Turtle Bay Dive Resort Blog

6 Things You Don’t Know About Dry Suit Diving

Posted by Featured Author on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 @ 08:18 PM
 by Brooke Morton
 

DrySuit

Rich Morin knows a lot about dry suits. Not only does he perform search-and-recovery operations under the ice for local police teams, he also teaches loads of Ice Diver certification courses through his PADI Five Star Dive Center, Rich Morin’s Pro Scuba Center in New York.

According to Morin, dry suits are a necessity for divers in his area who want to get as much time in the water as possible. “Because, we have nine months of winter and three months of bad sledding,” he says.

If you’re not already Dry Suit certified, here’s what you need to know to get started:

6. “The skills are nothing you can’t do,” says Morin.

One of the skills students must complete is to remove and replace the scuba unit and weight system.

“It’s something we’ve all done a million times, only now it’s a bit more challenging because of the bulk—and because you’ll need to disconnect and reconnect the inflator hose to the dry suit, which attaches on the bicep of the left arm, typically.

Dry Suit Specialty

 5. Yes, you will be upside-down in the suit at times, but that is part of the training.

Just as you did when you first got certified, you’ll learn to maneuver in a way that works with the equipment you’re wearing.

When you find your feet pointed skyward, you have a couple options. If you’re closer to the surface, ball up. Teaches Morin, “Tuck into a ball, then do a sit-up to be upright and vertical.” If there’s enough depth below you, kick down. “Swim down and then get horizontal—you’ll end up either on your belly or back, and if you’re on your back, just roll over,” says Morin.

4. Alpaca socks keep your feet the warmest.

“We’ve tried it all, and found that alpaca wool socks underneath the booties the manufacturer supplies do extremely well at keeping feet toasty warm.”

In addition to the socks, you’ll typically be wearing polypropylene t-shirt and pants. Then a fleece layer— shirt and pants. Then the undergarment/s supplied by the dry suit manufacturer.

drysuits

3. Everything happens in slower motion when it comes to buoyancy in a dry suit.

Air doesn’t escape the suit as quickly as it does a BC. A BC has no resistance thanks to the urethane coating. But, when you’re bundled up in layers of clothing under the dry suit, says Morin, “It takes time for the air to travel through the undergarments.” And so, he reminds divers to “really take your time adding and subtracting air—do it in small amounts but frequently.”

2. You have to move periodically to stay warm.

Your body heat will warm the air in the suit, but you’ll need to help it circulate. “If you’re always in a face-down position while diving, your back stays toasty but your belly gets cold, so every once in a while you have to roll to move that air around,” says Morin.

Dry Suit

1. It’s easier than you think.

“Unfortunately, a lot of dry suit divers like to dwell on the complexity of the dry suit,” says Morin. But there’s really no merit to this initiation-like speech. The whole course is typically taught in one day, with one confined-water session and two open-water dives. But that length of time should speak to how easily the skills are for most divers. Says Morin, “In fact, the number one thing that surprises people about dry suit diving is how easy it is.”

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Source: http://www2.padi.com/blog/2016/11/01/6-things-you-dont-know-about-dry-suit-diving/ 

 

Tags: diving tips, scuba diving, Moalboal, cebu dive resort, scuba

Marine Conservation for Kids

Posted by Featured Author on Sun, Oct 02, 2016 @ 01:47 PM

The future of our oceans lies with our children. As scuba-diving parents, we have a unique opportunity to share a love for marine conservation with our kids.

Divers generally have a great appreciation for the marine world and its inhabitants, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that those who enter that environment do so with appropriate respect, just as we respect each other’s homes when we visit. After all, we are guests in the marine environment — and uninvited guests, at that. As diving parents, we know that marine conservation for kids becomes even more important. We can teach our children about the marine environment and how to protect it long before they’re old enough to dive.

Marine conservation for kids

Unfortunately, one of the first, and most important lessons, that children learn is that people are the biggest problem when it comes to protecting our marine world. From litter and pesticides washing into the seas, to drilling for oil that leaks into the oceans, to introduction of non-native species, we have been abysmal stewards of our oceans. While all of these seem like huge problems, which a child will likely feel helpless to affect, it’s appropriate to start small and teach them what they can do. Make sure they dispose of trash properly. Model good behavior by drinking from reusable water bottles, and limit your family’s fish consumption, if you eat seafood at all. Little things can make a big difference over time. As children become old enough to dive, there are many more ways for them to support marine conservation.

We are in someone else’s home

I have always taken the approach to the marine environment that I am in those creatures’ living rooms. And I have arrived uninvited. So, when we teach our children about marine conservation, we relate it to going to a friend’s house. Kids are expected to be on their best behavior on a visit, to use their manners and clean up after themselves. The same holds true underwater.

When diving or snorkeling, children should be polite to the sea creatures, use their best manners, and look for opportunities to leave the environment in as good or better shape than they found it. This means that we observe the animals and the coral, but we keep our hands to ourselves. We should not disturb the animals or try to get them to move so we can get a better view or picture. Finally, when we see trash, we pick it up, unless trying to collect it could damage coral or animal life even more.

