was letting a fair bit of water in and no matter what gluing I did, it still leaked a bit of water, enough to annoy me. In early 2020 I purchased a made to measure neoprene drysuit from Seaksin in the UK. It cost $938 delivered to Sydney. It is also excellent on the few dives I have made using it.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have the best, softest weight belt money can (not) buy.

    Fact: My belt was the only one I had ever owned. However, I had to purchase new webbing to replace the very frayed belt and I had relatively new weights to replace the ones that slipped off to their death over a very deep Sydney wreck a couple of years before this photo was taken (the plastic clip holding them on failed). I do not even know the brand of the buckle which is my original. Since then I have purchased a new Sea Quest Pro BCD. It has intergrated weights but I am still have the old belt which I sometimes loan to others.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have four pairs of thick gloves supplied to me in colours to match my wetsuit.

    Fact: My $5 pair of gloves had so many holes in the thumbs and a couple of fingers so I splurged out and bought a new ($5) pair in November 1997. I used them for about 550 dives. In June 2002 I purchased another $5 pair and in May 2004 yet another pair. I need to buy a new pair about every two years.

    I did buy a good pair for my trip to Norway in October 2000 but I do not use them in Australia.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: A European company has supplied me and my video model with five different masks to match our wetsuits.

    Fact: My mask was at least five years old and had done almost 700 dives but it was also nicked by a thief at the same time as my fins. I purchased a new one for $39. I did over 800 dives with it. It was very good and did not leak even though it had many broken bits and was held together with two cable ties. Due to the poor condition of that mask, in 2000 I started using an old mask that I got about 1988 but hardly ever used. However, this broke in 2003 (I think someone stood on it) so I had to purchase a new one for about $50. In 2006 Kelly got me prescription lenses for my old mask. In 2008 I found a cheap mask that had exactly the same sized lenses so I purchased it and put the prescription lenses in it.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have a brand new hood that is colour co-ordinated with my wetsuit.

    Fact: I actually had only one hood in my entire period of diving till 1997 when I had completed 1100 dives (probably half with the hood). You can see that it really is quite well used. As part of getting a new wetsuit and booties in 1997, I purchased a new hood for $38. I have used it a bit over the past eight winters and it is a big improvement on my old one. However, since I have purchased a new wetsuit in late 2005, I got a new hood to match for Winter 2006. Since then, I have purchased a vest with a built-in hood and I wear this in Winter.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: Once again, the European company provides me with brand new top flight BCDs in the brightest colours each year.

    Fact: My first BCD was second hand when I purchased it and it was used for 1,025 dives. It leaked air and had more glue than plastic, it was missing more fabric from the outside than was left. It had been sown up many times and had bits cut off to keep it in good working order. It was very faded. The cost per dive was probably about $0.10. I then purchased a new BCD! Bad news for the gossip mongers, it too was second hand, not a freebie. I used it for about 425 dives. The cost per dive was probably about $0.50. In June 2000 I purchased a new SeaQuest Pro QD BCD at considerable (more than the total cost of all my first set of dive gear). It was the best I have ever had but see later for things that have clouded my previously wholehearted endorsement of this BCD.

    However, in April 2005 after 670 dives, the power inflator hose (the ribbed hose that connects the power inflator to the BCD) broke. It tore up near the top and meant that any attempt to put air into the BCD failed as the air just went straight out the hose. I purchased what I thought was the correct part and then found that the diameter of the power inflator end was larger than the power inflator diameter. Subsequent investigations found that the correct part is no longer available from the importer and presumably the manufacturer and I had been supplied with the part for a different BCD. No option was offered at this time for any alternative other than purchasing a whole new inflator device, including the hose I already had and an inflator with larger diameter connection (at a cost of A$145 compared to $45 for the hose).

    I then discovered via DiveOz web site that this appears to be a common SeaQuest failure, both for this BCD and other models. I was then contacted by the distributor and offered $99 (approx) to purchase the part, that is, $50 more than I should have to pay to get my BCD back in working order but $45 less than the full retail value.

    I thought about offer and subsequently declined it. I have since manufactured a part for a cost of a few cents that adapts the new hose to the original inflator. Why SeaQuest or the imported could not do this is beyond my comprehension. It appears that the reason there are no spare parts available for my BCD is that the failure rate has been far higher than estimated at the time of construction. A very poor effort that now clouds my views on SeaQuest BCDs.

    In January 2006 after 807 dives, the BCD started to look old. Until a year earlier it still looked brand new. I was really worried about the sudden change in its appearance and at that time thought that it was going to fall apart within a short period. In mid-2008 it started leaking air out of small holes in the bottom near the back and behind my head. the airflow was not much, not more than a litre a dive probably. Some glue fixed it up. Around this time the replacement power inflator hose broke in exactly the same location as the previous one. This was after about 650 dives, roughly the same number as the first one did. This time I glued it up and it lasted about six months when I had to glue it again.

    As I forecast, the BCD was falling apart but I was still using as of early March 2009 after 1,357 dives. I decided it would soon need replacing. Despite my feelings of four years ago when I thought that I could not recommend these BCDs for poor reliability and poor back up from the factory and importer, I decided I would probably buy a new one, but not from Australia (I cannot give the importer any of my money on the principle of this and my wetsuit which they also make).

