Divers have to hang their accessories somewhere, but that doesnt mean you need to be a Christmas tree this summer. John Liddiard offers some sound advice

I WILL SPARE DIVER X FROM NAMING HIM. I guess he and those who were there will know who he is, but he suffered enough on the day to avoid further embarrassment, and
these days he has his dangly bits well under control.
Anyway, my mate X had a bit of an obsession with accessories. Having got them, they were all attached to D-rings on his shoulders, strapped to his wrists, and clipped on just about anywhere else there was something to clip to. Mr X was what crusty old hardboat skippers like to refer to as a Christmas tree.
It wasnt quite that bad. He had a system for all his dangly bits. He was an organised Christmas tree.
So whats wrong with that Well, anything that dangles can get tangled, can get caught on a wreck or reef, may inadvertently damage a reef, may damage the equipment itself or, in a worst case, break it loose and lose it. Thats what happened to Mr X.
He was ascending from a wreck and decided to release his delayed SMB midwater. The reel was stored on a shoulder D-ring with a buddy line, the buddy line being neatly coiled then clipped in place.
Come the time to send up the delayed SMB, the buddy line came off with the reel. The two clips had been clipped together, rather than separately clipped to the D-ring. Holding the reel in his left hand, our hero began to fill the bag. The buddy line wrapped round the reel and the reel jammed. He let go of the reel.
In addition to the main strap, his dive computer was extra-securely attached to his wrist with a short loop of cord. Another bit of the line tangled round this and pulled tight. His arm was now stretched upwards by the delayed SMB.
Quick to react, he popped the buckle on the dive computer, slipped the security cord off and let it all go up with the reel before he was pulled up with it.
It wasnt a deep wreck. The only decompression was a safety stop, which they did on his buddys gauges.
They surfaced 100m or so from the delayed SMB and the boat had no trouble spotting them.
But it wasnt quite a happy ending. When they recovered the delayed SMB and reel, that troublesome line had untangled itself. Everything else was missing, including the dive computer.
Like most divers, I have dangly bits. In fact, I can boast more than the average amount, though perhaps not quite as many as Mr X.
There are all the usual things such as octopus or bail-out regulator, cylinder pressure gauge, a dive light, delayed SMB and reel. Just about any properly equipped diver will have this lot.
Then I have a camera on its lanyard, an optional dangly bit that more and more divers are now carrying as digital compacts have become so convenient.
When sketching wrecks, I also have a large slate, again attached on a lanyard, and with the slate I have a pencil, attached with a smaller lanyard to the slate. Unless I am flying, I also usually dive on a rebreather, with the associated dangly bits of oxygen monitors.
What it all boils down to is that, while careful kit configuration can eliminate many dangly bits, we cant avoid them completely. They are an essential part of diving. The important thing is that they should all be under control.
So here are some tips for eliminating or controlling all those dangly bits.

The cylinder pressure gauge
In the dangly-bit ratings, the cylinder pressure gauge comes out top. How often I see it flapping unconstrained on the end of its hose! Deceptively out of the way while a diver is standing on the boat, shore or poolside, in the water it flops down and dangles to drag across wreck and reef.
There is no excuse for this. Divers dont even need to spend money on proprietary clips. Most BCs on the market have Velcro tabs built in especially for securing the cylinder pressure gauge, and on those that dont it can be looped under the chest strap.
For those wanting to look a bit more technical, a bolt snap attached to the gauge can be used to clip it to a hip D-ring DIR style, where it can be unclipped for reading, then replaced. It doesnt have to be a hip. My personal preference is to loop the hose under my arm and clip it to a shoulder D-ring, where I can read the gauge by looking down without having to unclip it.
In any case, whenever a clip is used, be sure to include a breakable link or fuse in attaching it. A large O-ring or loop of bicycle inner tube both work well in this capacity - strong enough to hold, yet weak enough to break if the clip is jammed.

The octopus
Be it an octopus second stage or a bail-out regulator from a back-up air supply, the octopus is a dangling item with which we have to live. In the ratings for offending dangly bits, it comes a close second to the cylinder pressure gauge, not only for being left dangling, but also for some of the stupid or even dangerous solutions some divers come up with.
Lets go back to first principles. All training agencies, both sports and technical, teach that an alternative air source should be located somewhere in the triangle loosely defined by the fronts of the shoulders and the centre of the chest. In this area it is easily visible and accessible to anyone who needs it, including its owner.
Some of the deadly sins that Ive seen applied to an octopus include putting it in a pocket where it cant be seen, securing it with Velcro straps over the hose so that it cant pull loose, and even bungeeing it to the cylinder and leaving the regulator behind the divers back, where it cant be seen and where, should it free-flow, the owner wont know about it until all the gas is gone.
In the great tradition of diving, the easiest way to stow an octopus requires no special clips or other accessories and comes free with most BCs. Simply take a loop of the hose and push it back into the shoulder-strap. Rather than describe it further here, just look at the picture (top right). The springiness of the hose holds it in place, yet its easy to pull out.
The next-easiest solution is a loop of surgical tube or bungee round the mouthpiece, tight enough to hold it on, yet loose enough that it will pull out.
The bungee can either be attached to a shoulder strap or D-ring, or, as favoured in technical circles, be part of a necklace.
The main caution with this strategy is that it must not be so tight that the octopus cannot be pulled out or, even worse, that the mouthpiece comes off when it is pulled.
In fact, the same cautionary advice can be applied to divers favouring any of the proprietary octopus clips with which manufacturers love to tempt us.

