Do You Need a Dive Slate?

Communication underwater can be an extremely frustrating task, especially if everyone on the dive is not at the same level of understanding of sign language and hand signals. This is most prominent in the case of beginners.

Do you need a Dive Slate

Dive slates can be a handy tool when you are trying to communicate something more elaborate than the basic signs; like trying to identify certain marine life or even in the case of an emergency. Here is everything you need to know about dive slates and why they are so great:

What Is A Dive Slate?

A dive slate is essentially just a piece of equipment that you can write on to communicate underwater. They are a piece of equipment to help you communicate underwater. They are a quick and easy way to communicate anything that isn’t easily understood through signs.

Dive slates are also used to document dives and write down any vital information like dive time and depth.

What Material Is A Dive Writing Board Made Of?

Depending on what kind of dive slate or writing board you get, they can be made from a number of different materials. However, the primary material used on almost all dive slates is plastic. This is because plastic is a durable, waterproof material that can easily be cleaned for reuse. It is also cheap, making it the best choice to make the boards.

How Do You Clean An Underwater Writing Device?

Everyone who uses a dive slate knows what a blessing they are when you are trying to communicate or record something under the water. But, these people also know how tedious and annoying it could be to clean them! You often find lead or ink marks left on the slates, making it more difficult to write clearly on top.

There are many solutions you can use to clean dive slates. Mostly, the slates come with an eraser, which is much like a regular pencil eraser. Though these erasers work fine, they leave a sticky layer behind on the slates and don’t clean the lead off effectively. The same goes for other cleaning solvents and putties.

Toothpaste is a good option if you are looking for a cleaner. Slather it on your slate and wipe away any remnants of ink or lead. Make sure you use the white kind and not the gel. Rubbing alcohol works just as well. Just pour it onto your slate, you don’t need to wipe – just let it work its magic!

Speaking of magic, the absolute best way to clean your dive slate is with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This easily available household item is a thick, dense white sponge that actually works like magic! Just dampen the sponge with a little hot water and wipe away all traces of ink. This eraser, sometimes, works a little too well. If you have made permanent markings like grids or lines on your slate with a permanent marker, Mr. Clean will get rid of those too.

If you are in a hurry, you can grab a little sand and brush off any writing from your slate. This will clean your slate, but if it is done too harshly or too often, it can scratch the surface and damage your slate.

How Much Do Dive Slates Cost?

Dive slates are a relatively cheap piece of equipment but can be very handy. Because there are a few different kinds of dive slates, the prices can vary accordingly. You can get a standard dive slate for as low as $6 while the more complicated ones like the AquaSketch Minno can go up to $50! If you go for an underwater notepad, they can set you back up to $35. The options for dive slates and notebooks are endless, so you will be able to find one within your budget!

How Long Do Underwater Sketch Pads Last?

Underwater sketch pads are made of plastic, making them durable. Depending on your usage, they can last you for years! If you clean them gently and use them with care, this affordable piece of equipment can accompany you on many dives. Take care of it and clean it properly to ensure that it doesn’t break and there are no scratches on the surface.

Dive slate works better than computer underwater!
Don’t try this!

Can You Build Your Own Dive Slave?

Dive slates can actually be made very easily. All you need are a few old floppy disks or other pieces of plastic, a pencil and a plastic or latex piece to tether it all together!

If you are using floppy disks, remove the contents so you are only left with the plastic casing. Stack three of them together and tie them together with the tether from the preexisting hole at the top. Tie the other end of the tether to a pencil and voila! Your homemade dive slate is ready.

Are There Different Kinds of Underwater Boards?

There is not just one kind of dive slate available on the market. There are multiple kinds, and you can choose one that fits you and your needs best:

Standard Slate

This is the most economical and common dive slate available on the market. They are made up of a plastic sheet that comes in a variety of different sizes and a tethered pencil. The slate also has a hook attached, which can be used to secure the slate to your BCD. Not only do these standard slates come in different sizes, but you can also get glow in the dark versions, which are great for night dives! 

Magnetic Slate

The magnetic slate uses the same technology as the Magic Eraser children’s toy. It has a plastic surface under which there is a layer of magnetized grains. The attached magnetic pen pulls these grains to the surface where ever it touches; the writing looks much like a regular lead pencil. These slates are much easier to clean because they have a slide eraser that gets rid of all markings, but they aren’t great for detailed notes and are a lot bulkier than other slates.

Wrist Slate

These are much smaller and more convenient than standard dive slates. They attach onto the wrist with an adjustable Velcro strap.

These slates have 3-4 pages of curved plastic surfaces, which can be used for communication or notes. The slate is easily accessible as it is right there on the wrist and gives the diver a stable surface to write on. The tethered pencil and multiple pages also make it easy to take detailed notes.

Underwater Notepad

An underwater notepad is much like a regular spiral notepad, except the paper is waterproof and tear-proof! These notepads are typically made up of 15-30 pages, which can be torn out if necessary and even refilled. Underwater notepads have the most room for detail and are easy to carry and store. They also come with an attached plastic pencil.

AquaSketch Minno Wrist Slate

This is the most unique underwater slate on the market. It is the only scrollable slate that allows for a lot more detail and is worn right on the wrist. The device is made up of a long vellum scroll that can be written on with a standard pencil. These scrolls are also phosphorescent, meaning that they glow during night dives for visibility. Another unique fact about these slates is that the scrolls can be removed and scanned into a computer for detailed documentation of the dive.

Final Thoughts

Dive slates may seem like an unnecessary piece of equipment, but the few dollars you spend on getting one of these could save you from a lot of frustration underwater. If you and your dive buddy are not at the same level of communication, a dive slate could be an essential piece of equipment that could save you in the case of an emergency.

Add this piece of equipment to your gear bag for your next dive to have an experience that you can record!

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