Nitrox (Enriched Air) just what is it and what benefit does it have for our diving? Nitrox is any blend of air that has over 21% oxygen, hence the tern Enriched Air Nitrox or EAN, with the most common being around 32% oxygen.
The first benefit in diving Nitrox is that by using air that contains less nitrogen we are loading less nitrogen into our bodies therefore at least in theory we are adding a safety margin against decompression illness. With less nitrogen in our scuba cylinders there is even less need to push the limits of the dive tables or our computers. On the regular PADI dive table a dive to 60 feet for 45 minutes leaves us in the pressure group of “S” while on Nitrox of 32% the same dive leaves us in the pressure group of”M”. That is quite a large difference in nitrogen loading.
Which brings us to the next benefit of Nitrox, longer bottom times or shorter surface time. Using our 60 foot dive of before if we look at the regular dive table 60 feet shows a maximum bottom time of 55 minutes and our Nitrox 32% table shows 90 minutes. A huge amount of extra time to spend under water, but not many can make a tank last that long.
So how about shorter surface time? In our 60 foot dive for 45 minutes on the regular PADI table we would be an “S” diver and after a 1 hour surface interval we would have off gassed down to a “G” diver which would allow us only 34 minutes at 60 feet or 54 minutes if we only go to 50 feet. On Nitrox 32% the table is much kinder to our bottom time. If we dive the same 45 minutes and our pressure group is “M” if we want to go right back to 60 feet for 45 minutes our surface time is less than 4 minutes. But since we are safe divers we stay on the surface for 30 minutes which drops us to “H” pressure group and that gives us up to 60 minutes of allowable bottom time.
One last benefit of diving with Nitrox is that you may feel less tired after a day of diving. There is no science that I can point you to, but after 4 or 5 dives a day I know I am less tired
Scuba Myths, we hear a lot of them every day when people come in or call about scuba class so let us take a look at 5 of the most common scuba myths.
1) You need to be an awesome swimmer. Nah, you do need to be able to swim 200 yards in any stroke and it is a non timed swim (300 yards with mask snorkel and fins is an option) and you need to be able to float or tread water for 10 minutes. Basically you should have a comfort in the water since that is where you will be scuba diving
2) Cost of gear and classes is huge. I guess that depends on your definition of huge. How much does that ski pass cost every year? Sure the upfront cost of a good set of mask, snorkel and fins and basic certification can run close to $800, but you will be certified for life and the gear will last you 10 years or more. Compared to skiing, scuba is rather inexpensive.
3) So many scuba myths revolve around aggressive animals and sound like this “Sharks will eat me”. Truth is more people are attacked by dogs that sharks or other aggressive animals. Shark sightings are rare and generally sharks avoid humans as we are close to their size and we are just another apex predator to them
4) To hard to learn and too much time. Another one of the scuba myths that we love. Did you know that it takes a little time at home reading the book and watching the video at your own pace. The actual time in the shop, pool and open water dives is just 2 weekends.
5) My favorite of all scuba myths is “I am too old or out of shape”. Too old? Out of Shape? The goal in scuba is to go slow and see all the little creatures. We don’t have to be an Olympic athlete. We just need to be healthy.
Scuba myths come in all shapes and sizes. What are your favorite scuba myths?
Dive Life, what is it? Close your eyes and imagine your dive life. Are you on an island? Maybe just near the coast. For most I would guess that when you close your eyes you pictured a tropical paradise and you are either leading divers or maybe just hanging around the dive shops. But for us in landlocked locations the dive life means and is something different.
The dive life for me is teaching and one of the best parts about it is that look on the students faces when they first breathe underwater. I am sure you have seen some of their pictures on our face book page and the big smiles that they have. But the dive life is more and to borrow a line from the old Miller High Life commercial; it is “good things for good people”.
Living the dive life is just being active in scuba diving. Taking a class or just getting in the pool and keeping your skills up. Maybe it is attending some social functions wearing your favorite dive shirt and engaging people in stories about your diving adventures and reliving those adventures.
