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
Did 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, 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.
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 dives.
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.