We talked in the previous section about some of the hazards you might face and how you can learn to "Safely" work with, or around some of those obstacles while Diving for Abalone here on the Northern California Coast. We continue in this section by helping you expand on your knowledge in regard to the proper selection of the Abalone Diving Gear you'll need to help ensure that all your Abalone Diving Adventures are Fun, Safe, and Successful.
One of the most important aspects of Diving for Abalone in the Pacific Ocean along the North Coast is choosing the "Right" Gear.
Sure, you could probably get by with just about anything that will insulate you from the water, but if it's anything less than 7 mil thickness, is very uncomfortable for you, or doesn't fit right, you won't be able to stay in the water for very long. The water up here is pretty darn cold, and anything more than a few minutes of unprotected exposure to it will leave you headed for the nearest warm spot you can find. And if you aren't already beyond the beginning stages of Hypothermia, you'll spend the rest of your day wishing you'd gone the extra mile, spent a few extra dollars, and gotten the right gear in the first place!
So if you are ready, we'll now give you a list of the essential gear we think you should have to safely and comfortably Dive for Abalone. One important thing to mention here, especially if you have never been Diving for Abalone before, is that you can always start out with Rental Gear from one of the local Dive shops at a reasonably fair cost. Just be sure you call ahead to verify that they have it available. The Rental Shops do a really brisk business on the weekends during Abalone Season, and if you are too late, you'll be stuck on shore. But if the tide is low enough you can always try roughing out a limit of Abs Rock Picking in your Jeans and Tennis Shoes.
Having a good warm wetsuit is important, but if you back it up with cheapo Boots and/or Gloves, you're kind of defeating the purpose. Keeping your hands and feet warm will ensure that you won't need to get out of the water until you are darned good and ready to.
Just as important as all of the gear we've already talked about, a really good Dive Mask, a top-notch Snorkel that won't have you choking on Sea Water every time you stick your head in the water, a good Weight Belt, and Diving Fins that will propel you down to the bottom and back quickly will just about round out your full set of Abalone Diving Gear.
The only other items you'll need (which regretfully at this point in time we are not able to provide a good on-line resource for) are an Abalone Iron, a Measuring Gauge, and a good Float Tube. You shouldn't have any trouble finding all of these things at any local sporting goods supply store along the North Coast.
If you've been looking around at how much it's going to cost you to get completely set up with all the right Abalone Diving Gear, you can see that it won't come cheap. You'll most likely be invested to the tune of around four to six hundred dollars before you are done. But if you've done your research, followed our recommedations, and chosen the proper equipment, you'll be set for quite awhile. That's one reason we so highly recommend getting the "Right" stuff in the first place. Once you've got everything you need, the only money you'll spend on a season of Diving Trips is the cost of your Fishing License, an Abalone Punch Card and Tags, and whatever it takes you for food & gas. And believe it when we tell you that once you start Abalone Diving, you'll want to go as often as you can!
You can shop around a bit and find pretty much anything you need on many reputable Outdoor Supply websites on the internet (avoid the Surfer Supply sites though because most of their stuff is more suited for the Southern California Crowd). You can also visit a local sporting goods supply store, and maybe they can get you suited up properly. You'll also want to keep an eye out in the classified ads or yard sales around any coastal town for some real bargains. But since you're here already, you should check out the gear we recommend from the leisurepro Diving Gear Supply Website (a very reputable Diving Supply Store with which we have an affiliate relationship). You'll know that you are getting the "Right" gear you need because we have already checked it out and made our recommendations. Ultimately, you'll end up being much better prepared for the "Extreme" conditions that exist here on the north coast.