TO ASSEMBLE THIS EQUIPMENT you will need about an hour, a patient and understanding assistant who can decipher appallingly poorly reproduced photos of black items on black backgrounds and, at the same time, put up with heated language, two Phillips screwdrivers and a nail-file (that's for afterwards). If you have already successfully built a Ninja four-wheel-drive radio-controlled car with independent suspension for your small son on Christmas Eve while slightly disadvantaged by too much sherry, you will be well prepared. The instructions suggest that you assemble the BeSea BC on your workbench. If you do not have a workbench, I found that a clear area of carpet will suffice. What you should not do is allow your local dive shop to do this work for you. The staff there will have neither the time nor the patience to take it all apart and start again, when they discover that they have not done it quite right and have a few bits 'surplus to requirements'. As so many younger divers like to rebuild their kit to 'improve' it, I'm sure that all this will not put them off at all. But what's the idea behind it? Well, Swedish company Poseidon decided to design its own BC starting with a blank sheet of paper, and to supply the BeSea in this way so that all divers could have a BC that fitted them perfectly. In building the kit yourself, you make it to measure not only in the waist but in the length of the torso. The harness is mounted onto an ABS backplate and this has plenty of holes through which the fasteners pass. Choosing the right holes affects the eventual fit. Poseidon claims that the result, with the BeSea, is that the weight of the set is borne on the hips instead of the shoulders. The double-bag buoyancy cell is available in a range of sizes, and this is quite clever, too. It has what Poseidon calls 'Clam Retract'. Doesn't sound very nice, does it? It scrunches up the bag so that it produces as little drag as possible when it isn't inflated. The W50 cell I tried had around 19kg of maximum lift. Poseidon also supplies different versions. The W40 with Sport Harness is designed for those for whom space while packing is at a premium. The W100 with Advanced Harness is for technical divers and others who dive with twin cylinders. The D100's dual bladder is for those who demand redundancy. There is also a Continuous Loop Harness in an effort to please the followers of George Irvine, and a Semi-Continuous Loop Harness. Both of these are integrated with metal backplates. This is for those who want the buoyancy cell but not the hard work Poseidon has put into perfecting the way in which you carry your tank. The W50 with Advanced Harness is likely to be the one most in demand.
Doddle to undo D-rings can be fitted where you want them, and at a choice of angles. Two were supplied for this test but would not be sufficient if one wanted to use sling-tanks. There is the option to fit weight-pockets, too. I fitted two, and found that these accommodated block-weights up to 4kg each. Because these pockets are fitted to the waistband, it does make fastening the waist buckle something that needs to be done sitting down. The pockets have a somewhat elaborate emergency jettisoning system, but this is not called into play during normal usage. The weights go into separate pouches that drop into the weight-pockets and are retained by pinch-clip buckles and webbing and covered with a healthy flap of fabric with Velcro. It was a doddle to undo these and haul out the weight-pouches by the loops provided, when the time came to hand my weights up to the driver of the pick-up boat. I could have done with an ordinary pocket, too. I took the BeSea on a Red Sea trip on Diamond out of Sharm el Sheikh. The first thing I had to do when I arrived was rebuild the BeSea, because I had made it to go with my drysuit and I was to be wearing a slimmer semi-dry. There followed a little more cursing but, thankfully, no 'tinkle, tinkle, plop, curse' as an essential small screw or uniquely designed nut departed over the edge of a rolling deck. Once I got it right for me, I was bemused to find that it also fitted perfectly Diamond's tall Swedish blonde dive-guide Malin. How come we have similar measurements, but hers are arranged in such a more aesthetically pleasing way? I used the BeSea with 8kg of lead and a heavy 15 litre steel cylinder. Both Malin and I were enthusiastic about the way we could walk about the deck with all this weight comfortably borne. Poseidon has certainly got that right. The extensive padding of the harness makes the BeSea supremely comfortable, although I suspect that we both had to put on more lead than normal to account for its buoyancy. The sternum-strap loops around the whole shoulder facing on each side. This unusual arrangement can lead to some tangles before diving. I passed the very long direct-feed inflator and corrugated hose under this strap to keep it out of the way. Vertical under water, the only way to dump air was to operate the dump valve at the upper left side of the back. Two lower dump valves at opposing sides of the U-shaped buoyancy cell allowed for head-down descents. The tank is held securely by two powerful cambands, and a crotch-strap ensures that nothing falls over your head when inverted. In the water the buoyancy cell seemed more flappy than the claims for the Clam Retract feature would suggest. Once fully inflated at the surface, the BeSea turned into something akin to a sofa in terms of comfort. Malin was very keen to use this product from her country, Sweden. I won't say she's patriotic, but she does wear odd fins, one blue and one yellow, in honour of her country's flag. The BeSea worked for both of us without any snags. I imagine that this distinctive wing has much shop-counter appeal and will soon be a common sight at dive-sites around the world. Since writing this, I am told that the assembly instructions have been improved, with full-colour photos. I must stress that decisions made during the initial home-build are essential to the overall success of this wing-style BC. The Poseidon BeSea with Advanced Harness and W50 cell costs from£399.
Poseidon Diving Systems 01420 843 , www.poseidon-uk.co.uk
+ Very comfortable when successfully built to fit the user
- Not easy to share between divers of varying sizes