How long do you think your scuba fins should last? With proper care and maintenance you’ll use one pair of fins for many years of diving, right?
When you do a lot of salt water diving you must rinse your fins after each dive to get rid of the salt residue that collects. That’s good advice for every piece of your scuba gear of course.
That salt tends to eat at the materials and if you don’t keep it rinsed off your gear won’t last long.
Other things that attack the material of your fins are high temperatures – like when you leave them laying in the direct sunlight.
Or you stick them in the trunk of the car after a dive and leave them there through the summer. I understand that you want your stuff ready and waiting for the next dive. But it gets hot in that trunk.
Another sound bit of care is to make sure your equipment is completely dry before you store it away. Put it up wet, and you promote mildew – not a pleasant condition when you pull that gear out at the next dive site.
Your scuba gear always needs a cool, dry place to stay when you’re not diving.
Chemicals like oils and solvents eat at the material too. So be sure to keep that stuff away from your scuba fins, and if something like that does spill on them clean them off fast.
Always store your fins flat so they don’t warp. You don’t want weird bends and turns in the blades. That plays havoc with your propulsion.
Those steps for care and maintenance of your fins seem almost common sense (although they’re steps we sometimes neglect, even though we know darn well our fins suffer damage when we don’t take them).
Most of the time all we need to keep up with on a fin is the strap (for open heel fins). In tightening, and loosening, the straps start wearing out over time. Sometimes they stretch beyond use, sometimes they break.
Either way, you’ll replace them.
But have you ever run into a situation where the boots became all broken and cracked?
Now I grant you, these fins were around twenty years old. I didn’t dive with them anymore. But my grandson did. I gave them to him when he took his open water certification. The fins were right at fifteen years old at that time, and the splits in the boots happened about 5 years after that.
I believe he stores his scuba gear in a closet, and he doesn’t dive often because he lives in an area of Kentucky that doesn’t have a convenient dive quarry. He’s not had an opportunity to visit the ocean yet so he has no idea what’s waiting for him there.
I suspect this damage comes from dry rot and age. Heat may be part of the cause since at one time he kept the gear in a storage shed with no climatic controls of any kind.
Are these fins still usable? I think so, but I doubt they’re repairable. Maybe we could use a rubber weld/glue to seal the splits. But in my opinion, these boots would then split in another spot.
As a temporary action to make them usable my grandson can wrap the boots with masking tape, or electricians tape. Since he dives no more often than he does that patch job will probably last him quite a while.
But when he does get into serious diving like his old grandpa he’ll want a new pair of scuba fins.