One of the most common questions we get is, “what piece of dive equipment should a new diver buy first?”
Well, that is an easy one. After a good set of mask, snorkel and fins, a new diver’s first purchase should be a dive computer. Unless one gets cold really easily, then they should add a nice wetsuit to that order. I know that you can rent a dive computer and or a wetsuit any where you go diving. But, here is why these items should be 1 and 1A on your wish list.
A dive computer is the most important piece of diving equipment a new diver should have, because there is a learning curve with every dive computer on the market. If you are spending extra time or worst yet not even bothering to learn what your dive computer is telling you. Well, you are putting yourself in danger. All dive computers function basically the same, but how you access that information is different on every one. Some are 1 button where you press, press and then hold to access the sub menus. Some are 2 or 3 buttons. But they are all different. By having your own dive computer you take that learning curve out and you will know your dive equipment. I tell every new diver that once they make the commitment to purchase and own their own dive gear, they instantly become a better diver. Why? Because they know their equipment and can operate it without thinking about it.
As for 1A, well if you get cold easily then a nice fitting high quality wetsuit should be right there on your list. There is nothing worse than being freezing cold on a beautiful dive. Being so cold that you cannot even enjoy the beauty that you are there to see and the playful fish is just no fun. Being warm and comfortable and knowing your dive gear does make for many happy dives.
When you are ready come on into the shop and we can show you all your options.
Does your emergency contact have all your info? Sounds like a crazy question and a crazy blog post, but it isn’t. One of our divers was on a wonderful trip with his buddy and his buddy had a major heart attack and passed. It took almost 3 months to return his body to the states. Sounds crazy and sad, but a little extra info could save you and your family some serious aggravation.
Does your emergency contact have all your personal information? Things like date of birth, social security number are fairly common for that person to have or know. But how about your parents names? They were important in the case that prompts this post to help identify the person. But also how about your medical insurance and DAN insurance numbers? Blood type? And in this sad case, how about what to do with the body?
If your emergency contact has to deal with the State Department all of that information is going to be needed and relevant. And of course if they have to deal with the federal government the more information that they can provide up front will help expedite the situation.
Take some time and write down all the pertinent information on a nice piece of paper and place it in an envelope for your emergency contact to place in a safe spot. You do not have to tell them what is in it. On the outside, you can write all the travel information. Such as what resort you are staying at. What time your flights arrive and depart. The phone number to reach you if a situation arises. You know all the normal stuff. Then tell them that if some major happens, the information is inside that they will need. After your safe adventure and return home, your emergency contact can hand you that unopened envelope back and all is good.
The diver that told me this story asked that I write about it and place it out there for others. If it saves just one family extra grief then it was worth it.
As I have written a few times before the instructors creed is an awesome thing and the fun little thing is I get to see it happen almost every weekend? Overcoming fear, turning “I cant” into “I can”. Turning bad into fun and wonderful. But I see and hear so many instructors that are bent into one way to do a skill and that is just not fair or right. There is no where in the instructor manual that tells us how a student must perform the skill other than they must have “mastery” of said skill. I take that to mean the student must be able to do the skill in a manner that they can repeat comfortably and again and again. There is also no place in the instructor creed or manual that states a student must enjoy the skill and we all know that some skills are just not the most fun anyway.
So if I marry the instructors creed with the instructor manual on say mask clearing, what methods do I come up with to teach? Well there are so many ways. First we have our traditional way. That is you have no issues and water maybe up your nose doesn’t bug you and you just simply exhale out your nose and mask is cleared. But if you have the once in awhile thought to breathe in your nose and snort some pool water this little skill will drive you crazy. So, while it isn’t “text book”, but if you have the urge and need to hold your nose while you take your mask off and even flood it, that is ok. You will need to let go of your nose at some point, but if that is what it takes for you to get the timing down so you can clear that mask, ok with me.
The instructors creed guides me to allow you to hold your nose. The instructor manual allows me to let you do this also. So I tell you I don’t care if you need to hold your nose because to put your mask back on you have to let go of your nose. You relax and next thing you know you are removing and clearing your mask, heck you might not even be holding your nose. The instructor creed and instructor manual allow for what ever the student can do time and time again to be a safe diver. If I have imparted this to you my student and fellow diver then I am happy and have hopefully lived and seen the instructor creed come to life.
Scuba Burger? What are you talking about? Well, you see last month or so there was this survey that ranked 5 Guys ahead of In-N-Out and since there is both on the way to the Crater we decided that it was about time for a Scuba Burger Review.
Both chains have a very loyal and sometimes outspoken following and both offer a very limited menu. And yes both have “secret menus”. A point in favor of 5 Guys is that their menu offering is a little larger than that on In-N-Out, offing hot dogs and a few sandwiches. Both offer fresh never frozen burgers and fries. They even have the same basic color schemes in their restaurants. And the time it took to get our meal was about the same. And the line was much shorter at 5 Guys. So what is the difference in these two icons of scuba burgers?