Be aware of our surroundings

I remember watching a woman on a dive trip who wanted to get a picture of anything the divemaster showed us. She focused only on where her camera was and where the object of her photo was. At one point she lunged in to get the picture, spread her entire body over a fan coral, and then laid down on it. It was horrifying to watch. Some of the divers in the group began to physically move this woman off of and away from things — my husband picked up her fin tips at one point because she was kicking some of the coral formations as she adjusted to get the photo she wanted.

We have told our children this story to help them understand the need to be aware of their surroundings, their bodies and their equipment. We wouldn’t necessarily want children to physically confront another diver who may be harming marine life, so it’s wise to help your children think through how to manage the situation if they see divers behaving badly. Children can take a proactive role by letting you or the divemaster know, in private, that one of the divers needs some coaching on reef etiquette. Children will feel more invested in marine health themselves if they’re encouraged to take control of a bad situation and affect change.

Food webs and food chains

Children study food webs and food chains in school right around the same time they can start diving. Use this newfound knowledge as a teaching tool on how these systems work in the marine environment. From hearing parrotfish munching on coral to seeing big fish feeding on krill, learning about the marine food chain is a great way to demonstrate the importance of even the smallest organism.

As we rely on our children to become the new guardians of our planet, we must educate them early and often about how they can help us reverse course on the damage that we’ve already done, particularly to the marine environment. The earlier they learn, the more ingrained good habits will become, and the higher the likelihood that they can help educate their peers. Marine conservation for kids means not only educating children today, but ensuring the survival of our oceans tomorrow.

 

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BY CHRISTINE BRINKLEY

Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/marine-conservation-kids/

Tags: scuba diving

Top Nine Dive Travel Regrets

Posted by Featured Author on Sun, Oct 02, 2016 @ 01:45 PM

As divers, we often seek out exotic locales around the world, but things can go wrong. Make every dive a good dive on your next trip by avoiding these top nine dive travel regrets.

As divers, our adventurous spirits often spur travel to exotic dive spots. But things can sometimes go wrong, from problems on the dive boat to poor planning on our part. Avoid these top nine dive travel regrets (of which I have personal experience) and you’ll be much more likely to make every dive a good dive on your next trip.

1.     Being left at sea

My best friend and I booked a boat dive with a trusted shop, and headed out in calm seas. Things quickly went south after the boat left us in stormy open water 15 miles from shore for 1-1/2 hours. The anchor line broke while the temporary captain was asleep at the helm. Subsequently he drifted away from our group of 10, along with two divemasters, as a hurricane blew in early. The captain hadn’t marked our location and woke up many miles away. He tried to find us, but couldn’t hear our whistles or see our safety sausages in crashing 6-foot waves. Scared of the consequences, the captain waited too long to contact the dive shop for help. Although he did contact the dive shop and we were rescued, this story could have turned out much differently.

Although a boat probably won’t leave you at sea, it could happen. You may also become separated from your group due to strong currents. In any case, buy a Nautilus Lifeline or Personal Locator Beacon. Or get both, since neither works in every situation.

2.     Not doing your research

Before a liveaboard trip in the Maldives, I researched the boat, the flight, the country and the dive shop organizing the trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t research the dive conditions in the area, which included ripping currents as well as down currents. Consequently, when a whirlpool sucked me downward during a safety stop, I was clueless and had to quickly figure out what to do while low on air deep underwater.

This would have been far easier to handle if I had been prepared. Do your research on what to expect underwater before you splash in, from a(vailable medical treatment) to z(oography).

3.     Trusting your air to another person

I’ve always gone diving with respected shops. I’ve serviced my gear regularly and tested my air before every dive via a few breaths through my regulator. Imagine my shock when my service guy told me he believed I had been diving with bad air. He saw a massive amount of black soot in my regulator and hose. He explained that he had seen a number of shops with poor compressor maintenance, as well as ones that used maxi pads in lieu of the more expensive air filters.

Don’t trust your precious air to another person. Contaminated gas may not always have an unusual smell or taste, a clear warning that something is off. Buy a combo carbon-monoxide and oxygen analyzer and use it religiously on each tank.

4.     Returning to the same location

I loved Barbados on my first visit. So when I had a four-day weekend coming up, another trip to the island made sense. I didn’t need to do any research and just knew the trip would be wonderful. It was a nice trip, but nowhere near as fantastic as the initial visit, simply because it wasn’t a new, exciting location.

Although some will disagree with me, I think returning to the same dive destination over and over is a mistake. Returning somewhere you love is easy, but with so many other incredible dive destinations for you to discover, why limit yourself?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5.     Participating in feeding dives

All of my shark-, ray-, grouper- and eel-feeding dives thrilled me. Who wouldn’t want to get a kiss from a stingray as shown in my photo? It wasn’t until my dolphin dive that I became uneasy. The operation billed the dolphins as “semi-wild.” Supposedly, the animals could leave for open ocean if they liked. When the dive was blown out, the shop allowed us to swim with the dolphins in their overnight enclosure.

The pen seemed small to me, but it was the tricks the dolphins performed for food that made me begin to question whether this was ethical. A few years later, I read an article on the horrors of dolphin captivity, citing a former trainer. When I realized she had been the head trainer for the “semi-wild” dolphins I visited, I felt sick. I channeled my revulsion and anger into research on all the different types of dives where food is offered.

