Lost & Found Dive Gear 101

I lost one of my favorite pieces of gear the other night, my Sola 1200 dive light!!!! I never dive without this little goody. It just fits right on the back of my hand and I use it to look in pukas during the day, to guide me at night, and it also often doubles as a strobe or video light for my camera. On my most recent night dive, I had attached it to my strobe to use as a focus light.

Actually, I had not even realized that it was missing yet when someone called me the next morning to tell me they’d found it! “Hello, is there a Domingo there?” (I put my last name and phone number on just about everything). “Ummmm, yes, this is Rachel…” “I just found your light at the beach”. My mind did some frantic figuring…what the heck was this lady talking about? What light? But there could be only one light – my Sola!

Ten minutes later, it was back in my possession.

Is that one of the best stories ever, or what?!!

The moral of the story here? Label your dive gear! Yes, just like your mommy labeled your stuff for you when you were little, label your own stuff now that you’re a big kid. Hmmmm…although I’m not sure how I would ever have lost some of the stuff she labeled, but still!

There are lots of great ways to label your gear, from the subtle to the obvious. Available products include paint markers and “scuba goop” (we use this on our wetsuits), and even silver sharpies! When you label your stuff though, you need to think about what you hope to achieve with your method of labeling.

Are you marking your gear simply to keep your black Apollo Bio Fins separate from everyone else’s on the boat? I know people who have walked off with one of theirs and one of someone else’s. Believe me, when this happens to you, you never take two of the same size! Anyway, if this is your goal, something as simple as a colored stripe, a cable tie, a symbol of some sort, or an initial or two will work. My dive buddy Christine has “tattood” the back of her BCD with this pretty hibiscus design. Rob Zombie of the Maui Diamond II simply writes “Rob” on everything, and my friend Kris put some kind of turquoise adhesive on each piece of his equipment. Divers Ed and Judy re-colored the Aqualung logos on their BCD’s with a color combo unique to their gear.

You may also be labeling so that something that is lost can be returned to you once it’s found. If this is the case, better make sure you get your phone number or at least full name on the item. For me, this means that all of my dive lights and camera equipment have my name and phone number on them. If I lose a lens or camera (or a light), I want them back! One more tip: relabel as necessary. Most labeling products fade or smudge over time, so it’s really important to make sure that you don’t create a “finders-keepers” scenario because someone can’t read your info.

Working in the dive shop, I often chat with divers who have lost items (weights and weight pockets seem to be the most common). When you lose or leave behind a piece of rental gear, you get to pay for it, and that’s what happens in these situations. However, I cannot tell you how often we end up refunding people we’ve charged for lost gear. More often than not, another diver returns a lost item to the shop a day or two later…because it was labeled – woo hoo!

So for all you folks out there who think people never return things, think again. Remember, I just got my $699 dive light back (whew! And p.s. I did lay some “reward” money on that nice lady). Now, has anyone found the mask I just lost? I confess it wasn’t labeled!

Aloha, Rachel

p.s. I’d love to hear YOUR lost and found stories – post them below in the comments section!