Your dives count with Dive Against Debris

Dive against debrisProject 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.

dive against debrisFinally 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

Tips to help Navigate the airport to Paradise

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.

navigateTip 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.

 

navigateTip 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 Tips for your amazing Dive Trip

Packing for your amazing dive vacation is easy. So many of our new divers have overwhelming feelings when it is packingtime 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

Are scuba classes on your 2017 resolution list?

padi idcHappy 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, part 2

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 Critter Huntinghelp 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.

flat wormOne 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

Listening to your Dive Computer

padi idcDid you know that your dive computer can “talk” to you? It can tell you more than just how deep and how long. Your dive computer can tell you so many different things if you will listen.

The first step in learning to listen to your dive computer is to look over the operating instructions. Or if you are lucky, you might find a helpful video to walk you through a few things.  I like our divers to read the instruction cards and play with their new dive computer some and then come in and ask questions.

One of the most important and valuable things your dive computer can tell you is all about your nitrogen loading. You might have heard some divers referring to “bubbles”. This information refers to the level of nitrogen in your body. Remember the “letters” on the dive table? These letters have been translated into a bar graph, aka bubbles, and are broken into green, yellow and red zones. Keep your bubbles in the green and you will be a very safe and conservative diver.  Are your bubbles pushing up high in the green and maybe into the yellow or caution zone? Ascend some and watch the bubbles drop back down.

As your dive week progresses you’re left over bubbles will grow some and that is why a lot of divers will take an afternoon or a day off from diving or they dive Nitrox. Another way to drop your bubbles is to extend your safety stops from 3 minutes to 5 or more. As long as you have air why not hang out under the boat and watch what swims by. We have seen many sharks and turtles just hanging out under the boat.

Yes my friends, your dive computer can tell you so many things. It can tell you if you ascend to fast. It can tell you how long your next dive can be for and also how deep. Are you listening to your dive computer?

Dive Master and the gear exchange

dive masterDive Master, just those words bring many thoughts to your mind. Dive Master, the one that leads you on a dive and shows you the little critters. Dive Master, the one that fixed that problem you had with your regulator. Yes, Dive Master brings so many different attributes to the daily life of scuba.

But the one attribute that people never consider that their favorite Dive Master has is critical thinking. Did I lose you for a second? When I was in Cozumel in July, there was an instructor doing some training with two of his students. He mentioned to me that he hated and thought PADI should get rid of the gear exchange in the professional program. He went on to say that the time would be better served teaching them how to dive. Sorry, if you have to teach them how to dive at that level, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the program. We even had two students this year that claim the exercise was unfair and that the old ditch and don was better.

The honest truth is that this exercise is perfect because it makes the students think. It makes the students think and solve problems under a bit of pressure. The gear exchange is supposed to be a secret, but if you are in the dive master program, you know it is coming. And the stress that it brings. What it does is make you think and solve a problem with another person. It makes you slow down and work through the steps to accomplish the task at hand. It simulates a major problem with a diver underwater and provides steps in critical thinking so the divemaster candidates can solve that problem.

Dive Master, critical thinker and problem solver. Not just the boat driver and dive leader and tour guide.

Are you staying with in your dive limits?

During your PADI open water course we talk about staying within your dive limits and those of your buddy.  This video is out of just about everyone’s dive limits. But these divers have obviously had the special training and some would say insanity to plan and complete that dive.

So what are some things that make up our personal dive limits and those of our dive buddy?

First would be our level of training and experience. There is a dive in Curacao called Whatamula and it is an advanced dive, but even divers without advanced open water can go on the dive as long as they can show excellent buoyancy control.  The reason for this site being an advanced site is that the coral is so large and pristine that they limit the number and the skill of the divers to protect it.

Another factor in our dive limits might be our gear.  I personally am not going ice diving without a dry suit, ok even with one I am not going ice diving.  But, I do think my point is made that having the proper gear to make a dive will factor into your dive limits.

A third factor might be the actual shop/boat/crew that you would be diving with on that day. On most dives in Florida there will not be a dive master or guide in the water with you unless you arrange for one to be there. So if you are navigationally challenged you might want to practice with the compass or pay for a dive master to led you on the dive limitsdives.

Or this guy might show up to be your dive guide one day.  I have confidence that most of you would probably not dive with this guy. But at least you would have a great story to tell.

As you can see there are many different factors that make up your personal dive limits, but with experience and further training you can definitely expand upon your dive limits and keep exploring the underwater world that we all love and enjoy.

scuba joe

Are you a critter hunter?

The critter hunter is often asked after a dive “how did you see that?” and the most common answer is “it moved”. Now while it “moved” is the most common answer there is a bit more to finding these amazing little critters than just movement. So let us look at a few tips from successful critter hunters.

First a good critter hunter goes very slowly over the reef. Often times they are the last in the line of divers following the dive leader and looking under ledges and in side of cracks and even taking a long look at say a sea anemone. The reason for the slow movement along the reef is yes we can pick up subtle movement, but it also allows us to look very closely for the little critters.home critter hunter

 

 

The other thing a good critter hunter understands is the habitat of the sea life one is looking for.  Using our friend the anemone for example we can find different life in and around them and we are not just talking about Nemo.  We can find different types of little shrimp and crabs making their home in and under the anemone.

Just last week in Cozumel we saw lots of beautiful anemones and in just about half of them I found this guycritter hunter and in a few others hiding below and deep we found some little furry crabs.  Then there is the “cork screw anemone” that well it looks like a cork screw.  In there you can find different types of shrimp, mostly the Peterson Cleaner Shrimp and sometimes the Red Snapping shrimp with its big red claw that loves to pinch at our little pointers that you can place next to them.

Try these two little tips on your next dive and you will be the one saying, “well, it moved”

Electronic Dive Log VS Paper Dive Log

dive log book coverSome of our divers keep telling me that it is time for me to embrace technology and go with an electronic dive log. It is so simple they say (I know it is), all you do is just plug the cable into your dive computer and download your log. The electronic dive log will even show you your dive profile and all sorts of cool stuff. There is even an app that you can load your stuff into and it will save the GPS locations and you can upload pictures and all this cool stuff.

While it is true that the electronic dive log can and does give you all this neat stuff, but it only does it if you actually input the data. Your dive computer doesn’t know what you saw or what funny thing your buddy did. It doesn’t know how much weight you used or what wetsuit or if you got cold. The electronic dive log is only as good as you are about entering data.

Another issue with an electronic dive log, at least for me, is how dives are recorded. As an example, when we are conducting a pool session either a Discover Scuba or an Open Water class, our computers register that as a dive. So when you download the data into your electronic dive log it adds that pool session as a dive and inflates your dive numbers.

log book pageAnother advantage my old school paper dive log has is that it has the stamps and other fun stuff from the dive operator and resort that we dove with and other fun trivial things. Plus I don’t have to worry about the battery going poof on my paper log book.

As I say to every group on new divers. The log book is your personal diary of your diving. Paper log books still come in the student kit, but you can go with an app or when you buy your first dive computer, you can chose to start and electronic dive log. The choice is yours and there is no wrong decision.

As for me, well I will stick with my old school paper dive log.