The High Cost of Buying Cheap Diving Gear On-line

amazon-keyboardsA question asked on a scuba diving forum.

Beginner Advice Please

“I am a complete beginner and need to buy the kit.

Any advice on good on-line scuba diving retailers will be much appreciated.

My mate is fairly experienced, so he will be able to help me”.



Hi there

I am absolutely delighted to hear that you are thinking of buying some diving equipment. It is a researched and documented fact that if you own your own kit, you will go diving more regularly than if you haven’t got anything.

Boat fins, scuba diving fins, diving Isle of Man, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company
Two pieces of core scuba diving equipment: a pair of boat fins and a dive mask

I would certainly advocate that as a new diver you get the core kit of mask, boat fins, snorkel, boots, a shortie / basic thermal protection and a timing device.

This is your basic snorkelling equipment which will last you from now until kingdom come, provided you look after it carefully. It also means that when you start / continue learning, you have the basics which will also be fine for pool work and blue water diving.

Once you have your core kit I would suggest that you don’t go on a mad spending spree - yet.

The thing about learning to dive (or any other sport for that matter) is that you don't know, what you don't know. This is not a criticism, just a fact of life.

It is terribly easy to peruse the magazines, let your fingers do the walking on the web or post a question on the Forums. And if you are British diver you will probably end up making the decision to buy a certain brand of BCD and regulators. But is it truly the right equipment for the style of diving you are currently doing, and what you aspire to do in the future?

Anglesey ScubaFest, scuba diving in Wales, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Jason Brown, The Underwater Marketing Company,
Attend an equipment manufacturer demo day or ScubaFest to try out new diving equpiment

To get the most out of your equipment you really need to have some in-water time and experience before you buy it. Borrow, hire, steal, beg equipment from fellow divers or your local club or dive centre and try it out. Or attend an equipment manufacturer demo day or the ScubaFests. But please pace yourself.

Try and dive ‘familiar’ diving equipment when you try out one new piece of kit to reduce the stress levels. By getting some in-water time, you will gain a mental and physical reference which enables you to start forming ideas of what equipment you want, and the route you wish to follow.

I am really glad to hear that you have an experienced mate who has taken you under his wing.

The one thing that I would say is that staff in dive centres have exposure to a large range of equipment from a number of manufacturers. They go on product days and launches, they get given the odd sample to play with, and it’s all so that they can understand the product better.

Anglesey Divers, Marting Sampson, Caroline Sampson, learn to dive in Wales, Porth Dafarch Beach, Holyhead, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Anglesey ScubaFest
Dive Centre Owner and Chief Instructor Martin Sampson (in the orange and black suit) with his students on Porth Dafarch, Anglesey, Wales. Martin and Caroline run Anglesey Divers

Dive centre staff are out there using the kit in anger, and diving it on a very regular basis. They should ask you what kind of diving are you doing now, and what do you intend to do in the future, and will advise you accordingly as to what kind of kit will suit you. This means that you will be given good solid equipment advice by someone who is more experienced than your average amateur diver.

DSMB, delayed surface marker buoy, dive reel, scuba diving equipment, diving safety, being seen on the surface, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, diving PR, scuba social media
A well stocked dive shop offering a plethora of safety accessories

The beauty about shopping in a LDS (Local Dive Shop), is that you get to feel, touch, try on and look at the equipment for real.

If you ask for help the staff will walk you around the shop and show you the difference between a pool fin, a boat fin, a nature's wing fin, a spring strap, a traditional fin strap and a quick release strap.

Absolutely nothing can replace the opportunity of feeling, touching, smelling, lifting, finding out just how heavy something is, and trying on new up-to-date equipment. It’s almost a rite of passage for a diver to walk into a dive shop with a pocketful of cash and buy your drysuit / regulator / bcd and thoroughly delight in the frisson, thrill and excitement of that hands-on experience.

Buying on the web is just not the same thing. Pushing a button or two and waiting for a brown box to be delivered is quite pedestrian in comparison.

