Turtle Bay Dive Resort Blog

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

The World’s Best Lake Dives

Posted by Featured Author on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

By Trevor Sanford

Although scuba diving is most frequently associated with the ocean, there are many amazing landlocked sites as well. Here are 10 of the world’s best lake dives.

Although people most often associate scuba diving and the ocean, there are plenty of amazing freshwater dives as well. There are roughly 42,320 square miles of lakes in the world — a tiny drop when compared to the ocean — but still a massive volume of water. Here are our picks for the world’s best lake dives, in no particular order, to get you started on your freshwater diving adventure.

best lakes for diving

Grüner See

Weissensee, Austria

Landlocked Austria features many lakes — you may be familiar with the crystal-clear water of the Grüner See (Green Lake, which unfortunately is no longer open to divers. Fear not, as the Weissensee (White Lake) also has amazing vis. The lake is around seven miles (11 km) long and 318 feet deep (97 m) at the deepest point. The water quality is purportedly nearly good enough to drink right out of the lake. During the summer, the surface temps can reach 75 F (24 C).  The lake is also famous for its ice diving, so it’s well worth a visit in the winter months.

Dolomitovy Pit, Russia

It may be off-the-beaten-scuba track, but Russia offers adventure aplenty. though the country’s vast size means travel planning is often quite complicated. We’ve chosen this former quarry lake, as it’s relatively easy to get to at only 14 miles (22 km) from Moscow. Created to mine dolomite, as well as minerals, the quarry is now home to trout, carp, pike and catfish that can reach up to eight feet (2.5 m) long. It’s no deeper than 46 feet (14 m), but the vis can be up to 66 feet (20 m) and in summer, water temps can reach nearly 79 F (26 C).

best lakes for diving

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake, United States

Yellowstone Lake, the largest single body of water in the famous Yellowstone National Park, is located 7,733 feet (2,316 m) above sea level and covers 125 square miles (324 square kilometers). The lake spends much of the winter under ice, but even during the summer the water is cold, between 40 and 60 F (4.4 to 16 C). There are five sites in the lake, and one in the Firehole River. The main draw here are the same thermal features that are so famous on land, creating steady streams of bubbles venting all around you. You can get near the vents in some cases; in some you should maintain your distance.

Lake Huron, Canada

The Great Lakes offer some stellar wreck diving. One of the best spots is Tobermory, on Lake Huron. The self-proclaimed “freshwater scuba capital of the world” is situated on a peninsula and, in the 1800s and early 1900s, was a busy port surrounded by treacherous waters, which means today’s scuba divers are spoiled with over 20 wrecks. Many of the ships are still well preserved due to the cold water, the most famous perhaps being the Caroline Rose schooner, seen in many photos lying in crystal-clear water just offshore.

 

best lakes for diving

Þingvallavatn Lake

Þingvallavatn Lake, Iceland

Bucket-list alert! You’ve probably heard of this spot because of the stunning dive site that is the Silfra Fissure. Silfra is probably on every cold-water diver’s list — and should be on everyone’s list — with good reason. The fissure’s location means you can dive between the North American and European tectonic plates on the same dive — two continents literally a fin-kick away. There are three main dive sites, know as Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral and Silfra Lagoon. The deepest point is 206 feet (63 m) and water temperatures rarely go above 39 F (4 C). The most spectacular of the dives is at the Silfra Cathedral, a 328-foot-long (100 m) fissure, with sparkling visibility from end-to-end in the glass-clear water. You will need a permit.