The dive life doesn’t always have to be about scuba diving. It can be anything related to protecting our world and the environment. Recycle or organize a pick up trash day at a local lake or park. After the heavy rains that we have had the last few weeks and the flooding that came with it, I noticed just how many of our drains on the streets of Grand Junction are marked that they empty to the river and just about all of them were covered and blocked by trash. Plastic bags from the stores in every drain that go right to the river and eventually that trash winds up in our oceans. Sometimes living the dive life can just be taking care of the planet that we call home.
Living the dive life is and can be so many different things.
For a few more ideas give me a call and ask about our Project Aware Classes.
Discovery Channel’s hugely popular Shark Week is set to start August 10, but my question is simple. Is shark week good or bad? The ratings are huge and it is must see television for many. And from looking at the line up of 13 fresh and new “shows” I am sure it will be widely watched this year. You can find the line up http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week/tv-shows/tv-shows.htm.
There are shows about legendary sharks such as “Monster Hammerhead” and “Lair of Mega Shark” that should be interesting as they are trying to find and prove the existence of these sharks. Much like shows about other creatures of myth and stories and are staples of shark week.
Of course there are the standard features about shark attacks such as “I escaped Jaws”. Where survivors of shark attacks will tell their stories about how and maybe why they were attacked and escaped. As well as the talk show that anchors shark week. Honestly, I think Shark week is better with out this one.
But there are 4 shows that caught my attention and I will be tuning in for them. Of course they are more research style shows but “Zombie Sharks” looks interesting. Apparently there have been a number of Orca attacks on Great Whites and the theory is that the Orcas have been able to create what is called tonic immobility in the sharks. This tonic immobility is a catatonic zombie like state and a professional diver is going to attempt to induce this in a great white.
In “Jaws Strikes back” they will be using some high tech cameras and gear to track the hunting patterns of the great whites. How about “Alien Sharks”? A researcher is trying to find bioluminescent sharks that live in the abyss. And finally, “Spawn of Jaws 2: The Birth”. The birth of a baby great white.
So, is shark week good or bad? I would say it is a mixed bag again this year. Some shows will make the shark lover cringe and some will excite. Some shows will have people saying I am never going to the ocean again. The only thing for sure is that the ratings will be huge
The BCD (Buoyancy Compensator Device) had some very humble beginnings. In fact when recreational scuba was getting started there was no such piece of equipment and the only adjustment for buoyancy was a weight belt to offset the natural buoyancy of the body.
In 1959 the first BCD was starting to show up at dive sites. The horse collar style was the best and most used as it kept the head out of the water and the diver didn’t need to use their hands to hold on to it. There were many experiments on how to inflate this new BCD, oral inflation was the most common and even an auto inflation system was developed. Then someone figured out that they could attach a hose to the tank/regulator and take some air from the diver’s tank to easily and safely adjust the BCD.
In 1971, Scuba Pro introduced and patented the “stabilizer”, which was a BCD with a large air cell that went over the shoulder and around the diver and even the tank. A huge advancement in the BCD, which was copied and modified due to the patent, with the biggest modification being to separate the air cells.
1972 saw the introduction of the AT Pac Wing which was developed by Watergill and is generally considered the first wing style BCD.
The I3 has been a standard in the Aqualung line since 2007, but the I3, which is the lever inflation system used by SeaQuest/Aqualung was first introduced in 1973.
In 1979 the first jacket style BCD was introduced and in 1985 SeaQuest/Aqualung introduced the ADV (advanced design vest)BCD which was an open front with the adjustable shoulder straps. They didn’t patent the design and it is this design that today’s BCD is still using.
