When I started my Divemaster Internship in Tenerife, we were required to have a dive knife, which is in on the required kit list for any dive professional.
I have the same knife I had received as part of my first set of kit three years before, a blunt knife that had a line cutter integrated in to it. This was considered to be unacceptable for the course and I was asked to purchase a very large knife, a Scubapro K5 to be exact. This was to go Long Black Spiny Sea Urchin culling, as an invasive species I could understand this need though it is still not something that I enjoyed or even partook in.
I no longer own the Scubapro K5. There is no reason for my to have this knife. Instead I take my trusty blunt knife with a line cutter in its sheath with me on dives. Why even carry a knife? Increasingly I find plastics and fishing line with me on dives. Not in the quarries that we train in, but I like wreck diving and fishermen LOVE fishing wrecks. Monofilament line is invisible, often used for arts projects and displays because of this property.
Now imagine that you are swimming along a wreck, perhaps behind your buddy. Your buddy is an avid photographer and focused on getting a good picture. Before the dive, you talked about the shots that they wanted, maybe it was the six guns of the SMS Markgraaf. As the buddy, you are now looking for whatever picture your buddy may have missed. You may be swimming at slightly different depths in order to cover more ground. Your buddy a bit deeper swam under monofilament line, you were not so lucky*. Now you find yourself tangled in the line, attached to the wreck, what can you do?
This is why I keep my trusty line cutter with me. I hope to never need to use it, but being able to rescue myself in these situations or rescue my buddy means that there is less damage to the sensitive marine environment because of thrashing about trying to untangle yourself.
There are many line cutter options available, and different ways of attaching them to your equipment. Talk to your friendly local dive centre and even amongst their staff you will probably find many options and preferences. Remember from your training, you need at least one cutting device and it needs to be able to be easily accessed by either hand.
*the only part of this that is true is swimming along the SMS Markgraaf looking for those six guns, no instructors were harmed in this process*
Written by Bridget Weid, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer
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