Although swimming with captive or semi-captive dolphins is different than feeding wild sharks on dives, I also regret participating in these types of experiences. You’ll meet divers on both sides of the feeding-dive controversy. I used to be a proponent, believing that these dives made people more aware of and interested in marine life. Now, I avoid dives where a trainer offers food. I’ve become convinced that these dives put divers and/or marine life at risk. There are so many dive spots in the world to see cool marine life. I still dive with swirling sharks, pods of dolphins, rays, groupers and eels. The difference now is that none are captive or frenzied by free food, and I have no ethical dilemmas.

6.     Remaining with a bad dive shop

I loved the Bahamian dive shop I took my friend to for her Open Water certification dives. At least until they tried to force my newly certified pal to dive very deep on an advanced dive, and then mocked me when I questioned them. I should have found another dive shop for the remainder of the trip, but I didn’t and I still regret it years later.

If you are unhappy with your dive shop or feel they are putting you at risk, change shops — simple as that. Forget about the hassle, the cost and loyalty. Your life and happiness are more important.

7.     Blowing every dive for photos

I waited a long time to take my camera underwater. Wanting to perfect my skills first, my 100th dive was my magical entry to underwater photography. I adored it as much as I did on land. Going through my photos after the trip, though, I realized I had spent every single day trying to take the perfect shot and didn’t enjoy the dives as much.

Take some photos to remember the trip. But unless you’re a professional photographer, don’t spend every dive trying to capture a photo you can easily find online. Unplug and just enjoy the dive.

 

8.     Not wearing insect repellent 100 percent of the time

Ever wonder what it’s like to live in another country? I found out when I got a bad case of dengue fever. I had to remain in the Philippines for six weeks at the the Culion Sanitarium Hospital, known for its historical leper colony.

Wear bug spray, all the time — day and night, even if there are few mosquitoes. Mosquitoes bit me only five times, but it only takes once. Trust me, you don’t want to get dengue (or chikungunya, Zika or malaria).

9.    Considering separate travel insurance nonessential

A tale of two trips: one to the Philippines where I got dengue fever and another to the Solomon Islands, where my liveaboard broke down. Both dive trips had unforeseen circumstances, but I only had flight and dive insurance during the former trip. On the latter, I also had separate travel insurance. Guess which vacation ended with a fat check from the insurance company, not only covering the entire pre-paid trip, but also ensuring that my continued stay in the area and any extra costs were covered?

Separate travel insurance is expensive, but completely worth it, so don’t skimp up front.

 

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/top-nine-dive-travel-regrets/

BY FEATURED AUTHOR BETH MCCREA

Tags: scuba diving Cebu

Calorie Counting Tips for Divers

Posted by Featured Author on Sun, Oct 02, 2016 @ 01:41 PM

Counting calories is one of the ways we measure our fuel intake vs. our energy expenditure. Why does it matter for divers?

We eat to stay alive, fuel our daily activities, and to heal the body. Our body is designed to enjoy the taste of food. So why do we count calories? Counting calories is one of several ways to measure how much fuel in the form of food and drink we consume and how much energy we expend through the body’s metabolic processes, daily activities and exercise. Most of us either consciously or unconsciously count the calories we consume; here are a few of our best calorie counting tips for divers.

 

Calorie counting tips for divers

The easiest way to count calories is to use a “food counts” book. Food counts books, similar to food labels, tell us how many calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, sodium and other nutrients are in a particular food. Some apps can provide a similar service online.

Fat has nine calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates have only four calories per gram. So based on calories alone, it seems that a diver who wants to lose body weight should avoid fat in the diet. But calories alone are not as important as the type of food. There are “good” fats like those found in avocados, for example. Some divers are already at an ideal body weight and eat to fuel exercise and sports. Long-distance runners actually rely on dietary fat for fuel to complete events that can last for hours. Divers, however, need very little fat as fuel for diving.

Limit your fats

Diving is a moderate activity, and with dives lasting less than an hour and surface-interval snacking, fat consumption of any kind is best kept to 15 percent or less of daily calories. Other macronutrient recommendations for diving are 55 percent of calories from carbohydrates and 35 percent from protein. This macronutrient combination is based on the muscle energetics of activities like sitting, walking and standing under the load of dive gear, moving around on the surface of the water and fin-kick swimming at depth. Fresh whole foods and natural lean proteins offer lots of efficient, healthy fuel. Divers can eat chicken, fish, beef, turkey, tofu and even lean pork up to four times a day.  Divers can also eat unlimited quantities of vegetables and several portions of fruit each day, giving them many choices to satisfy hunger and maintain a better body composition.

Practice mindful eating

Sometimes eating is for pleasure and food is almost always a part of celebrations. Other times, eating is mindless or because of stress and anxiety. Focus on your hunger, not boredom, to practice mindful eating. Eating small, frequent meals helps divers avoid cravings, overeating and binging, especially while watching television or at the movies. Remember, beverages often have more calories than foods. Soda, fancy coffees, and sports drinks are usually loaded with sugar, fats and stimulants. Eating protein first gives carbohydrates a place to land, helps regulate blood-sugar levels and makes the meal more satisfying.