• 1959 “horse collar style”
• 1971 Scuba Pro “stabilizer”
• 1972 AT Pac Wing
• 1973 first version of the I3
• 1978 there were 19 models of “horse collar”
• 1979 SeaQuest introduced the jacket style BCD the “Sea Otter” and “Sea Jacket”
• 1980 Octo pockets
• 1985 The ADV jacket introduced and this is still the main style of BCD today
• 1988 the first BCD for Ladies was introduced
• 1990 the first light weight warm water BCD
• 1996 the beginning of weight integrated bcd
As you can see our humble little BCD has grown and definitely been upgraded over the years
As we age meeting and making new friends is always a challenge especially when we consider all of the challenges that life throws our way. Think about the last trip you were on, you probably didn’t know anyone or unless you travel with a large group such as the dive shop you may have known everyone there may have been someone new to the group. Even the ones you didn’t know you had a common bond. That is the love of diving. Your conversations probably started on places you have been and grew from there.
Or maybe you are new to a neighborhood or town, maybe even just standing in line at the grocery store and you are wearing your newest favorite t-shirt from your last dive adventure. The person behind you generally ask something along the line how was the diving or are you a diver. Some of the other questions a new non diving friend may ask, “aren’t you afraid of sharks”, “how deep have you gone” or even about your favorite place to dive or how long you have been diving.
Some of our best and closest friends have been made on dive boats. The story of how we meet Martin and Christine is a dive story classic. It was in Cozumel the week after hurricane Emily in 2005, we were booked at the same resort, but due to the damage the resort claimed they had no water or rooms for us; but they would be happy to send us to their sister property in Cancun. We politely declined and eventually they found rooms for us all. The next day we were on the boat reliving the night before and diving and we have dove with them every year since 2007 at least once every year
PADI had a saying in the old curriculum that went like this; Go places, meet people, do things. And it is true today. Diving is a social sport, sure the buddy system enhances our safety, but it more than doubles the fun
To be or not to be? Master Scuba Diver or Dive Master? The path is not always clear, but why not take a dive down the path towards both? But, Scuba Joe why would I want both? Yoda says why not both be.
First, what is the difference between the two ratings; Master scuba diver is the highest non-professional rating you can earn, where Dive Master is a rating that allows you to be paid to dive, a professional diver. Maybe at this point in your scuba life you love the sport, but don’t want to turn your hobby into a job. But you want more out of your diving, then Master Scuba Diver is the path for you. Or maybe you want to become a dive professional but the cost, time and opportunity for work are limited by your life situation (being in land lock Colorado). You can achieve both, here is a game plan to help you be both.
Master Scuba diver is the first and ultimate goal for most recreational divers. It includes taking your AOW class and Rescue class and 5 different specialties; it requires you to log at least 50 dives. Notice I didn’t spell out which specialties, because that my diver friend is all up to you and your interest. It can truly be designed to be all about you. But, if you are thinking that say in 5 years or so you might like to change your life situation and move to the islands and make you living diving then let us merge the two paths so you reach both, or as Yoda said why not both be.
The Dive Master program has a couple of scenarios that we must train, deep and search and recovery. If you are walking the merged path towards both then those are two of the five classes you should consider along your journey. Yoda, would probably add in navigation since you would be leading other divers and you don’t want to get lost. That still leaves you 2 electives to fill in with what interest you the most, be it Digital Photo or Fish Id or Underwater Basket Weaving (yes this is real)
So my friends you can have both. Yoda does
At some point during open water class a student will ask how many dives they can do in a day. The answer to that is a big “that depends”. I know that is so vague that it begs to be answered, but first let us define a dive as using a tank of air.
So, just how many dives can you do in a day? Well, are they fun dives or training dives; that is taken in conjunction with a class? PADI standards say that we can do no more than 3 training dives in a day, so that answer is very clear. So how can you do your Open Water and Advanced Open Water in a long weekend or your Advanced Open Water and Rescue in a long weekend? The key word is long as in 3 day weekend. If PADI standards say we can do 3 dives in one day and we need to make 4 dives for open water and 5 for advanced open water it will take 3 days. Dive planning will be a huge part of your weekend and that is a great thing.
