Today's blog is about fin preferences. I've noticed a little debate going on in the scuba community about whether or not split fins are the way to go. In case you don't know what a split fin is, I've included a photo. This is the Apollo Biofin, and it's the one I currently use. They're expensive - $200 according to the site. But I lucked out and bought a pair for much less from a friend who had never used them. So the first part of the discussion: I learned that these are not called "flippers" - believe me. People who take themselves seriously will NOT like it if you use the term flipper. It's a fin. To me, that's a little strange because when I think of a fin, I think of a dorsal fin - but then again, I'm a little shark-obsessed. So the split fin (as opposed to the more traditional fin - shown next) is cool because it creates little whirlwinds - like water tornadoes - in the split. This does a couple of things to say the least. I noticed that I swam much faster with much less effort. According to the Apollo website, it reduces muscle fatigue by 40%, increases speed, and increases air consumption. I had never thought about the air consumption issue! Of course - the less you strain or exert, the less air you consume. And as you know, you want to conserve air to make the dive last longer! If you want to see more about these fins, the website is http://www.apollosportusa.com/Products/Fins/Biofin_Pro.html
And - Apollo - if you're out there and you want to give me a free set of fins for saying such good stuff about you, just leave a comment and I'll get in touch. (Hey - it's worth a shot!)
But these cool Apollo fins were not the first fins I ever used. As you can see in my photos on earlier posts I used some really cheap ones for the first few dives. My first ones encased my whole foot, and I didn't have to wear boots. I thought that was a positive until I got my first blister on a dive because it was chafing the top of my foot as I was finning. Let me tell you something - blisters can ruin a dive! The salt hurts, the water hurts, and every time you kick your legs with a blister and your fin rubs your foot, it's agony! Well, maybe I have a low threshold, but I can tell you it's distracting at the very least! So what can you do??
First, in my experience, rubber flip flops (the ones with the piece that goes between the big and second toe) are just a bad idea for divers. The rubber chafes the top of the foot in humid weather. I have no idea why this happens - I'm in law school, not medical school after all. However, my favorite flip flops that I had worn for months suddenly became torture devices in the humidity of Maui. I think the moisture sticks to the rubber or something, causing friction. Naturally, getting salt and water on those blisters is terrible. Also, all rubber flip flops are just unsafe for being on a dive boat because they're too slick and unstable. One big surge and it's "Man overboard!" The best alternative I have found is a pair of Crocs. Divers were wearing these way before they became the latest rage for the under-5 set. Does anyone else have any suggestions?
But back to fins: The cheap fins feel fine when you first put them on, but the rubber surrounding your foot is exactly like the flip flop - moisture + rubber + skin = friction = blister. At least - for me, it does. So the first dive was ok, but when I was on my second - I wanted to leave those fins at the bottom! As you know, though, with all that gear on, there's no way you can swim very far without fins - they're absolutely essential! So the only answer I've found is using fin boots. They also make you feel like a superhero! Or maybe like a cat burglar. Either way, they cover your feet entirely, so no chance of a blister. The ones I wear are O'Neill and look like this.
So my problem with diving has been - false economy. I buy $15 flip flops and $30 fins thinking I'm going to save money. Then I get to a resort with tourist prices and have to buy $80 neoprene flip flops and $150+ fins and $40 boots because my cheap footwear is literally ruining the vacation. Therefore, I suggest that before you take a dive trip, do some research and get quality gear that will last, fit right, and be incredibly comfortable.
But as to the debate - split fins, regular fins, or anything else?
Looking forward to your thoughts!
Hugs and Fishes,