Monday, March 24, 2008

The hunt for wetsuit, flippers and all

Deciding it wasnt worthwhile heading to Eypt all the way from Sydney, so instead I voted for touring internally within Australia to take advantage of the domestic travel logistics. Its cheaper for flights and we can reduce air travel time, which in turns means covering more areas.

Great Barrier Reefs in Cairns was quickly decided since that was the only eastern side of Australia we had both left to explore. Considering all the eco damage going round the world which we are interconnected with, and despite all the best effort by the Australians; I didnt know how much time before our pristine coral reefs will lose to the assault by (us) human's inability to reduce pollution and see beyond dollars and cents.

As we started to chart the plan, we decided to throw Northern Territory - Uluru (Ayers Rock) into our agenda as well. We had both always talked about it but the inhospitable summer heat had always been a serious hinder. Hence, taking advantage of the shoulder transition from cool summer to autumn this year, we challenged ourselves to bring along our hiking shoes, cold wear together with our sunny beach tops, snorkelling flippers and gear.

We spent 2 good weekends driving around looking for a suitable wetsuit. They are seriously limited in Sydney. It is surprising that Singapore actually have much much much more brands and specialised shops than here, not to mention CHEAPER. I checked out Scuba Pro but their wetsuit fitted me terribly round the neck. The cut was not meant for slim Asian with shorter limbs and narrower neck....

In Sydney, plenty of surfing board apparels but wetsuit, not much. It was one disappointment after another when i saw the assortment. There were plenty of scuba dive but i needed a 3mm and most on sale were 5mm and above. So it was an utter bid of desperation that my husband finally agreed to take my advice and head to Rip Curl, which he had always deem as a fashion store than a specialised store.

The first Rip Curl in city had only the new E3 bomber range. You cannot imagine how freaking hot it was to put on the "batsuit" gear under a spot light in the changing room, and no aircon in the store. As u can understand, a wetsuit is suppose to keep u snug and warm. Under those conditions, I was roasting in less than 2 mins and the suit werent exactly easy to slip into. While i was mighty impressed by the new material, the form didnt fit. And i wasnt going to pay A$600 for an expensive ill fitting suit. So we decided to head to Bondi since I figure there should be hope being near all the beach activities and actions.

Luckily for us, the Rip curl in Bondi had the old E bomber series and I found one that fit!!! Talk about miracle, not to mention a much cheaper one at A$300++.

We headed back to Bondi Junction and to my "speechless" discovery, there was actually one store right at the corner that carried an assortment of wetsuit brands from O'Neil to Ripcurl etc. They were older stuff of course but that would have suited me fine!! Since I had already gotten my wetsuit, I went ahead to grab an O'Neil board top instead of UV50SPF protection weaved into the fabric. I do not trust Australia Ozoneless sun. I do not intend to develop skin cancer from sun exposure here. And with the expected long hours in the sun, I think even walking around with that top would ease my worries. Plus, its light and quick dry, what better gear to pack for travel!

Grab a new sunscreen tube too and pray its effective. The guy looked like a someone who surfed and he swears by it and the sample seemed to be soaked in skin without grease (unlike the banana boat SPF 30 one), so I grabbed it in good faith. He looked too young to lie too just for a quick buck. Plus, it;s made in australia, the oz people should know something about protecting from sun i guess.

Last stop was Pro Dive in Bondi to grab our new flippers. The last trip to Tonga I had borrowed the wetsuit from YTze and rented the crappy flippers. So this time, I decided to stock up my own flippers since the last thing i needed was worrying about weird size and not able to swim around comfortably in the wide open sea.

The guy at Pro dive was EXCELLENT. I highly recommend anyone looking for diving stuff to come here. He knew his gears, easily estimated my size by visual inspection (a rare feat in sydney after trying 10 stores) and gave me the best advice for my Mares snorkelling mask which I complained that it fogged up alot and was looking for a good antifog gel. I didnt want to spit into my mask, and couldnt muster the courage to spit into it as well. Its just too digusting even though all divers swear it worked best. I simply refuse to believe (logically) that after decades of diving by people worldwide, no one would have invented a gel that works by now!!

He told me that all he had to do was to rubbed my mask with Jif (CIF), and rinsed it. It will remove the silicon coating on the inside which was meant to protect the glass during manufacturing. So without removing that layer, the glass will fog as we submersed into water no matter how much antifog gel is applied. Along with his advice, we bought a bottle of Sea Gold antifog gel for application before each dive and my beautiful clear Ccessi flippers streamed with yellow lines. Crickey am i excited or what! (DO NOT APPLY JiF theory to swimming googles as those lens are plastic and Jif will scratch it blur!)

And now, I am all set to travel. With my new Fuji camera tow in hand, let's hope for a beautiful well trip to great nature! Unfortunately my underwater camera is dead and so everything underwater will have to stay in my head this time!

PS: The sea gold antifog is excellent! It never fails to keep my mask pristine clear each dive. After 2 years on, I am still returning to it!


Ray said...

Hi, thanks for your story - I live in Sydney and am looking for a wetsuit at the moment so will take your experience into account!

"me-no-mad" said...

U are most welcome. hope it helped because i had the hardest time looking for a thin dive suit... good luck!