As a Divemaster I tend to carry a lot of excess gear during a dive, so adding a Hawaiian Sling to my kit wasn’t high on my priority list. Besides the extra weights for under-weighted guests, on any given dive I also have my reel and surface marker buoy, my cutting tool, a compass, an extra dive computer, a muck stick, magnifying glass, underwater noise maker, flashlight, a fishing lure (with hook removed) on monofilament fishing line (for the toadfish), dive slate, and finally my GoPro (which has a full tray and 2 underwater flashlights on it). Clearly, a lot of excess gear. Some of it is mandatory, most of it is not; But it does enhance the dives of my clients so I personally consider it mandatory I suppose.
The Hawaiian Sling Conundrum
Which brings us back to the Hawaiian Sling, or in simple terms a fish spear. (For the purpose of this blog I’m assuming you already know what one is and how to use it. If not you can give SkyAboveUs a read for a detailed description.) Given all that I already carry I surely do not wish to add any additional unnecessary equipment, not to mention one with pointy tips designed to puncture. Couple that with the fact I’ve already been stung by lionfish on three separate occasions (only once was my fault), you can likely understand why I’ve gone without a spear for the past several years.
However, recently I’ve started to see an increase in the lionfish population and I must admit I do get a sense of guilt for every lionfish I swim past and leave unmolested. (For the purpose of this blog I’m assuming you understand the problem with the non-native lionfish in the Caribbean.)
Problem Solving Time
After having given it some thought over the past several months I’ve decided that if I could find a way to carry a Hawaiian Sling with me without it getting in the way of my customer service, I’d reconsider leaving my spear on shore. In a nutshell, what that meant to me was hands-free diving, spear securely and safely fastened to me or my kit, and trying to avoid the “hand me the spear please” as I prepare to backroll into the water (it seems I already do that enough with my GoPro).
Enter my buddy Erik. He was recently visiting and diving with me and during one of our post-dive re-hydration sessions the topic came up of how to properly and securely mount the Hawaiian Sling to our kit. Erik went on to describe how he saw one Divemaster build a Hawaiian Sling holster for his spear which made carrying it safer and easier. From there, my wheels started turning. The result of these spinning wheels is what follows…
Building the Hawaiian Sling Holster
Gathering the tools to start I grab a typical hacksaw, Schedule 40 (thick-wall) PVC 1 inch in diameter and roughly 5 feet total, one 1 inch PVC end cap, five 1 inch PVC couplers, PVC cement, measuring tape, and a marking pen. It doesn’t hurt to have your Hawaiian Sling laying around, either. Once I got into the project I also found I needed a long nose pliers, scissors, cloth for clean-up of PVC cement, and a lighter.
(Side note #1: I used 1 inch pipe because that was the proper snug fit for my spear tip. If your spear tip varies from mine you may need to adjust your PVC pipe size. Additionally, you can use a pliers to slightly bend a tip in or out to adjust the fit. You want your spear tip to be a snug fit so it holds the Hawaiian Sling in the holster.)
(Side note #2: in the islands we measure the time a project takes us in increments of beer. As in, “that took me 2 beers to finish.” Of course your beer selection may vary from mine, but as a crafty veteran of island life if I can give you just one helpful tip… purchase beers that are double size. When I do I finish the project in half the time.)
Okay, Enough Side Notes
So if you are looking for quick and dirty you can simply affix the PVC tube to your kit and get on with it. But if you are like me and want this Hawaiian Sling holster firmly affixed what I suggest is starting by making 2 pieces of 2-1/4 inches long. These will serve to help create a channel for the string to lay into, effectively not allowing the holster to slide.
So I choose to lay this holster behind my wing and affix it to my Single Tank Adapter (STA). I didn’t want to drill my STA so I was left using the existing holes. In the photo below I’ve laid the PVC roughly in place where I want it. The important point here is I made sure the bottom of the PVC was not longer than the length of the air cylinder when attached to the kit. It’s best to install your kit onto the air cylinder at your preferred BCD / cylinder height and measure from the bottom of your BCD to the ground. I subtracted 1 inch so my holster wouldn’t touch the ground, plus had room for the installation of the end cap. From there I marked where I could affix the pipe to my kit, as seen by the blue mark on the pipe.
I then measured 1 inch down from the mark (towards the end cap), and cut there.
Once cut, I then installed the first coupler followed by the 2-1/4 inch segment we cut in the first step, followed by another coupler. After completion it should yield you a nice little grove between the two couplers. This is where our line will run around. If needed use a cloth to clean up any excess PVC cement in that groove. You want it clean and ready for the line. Same with the inside of the tube – clean it as you go to avoid chunks of dried glue on the inside.
I now add the long stick of PVC into the open end of the coupler and once again place in roughly where I want it and mark it for the next cut.
As we did with the bottom section, we are going to cut the pipe and insert two couplers.
The completed Hawaiian Sling holster. I placed the end cap on the bottom (to the right on desktop, bottom on mobile devices). Be sure to drill this end cap with a small hole to allow for drainage. The top of the holster (left side of image or top of image for the mobile browsers) I placed another coupler on. I did this for a few reasons. First, it provided a smooth edge. I didn’t want to cut my hands on sharp plastic after my hands have been underwater for a few hours. Additionally, the coupler opening is just a tiny bit wider than the pipe which allows for easier insertion.
Affixing the Hawaiian Sling Holster
Now we get to mount the Hawaiian Sling holster. Note I made sure to tie the line in a fashion that I did not have the line crossing the STA. I figured if the line was getting pinched between the STA and the cylinder it would take just a few dives before the line would be cut. You can see how the couplers provided the channel and edge for the line. The photo below was for the bottom of the holster.
And this is the top of the holster.
A finished product… almost.
Let’s get a closer look at the kit fully rigged and ready for depth.
Remember when you finish tying these off that you still need to burn the ends, as seen in the photo above. This isn’t to stop the cord from fraying, but more importantly so the cord does not pull out of the knot. Once you burn the cord and have it melted be sure to use a flat metal edge and smash the cord flat so it’s unable to pull out of the knot.
One last adjustment before our first water test – a rubber band to keep the loop from hanging in front of my face underwater or possibly catching “things” while the Hawaiian Sling is sitting in the holster on the boat. Otherwise this kit looks ready for water.
A quick look at me being silly, demonstrating the ease of deployment of my spear.
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