Weather Helmed

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Cruising Must-Have: Good snorkeling gear!!!

August 4th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Cruising Must-Haves, French Polynesia, Life Lessons, Life on the Boat, Random Thoughts, Society Islands

Right before Matt and I left SF, our cross-the-dock neighbor generously gave us fishing tackle and scuba gear and three sets of masks/snorkels/fins.  We felt like it was Christmas!!!  He just kept bringing more and more stuff over for us.  We were excited and thrilled to have such gifts literally falling into our lap.

Because we were so busy with other preparations, though, we just took the items and stuffed them into lockers, not bothering to test them or try them out.  Unfortunately, we found out months later that the snorkeling equipment just didn’t work for us.  The masks didn’t fit our faces right, the snorkels leaked occasionally and the fins weren’t the right size and fell off our feet.  As much as we appreciated the gifts, they simply didn’t fit.  So, needless to say, we often found snorkeling a tedious exercise as Matt had to constantly hold his mask with one hand and support his snorkel with the other and I trailed far behind him, rising up out of the water every other minute to clear out my snorkel and swimming slowly without fins.

Finally, after “suffering” through our snorkeling experiences in the Tuamotus, we realized that, in order to enjoy the water more, we needed new stuff.  So, when we got to Tahiti, we immediately headed to Nautisport in Papeete and dropped $200 on new gear. And, let me tell you, it was worth every penny and has made a W.O.R.L.D. of difference!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday, we spent close to two hours in the water, confidently swimming all around the anchorage here at Opanohue Bay in Moorea, crossing boating lanes, exploring reefs, laughing, diving, chasing fish.  It was so much fun.  We felt more comfortable knowing that we could go quite fast if we needed to, we could swim long distances without having to clear our snorkels, and our masks wouldn’t leak no matter how long we were out.  I can’t believe how much this new stuff has revolutionized our ocean experience.

SO – if you are going to be cruising anytime soon or even just coming out to visit the islands, make sure you have good snorkeling gear.  Test it in the bathtub, the swimming pool, the kitchen sink, whatever.  Even if you have to spend $50 or $60 to get a mask that truly fits your face, it will be worth it!!  And the masks were/are the most expensive part.  My snorkel, which works perfectly fine was only $8 (note to women: make sure you try the mask/snorkel on together to ensure that the snorkel attachment doesn’t get stuck in your hair!) and the fins were around $30/set.  Matt and I both feel like the fins that have the “shoe” type boot are better than those that just have a strap.  if you don’t take really good care of the straps, always rinsing them with fresh water and keeping them out of the sun, they will dry out quickly and the rubber will start to deteriorate.  The booty ones are also easier to take off quickly just in case you have to raise a flipper to indicate to boats/jet skis, etc. that you are there and they shouldn’t run over you.

For me, especially, having the fins makes me feel so much better.  Before, I was worried that I wouldn’t be strong enough (or in some cases, fast enough) to get back to the boat if I swam too far away from it.  I feel so much more confident and comfortable having the fins.  it’s crazy how much faster you can go and how much less energy it takes to swim with them!  They also just make me feel like I am more in control of my movements, although I feel like a giant stork trying to land on a pea-pod anytime I attempt to put my feet down on the bottom of the lagoon.

I don’t often feel like I can really offer people any solid advice about the cruising life, but this is something where I feel my testimonial has merit 🙂   So, get good snorkeling gear (or if you’re a diver, make sure all your scuba stuff is really in prime shape), and then enjoy the underwater world! 🙂

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Verena

    I just want to let you know that your advice is much coveted. Love your posts! Thank you for being honest!

  • Holli

    Thanks – will definitely take this advice and note it down – as I do all your little tidbits, and those of other cruisers, in prep for our departure next year!

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