What’s in My Dive Bag: Stuart Cove

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Image from Shark Shootout, 2013. An underwater photo event hosted by Stephen Frink and Stuart Cove on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama.

Stuart Cove is one of the biggest names in the dive community, famous for underwater stunt work on films such as “Into the Blue” and “Casino Royale.” He’s also the force behind one of the Caribbean’s most popular dive shops: Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas on the island of New Providence.

Do you have a favorite wetsuit?

I have never really been a fan of wetsuits, as I prefer the feel of water on my bare skin. However, if it’s cold I don one of the Stuart Cove’s Aqualung rental wetsuits, which are 5mm on the body, and 3mm on the arms and legs. The thickness provides enough protection for the Bahamian winter, yet allows flexibility.

What about masks? Have a favorite?

I am very partial to Aqualung masks. I scuba dive in an Aqualung Impression. It meets my biggest criteria: comfort and free from fogging. Plus, because I am also on camera frequently, it is critical that my masks are clear to allow light on my face.

Which are your favorite fins and why?

I have two sets of fins, one for scuba diving and the other for freediving. They are designed differently for different purposes. My scuba fins are Aqualung Stratos. They’re a good length and thick enough where I get great propulsion, either by frog kicking or the conventional scuba kick.

For freediving, I use Omer Stingray Carbon 25 fins. These fins are slightly longer, narrower and have much greater flexibility then my scuba fins. The carbon fiber allows for a strong, streamlined movement through the water.

STUART_GEAR

When you go out freediving, what do you typically bring?

No matter where I freedive, I always have a buddy, and we pull along a float, clearly marked with a dive flag. The float is big enough where we can take along a couple bottles of water, and hang onto it for rest. We never know how long we will be floating around.

Is there any other freediving gear that you’re partial to?

I freedive with a low-profile Omer mask — the Silicone Mystic Camu 3D — and a Silicone Breeze 3D Camu snorkel. The low-profile mask makes it easier to clear when descending and is small enough on my face that it doesn’t get in the way. This also applies to the wetsuit. I like to be flexible and minimal. But, because I spend hours in the water, I do need a protective layer. The Omer Reef Camu 1.5 suit works. Finally, I use a rubber weight belt with low-profile weights. You need that extra bit of weight to get down underwater and stay there comfortably. The rubber prevents the weight belt from slipping off my hips, keeping the weight where I want it.

Which dive computer do you use? Why? And is there a particular feature about it that you like?

I use the Suunto D6. Most of my diving career we would fly as D-group divers, provided there was a four-hour surface interval. That all changed in 1992. I suppose as a diving community we have aged, and the powers that be figured we better get safer. Most of the computers designed for today’s divers are way too conservative for my diving. 

Do you have any pre-dive rituals?

I like to be streamlined when diving, so I make sure the gear I wear is as simple as possible, with every hose clipped in place and tucked away.

Do you have a particular post-dive snack that you favor and always keep on the dive boat?

I am always ravenous after diving, and like to have a couple peanut-butter-and-jam sandwiches ready, with plenty of water.

Do you have any other must-have items for diving?

I always take a towel and good windbreaker. I do not like to get cold after diving, particularly in the winter.