Can you combine training dives and fun dives in one day? Of course you can. If you finish your open water training dives in the morning and want to go out on the boat that afternoon and do a 3 tank trip, you can do that. Plan your dives accordingly with your instructor and dive buddy. How deep are your dives going to be and how long?
So just how many dives can you do in one day? Again, that depends on you and your buddy and how you plan your day and what gas is in your tank. On the liveaboards, we generally do 4 to 5 a day. The dives are generally about 80 feet and for close to an hour with at least 90 minutes or so between dives and yes we are diving computers and nitrox. But, if we are going to explore a shallow reef at so 40 feet on regular air with 90 minute surface time we can probably make 5 or 6. Change air to nitrox and you can cut your surface time to 60 minutes and easily make 6 maybe 7.
So how many dives can you do in one day? That depends on you and your dive planning skills.
On our last adventure I overheard the captain say to his newest crew member; “aren’t you bored with diving yet?” Her answer was perfect, “how can you be bored when diving, because you never know what you will get on every dive”. Every month we go to the crater for certification dives and every month a student will say to me aren’t you bored with the crater. My response is while the drive bores me, the students more than make up for it with their wonder and amazement and we are diving in very warm water.
As Mia said to the captain, “how can you be bored”? America sang that the ocean is a desert with its live underground and we get to explore that wonderful hidden world. As your skills improve with diving you can get closer to the reef and find even smaller creatures, such as the sea whip shrimp or the squat anoneme shrimp. One of our divers has started carrying a magnifying glass while diving to even help her find the smallest hardest to see creatures. The joy and amazement that she shows when she discovers something so small when diving is fun and energizing and makes you want to get back in the water as soon as the captain says that the pool is open.
Bored diving? On our last adventure I watch one of our divers get closer and closer to the reef. She is even head down now looking under the ledges. Heck her buddy even let her borrow a magnifying glass to look closer. Watching people discover different creatures while diving or nailing a skill is exciting and fun and I can honestly say that it never gets old. Oh, sure the drive to the dive site might get stale and putting that cold soaking wet exposure suit on for the 4th or 5th time in a day might feel like work, but the awe and wonder that awaits us on every dive is breath taking.
Bored diving? Never, as Mia said; “you never know what you will get on every dive”
See you under the boat
As a new PADI OWSI or dive master are you continuing your relationship with your scuba mentor or shop? Or are you going out solo? That is always the question that a new PADI OWSI will struggle with as they await the paper work to be completed and arrive with their brand new shinny black card.
It has been an interesting month for me, watching a new PADI OWSI working with their first class solo, that is without me leading them in conducting the class as well as working with some students that were given a referral from an independent OWSI to go do their open water check out dives that didn’t feel ready to go to open water and wanted a little more practice. Yes, you can say it has definitely been more than interesting.
The other night as I was with our 3 new dive master candidates we were discussing the role of the dive master and the role of the shop/instructor. We talked about how our roles have grown from that of student and teacher to that of a new professional and their scuba mentor. The new dive master and even the new OWSI are qualified to lead and teach from the moment they graduate; much like a newly minted MBA is ready to take on the business world. And they will probably do very well and be successful.
But, there is so much more to teaching any scuba class and while true that experience is the best way to gain the experience and confidence in any profession having a scuba mentor or 2 can help the new OWSI and dive master grow. Having a scuba mentor to talk over things that happen in a class can be instrumental in your growth as an OWSI or dive master. In our programs we try and have you work with as many real students as we can, because while role playing scenarios with other candidates is fun and a learn tool, working with real students and real problems and yes real fears will ramp up the learning curve as you progress and learn and grow.
Talk with your instructor/ scuba mentor about the opportunities for you to co-teach or the possibility of you going the staff at the dive shop. Check out the PADI pro site for teaching opportunities in the island where you can gain experience and work closely with experienced instructors. The world awaits you as does your mentor.