How many calories do you need?

How many calories should a diver eat each day? A very general rule is to add a zero to your body weight. A diver weighing 185 pounds and planning to lose body fat might begin with a guideline of 1,850 calories as a baseline. Dives can decrease calories based on individual metabolic rate and increase calories to accommodate daily activities and exercise. Once you’ve determined your total daily caloric needs, structure your meal planning and portions by using calorie-counting tools or a food scale. Weighing food will help you visualize portion size and can make programmed eating easier.

Calorie counting and measuring don’t work for everyone, however. Healthy eating on the fly is best for some divers who don’t have time for measuring. Focusing too much on food can also represent a stumbling block. Avoiding bad fats and sugars is imperative to eating on the fly. Six small meals that include protein, fruits and vegetables spread out throughout the day will help maintain physical energy and mental acuity. New habits become part of a healthy lifestyle once a diver understands how important it is to eat foods with the highest nutritional value and the least calories. Visualizing portion sizes, paying attention to natural hunger, and eating smaller, more frequent meals are all part of a healthy lifestyle as well.

 

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/calorie-counting-tips-divers/

By Gretchen M. Ashton

Tags: diving tips, scuba diving, diving vacations, scuba

Buying Your Own Scuba Gear: Pros, Cons and Practical Advice

Posted by Featured Author on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 @ 12:57 PM

 by

Source: http://www2.padi.com/blog/2016/08/21/buying-scuba-gear-pros-cons-practical-advice/

Scuba gear - wetsuits

When it comes to buying your own scuba diving gear it can be difficult to know when you should buy and what you should buy. Here are some guidelines as well as pros, cons and suggestions for both new divers and experienced divers to help you navigate your way around the dive store!

Is it necessary for me to buy scuba diving gear?

Usually it is not necessary to own any of your own scuba gear to start diving or to go on diving trips. However, in some remote areas and on liveaboards (which have limited space for storing gear) you may be required to have at least your own basics – mask, snorkel, fins and wetsuit.

So why buy scuba diving gear if I can rent?

There are numerous positives to owning your own gear, here are the main ones:

  1. Comfort and Fit: When you buy your own gear you’ll take some time trying on different sizes and styles to get the item that is most comfortable for you. This is important – a badly fitting rental BCD or leaking mask can really take away from your diving enjoyment.
  2. Safety through Familiarity: When you have your own gear you get familiar with it, you know exactly where everything is which increases safety – your SMB is in the same pocket as it always is; you know where your alternate air source is and it’s easy to locate other accessories.
  3. Long Term Saving: Depending on where you are diving equipment rental prices can vary considerably. If you are doing a lot of diving then over a period time you can make a considerable saving to the point where, in some cases, your gear can pay for itself.
  4. The right item for the job: Some divers have certain gear requirements which may not be guaranteed if you are renting. For example, an underwater photographer may need large BCD pockets to store interchangeable wet lenses.
  5. Multi-purpose: Not all scuba diving gear is only for scuba diving. If you have your own mask, snorkel and fins you can pack them for any beach holiday; wetsuits and rash vests can be used for other water sports and many dive computers also include free-diving modes.
  6. Dive Computers: Each dive computer has different settings, buttons, menu, functions and algorithms. Trying to figure out a different model of rental computer each time you dive can sometimes be time consuming and frustrating. Having your own computer means you will get to know how it works and many computers record your dives and will link up to your laptop so you can transfer your logged dives instantly.

Scuba gear - regulator

 Okay, so what do you need to consider when purchasing gear?

  1. Taking it on holidays: If you are planning to dive on holidays then consider your baggage allowance. Some airlines will give an additional allowance for scuba gear – if they do not then you could be charged for excess baggage at the airport.
  2. Different Locations, Different Requirements: That 3mm shortie that you love may be great when you dive at home but what about when you travel to cooler waters?
  3. Servicing and Maintenance: If you have your own gear then you need to look after it and this extends beyond rinsing it after diving. Regulators need servicing and parts replacing periodically; dive computers need battery changes and BCD inflator hoses need to be cared for.
  4. Storage: You will need somewhere to store your gear at home when you are not using it. This should be somewhere cool and dry.
  5. Try Before You Buy: Here’s the kicker with diving gear, you can try it on in the shop but not in the water!
  6. Finances: There is no way around this one – buying a full set of gear can be a considerable investment but as we said earlier, it can pay for itself in the long term.