Well 5 Guys gives you an amazing choice of toppings. I dare to say too many, but I guess that is why some people love them. So to make the test fair I went with the same toppings I would find at In N Out. The burger is huge, a good 30% more meat than In-N-Out (to be fair it is also about 2 times the price). It was tasty, fresh and very good. Now the fries, I found them just ok. I guess cholesterol free peanut oil isn’t for me when it comes to my fries.
In N Out just as good, just as fresh and as comfortable as my favorite shirt. A small disclaimer, I grew up in So Cal and In-N-Out was one of our hang outs on Friday nights.
So which is the favorite Scuba Burger? They are both wonderful and fresh. 5 Guys will cost you more but you will get a little more and you will have a larger choice of toppings. But for this guy growing up with In-N-Out carries my vote and I like the fries better. Now if you want fries you must go to WhatABurger on the island of Bonaire
After all we can’t dive all the time
A dive computer is a wonderful and very useful piece of equipment to own. I would say right after mask, snorkel and fins your next purchase should be a dive computer or a wetsuit. Just as there are many different types of people there are many different styles dive gear for you to pick. And a dive computer can come in many different styles. And they are all nitrox compatible right out of the box. All dive computers track your nitrogen loading and your safety stop. Most water activate and have altitude adjustments.
The basic “puck” style of dive computer is first up. A very popular entry level option, it can be worn on your wrist or in a console attached to your first stage. The come in 2 basic styles, the one button or two buttons. Both are very easy to learn to use, but the one button does take a little bit extra to learn. When you reach the setting you want to change you need to hold the button down for a few seconds. It takes just a little to get use to it. The Aqualung i300 has come along and made the two buttons even easier to use. They labeled the buttons advance and select.
Next is the watch style or wrist dive computer. And of course with in this style there are 2 main types, air integration with a transmitter and non air integration. I have personally dived both and own both. For teaching classes I use the non air integration style. It gives me all the information that I need and I have an SPG for air pressure. For my dive travels I am even more stream lined by having all my dive info on my wrist and no console or hose.
Finally we have the air integration console style computers. Most of these have quick disconnects so you can take the computer off the hose for easy logging of your dive info. Most will have bigger screens for those of us that might be a little eye sight challenged.
With just about any dive computer, you can download your dive information into an e-log book. Some have blue tooth capability. With one dive computer you can upload 3d maps of the dive sights and some have color screens. Most now have user changeable batteries and one even has a heart rate monitor.
So which dive computer is right for you? Well that depends on you, but I can offer one suggestion. Take the time to visit with your local dive shop as they can show you your options and walk you through the differences for each style and in our case even a few different manufactures.
Project Aware and Dive Against Debris is one easy way that we can all help save and project Mother Ocean. I am sure that most of you have heard some horror stories about how there will be more plastic and trash in the ocean than creatures in 30 years. So how can we do something about it? The following is taken from the Dive Against Debris survey guide.
First safety is our primary consideration. If you are unsure about any item please leave it in place. If you see weapons or ammunition, leave it and mark its location and inform the local authorities. Also take great care with rusty items as they may be sharp or could leak chemicals that maybe harmful.
Consider the material the item is made from. Glass and steel cans are not going to cause much more harm than they already have, but if they have been long enough they just maybe home to some creatures. Also consider that eggs maybe attached, if they are mark the location and return at a later time to safely remove the item. Remove non-natural items such as plastics. These items break down into smaller parts and can cause more harm. Use your judgment in removing these types of items, it may be better to remove it even if doing so will cause some harm as the impact will be less than that of leaving the item.
On a Dive Against Debris, items such as car batteries and other containers that contain chemicals should be removed but only if you can safely remove them. Remember that we should be using lift bags for object that weigh over 10 pounds. If you are removing larger and heavier items it might be a good idea to take the Search and Recovery specialty class or if you have hitting the pool for a little practice time with the lift bag.
Finally on our Dive Against Debris, we have all seen videos and pictures of sea life caught up in fishing line and other items. These items are a menace and should be removed, but coral could have grown around it. You might need to cut around such a growth and remove just what is easily taken and leave the rest imbedded in the coral. Trying to cut it out of the coral will only cause more harm. Using trauma shears is better that a dive knife as they require less of a sawing motion and are general sharp enough to cut even wire.
Just a few ideas to help all of us protect Mother Ocean and Dive Against Debris
Sometimes the worst part of your dive trip to paradise is just trying to navigate the airport and the customs hall. Well relax fellow divers as we have a few tips for you to ease your stress level.
First tip in how to navigate the airport is to arrive early. Do not cut it close. Allow for enough time to clear security and if you wind up standing in line a little bit you will be stress free by giving yourself that extra bit of time. Also, know what you can take as and in your carry on. These rules have been in place for long enough that even if you are a newer traveler you should know what is allowed. By following the rules you will save yourself time and stress.
