A diver was shipwrecked up onto a lonely and tropical shore. As he stood up he noticed his hands were purple, he looked at his feet and they were purple, worriedly he unzipped his wetsuit and his chest and stomach were purple. With his head in his hands he cried, “Oh my God! I’ve been marooned!”
Yes, I know, as jokes go that one is awful but it does serve as an introduction to the topic of wetsuits.
Why do divers in warm tropical waters like ours, bother wearing a wetsuit? Not all of us do, some of us wear rashguards or even t-shirts but whatever we wear, they all serve, in varying degrees, the same purpose, exposure protection. This can be exposure from the sun, jellyfish, cold, coral and other hazards.
So now you have chosen to buy your own exposure suit, how to you choose the one that`s right for you? Think about what type of diving you are going to do. For example if you are a cave enthusiast, a basic neoprene 3mm wet suit will very quickly turn into a 3mm ripped rag. Similarly if your diving is going to be in tropical waters, a 7mm semi-dry may be a little excessive, so you may choose to dive in a rashguard, body suit or thin shorty wet suit. Whichever you choose, you should know how to care for it. After each use, rinse your suit in fresh water making sure that sand and any other gritty particles are swilled off. Periodically wash your suit in warm, water with a little dishwashing detergent added. If you can buy some antibacterial wet suit wash so much the better.
Never use hot water or put your wet suit or rashguard in a washing machine and never use bleach.
When drying your suit, turn it inside out and never dry it in direct sunlight and if you need to store it make sure it is completely dry then either hang it up using a wide shouldered clothes hanger or keep it lying flat.
A final tip to remember, particularly if you dive wearing a dive centre`s suit, never, ever, pee in it. Apart from being extremely unsanitary, you will be voted the day`s most unpopular diver and possibly incur an extra cleaning charge.