Non-functioning BCD results in a potentially rapid descent

Reported Story

A couple traveled outside the U.S. without their own equipment. Before renting, they visited the dive shop in advance to inspect the facilities and equipment. Both divers were impressed with the facilities; they had fairly new equipment, wetsuits, and accessories.

However, when the rented equipment were delivered to the boat, the divers found ripped BCDs, wetsuits of varying sizes and accessories all in one pile for each diver to go through. After equipment assembly, the man found his regulator leaking at the first stage attachment and his air gauge read zero. The woman also found her depth gauge not working. He was given a spare regulator and both entered the water. He immediately began to sink and found his BCD would not hold air. They aborted the dive and returned to the boat. He removed the shoulder purge valve and discovered the BCD was full of sand.


Some dive shops may not maintain their equipment well. The divers did their due diligence by inspecting the facilities and equipment in advance only to find the equipment they were given was not in working order. A pre-dive check found his leaking regulator but did not find that his BCD would not hold air. It also found her depth gauge not working but after a regulator and BCD swap the divers chose to enter the water anyway. This was not a wise decision.

Whenever possible, it is always best to take your own equipment that you know has been tested and maintained properly. If choosing to rent equipment, inspect it ahead of time, commit to a particular BCD, regulator, and wetsuit and take it with you from the dive shop. Prior to leaving, verify that all equipment is working properly. This is also true for accessories such as lights and cameras. Any questions should be addressed in advance. Never use equipment that you are not comfortable with and always use a pre-dive check list.

~ Lana P. Sorrell, EMT, DMT