The BC inflate hose
This is not really a dangly bit. An unsecured BC inflate hose is more of a floaty bit, and the main risk of just letting it float is that it wont be ready to hand and easy to locate when needed.
There are two problems here. The first is in stopping the crinkly hose from flapping about. The second is in keeping the low-pressure feed hose and the crinkly hose together as a single item.
There are two strategies for stopping the crinkly hose flapping about. The first is to cut it fairly short. Combined with the flap of Velcro on the shoulder of most BCs, or a loop of surgical tube or bungee around the shoulder strap of a harness, this will hold it close above the shoulder-adjuster or D-ring.
The disadvantage is that oral inflation can be a difficult manoeuvre.I prefer to keep the crinkly hose at its standard length. On a conventional BC, this is just long enough to tuck below the chest strap. On a harness, I attach the end to a shoulder D-ring with a baby snoopy-loop (see panel) made of bicycle inner tube. A loop of bungee or surgical tube works equally well.
I keep the whole lot conventionally over my shoulder, although there are some divers who like to route the entire inflate assembly under their armpit.
When it comes to the feed hose, some BCs come with a clip system to hold it against the crinkly hose. Failing that, a few more snoopy-loops are perfect for holding the two together.
The feed hose also needs to be of the right length. Buddy BCs come with reusable hose ends. Just unscrew one end, cut the hose to the right length and screw it on again.
For other makes of hose, you can get your dive shop to cut it to length and crimp a new end on, or buy a re-usable end from AP or SubAqua Products and do the cutting yourself.

Everything else
Having dealt with everything to do with regulator and BC, other accessories can be broadly divided into stuff that is actively in use, and stuff that is carried for use later, perhaps at the end of the dive, for backup, or in an emergency.
The simple solution for things that might be used later is to bundle them all into pockets - in a BC, cargo pockets on a drysuit, or a pouch/pocket on the waist strap of a harness. If all this stuff is in pockets, it wont be dangling.
The next part of the puzzle is how to get it out of the pocket without spilling it all over the place. Secure a loop of bungee to the lip of the pocket, and clip all the bits onto the loop. When you need anything, pull the whole lot out of the pocket, unclip the desired item and move it to a shoulder D-ring. Then stuff everything else back into the pocket.
Some accessories are too big for pockets - items such as lantern-style dive lights and large reels. These items just have to live on lanyards, clipped to a convenient point on the harness. Tight in against a hip or bum D-ring is usually best for longer-term stowage, or on an extended lanyard against a shoulder D-ring when in use.
The cheap and effective trick is to have an extra loop in the lanyard, right at the top, so that it can be doubled against the clip when it needs to be tight, or fully extended when greater agility is needed in use.
The same style of lanyard can be used equally effectively for any items in active use throughout the dive, such as a camera or wreck-sketching slate.

Snoopy Loops
Snoopy loops are a wonderful invention of British cave-divers - a group even more creative than more general British divers when it comes to clever solutions that cost absolutely nothing.
A snoopy-loop consists of two rings of inner tube looped together. They can be any size from tractor tube to bicycle tube, and their stretchiness can be controlled by cutting thicker or thinner slices through the tube.
The tubes come free from the scrap bin at any tyre centre or bicycle repair shop.

Another way of stashing a gauge is to use the Velcro tab built into most BCs.
A simple way to stash a hose is to loop it under a shoulder strap so that it is easy to pull out if required.
You can secure an octopus to a D-ring like this, but be sure that it can be released without dislodging the mouthpiece
A loop of bungee provides a convenient retainer on which to clip everything - it can be worn as a modish necklace.
Many BCs have a clip to hold the feed against the crinkly hose.
How to get everything out of a pocket easily - clip it to a bungee loop, pull out the loop and then unclip the item...
A double-loop in a lanyard allows an item such as a torch to be clipped tight or extended as required.
Open the pocket, pull out the loop - easy!
Snoopy loops