Pet Cemetery Cenote, Mexico

This is definitely not your normal lake dive. When limestone bedrock collapses, it can form cenotes, or underground lakes, which draw from divers around the world. There are many intriguing cenotes out there, but for this list we’ve chosen Pet Cemetery south of Playa Del Carmen, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Part of the world’s second-largest underwater cave system, you can dive this cenote without full cave training. This makes it accessible to many more divers. It’s not very deep, only 10 feet (3 m) on average, but it’s stunning, featuring stalactites, stalagmites and the bones of long-gone animals (from whence it got its name). Buoyancy is key here, as the formations are delicate and you will ruin the vis by kicking up the sediment. So best practice your trim before you go.

best lakes for diving

Piccaninnie Ponds

Piccaninnie Ponds, Australia

Located near Mt. Gambier, South Australia, this site is a coastal spring that filters through limestone, making for crystal-clear waters. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful freshwater locations in Australia. There are two main features to draw divers — the Chasm, which has a depth of 328 feet (100 m), and a chamber know as the Cathedral. Properly qualified cave divers can check out the caves, though you can also snorkel here.  Both divers and snorkelers need a permit and a time-slot allocation; check here for more information.

Capo D’Acqua, Italy

To the east of Rome, in Central Italy, lies a manmade lake. Created in the 1950s to act as irrigation reservoir for the surrounding land, Capo D’Acqua contains the ruins of two old mills and a partially submerged factory that date back to the Middle Ages. The waters are very clear and temps vary between 59 F and 79 F (15 to 26 C) over the year. Note that before you head to this site you’ll need a permit, which you can get from the local dive center, as the lake is on private land.

best lakes for diving

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal, Russia

Earlier we highlighted an “easy” entry into Russian dive sites — now we’ll get a bit more adventurous and head to Lake Baikal in southeastern Siberia. The massive lake, about the size of Belgium, is the oldest, deepest and largest lake in the world by volume, containing around 20 percent of all the fresh water on the planet. At its deepest, the lake is 5,387 feet (1,642 m), and is home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals, many of them endemic, including the nerpa, one of the world’s only freshwater seals.

There are diving possibilities year-round, but Baikal is perhaps most spectacular in the winter, when the lake freezes over and creates amazing vis on ice dives due to the purity of the water. Note that topside temps in winter are between -13 and 41 F (-25 to 5 C) and under the ice, the water is just above the freezing point. Summer water temps vary from 39 to 64 F (4 to 18 C).

Vättern, Sweden

Vättern is one of the deepest and largest lakes in Europe, with a maximum depth of 420 feet (128 m), but with an average depth of 135 feet (41 m). South of Stockholm roughly three hours by car, Vättern is famous for the excellent quality of its water, with many local communities using it for drinking water. The lake holds plenty of life, with over 30 species of fish, including a supposed “lake monster.” There are also a number of wrecks in the lake, at varying depths from recreational to tec-diving only.

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/07/10/worlds-best-lake-dives/

 

Tags: scuba diving, scuba

Making a Proper Scuba Descent

Posted by Featured Author on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 01:55 PM

By Thomas Gronfeldt

When it comes to safety, starting your dive properly sets the tone for the entire experience.

Making a proper ascent gets much of the attention when it comes to safety and scuba diving. From safety stops, to ascent rate, to avoiding traffic on the surface, a lot of training involves rising from the bottom. But descending for your dive is equally important, although course work does not emphasize it as much. Read on for tips on the best procedure for making a proper scuba descent.

Preparation for a proper scuba descent

Before you even start your descent, complete a few steps to ensure that you’re ready to descend at all. Preparing at the outset of a dive means that you won’t waste time remedying a situation once you’ve already begun.

1.     Check your gear.

Before getting in the water, make sure you have everything you need for the dive. Make sure that everything is in its place and secured. There’s nothing worse than trying to descend, only to find that you’ve forgotten your weights.

2.     Check the current.

Again before jumping into the water, check the current, both direction and strength. Knowing which way the water is moving will help you decide where to descend, or even if you should consider pushing the dive to a later time or date.

3.     Check that you’re at the right location.

Once you’re in the water and just before you’re ready to descend, look down to make sure you’re above your intended start point. Confirm the direction you’ll be heading in once you’re at depth.

4.     Check your brain.

You should already have checked in with yourself to make sure that you’re physically and mentally ready to dive, and that you simply feel good about the dive. But just as you’re about to descend, take a few seconds and a few deep, calm breaths to center yourself. Become present for the dive. Focus your mind on the activity at hand.

