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While in another life, Rebecca may have been a fish, or a dolphin, or a shark, I most decidedly would have been a land creature. Quite likely one that lived far from the ocean, perhaps up in the mountains. I was never taught to swim as a young child, and thus barely muddle through it at the best of times. That said, I do enjoy snorkeling, and have spent many an hour cruising along the surface of Caribbean bays, or diving down to check out the sea life hiding below it. I’ll just never be a natural, and I know that I’m not alone.

I’ve had the same snorkeling mask for more than 10 years. It fit my face well and was comfortable enough, so I never bothered changing. Even when the strap that held the snorkel to the mask broke, I kept on using it. I just replaced the strap with a couple of tie wraps and kept on going. Sadly, during my last trip into the water, the mask developed a serious crack along my forehead, allowing water to flow freely around my eyes. Oh well, it has led a good life.

masks

I have not been oblivious to the recent development of full-faced snorkeling masks, and their increased popularity with some people. Rebecca and I first got to handle one of these masks in a tourist shop, upstairs above the ferry terminal in St. John, USVI, back when we were first running charters. The owner of the store had just acquired some to rent to his customers, and he boasted that many of them raved about new masks and that they were especially good for folks who didn’t feel comfortable with a traditional mask and snorkel. He also commented though that if we were happy with a normal mask, and liked to dive underwater a lot, he didn’t think that they’d be of much benefit to us.

mask

Rachel is using the Tribord EasyBreath

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, we were pleasantly surprised to see that Rachel and Allen, our most recent guests, each had one of these full-faced snorkel masks with them. They told us that they were big fans of the new masks, and demonstrated that by putting them to good use several times during the week that they sailed with us. On one of our last stops, Allen offered me a chance to try his mask, a Mares Head Sea Vu, and while I didn’t do more than swim out to check on our anchor, and swim a lap around the boat, I have to admit, it was pretty cool. I found myself intuitively breathing through my nose instead of my mouth, something that is impossible with a normal mask and snorkel. The mask, which admittedly had not been really adjusted to my face, did leak a minuscule amount around my chin, but it was almost unnoticeable. Any leakage was certainly much less than my personal mask, and there was absolutely zero fogging!

mantus

Our well-buried Mantus anchor.

While my limited trial could in no way be considered a thorough review, I did come across this post that does go into a fair amount of detail. It’s worth noting that, just as you’ll read on that link, some opinions on the internet can be, how should I say, less enamored with the concept of these new designs. Which brings up one of my pet peeves… anonymous keyboard warriors who spout “advice” as if their opinions are the gospel. That things are solely black and white, and if you dare to entertain an opposing view, you must be an idiot. Life is not so black and white, and people who portray it as such really drive me bananas!

Anyway, back to the mask, I don’t own one, and since we have several more normal masks on our boat to replace the one that just broke, I doubt I’ll purchase one right now. For those who are looking for something to make the snorkeling experience a bit more comfortable though, or who are just getting into it, these masks may be just the thing. If you have one or end up purchasing one, please let me know about your experiences. I’d love to hear them.

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