It should be noted it is not polite to visit a dive centre and benefit from their time, knowledge and counselling to then go and buy the product off the net for the sake of a few pounds. I have seen this happen all too often, and it is little wonder that dive centre staff sometimes end up quite jaded by this behaviour.

Fourth Element, thermacline, proteus, dry base, OceanPositive, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Jim Standing, Paul Strike, EUROTEK Award Winners
I am not saying ‘never buy from the internet’

If you buy via the web you might get a more competitive price. This is because all you are paying for is for someone to take a piece of kit off a shelf, put it into a box and post it to you. There is rarely counselling and advice, and no cup of tea.

There is no substitute to having an experienced professional standing next to you, seeing how the kit fits and knowing how it will perform in the water.

When you buy in a LDS you gain education, information and benefit from the shop’s experience.

It is worth noting that your LDS doesn't necessarily need to be your nearest dive centre. My nearest dive centre is a is 12 minutes / 5 miles away. The one I use is 51 minutes / 28 miles away because of their great servicing, advice and gas blending. And your LDS will be ‘the one’ where you get good service, advice, mentoring and they actively go diving.

Buying on the web appears to be a great, short term gain, but you will definitely lose long term.

Now more than ever you need to support your LDS. (LDS equipment sales are one revenue source that helps to pay for rates, electricity, insurance, salaries, etc). Around the turn / start of the year I was hearing every week about yet another dive retail centre closing their doors and I know of another two dive centres that have gone down in the last 8 weeks. The blood letting continues.

Apeks, A clamp, DIN Adaptor, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Dean Martin, Aqua Lung, scuba diving equipment
We can't buy air or gas fills online

The price you will be charged in-store is a fair one because it’s the suggested retail price. Remember diving is effectively a luxury sport where you want life support equipment that will always perform efficiently in a harsh environment. You need it to work properly and that costs real money to research, develop, test and manufacture.

By demanding cheaper equipment you will get just that. There have been comments on the Forums about cheap weight belts falling to bits, cheap clips and knives rusting up, cheap reels jamming and tangling, and I am aware of a couple of lovely masks that are sadly now just plain nasty.

These two low profile masks fitted 95% of all faces, looked great and were a sensible price. Unfortunately because the public kept on demanding cheaper masks, production was switched to another factory, and now these products are inferior and sales have dropped right off. The silicone used is horribly hard and the frames crack. By demanding cheaper kit the product has been destroyed. Everyone loses.

It is worth pointing out that I am also not saying ‘never buy from the internet’. That is just plain daft. We are very time poor these days, and when you know precisely what you need, and that it will fit you perfectly, buying on-line is a useful, timely solution. But as a new diver, or a diver upgrading key pieces of equipment, you really benefit from buying your equipment in store because of the personal hands on service you will receive. And you leave with something that properly fits you.

Cylinders, air tanks, mixed gas diving, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, Divetech, nitrox, stage cylinders, The Underwater Marketing Compay, buying cheap dive gear online, scuba diving PR, rebreather diving
Do we really want to return to 100 mile round trips to get diving cylinders filled?

Whatever your position on internet sales, if they become all that we have got left, along with some very large regional centres, then not only you, but everyone will lose out.

So if you end up spending a tad more now on kit at your local dive centre, it should mean that in the future we all won’t be doing 100 mile round trips to get cylinder fills and regulators serviced which is better for our pockets and kinder to the environment. And the great thing is that we will be well looked after by like-minded kit monster professionals who still get huge thrill out of playing with shiny toys.

Good luck with your diving, I hope this helps.

'Home Again' – Operation Dynamo Manx Tribute

TSS Mona's Queen III Anchor Memorial, Kallow Point, Isle of Man, Port St Mary, King Orry, Fenella, Discover Diving, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Scuba diving days out, Rained off, Pam Evans, Dunkirk survivors
The Dunkirk Memorial at Kallow Point

On Friday 29th May 2015 at 18.30, a memorial service was held around the restored anchor from 'Mona’s Queen', at Kallow Point, Port St Mary on the Isle of Man. The service was held 75 years to the day that three Isle of Man Steam Packet Ships were lost within the space of 24 hours at Dunkirk. 'Mona's Queen' was mined, 'Fenella' was struck by air attack whilst 'King Orry' sustained heavy damage following several air attacks.

