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April 2006 Vol. 32, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Emergency Wet/Dry Suit Repair

from the April, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Five days before I was to depart for La Paz and the Sea of Cortez, I washed my wet suit and left it in the sun to dry. My dog Petey chewed off part of the zipper.

It’s not easy finding overnight wet suit repair, but I found Diane Berkheimer and Blown Out Wetsuit Repairs in Santa Cruz. I called Tuesday afternoon; she said to overnight it and I’d get it back Friday morning. It sounded like a $20 repair, plus shipping. Away it went, and the next day she called to say the zipper needed replacement — an extra $20 (plus the overnight return fee) — but she could still get it to me the next day. She was true to her word and I went diving warm.

Take your suit to a local dive shop and it goes on a 2-3 week journey. But there are folks who can help you in a pinch. Using an overnight service — and paying a premium to expedite the return — you can get your repaired suit back two or three days after you send it.

Even new suits can sometimes be “customized” with minor alterations. You can cut down an oversized wet suit, but what about that persistent “shrinking” problem we often notice when we first struggle into our suits after a long layoff? Neoprene air cells collapse because of aging, making suits stiffer and harder to don, and some shops discourage enlarging too-tight suits. With nearly all wet suits being fabricated offshore, matching rubber and linings can be difficult (especially for proprietary materials such as Henderson’s Hyperstretch®). And don’t expect overnight treatment for a substantial alternation unless you can offer big bucks, and even that may not be enough.

Diane of Blown Out Wetsuit Repairs works on suits no thicker than 5mm and farms out larger jobs to the popular and well-regarded Cricket Justice, who runs Otter Bay Wet Suits in Monterrey, CA. Cricket can handle all repairs and alterations “within reason” for most suits on the market. She too could have handled the quick repair I needed in October. As an example of their rates, they charge $55 to replace a wet suit top zipper, $325 for a drysuit zipper. The charge may differ from the quote once they inspect the suit.

Sea Me Repair in San Diego is a popular facility recommended recommended, along with three other Southern California facilities, on the Divers Discount website (diversdiscount. com/resources/repair_info.asp). The site also lists links to manufacturers that accept repairs, including Bare, Body Glove, Harvey’s, Henderson, O’Neill, and Parkway, among others.

Sea Me proprietor Karen Gray says pockets, zippers, relief zippers, and hole repairs are common assignments. (She says many wet suit holes are caused by divers sitting on boat cleats.) She charges $19.50 to replace a zipper slider, $45 for a new zipper; body modifications go for $60-$150, and she’ll tell you if it more cost effective to buy a new suit.

The folks at Stitchlines (Englewood, CO) told us rush work is double the charge. “We work on a first come first serve basis. I do understand last minutes do happen; however, their urgency is not my emergency.” That said, I’d suggest trying others first. Superior Diving Repair in Brainerd, MN, offers “rush” service for $50. Terrapin Wetsuits (New Braunfels, TX) offers 48- hour turnaround time for $20 extra and 24-hour turnaround time for $30. Rush jobs are anything less than two weeks at Diver’s Cove in Essex, CA. Cost is $50.

Below, we’ve listed outfits that provide overnight wet suit repair. Be explicit; ask how much more you need to pay to guarantee a return when you need it. If the shop can’t meet your deadline or is uncertain, keep looking. And don’t send a damp wet suit.

– Ben Davison

Blown Out Wetsuit Repair
3055 Portola Drive
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Diver’s Cove & Sea Wolf II
7 Essex Plaza
Essex, CT 06426 1- 860-767-1960

Superior Diving Repair, Inc.
712 Washington St.
Brainerd, MN 56401

Sea Me Repair
4352 Poplar Street
San Diego, CA
1-619 563-9033

3750 S. Broadway
Englewood, CO 80113

Terrapin Wet Suits
1268 Ponderosa Dr.
New Braunfels, TX 78132

Otter Bay Wetsuits
207 Hoffman Ave
Monterey, CA 93940

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