Confused? Here are some suggestions:

  1. When you rent gear ask to use different options during your stay so you can see which one is working best for you. If you find something you like make a note of the manufacturer and model. Ask if you can purchase it there or if they know where it is available.
  1. In the dive store, before you buy any item, take your time and try on plenty of different models – make it clear to the sales staff what type of diving you will be doing and what your requirements are.
  1. Think about where you will be diving and the type of diving. If you want to dive on holidays then consider travel BCDs which are light weight and roll up in your luggage. If you know you will be diving mainly at home and not moving around then a heavier duty BCD might be more suitable.
  1. When purchasing a mask remember that fit is everything, the best mask in the world will not work for you it doesn’t fit properly.
  1. If you are a “travelling diver”, buy a wetsuit combination that gives you several options for different water temperatures. A good 5mm wetsuit with a 3mm shortie covers most eventualities; the shortie for tropical water, the 5mm for temperate waters and the 3mm shortie over the 5mm for cooler waters.
  1. Ask about package deals in your dive store – many offer mask, snorkel and fin combos as well as regulator and BCD combos. These can reflect good savings but don’t buy something unsuitable just because of the price. Go to the store with a clear idea of your requirements such as single lens mask, big BCD pockets, integrated weights, computer free diving mode and open heel fins etc. This will help you stay on track and not get overwhelmed by too many choices. Take advice but remember what you need and want.
  1. Step by Step Purchasing: Keep it in mind that you do not need to buy a full set of gear. It’s easy with scuba equipment to gradually accumulate your set.

Safety First! Always make sure that you buy from a reputable dealer and follow any manufacturers’ instructions. If you’re keen to find your nearest PADI Dive Centre with a retail outlet, search the PADI Dive Shop Locator.

 

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Tags: scuba diving, scuba gear

Circuit Training for Scuba Diving

Posted by Featured Author on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 @ 12:52 PM

Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/05/16/circuit-training-for-scuba-diving/

By Gretchen M. Ashton

 

Circuit training is a great way to gradually improve your fitness level in preparation for dive season.

Circuit training, which targets strength building and muscular endurance, prepares the body for a wide variety of physical activities using both small and large muscles.It’s like a wake-up call, producing feelings of high energy shortly after your workout and throughout the day. Circuit training is an excellent complement to your diving — work out on non-diving days, 24 hours before or after diving to help avoid the risk of DCS — because it’s a moderate workout that, when performed correctly, maintains and gradually improves your fitness level while avoiding injury and overexertion. The sequenced, fast-paced method helps divers stick with an exercise program because it saves time, holds interest and improves fitness level quickly when performed several times each week with consistency. Along with improving physical strength and endurance, circuit training requires divers to learn individual exercises; combine multiple muscle groups; link the exercises into a series; utilize a wide variety of equipment and body-weight movements; and change the exercises, sets, reps and rests every six weeks. Beginners should plan to learn about 12 exercises. Train at a rhythmic pace and shoot for between 12 and 20 repetitions per set for each exercise. Once you can complete three series, or circuits, in 60 minutes or less, it’s time to gradually increase the resistance.

Circuit Training for Scuba Diving

How is circuit training specifically helpful for diving? The neuromuscular system, made up of the brain, spinal cord and muscle fibers, gives us the ability to think or plan and then perform a movement or series of skills. Circuit training is an excellent way to enhance these automatic responses, which we need for diving.

Learning to dive requires us to master a variety of specific skills and then link these skills spontaneously and successfully — being able to perform one skill well does not mean a diver will be good at other skills related to the sport. Diving performance is also affected by the complexity and possibilities of each skill and the patterns of combining skills. In other words, practice makes perfect — but only if the skill is practiced correctly. Further, practicing specific skills in a pool or other body of water is not the same as spontaneously performing the skills on a dynamic dive. The broader the variety and number of skills a diver masters, theoretically, the better diver they become. Circuit training also requires mastery of a set of skills, performed in sequence, allowing divers to train the body with the goal of improved automatic responses associated with diving.

Proper Circuit Training

The biggest down side to circuit training is that it’s not necessarily a year-round training program, and many divers stay in the same routine for too long. The body adapts quickly, so the routine must be changed up to include periods of foundational strength training during the off-season. For diving, it’s also best to alternate circuit training with cardio workouts, which focus solely on training the heart and lungs. Injuries can occur when circuit training if the exercises are performed incorrectly or too quickly because of light resistance. Divers should also become familiar with any equipment they use, as well as the proper adjustments on seats and pads for their height. Remember to take short — if any — breaks. Usually the time required to move from one exercise to the next is enough of a breather. Crowded fitness centers can make timely circuits difficult to complete, so if a modular machine is being used, try the cable station for the next exercise. Sometimes the sequence can change based on equipment availability — just keep moving. Remember to warm up with 10 minutes of aerobic exercise. Be flexible, plan ahead and have fun.

 

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Tags: diving tips, scuba diving

Keeping Your Dive Skills Fresh

Posted by Featured Author on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 @ 12:41 PM

By RICHARD DEVANNEY

Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/06/11/keeping-dive-skills-fresh/

Being able to confidently undertake any skill makes you a good buddy and a safe diver, and the only way to ensure competence is through regular practice.

Keeping your dive skills fresh doesn’t mean you need a refresher course or that you must devote an entire dive to skills, rather, you can practice one or two skills at the beginning or end of any dive. But if, like many divers, you only dive once a year on vacation, you should enroll in a refresher course before diving. An afternoon re-familiarizing yourself with buoyancy control and fundamental skills under the guidance of a divemaster or instructor will help dust off those cobwebs and allow you to enjoy your dives with confidence.