The 'Mona's Queen' anchor, which was raised in 2010 thanks to the combined efforts of Isle of Man, UK and French naval and government representatives, is a permanent memorial to all the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company crew who took part in World War Two. Eight Steam Packet Company ships took part in Operation Dynamo - the historic rescue of the British Expeditionary Force - and brought 24,669 of them to safety. Of a total of 338,226 troops rescued, one in fourteen was brought out on a Steam Packet Company vessel.

TSS Mona's Queen III Anchor Memorial, Kallow Point, Isle of Man, Port St Mary, King Orry, Fenella, Discover Diving, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Scuba diving days out, Rained off, Pam Evans, Dunkirk survivors
TSS Mona's Queen III Anchor Memorial

During the service Pam Evans, the daughter of a Dunkirk serviceman, read her poem entitled 'Home Again'.

TSS Mona's Queen III Anchor Memorial, Kallow Point, Isle of Man, Port St Mary, King Orry, Fenella, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Scuba diving days out, Rained off, Pam Evans, Dunkirk survivors
'Home Again' - a poem written and read by Pam Evans


The Ben-my-Chree came in as usual one early misty morn,
But this day was rather special for history was born.
She'd carried a priceless cargo across the sea that night
And a guard of honour greeted her in the early morning light.

She was bringing back the anchor from the valiant 'Mona's Queen',
Lost at Dunkirk in 1940 in that hellish dreadful scene.
In the 70th anniversary year of Dunkirk's historic days,
The 'Mona's Queen's' great anchor at last they hoped to raise.

Nearly all our boats were commandeered in Operation Dynamo,
Along with all their crews of course, they had no choice but go.
Yet they helped rescue British soldiers from the enemy's desperate hand
And played their part in no small way in the saving of our land.

Almost 25,000 men its said were saved by our Manx boats alone
With the bravery of their seamen, who helped get them safely home.
My Dad he was a soldier just one of thousands on that shore,
Hoping desperately for rescue which looked less likely more and more.

Along with all those others he waded out up to his neck,
Till pulled aboard a destroyer he he landed on its deck.
He never said a thing about the awful sights he must have seen.
But I always will remember these things he said he'd seen.

As a Scouser born and bred of course the Isle of Man boats he knew.
He recognised them right away, King Orry, Mona's Queen, Fenella too.
And he saw the Mona's Queen herself come under fierce attack,
Enemy plans were bombing her, no way could she fight them back.

She sank it seems quite quickly, half a mile away from shore,
Killing twenty four of her civilian crew and who knows how many more.
Her sister ship Fenella, suffered likewise and was caught.
Dad witnessed her sinking - I really can't hep but wonder just what he must have thought.

Happily he got home safe or I would not be here.
And its solely thanks to him of course I was brought up to revere,
The memory of all those service men and civilians who were not able to return,
But gave their lives bringing triumph from disaster and the enemy overturn.

So now we have the anchor back. A symbol of the war,
And the loss sustained by millions which time cannot restore.
Tell your children, tell your grandchildren, if you remember don't forget,
How much was owed by so many to our Manx boats and how very great the debt.

And let us all give thanks that now the day has come along
When in some small way the 'Mona's Queen's' - back home - where she belongs.

Isle of Man, Ellan Vannin Pipe Band, Rosemary E Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Kallow Point, Port St Mary, TSS Mona's Queen III Anchor, Pam Evans, Bernadette McCabe, Captain Peter Corrin, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
The Ellan Vannin Pipe Band on 75th Anniversary of Dunkirk

If you are ever diving the Isle of Man, it is worth taking a walk up to see this memorial. It is approximately 10 - 15 minutes walk from Discover Diving in Port St Mary.