Mo' dive gear : mo' problems.
As soon as I got in the water this morning I felt it. Sogginess spreading from my right hip.
A leak from the drysuit zipper.
It's a four year old suit with a plastic T-Zip, my backup suit that's got (maybe) 3-400 dives on it. I've been impressed - thinking of it only yesterday - that the plastic zip had held up as long as it did, favouring metal zippers. But today was the day.
I got out of the water to harness up and take a little look. When I found, literally, the very last sealing tooth cracked.
Being of the "Is it supposed to move and doesn't = WD40 --- Is it moving when it isn't supposed to = duct tape" school of engineering and maintenance I slathered a good teaspoon of silicone grease onto the end of the zipper and figured that ought to take care of things.
Towards the end of dive one I figured I'd completely undress, lay out my underwear to dry, and redress for dive two. Then I adjusted position to dump some gas out of my suit during ascent...
And felt about two gallons of water gurgle from my left arm down to my right hip. Enough to suddenly throw my trim completely out of fucking whack. Then I bucked my hips up to dump out of my wing and all the water gurgled from my hips to my shoulders.
"THAT'S IT! FUCK WATER! I'M DONE! AND COLD!"
I dumped about two gallons of the cenote out of my suit. And wrung another gallon out of my undergarments.
Brought my backup suit to the local drysuit wizard to get a zipper replaced. Maybe it'll last another season or two as a backup suit (as the rest of the material is still in pretty good condition). And, while I was there, I picked up my primary suit which had just been leak-tested and patched.
Once upon a time I daydreamed about owning my own drysuit. Seemed one of those pinnacle purchases that would last a motherfucker a lifetime.
Now, between Nelly and I, we own 4. And I go through one about once every year or two.
I'm glad I've got the backup so that I can keep diving uninterrupted.
But wouldn't it be nice if things just worked?
Wouldn't it also be nice if children didn't die of starvation in the streets in every major city of the world, species weren't going extinct at about 10% per decade, hate-crimes weren't a real thing, empathy was valued instead of seen as a personal weakness, and there was someone employed by all the other world governments to just punch Boris Johnson in his rat-hair-covered blancmange face 7 or 8 times a day?
But now we return to the real world. Where shit breaks.
And I'm not gonna lie... I'm glad I have the shit.
Because it means I get to go diving tomorrow, too.
I've got this old two litre vinegar bottle full of tap water I keep in the back of the truck. I use it to rinse all the muck or sand or ants or whatever off the feet of my drysuit before I peel myself out of that thing and pack it away every day.
I baby my suits as best I can. Make sure the zippers stay clear. I always close the outer, protective zipper while it's in transit. I wax the primary, waterproof zipper as frequently as I can inspire myself to remember.
Take care of your gear and your gear takes care of you.
But, as I mentioned a few days ago... shit fails. That's the nature of entropy.
There's a story about an eventual zen master who was a precocious youth. One day he was in his master's quarters (what he was doing there is lost to time) when he happened to break a precious family heirloom: a beautiful antique teacup.
The boy hearing his master's footsteps approaching managed to keep his face plain as he gathered up the pieces of the cup just as the master entered the room and was surprised to find his pupil there.
"Master," said the boy, "I wanted to ask you about the nature of death."
"Ah," said the master, "It is important to remember that death is a part of the great cycle of things. All things, one day, will die."
At which point the clever, little, asshole kid who was running around breaking other people's shit presented the shards of a beloved family heirloom, proclaiming, "Master, it was time for your teacup to die."
I always figure that should have earned an ass-whooping. But Buddhists are usually pacifists, so that's probably not how it went down.
My plastic zipper died on my backup drysuit, a Santi eMotion. The original zipper from around 4 year ago.
Frankly, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. I've had plastic zippers for years when I was living in NJ/NYC, doing ~100 dives a year, but otherwise keeping my suit in a bag in a climate-controlled room. The dry and the cool has done them well.
Then this particular suit lived (and dived) with me in Florida for a while. And then down here for a couple of years; where the humidity sometimes reaches 37,000,000% and there is all sorts of sticky sand and such that might get caught in the teeth of that plastic nonsense.
I've heard stories of those plastic zippers just straight up melting in hot, humid places.
Mine didn't melt. It cracked in a few places. After years of use (abuse) and around... I dunno... ~50-75 dives/year on it as a backup suit? It did well.
I'll miss it.
Got it replaced with a metal zipper.
One of the biggest reasons I'll miss it is because of an almost certainly psychosomatic perception that a suit with a plastic zipper weighs 35-40lbs lighter than one with a metal zipper.
But I will enjoy the security of a zipper that is actually designed for pressurised immersion. That feeling of sealing up into a suit of "armour" against the elements. I will luxuriate in the comfort that brass teeth are non-reactive to even the most aggressive humidity of the Mexican summer and that if there's a random leak from time to time it's probably a stray bit of fluff after a couple of hundred dives that can be blowtorched away... and not a completely missing zipper-tooth requiring another expensive replacement.
Plastic zips are alright. I don't have the kind of irrational hatred towards them that I sometimes hear. I wish I could just stick with them, honestly. But I haven't had the best of luck. They fail a little quicker than metal; which isn't a big deal if you're not diving every single day. And while I know that the actual weight difference is maybe a few ounces, for travel it seems like a plastic zip is absolutely the way to go (packs away easily, harder to bend or fuck up if it has heavy crap piled on it in the cargo hold, more flexible, and 6-700 pounds lighter).
For my part, for whatever it is or isn't worth... I prefer metal.
It's damned nice to have Zero Gravity right around the corner to turn around a drysuit (even talking about a zipper or a boot replacement) in only a day or two. But day-to-day, I'd rather just stay dry.
Because I'm not a zen master. I can't just let the entropic nature of the universe roll over and past me in such a way that I bend like a willow or whateverthefuck.
When I've got a soggy arm or leg or torso... it's all I can bloody well think about that I'm going to have to wring out a sock or a sleeve and that an appendage is going to be all pruny and cold.
Might as well just dive wet.
Like an idiot.