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Neale Byart ( Yachting Monthly Magazine Editor) tries an all integrated scuba diving system – C-Pro, designed to help sailors, boat owners and about anybody who undergoes some form of underwater work such as free props, scrub hulls and set anchors.
There are numerous models available from Microdive Company, but the C-Pro is aimed at yachtsmen. The beauty of the kit is in its packaging. Conventional scuba gear is bulky, but the C-Pro rucksack contains the lot – air bottle, buoyancy control device, regulator, air gauge and all connectors. It doesn’t come with a depth gauge though, but it can be purchased as a separate upgrade (the reason behind the kit not being supplied with a depth gauge is due to the minimalistic purpose of use of the C-Pro. It is most suitable for the person who only wants to be down at a couple of metres depth, in a very controlled evironment and for a limited time only).
While there are other products on the market aimed at shallow-water use, the C-Pro standard stands out as it has a buoyancy control device (BCD). This is an important piece of safety kit, without which the weight of the other gear could pull you under. My C-Pro came with a 5 litre tank, which should be good for 30-40 minutes of shallow water diving, after which you’ll need to take it to a dive shop to get it refilled at a cost of about £2. The kit weighs around 13kg, so while not exactly light it’s a featherweight compared to conventional scuba gear.
The C-Pro package in total costs about £120 less than conventional scuba gear. Its compact size makes it easier to stow on a boat, but like any dive gear it does need careful stowage and regular maintenance to ensure it remains serviceable when you need it. The C--Pro is easy to travel with, and if you’re chartering in warmer climes, the rucksack containing your regulator and hoses can double up as hand luggage, while the empty air tank (with valve removed) can go in your check-in luggage.
You will need extra gear: wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins, a weight belt and some weights to overcome your natural buoyancy. I needed around 10kg to overcome my buoyancy in a 3mm wetsuit.
Overall, it is a beautiful, light and purpose specific scuba equipment that can add-up to any boat owner's safety list, just in-case. Although, if you fancy a larger cylinder, Microdive Company do other models that can accomodate a 10 or 12 ltrs with the option of 232 and 300 Bar of air.