Traveling with Three Fins
This Diver's "Save-a-Dive Kit" Includes a Spare Fin
We've all heard about "save-a-dive" kits containing a spare mask strap, O-rings, zip ties, duct tape, silicone, multi-purpose tool, and batteries. My "kit" includes a third fin.
Many divers carry “save-a-dive kits” for help with last-minute equipment problems. Some divers go so far as to carry a backup mask or a regulator set. I carry a spare fin.
Sounds strange? No, I don’t have three feet, just like those other divers don’t have two faces for their backup mask or a second mouth for their extra regulator. My feet and fins are a big concern for me… In addition to wearing size 14–15 shoes, but there are other factors in play here. My history with fins is not terrific.
Maybe it was the torn foot pocket in Kauai or the runaway fin that drowned in the Red Sea. Regardless of the cause, when you have unusually large feet, the decision for me was an easy one: Travel with three fins.
The first incident was while diving the island of Kauai, Hawaii. I was wearing a set of modular fins when one foot pocket suffered a catastrophic tear rendering the fin useless. A panicked phone call to the manufacturer and a replacement was on the way, but what to do in the meantime? It was Crystal Clear Gorilla Tape to the rescue! I wrapped that destroyed foot pocket up like a mummy and that Gorilla Tape—which promises to work underwater—worked great. The following day with new fin in hand, I was back in business. Then there was the Egypt trip…
While diving a Red Sea liveaboard, I was the last diver of our group to board our inflatable boat. As I was preparing to board, I handed up my BCD first, then one fin … or that is what I hoped. The current got the best of me and my fin drifted away and down just out of my reach.
Not being a particularly heavy piece of gear, that ForceFin floated like a feather, slowly drifting downward in the water column. I knew the matter was urgent. Equipped with a single fin, I yelled for the crew to send my BCD back in the water. I tried desperately to descend as quickly as possible, but my ears were not cooperating. I made it to about 18 inches from that errant fin, but the pressure on my ears was just too great. Fearing significant ear trauma and the possibility of losing out on the remainder of my two-week liveaboard trip, I terminated the pursuit, and watched hopelessly as my fin drifted into the abyss. We were in blue water and depths were in the hundreds of feet.
What now? With feet that require size 14 clompers, most extra-large (XL) fins just don’t fit, and finding extra-extra-large (XXL) fins while on holiday can be difficult at best. A buddy on the same trip graciously lent me his fins for the remainder of the trip and he suffered through with a pair of rental fins. That friend literally saved my trip.
So the moral of my story is: When you have unusual requirements for any type of equipment, take a full backup, even if that means traveling with three fins. For local diving with its limited depths, the possibility of a runaway fin is highly unlikely, so my third fin packing rule is generally relegated to diving away from my home port.