5.     Make eye contact.

Finally, find your buddy and make sure you’re both ready to dive, and are within a reasonable distance of each other before you begin your descent.

The descent

Now that you’re prepared, you can begin your actual descent.

1.     Let air out of your BCD and start the descent.

Start by letting all the air out of your BCD. You’ll float at about eye level in the water if you’re properly weighted. Exhale, pushing a bit more air out than you would during a normal exhalation, and feel yourself starting to sink. Once you’re a few feet below the surface, begin breathing normally again, but don’t take overly deep breaths, as these will make you buoyant enough to bring you back to the surface. This is probably the most common reason that new divers struggle to descend, a problem they often address with additional, and unnecessary, weight.

2.     Equalize your ears.

As the saying goes, equalize your ears “early and often.” Start your equalization as soon as your head goes below the surface, and continue to do so in frequent intervals as you descend. The more often you equalize, the less force you need to apply, and you may find you need only to wiggle your jaw a bit if you get it right.

3.     Keep an eye on the dive site and your buddy.

As you start to sink, keep an eye on your dive site, make adjustments for any current, and stay in touch with your buddy. Depending on the current or how far you are from your dive location, you can start slowly finning in the appropriate direction once you’re about 10 feet below the surface. Until then, you should be vertical in the water. This will not only help with your descent, but will also keep your sinuses above your lungs, which helps with equalization.

4.     Add air to your BCD.

As you descend, the inherent buoyancy from your exposure suit, the air in your tank, and whatever else is giving you buoyancy decreases, so you’ll start sinking faster and faster. To avoid descending too fast, add small amounts of air to your BCD to slow your descent. While we always talk about safe ascension rates, we should also make sure we don’t descend too fast. The deeper you go; the more air you’ll need to add.

5.     Come to a hover.

As you reach the bottom or your intended depth, add a bit more air to your BCD to achieve a complete hover. Stop here for a breath or two to ensure that you’re actually correctly buoyant. You should neither sink nor float up, and only change depth minimally when you inhale or exhale. Movement, such as finning, creates buoyancy, so taking a moment to hover without movement helps ensure that you are neutrally buoyant before venturing off.

6.     Make like Tom Cruise.

Whenever I have new divers on a course, I challenge them to do a Mission Impossible dive. I ask them to descend vertically until they’re almost at the bottom, and then assume a horizontal position. Whoever can come closest to the bottom without touching it wins. My students practice this challenge on every descent as long as the bottom surface is suitable, i.e., a sandy bottom without any coral or anything else that can be damaged.

With just a bit of forethought, training, and a few good procedures, a proper descent can help kick your dive off right.

 

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/07/19/making-proper-scuba-descent/

Tags: diving moalboal, diving tips, scuba diving Cebu, visiting cebu, scuba diving, diving, cebu adventure

Court Rules in Favor of Marine Mammals in U.S. Navy Sonar Debate

Posted by Featured Author on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 01:50 PM

By Jessica Macdonald

After a protracted legal battle, a federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled that the low-frequency active sonar used by the U.S. Navy constitutes a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

In 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) granted permission for the Navy to use low-frequency active sonar as part of its peacetime training and testing activities. The approval was valid for a period of five years, and applied to exercises in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea. In the same year, environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a counter-suit, claiming that the approval put vulnerable cetacean and pinniped species at risk and did not fulfil the terms of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Whales_on_beach,_Farewell_Split,_South_Island,_New_Zealand

On July 15th, California’s Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the environmentalists. The Marine Mammal Protection Act states that peacetime oceanic programs must have “the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals,” a stipulation that the court unanimously agreed the approval had failed to uphold. The court did not place the blame on the U.S. Navy, however, which it stated “has been deliberate and thoughtful in its plans to follow NMFS guidelines and limit unnecessary harassment and harm to marine mammals.” