My very first bouyancy compensator was a Sherwood Genesis. It was an entry level BC that I picked up at a dive shop sale in the early 90's...the same sale my Oasis came from. I admit my purchase was motivated by cost...low cost. Not to say the Genesis is cheap, but it was a basic bouyancy compensator. No frills here. I tried to find a picture of that good old BC and managed to track down a photo of the red version. My BC, however, was a beautiful shimmering definitely had style. I liked that blue color a lot. The Genesis did it's job well. Never a problem. My challenge with the Genesis was all that was baggy. I mean...just look at it...that's a whole of jacket to wear. The BC was so generous in nylon because it housed such a large air cell. No shortage of lift here. If you ever wanted to bob around the ocean with your head completely above the water, just fully inflate this balloon. I dove my Genesis for several years, and on about 1993 I wanted something just a little smaller. I was diving a drysuit in the colder waters off the Oregon Coast and was wrapped up in too much material. I happened to be working a the local dive shop at the time when US Divers released their Calypso BC. The owner of the shop took a liking to it and decided to carry it as a stock item. I took one out for a test dive and absolutely loved it. I tend to be a minimalist and the Calypso seemed a perfect fit. The BC provided enough lift to keep me at the surface, and provided more than enough lift when coupled with a slight inflation of the drysuit. The pockets were substantially smaller than the Calypso and the adjustable shoulder straps are hidden away below a smooth cover of nylon fabric. No "D" rings flopping around, no buckles, no straps, just clean surfaces and velcro belt. The Calypso fit like a glove...and still does. I have dove my Calypso with passion since 1994...yeah it's that old. Not only is it old, but it's been brutally used. I'm not intentially rough with gear, but that BC has been on hundreds and hundreds of dives for more than 20 years. It's been tossed around boats, stepped on, rubbed against rocks, sandblasted on beach dives, and sunbleached for countless hours while boat diving under blue skies. My Calypso is the pinnacle of comfort. And comfort is critical for safety. The nylon fabric is scuffed but strong, and the air cell has never leaked or been punctured. However, the equipment has worn over the years. Roughly 15 years ago the velcro failed on the belt, so I found a seamstress to sew a large buckle directly on the waistband flaps. I can lock it down tight when I gear up for a dive. I think it was 10 years ago when the nylon tank strap finally lost elasticity and had to be replaced. About 8 years ago the inflator hose failed to the point that I had to replace the entire unit. The part was no longer available. I asked my trusted local dive shop guy "What can I do?". His reply was short and honest "Buy a new BC". The shocked look in my face was obvious "What!?...No, no, no...this BC is like my baby. Until I inflate her one day, and she blows apart, and I can't patch her back together with Aquaseal, I have to keep her going. You got to help me.." My trusted dive guy weighed the anguish in my eyes. I think he understood the deep sentimental attachment to this worn out jacket. "Well, we do have a box of inflator hoses that we have collected over the years. I'm sure we can find one that will work." We got my Calypso working again in short order. About 5 years ago I decided to convert the pockets into an integrated weight system. I don't know why a BC has pockets anyway. Have you ever tried to use those pockets? Tried looking down to make sure you BC pocket is closed after slipping in that cool seashell you just found. Not to mention trying to use them with neoprene dive gloves. If you need a pocket for anything, just carry a goodie bag. So, my Calypso has these small pockets (that I have never used), and I dive an old school weight belt...standard 2 inch nylon webbing with poly coated lead weights held in place by little plastic keepers. So I thought...hmmm...maybe I could take 6 or 8 pounds off my belt by using my BC pockets. Well, it did not take long for me to build a retention system inside the pockets and move 8 pounds up to the BC. Wow, 8 pounds off the belt makes a huge difference in comort. My integrated weights are not quick release but are tied down pretty good. The BC is heavier, but it's a small price to pay for the lighter load around my waist. Yep, I love my Calypso. She has taken care of me for a long time, and I'm pretty sure she will keep going for a lot longer.
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