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Vintage Scuba: Great Fins You Can’t Buy Anymore

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Alec with Caravelle fin

Hi vintage divers, Alec Peirce of Vintage Scuba with another couple of weird things from the old days to show you. Now we did a video – Kevin just reminded me a while ago -about fins: weird fins how they’ve changed over the years (and they sure have changed over the years). Let me show you just two fins today.

One fin I want to concentrate on is really interesting. This is an old fin; old style. This is actually a modern reproduction. I do have quite a few of these fins, real, in boxes from the ‘50s. These are heavy, heavy rubber fins: you take some weight off your weight belt. If you’re wearing these fins. They don’t float. Trust me. These are an interesting fin.

First of all, you’ll notice that these fins have left and right: there have been more than a few fins over the years that had left and right. There was actually a fairly modern fin made by TUSA a few years ago and they were left and right footed. You put them on the wrong side, then when you finish you go backwards. No, I’m kidding! But they’re left and right footed and these are left and right footed – looks like a whale fin. Anyway, that’s not the big deal about them: they’re just an old, old style of fin: a real fin looks like a frog fin. I’ve suspected Owen, when he sat down to design this fin (that’s the man’s name, Owen Churchill) he probably took a look at some pictures, maybe looked at a whale, maybe looked at some frog feet, and he said to myself, “Wow! You know frogs really kick well under water!”

This is what he made: just a neat old rubber fin. One size fits almost everybody. He had about three sizes. We used to joke about that: three sizes too big, too small, and close. Anyway, if you were lucky enough your foot fit perfect, and there was a nice soft rubber and a pocket strap. No adjustment. That was it. If the fin fit, you were lucky. These fins are quite famous: the Churchill fin. I have a couple of original pair right from Owen Churchill. After a few years a company by the name of Voit bought the Churchill fin and produced it from that time on.

This is the fin that’s pretty interesting. I’m going to show you this fin because as you probably know, I’m slowly but surely selling off my vintage gear. I don’t really have much use for it other than making these videos, which I really enjoy. Somebody asked if I had a pair of Caravelle fins and I said, “Yeah, I do.” He said he’d love to get a pair of those. I got thinking about that and I said I’d get these out, I’ll do it this quick video on them, explain what they are, and then I’ll sell them to these gentlemen. I got thinking about why they’re so special. They don’t look special. They were an actually pretty modern design. I’m going to guess these are from the mid 70s. That’s a fairly accurate guess – could be early, could be late… somewhere in there.

They have a pretty standard rubber pocket. You can see it’s a full foot fin. That is to say there’s no strap. It’s a pocket. It’s like a shoe. You put your foot in this soft rubber pocket and then you have a pretty standard blade. You can see the blade is pretty straight forward – nothing special about it; you see the scratches on there and they’re pretty well used. So what’s the big deal? Well, they were made by U.S. divers. This particular one is actually an original and so its name on this is Spirotechnique, Technisub, which was U.S. Divers in Europe.

Spirotechnique or Technisub made a lot of the products that were imported into the United States and sold under the U.S. Divers/Aqualung banner. So that’s what these are and it’s pretty straightforward: a little picture of a diver on the front and Caravelle, the name of the fin. What’s the big deal?

Well, if you look very close you’ll see something interesting: this is hard black plastic – fin blade comes up, and this seems to be a t-strap right there. You see that it’s got this funny thing up here as well.

These fins are unique. There is no other fin that I’m aware of in all the years I’ve been diving, 60 years, no other fin that I’m aware of that had a rubber boot that fit your foot. It’s like the rubber boots you wear right now: they’re not foam neoprene, they’re a rubber; but you can actually put this on your foot and walk around with it. It was great because it’s quite solid bottom on here. So, any shells or coral or rocks or anything else… it protected your foot and you could walk on the pier or on a dive boat, and there’s rubber so it didn’t slip.

Alec with Caravelle fin

When you were ready to go diving, it picked up your blades. You didn’t pick up your fins: you picked up your blades, right, and you slipped your blades into the slots on the side. You put your blades on and then you just pushed it on nice and tight and you see what that t-bar does at the bottom. You see how it slots in firmly. Can you see that change there? The extensions come all the way up and it pops out here and latches it into place. It’s just that simple. I don’t know if these came in other colors but I do know they came in black.

There you go. They were, at its time, famous. You look at the catalogs from the ‘60s and ‘70s, you will see the US Divers’ famous Caravelle fin. This may be the only place you ever see a real Caravelle unless you go to a good scuba museum.

But now you’ve seen it: one of those things from the past that I almost wish we still had. I still dive and this would be pretty handy: a good fin, good solid snappy fin, and a separate boot might be kind of neat anywhere. There you go, guys. Something from the past. Something interesting. Vintage scuba that you may not see again: the Caravelle fin.

You take care. I’ve got some more neat stuff coming up so keep watching. Thanks very much and bye bye.