If, on the other hand, you dive regularly, then you most likely don’t need reminding about how to control your buoyancy. But what about other diving skills? When was the last time you practiced them? If you’ve never needed a refresher, then chances are good that you last devoted time to skills practice during your Open Water course. But if that was a number of years ago, do feel confident that you would be able to calmly and effectively help a buddy in need of assistance, or commit a successful self-rescue? Can you honestly even remember what that might entail?

What You Should Know

Emergency skills include sharing air and ending your dive with a low-on-air/out-of-air buddy; dealing with an inflating BCD to prevent an uncontrolled ascent; ascending safely to the surface with a free-flowing regulator; and, if you are unable to keep air in your BCD, achieving positive buoyancy by ditching your weights. You’ll likely have to clear water from your mask during many dives, so setting aside time for practice shouldn’t be necessary, but you might want to practice mask removal and putting it back on underwater.

There’s a lot to be said for practicing skills on dry land first, but you should ultimately practice in shallow water. If you’re not sure of the process, ask a divemaster or active instructor from your training agency.

If you are being led by a divemaster on vacation, it’s always worth telling them that you want to brush up on your skills. They will have other divers to look out for during the dive, but most will be willing to help you practice a skill at the end of a dive.

Suggestions for each skill include:

Regulator recovery

Have your left hand on your alternate before taking your primary out of your mouth, and try to practice while remaining horizontal. Remember to blow bubbles any time the regulator is not in your mouth.

Out of air

Practice this situation with your buddy at the end of the dive after completing the safety stop. Ensure that you have fully briefed the skill with your buddy, as different agencies teach slightly different ways of doing the skill.

Free-flowing regulator

It’s best to practice this at the end of your dive after the safety stop as well, with your buddy looking out for you as you slowly ascend to the surface. On the next dive you’ll do the same for them.

Inflating LPI (low-pressure inflator)

Just practice the key steps — raise the LPI high, with your finger ready on the deflate button, and disconnect the hose with your right hand. After the safety stop is a good time for this one, too. Reconnect the LPI before ending your dive.

Ditching weights

You can practice this on the surface as long as you’re sure there are no divers below you. Let some air out of your BCD until you can remain vertical and at eye level with the surface. Feel for the weight belt in the way you were trained, then remove it and hold it out to the side away from your body. Don’t let go of it before putting it back on. If you’ve got a weight-integrated BCD, practice pulling the pouches out of the pockets. Ensure that your buddy is watching out for boat traffic.

Oral inflation

Before the dive, you can let all of the air out of your BCD and kick while blowing air back into it until you achieve positive buoyancy. Make this a regular habit.

Other emergency skills include the controlled emergency swimming ascent and controlled emergency buoyant ascent. I would recommend that you only practice these skills with an instructor or divemaster in a controlled environment, such as a swimming pool.

Any other skills I’ve forgotten about? How about awareness? Good awareness will often reduce the need to use any of the skills mentioned above, as you’ll already be on the lookout for problems throughout the dive, and will be able to deal with them before they become a bigger issue.

Finally, don’t just practice these skills robotically. Understand not only how to do them, but also why you might need them, as well as when you might need them. Reducing the likelihood that something will go wrong is as important as being able to effectively deal with a situation if it does. Keeping these skills fresh will allow you to not only enjoy your dives more, but also to know that you’re better prepared should something go wrong.

 

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Tags: diving tips, scuba diving, scuba

Top 10 Tips for Drift Dives

Posted by Featured Author on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 @ 12:37 PM

By Hélène Reynaud

Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/06/26/top-10-tips-drift-dives/

 

Drift diving can offer you some of the most exhilarating dives of your life, but before you begin, it’s important to understand and master some of the techniques for diving in currents.

Drift diving is broadly defined as diving in a current, wherein the diver is transported from point A to point B by the water movement rather than by their own power. Drift diving makes for some of the best underwater “flying” sensations and can be truly exhilarating. Divers can also cover a much larger area while drifting in the current. On some dive sites, the current attracts bigger fish and you can witness some serious hunting or feeding — there are dozens of great reasons to drift dive. However, if you’re new to drift diving or uncomfortable in a strong current, here are a few tricks and tips to make these high-speed dives more enjoyable.

Photo by Mark.murphy

Photo by Mark.murphy

Carry and use an SMB

Even if you’re not a regular drift diver, you should always carry a surface marker buoy (SMB) with you. Plan for safety. If you drift too far away from other divers in your group, you will need to be able to signal on your own for a safe ascent. Carry an SMB and learn to deploy if from depth — which means you should also have a reel — so you can safely use it if necessary. Practice deploying it in easy conditions so that you’re ready to launch it in more difficult conditions if need be. 

Know the local area

If you’re unfamiliar with where you’re diving, pick up some literature about local sites and currents. You need to know information such as tidal movements, specifically, dive sites to avoid on rising or falling tides. Those who are new to drift diving, or just unfamiliar with the area, will probably want to dive with a guide. Preferably a good guide, which brings us to the next tip…

Choose your dive operator carefully

If you’re diving somewhere that conditions can be challenging, don’t settle for anything less than an excellent dive operator. If you’re renting, check the gear; check the reviews on the Internet; ask about their first-aid supplies and missing-diver protocols. You do not want to cheap out when you’re diving in strong currents. Look for experienced crew, a knowledgeable captain and an excellent dive guide – you need to know that they’ve got your back should the current get the best of you.

