Do I require one?
Dive knives, which one is for me?
They come in all shapes and sizes. One can be overwhelmed with different designs, different metals, sizes and shapes. The question may arise, “do I really need a dive knife as part of my scuba kit?” Diving on Gozo, this tool can always come in handy for many different things.
Let us take a look at why we should carry a knife.
A diver knife is there, first and foremost to help you if you get caught up in a fishing net, line, kelp or seaweed. Think of your underwater environment and where you will be going to dive. If you participate in cavern dives in Xlendi bay or wreck dives in Xatt L’ahmar or Comino, technical dives and dives around harbours, I would definitely take the decision to carry a knife.
It is a personal decision and the diver knife should never be used as a weapon underwater or above water. Even if you do not participate in any of the above-mentioned dives, you never know when you might need one. Your buddy may need help underwater, or you might require a dive knife at the surface to cut something while you prepare for a dive. It can’t hurt to carry one for the unlikely event.
Choices of knifes
If you think first about the type of scuba diving you do and what basic features do you require? This will help you narrow down the choices that are out there in abundance. Some dive sites on Gozo are quite remote, in Ras Il Hobz, for example, there are no nearby shops or amenities to buy tools so often a dive knife will come in handy instead.
If you are new to recreational diving, a huge knife is not ideal to start out with. For basic open water scuba a small, compact knife should be sufficient for your needs. Remember, it is an emergency tool only. A standard blade of 4 inches should be ample for normal use. If you decide to go smaller in size, make sure you can grip the knife handle securely. Remember, if you dive with gloves, a gloved hand requires more hand-space than without a glove.
Consider this factor carefully. You can purchase both pointed and blunt-tipped knives. Pointed knives are good for prying things apart on shore, but be aware of damage to your dive equipment. Blunt tipped knives are useful for recreational standard dives and are adequate for most diver needs. The blade comes in a variety of designs. You can have a serrated edge, straight-edge or a double-sided edge. Again, think carefully about what you will use it for and what type of diving you participate in?
Serrated edges often stay sharp longer, and will cut through most material, including tough objects. As a diver tool to cut fishing line, straight-edged ones are good, but be careful that the blade does not run down the fishing line. With the serrated edge, the line will snag between the teeth of the blade. Straight edge blades are easier to sharpen when they become blunt from salt water. Double-edged blades may have a serrated side and a line cutter with a straight blade. Remember here, both sides are sharp, so caution is needed.
These type of knives are the high- end choice for divers. They deliver top quality, but with a higher price tag than their stainless steel counterparts. Titanium diver knives are low maintenance and hold their sharp edge well. They do not contain carbon, therefore they do not rust. The metal is hard in consistency, so therefore it is a little harder to sharpen if required.
These usually come in either 300 series or 400 series alloys. The knife with the lowest number will be more rust resistant than the higher numbered one. There is a trade-off here, the low numbered knife rusts less, but is always harder to keep a sharp edge. All stainless steel knives have a certain amount of carbon content. They will all corrode to a certain degree – some less quick, others quickly. This is due to the above-mentioned carbon content, but carbon gives the dive knives strength. Stainless steel knives require more maintenance as Titanium knives. After diving in Gozo, in salt water, you should wash the knife in fresh water immediately after use and grease the blade to help prevent rust.
Where to carry the knife?
Before you buy a knife, decide where or what you want to attach it too. You see knives been carried on the BCD, on the inside, lower leg or on the BCD inflator. If you plan to put it on your BCD, make sure you do not hinder your pocket usage. A blunt tipped knife would be best here, so you do not puncture your BCD bladder by mistake. A small to medium knife is the correct size on a BCD, large knives are too big. When it is permanently attached you will not forget to take it with you. Some divers attach them to the inflator. It makes the inflator heavy and can be tricky if you need to remove your inflator hose in an emergency. Some X-small and small BCDs have relatively short inflator hoses, so check that you have enough space to place a knife there. A common place to carry a diver knife is the inside, lower leg, opposite to the diver’s dominant hand. This position is often criticised as an entanglement risk and it may often become snagged on the underwater environment.
Folding knives or cutting tools
These are much smaller than a standard knife and will fit in the BCD pocket. Some cutting tools will attach to your weight belt and are carried in a sheath. These can be extremely sharp, so be aware of cutting yourself. Folding knives come in both titanium and stainless steel. They are small and practical and can be fixed inside the BCD pocket via a lanyard and double ender clip.
Which-ever version you choose, be careful when you remove it from its sheath. If you drop the knife it will sink. A double-edged knife is sharp on both sides, serrated edges will also cut your hands and gloves. When you replace your knife which might be attached to the BCD side pocket, precaution should be taken not to puncture the BCD.
Sheath your diver knife at all times and replace it back into its sheath immediately after use.
Come and join us for a dive at the famous Blue Hole on Gozo, right on our doorstep!
The Dive Smart Gozo Team