Tools and supplies can save the dive trip

It’s happens to almost every spearfisher. He (or she) pulls back on the band to reload the gun and, snap, the rubber breaks, the band splits, or the ties comes undone. The usual culprit is dry rot, or excessive use. Unless there is a backup band on board, the trip is over, the fish are lost.

Then along came the Onboard Band-It, a waterproof kit filled with five feet of rubber, several different kinds of wishbones, serrated knife, T-bar insertion tools, zip ties, and tensioning tools — everything needed to repair or replace the broken band in less than five minutes.

“We have been testing and perfecting this kit for the past couple years,” said Onboard Band-It owner Josh Gratton, a Keys native who has been spearfishing since he was eight years old. “The kit has all the necessities to fix your band or your friend’s band. It’s interchangeable for whatever gun you are shooting with.”

There are small or large boxes available for the four different kits offered, including for pole spearing, general repair, and pro kits.

“There are a lot of different combinations for what the person is working with to make the length and strength needed,” he said. “These kits can customize any band to anyone’s needs.”

Local “speara” Morgan Longstreth put the kit to the test last week, making bands that allowed her to load her own gun underwater without leaving bruises on her stomach. “The kit allows me to make my bands a little weaker, but with just enough power to bring in the hogfish I’m usually hunting,” she said. “It’s especially a nice purchase for women spearfishers.”

Gratton saw a need for the emergency spear band replacement kits while out on the boat with his family while attending Marathon High School, and he spent the past year conceptualizing the kits and logos with friend J.P. McCabe while taking breaks from spearfishing and kiteboarding sipping on mojitos in a tiki in the Dominican Republic.

“Bands cost us about $20, almost every time we go out, so we plan on the kits being an industry changer,” he said. “People love the concept and the idea.”

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay knows all too well the heartbreak of a broken band while out spearfishing. “I have a kit on board,” he said. “Things happen when you least expect it, and it’s helped me out several times.”

While heavy in fish, Ramsay said the last thing a person wants is to blow a band, but it happens, and it usually happens when the person is pretty far from shore or a handy replacement band. “The best part of this product is it will work with whatever gun is on the boat,” he said. “Sometimes there are three or four different types on guns on the boat.”

Ramsay is also equally impressed with Gratton’s work ethic. “The whole idea is unique and he is working hard and following through – living and breathing the business – and investing every dime he’s making back into it,” he said.

Within the past few weeks, Gratton and McCabe have also been chatting with some local reef related non-profits about donating a percentage to the organizations. “The ocean isn’t just our playground, it’s our home,” Gratton and McCabe said. “We want to create a local thing and work with the community.”

Their time lately has been spent working on some potentially big contracts with some pretty important spearfishing companies.

The kits are being used across the world in places like Kuwait, Dominican Republic, Jupiter (Florida, not the planet), Hawaii and Australia, and the praises are popping up in Facebook and Instagram profiles with pictures of huge fish and gratitude for the kits, “Thanks Onboard Band-It, for saving the day again!”

Locally, sprearfishing charter guide James Simcic said the Onboard Band-It has saved spear trips for him numerous times. “It takes a couple minutes to fix the band, and then we are back in the water doing what we are supposed to do – shoot fish,” he said. “A lot of my clients are not constantly spearfishing, so some of the equipment hasn’t been used in a while. Having the Onboard Band-It on the boat gives me peace of mind that if they have trouble during the trip, I can fix it.”

Gratton will also make custom ordered bands. The kits are refillable and start at $80. The logo itself it pretty cool and can be found on buffs, shirts, cozies and hats. Gratton is offering a 10 percent discount to Weekly readers on the website, using “theweekly” in the code box.

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