Tip 2 in how to navigate the airport is sign up for TSA Pre Check. While it doesn’t do much here in Grand Junction, it has saves us lots of time in Dallas and Miami. At the airport in Dallas in the B gates there is a security check point that is just for pre check and believe it or not on most Saturday and Sunday mornings there is no one there. Most larger airports have special lines just for pre check and will save you lots of time and stress. Big plus is leaving your shoes and light jacket on as you go through security.
Tip 3 in how to navigate the airport is free. Down load the Mobil Passport app. We have used this app now a few times and wow the time saved with this ap. While the lines in the custom hall can require an hour or so to get through, with this app we have cleared in less than 10 minutes in Dallas and Miami. Unfortunately this app is not available in paradise but it does make coming home less painful.
So dear divers and travelers a little planning will save you some stress while you navigate the airport to paradise.
Packing for your amazing dive vacation is easy. So many of our new divers have overwhelming feelings when it is time to pack for their dive adventure. Well I have always joked that I should teach a packing for a trip class, so how about a packing blog post instead?
Now this does assume that you own or are renting gear for your trip. Otherwise you wouldn’t be worrying about it and just over pack as usual.
Packing Tip 1: Your fins should go on the side of your bag. This creates a very stable and protective side walls.
Packing Tip 2: BCD goes on the bottom with the tank pad down. Again this will create a more stable and protective bag.
Packing Tip 3: Take half of what you think you will need for the week. Unless you are traveling first class or just want to spend extra money on that overweight or extra bag, you really don’t need a fresh outfit for every day. Here is what I usually pack; 2 or 3 pair of swim wear, 4 pairs of shorts, 3 t-shirts and 4 collared shirts. Ladies might want to add 2 cover ups or wraps. I will also pack 1 pair of flip flops in my main bag. That is all; after all we are going to the islands. If we are going somewhere that has a fancy dress code, then I will toss in a pair of slacks (I probably am not going if they require that).
Packing Tip 4: Wetsuit goes on top. It helps protect everything and is a nice cushion for that rum bottle.
Packing Tip 5: Mask, camera and regulator are in my backpack along with a light jacket/golf pullover, an extra t-shirt, shorts and bathing suit. Add in a micro fiber towel that can act as a pillow or blanket on the plane and I am ready for the islands.
See you at the airport
Happy New Year! That wonderful time of the year when we all resolve to be better at something, are scuba classes on your list?
Now I know scuba is fun and for most people the thought of education is anything but fun. But scuba classes are different. First you are diving, well in most of the classes you are. But you are talking about diving and improving your knowledge about diving and therefore having more fun diving.
What scuba classes can give you all that in the middle of winter? Well how about Enriched Air, aka Nitrox? Gain the potential benefit of having longer time underwater when using Nitrox. Or maybe one of the Project Aware scuba classes to help you identify different types of coral or learn more about our water planet.
One of the more popular scuba classes is the PADI advanced open water program. In this one you get to pick some of the more fun dives to experience such as search and recovery. Learn to tie knots and play with a lift bag underwater, it is a challenge and big fun. Or maybe taking underwater photos or video is more your style. You can develop better filming techniques, angles and different lighting options to help you on your spring or summer dive adventure. Or just maybe you want to be a better dive buddy? Then the rescue diver program is for you.
Maybe one of your 2017 resolutions is to gain some leadership training or even maybe develop a little future opportunity for increasing your income. Along with the Dive Master and Assistant/Instructor program, how about becoming an Instructor for CPR and 1st aide?
As you can see, there are many different options in scuba classes. From the simple and easy to the most challenging of options, I hope scuba classes are on your resolution list for 2017.
Happy New Year and Happy scuba bubbles
Underwater critter hunting is part of scuba diving’s enjoyment and appeal. In part 1 a few months back we talked about going slow over the reef and learning some of the critters habitats. Another way to help you spot more critters is perfecting your buoyancy.
Being able to hover over a coral head so you can get a closer look is invaluable. Some will even use a “tickle stick” to help stabilize them as they examine the corals. The soft corals are what most divers focus on, but don’t forget about the hard corals. In Fiji, we spotted a few of these guys hiding in hard green coral. I was able to find this little crab and get the photo thanks to some good buoyancy.
But buoyancy sometimes isn’t enough to spend the extra time critter hunting. And going slow and slower is helpful. In Fiji, we were critter hunting and told Christine our dive master that we liked to find the little stuff. And did we find the little stuff. On one dive the nudibranch was about the size of 2 stitches in her wetsuit. When after an hour we reached the end of the dive we were at the point that they normally reach after 40 minutes.
But sometimes if you look around the coral head you can find a place to actually lay down on the sea floor. This allows you to rest some and continue your critter hunting. And you can spend a lot of time looking without damaging anything.
One last thing about critter hunting, keep your eyes open. You just never know when you will see say a free swimming sea horse or a flat worm. And if you are lucky you just might get a up close look at an amazing critter.
Happy Bubbles and happy critter hunting