When it comes to seeing some of the worst when it comes to dive gear, Kel has seen it all. As store owner of St George Underwater Centre, Kel has serviced it all as well. We sat down with Kel to see what some of the worst offenders are…and how you can avoid them.
How long have you been a recreational SCUBA equipment service technician?
I’ve been a service tech for around 25 years and a Coltri-SUB compressor technician for 6 years.
What brands are you trained in at St George Underwater Centre?
Here at the centre we service recreational Scubapro, UWATEC, Mares, Oceanic, Apollo, Tusa, Dacor, Poseidon and Aqualung equipment. We are also a service and sales centre for Poseidon rebreathers and Coltri-SUB compressors. St George Underwater Centre also service military SCUBA equipment, Breathing Aparatus and we also service UPD (Underwater Propulsion Devices) or Scooters for brands such as Apollo. Myself and the staff here at the centre regularly update our training to ensure we are aware and able to assist with all types of gear.
What are some of the most common problems that you come across when a customer brings in their gear for service?
The one thing we often find is a lack of maintainence; when customers bring in gear that has not been washed properly and has sat with salt water inside for months, when dust caps have not been used or if they have, they have been covered in salt water, things like that. Not many people know about the importance of getting all of the salt water out of your regulator and BCD. We commonly come across is salt water corrosion which is very damaging to your equipment.
Another issue we frequently come across with new divers is when they have allowed their occy to drag in sand and of course, jam the inside with broken shells and sand. Keeping your gear in your personal triangle of your chest will avoid this one.
What do you suggest a diver do to keep their equipment in optimal diving condition?
Basically mainting your gear; keep it clean, keep it tidy and when you finish a dive, take the time to give it a good clean. Let your regulators soak, check their hoses and give them a good shake underwater to make sure no sand is stuck inside. The most important thing to do is the have your gear service every 12 months.
What is the importance of having your gear serviced annually?
Well, with certain brands you have a lifetime warranty if you have your gear service annually. But even if your gear hasn’t been used, or it is used frequently, your gear suffers wear, corrosion and orings will fail over time. We always recommend having your equipment serviced before going on a trip overseas to avoid any chance of your gear breaking down. Above all, a diver needs to remember that their equipment is life support for themselves and their buddy, and so having your gear serviced is very important.
Ever wondered who’s who in the zoo? We’re in the process of updating our website and have just post a new staff profile page. It’ll give you some insight into the faces you see around the shop and at dive sights.
We aim to be a friendly lot, so say g’day to a new face next time you see them.
Kel Bradley has owned and run St George Underwater Centre since April 2003. Anyone that has met him will know he’s a real character and usually speaks his mind.
Here’s a mini interview with Kel that hopefully tells you some things you may not know about Kel.
Where and when did you learn to dive?
First diving was commercial diving in Persian Gulf in 1975. I completed Padi open Water in 1990s.
Approximately how many dives have you done?
How often do you dive?
In Sydney every month, overseas as much as possible.
What’s your favourite dive location (anywhere in the world)?
Sipadan, Malaysia, due to the fish life and the remoteness.
What’s your favourite dive location around Sydney?
Oak Park for the ease of diving and the different type of diving that is there.
What do you enjoy most about diving?
The ease and access to great dive sites.
What do you enjoy least about diving?
The cold without my dry suit.
What do you enjoy most about teaching others to dive?
Seeing new students dive for the first time.
What do you enjoy least?
Having to dive places that are dirty.
What’s your favourite TV show?
What’s your favourite movie?
What’s your favourite food?
Any roast that Sue (Kel’s wife) cooks.
What’s your favourite drink?
If you have been away with me you would know it is beer.