Know what to do in case of separation

This is a standard procedure for diving in general: if you lose the rest of your group, look around for one minute and then ascend slowly to the surface and signal to the boat for help. Your dive guide should mention this in the dive briefing; make sure your buddy is familiar with this procedure as well. And if for any reason this does happen during a dive, especially a drift dive, you should absolutely follow this procedure.

Triple check your equipment

Of course you should always dive with equipment in perfect condition, but when a fin strap breaks in a current, it’s a bit more challenging to deal with than on a standard dive. If you’re going to be doing a few drift dives, make sure all your gear and safety equipment is in working order before you jump in the water.

Do not get distracted

Try to concentrate on just the dive — you need to be hyper-aware of your surroundings and changing conditions during a drift dive. Taking a large, bulky camera might not be appropriate in some currents. Trying new dive equipment, such as a mask you just bought, can also be difficult, as it will take your focus away from the dive. Stay in your comfort zone and work on your technique until you feel confident.
best-divers-reef-hook-single

Carry a reef hook

Ask the dive guide about local regulations and recommendations for using reef hooks; in some areas they’re not allowed, and on some dives, they’re required. In strong currents, a hook can allow you to rest or hold your position without becoming overexerted. A properly placed reef hook can also allow you to stay off the reef comfortably without damaging corals.

Do not fight the current

Learn to read the current and then work with it, not against it — the ocean will always be stronger than you. The water movement is slower the closer you are to the reef or bottom, so try to stay as low as possible. Watch your dive guide and see where they place themselves underwater; do as they do. If you need to slow down or stop to wait for the rest of your group to catch up, get close to the bottom and gently fin against the current, or find a big rock to hide behind. Avoid exhaustion, which can lead to a low air supply, panic or a bad dive experience.

Take a specialty course or get experience

A lot of training agencies offer specialty courses in drift diving, which can be quite useful to help hammer home the basics, but nothing beats experience. So if drift diving appeals to you, before throwing yourself into the “Vortex” or whatever that crazy-strong-current dive site is called, treat yourself to a few days of drift dives with good professionals in current that you can handle.

Trust your instincts

If you get to the dive site, or if at any point during your dive you suddenly feel that you need to get out of the water, it might be your instincts telling you the conditions are unsuitable for you that day. Getting out of your comfort zone and a bit of apprehension is fine, but don’t take a giant leap into a situation that scares you. Be cautious — if you feel a certain dive is way too much for you, it probably is. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing a dive you’re extremely uncomfortable with, and don’t pressure yourself. Know your limits when it comes to currents; respect them and your abilities, and soon you’ll be drift diving like a pro.

 

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Tags: scuba

How to Ascend from a Dive

Posted by Featured Author on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 @ 12:32 PM

By Thomas Gronfeldt 

Surfacing properly when scuba diving is the key to safety.

A recent accident in Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay, Thailand, wherein a speedboat propeller struck two surfacing Russian scuba divers, resulted in one of them losing a leg and the other receiving deep lacerations. When accidents like this occur, it’s worth revisiting the safest possible ascension procedures. This article is not intended to assign blame or claim to know how it could have been prevented, but the incident does remind us that, as scuba divers, we must always be vigilant to minimize the risk of run-ins with passing watercraft. Here are a few of our tips on how to ascend from a dive.

Carry a Dive-Flag Buoy

If you’re on a guided dive in an area with boat traffic, the divemaster should have a dive-flag buoy, which will accompany your party on the surface to let watercraft know exactly where you are underwater. When it’s time to surface, do so as near as you can to the buoy. If it’s just you and a buddy on a dive, one of you should deploy the dive-flag buoy for the same reasons. 

Start Early

Remember that a proper ascent takes some time, so begin by taking into account your remaining air, your no-decompression limit and personal factors, such as cold and fatigue. Ascend while you’re still fresh and on top of things. 

Go Slow

Most organizations recommend a maximum ascent speed of 30 feet (9 m) per minute. Orient yourself as you begin your ascent, noting where you are in terms of your planned surfacing point. Start looking up to get an idea of the conditions above. Is the sea calm or choppy? Do you see a lot of boat traffic, or do you have the water to yourself? As you ascend, keep an eye on your depth gauge and timer to make sure you’re rising slowly enough. 

Stop

Even if it isn’t a requirement for non-decompression dives, pretty much all dive organizations and dive computers recommend a safety stop for any dive deeper than 33 feet (10 m), typically at 15 feet (5 m) for three minutes. Use your safety stop to scan the surface for any boats (including your own dive boat), kayaks, or other vessels. Listen for propellers as well, as you’ll hear a boat much sooner than you’ll see it. You won’t be able to determine where it’s coming from though, so watch the surface.

Surface

When you’ve finished your safety stop, become neutrally buoyant before beginning your ascent, and maintain neutral buoyancy throughout. Fin gently if you must. Ascend as slowly as possible, but don’t spend the entire time looking at your dive computer. Instead, scan the surface, rotating as you ascend to give yourself a 360-degree view. Most organizations recommend that you ascend with one hand above your head, holding your low-pressure inflator at the highest possible point so that you can dump air from your BCD if necessary. This is also partly to ensure that if you do encounter a boat propeller, at least it will be your hand and arm that takes the hit rather than your head. If there’s boat traffic overhead, delay your final ascent until it’s clear, air-permitting, or swim to another location. 