    Therefore, in mid-March 2009 I purchased a new SeaQuest Pro QD BCD. I got it from a US web site LeisurePro (www.leisurepro.com) at a cost of AU$670. This is considerably cheaper than how much it would have cost me to purchase in Australia and none of my money goes to the importer. It is an improvement on the old one, with better design of the pockets and weight pockets. It also has a few other features that are better designed and constructed than the old one. At the time I wrote that I just hope it lasts another 1400 or so dives!

    In fact, it lasted over 1420 dives. In early 2020 I purchased a second had SeaQuest Pro QD identical to my last one. It cost me $200 and was in almost new condition. The old one was still usable, although I had to repair the bottom of the bladder numerous times as many holes had appeared there. I also needed to repair one of the weight pockets a few times as lead had worn holes in the material.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have two sets of Swedish whiz bang regs given to me by the importer.

    Fact: I have four sets of Australian made Sea Hornet Command Air regs and another old Sea Hornet set. The first was purchased by me at full retail price the week the model was issued back in 1989. They are still the main regs for my second tank (twins or pony) after 800 plus dives. My second set is identical and was purchased around 1995, once again at full retail price. It is now my spare set. The third set was won by me in a raffle run by South Pacific Divers' Club at their 1997 Australasian Underwater Photographer of the Year Night. Much thanks to Sea Hornet for donating this prize to the Club. The second stage is now on my fourth set and in late 2005 I purchased a new second stage. My fourth set is a second hand ex-Royal Australian Navy First Stage (purchased from a friend who bought a bunch at auction) with the second stage from the thrid set. My original set now powers my oxygen set-up. All these regs are excellent and the best value items I own!!!

    I still use these regs, serviced every 18 to 24 months. In 2010 Sea Hornet went broke and in about 2016 service kits could no longer be purchased. Luckily I purchased quite a few kits before then. Using these and all the old parts which I have kept, I should be able to continue using these regs till I have to give up diving due to old age!

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: My dive computer is a Swiss made top of the range air integrated dive computer provided to me free of charge by the Sydney-based importer.

    Fact: My dive computer is a Swiss made Aladin Air-Z air integrated dive computer. Originally I had an Air-X purchased at full retail price from a NSW dive shop but it died five times and so I ended up with an Air-Z at considerable extra cost. it certainly does not seem to be worth the considerable initial purchase price subsequent replacement costs and their reliability is extremely questionable. I only purchased it because my old reliable Aladin Pro was stolen in a burgulary. I would never buy one again as it is a load of shit. For a more detailed review, see my Aladin Air-X page.

    I now use Heinrich Weinkamps OSTC computers.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have one of the new digital compasses that provide an indication of direction, record times and distances travelled. This was given to me by the importer.

    Fact: For many years I did not have a dive compass at all. I used to use an old land compass that was attached to my right glove. However, I then purchased a cheap diving compass but now my dive computer has an electronic one.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have an imported torch provided by the importer.

    Fact: I had for over 15 years a torch I built from some parts and it was fantastic. I now use a Chinese made one I purchased from eBay for about $40 including rechargeable batteries.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have a top of the range video together with an American made housing and video lights. It was given to me by the Japanese video manufacturer and the housing importer.

    Fact: I have a top of the range Japanese Sony video that I purchased after my Nikonos was stolen in a burglary. I purchased an Australian made housing (Wills) with my own funds and recently bought two Australian made video lights (Aqua Sea), again at full price. However, this was 1995 and it is now virtually obsolete.

    Return to Michael's Dive Gear Photo


    Fiction: I have a top of the range camera together with an American made housing and strobe. It was given to me by the importer.

    Fact: I had a top of the range Japanese digital camera (Olympus) that I purchased in 2003 (well it was then). I then purchased an American housing (Ikelite) and in 2004 bought a Japanese strobe (Inon). I paid for all of this myself. I have since started using my wife's almost identical setup with the addition of my strobe. See my camera page for more info.

    Since then I have had two separate camera setups, the first one flooded three times, destroying three cameras. As of 2020 I use an Olympus TG-5 in a Sea Frogs housing with one of my Inon strobes. Brilliant macro shots!

    As you can see from this article and the attached photograph, by and large, up until May 1997 my gear was certainly not brand new and was mostly very old and worn. In 2005, most of it again was pretty old until I purchased a new wetsuit. It looks like I replace most of my main bits every five years or so.

    If this is the sort of equipment I have been supplied with by importers and manufacturers, then it must be very crappy stuff indeed to have deteriorated so rapidly. In reality, the equipment is still in relatively good condition considering the extreme use it has been subjected to over the time since purchased. Apart from one or two pieces (eg my Aladin AirX and AirZ computers), I am more than happy with the use I have got out of my gear.

    I hope that this dispels the untrue claims being made by certain known persons in the dive industry. It is a sad day when an industry has to resort to such lies just because they have been caught out by a keen diver who is not scared (or smart) enough to keep quiet.

    Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2024
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    Website created 1996!