These days when you buy something you don’t expect it to last, as we have become a throw away society and even though the movement towards a more sustainable planet is well underway, purchases still have a limited lifespan.
Meet my husbands pride and joy and most trusted companion for over 37 years, his US Diver Aqualung wetsuit. First purchased as an insurance claim when a group of mates had all of their scuba gear stolen from Mahia Beach one summer in the early 80’s.
The owner of the local dive shop advised him that the 7mm two piece wetsuit was of the highest quality and designed and used by the legendary marine explorer, conservationist and coinventor of the Aqua-lung, Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910 – 1997).
The AquaLung company’s latest model of the wetsuit is now called Aquaflex which is a one piece suit designed for stretch, warmth and durability.
Durability has been the key for the suit P has and it has certainly lived up to the sales pitch all those years ago. This amazing wetsuit has served him well, he wore it with pride from the first day telling everyone of it’s origins. Originally he used it when scuba diving with mates exploring reefs and wrecks in search of crayfish or spear fishing however as time went on the tanks gave way to snorkelling for paua and crayfish amongst the many rocks exposed at low tide around the local beaches. P has a keen eye for where the paua are and always manages to come home with his quota.
As the US diver suit started to fade so to did the amount of mates that were still diving so our children became apprentice paua gathers. P spent many hours showing them how to identify and locate the shellfish and expertly remove them from their grip on the rocks safely. The lessons extended to include how to deshell and prepare the paua for eating whilst the wetsuit lay drying awaiting its next dive.
Many times over the years he considered retiring the suit but somehow the replacements were offered to friends and he still chose the US diver.
Now it is time for the next generation to become his apprentice with our nine year old grandson snorkelling close to Pops and learning the skills of how to find paua, not yet strong enough to be able to remove the crustaceans but enjoying the adventure all the same.
The suit is now very faded, with a chunk out of one knee and a tear at the neck but still this amazing relic of design and quality is going well, much like the diver inside. Every year we joke about which one of them will last in the water longer but neither are showing signs of giving up just yet. Nothing beats quality.