Come up Close

Ascend as close to your dive boat or dive buoy as you can, as mentioned above, since other boats will typically keep their distance. If you have neither, and there is boat traffic in the area, send up a DSMB before surfacing to give boats and other vessels fair warning that people are coming up.

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/03/18/how-to-ascend-from-a-dive/

Choosing Your First Regulator

Posted by Featured Author on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 02:08 PM

By Andy Phillips

Once you’ve decided to invest in your own regulator, the number of options out there can be intimidating. Here are a few helpful tips to help you choose your first one.

Choosing your first regulator is almost as much fun as choosing your first car (in our opinion). But with the plethora of options out there — DIN or yoke, balanced or unbalanced, black or color, your instructor’s recommendation, etc. — how do you know what’s right for you?

Your regulator is one of the most important investments you’ll make. You’ll rely on it for life support, and any problems/failures with your regulator are obviously more immediately concerning. Poorly maintained rental regulators tend to leak more, which depletes your air supply and can raise anxiety. They’re generally harder to breathe from as well, and may not be the most hygienic.

In short, if I could travel with only two pieces of dive equipment, I’d choose my regulator and dive computer. Drawing on my 20 years as a dive professional, as well as advice from two well-seasoned colleagues, we’ve put together a few tips for you to consider when it comes to choosing your first regulator.

legend_lx_twilight_din.png

DIN or yoke

Depending on where you’re purchasing and whether you ask, you may not have a choice. In North America, most retailers will offer yoke/A-clamp by default. In Europe or the U.K., you’ll most likely have the option to purchase a DIN. For more on the difference between a yoke and DIN configuration, check here. If you intend to do lots of deep or technical dives, or ones in overhead environments, we recommend DIN regulators. This connection tends to be stronger and is preferred for that type of diving. DIN regulators can easily be converted to yoke/A-clamp configurations with an adaptor (usually an additional purchase), or by removing a donut fitting from the valve face. That said, most first-time regulator purchases, at least in the U.S. and tropics, will be yoke-style, and these can be converted to DIN as well.

Budget or premium (often known as unbalanced or balanced)

While price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor on such a crucial piece of equipment, economics of course play a part in the decision-making process. Unbalanced regulators are at the lower end of the price spectrum. With both piston and diaphragm designs, these typically breathe a little harder as the tank pressure drops, when you’re breathing at deeper depths, or when two divers breathe at the same time. Balanced regulators tend to breathe evenly across the dive, both at depth and when your tank pressure drops. If money is no object, many are available in titanium or colored finishes. If you regularly dive at deeper depths, beyond 80 feet (24 m) or in challenging conditions, such as cold water or strong currents, then a balanced reg is the way to go.

Ease of service/parts

Frequent divers, especially those who travel a lot or aspire to a career as a dive professional, may want to choose a well-known brand such as Scubapro or Aqua Lung. These will be easier to find service or parts for those in remote locations. Your choice when it comes to unbalanced vs. balanced may also depend on how much you travel. On small islands and in remote locations you can usually get parts and service for an unbalanced regulator.

environmentally sealed regulator

Environmentally sealed

If you’ll be diving in cold water, an environmentally sealed regulator prevents potential freezing, which could result in a free-flow. In Europe, regulations require an environmentally sealed regulator for diving in waters as cold as 35 to 39 F (2 to 4 C). It’s also wise to purchase a sealed regulator to prevent debris build-up if you’re diving in waters that are high in silt, sand or other particulates. This type of regulator tends to be more expensive. If you cannot afford this feature when you buy it, you may be able to adapt or upgrade the regulator at a later date.

Additional features to consider

Venturi/inhalation assist: these valves make breathing from the second-stage diaphragm easier at depth and, when in the “off” setting, help avoid free-flows at the surface.

Miflex/length of hoses: While you can change hoses, they should configured in such a way that they’re comfortable for each diver to breathe from. If you’re using an alternate rather than an Air2 setup, it should be on a slightly longer hose (6 to 8 inches).Miflex hoses are popular with some divers due to their flexibility and versatility. If you pack your regulator in your carry-on luggage when flying, these hoses also make it easier to stow.

Number of ports: Ideally, you’ll have two high-pressure ports so that you’ve got the option to add an air-integrated transmitter as well as your submersible pressure gauge. The first stage should also have four low-pressure ports so that you can connect your primary air source, alternate air source, a low-pressure BCD inflator and a drysuit inflator hose.

Weight: As airlines get stricter and stricter on travel allowances, every bit of extra weight makes a difference. Many manufacturers have taken this into account and have made lighter or smaller first stages, but you should make sure this doesn’t affect performance or limit the features listed above. Many divers will travel with their regulator in their carry-on baggage to protect it, as well as reduce the weight of checked baggage.

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/07/06/choosing-first-regulator/

Tags: diving tips, scuba diving, diving, diving vacations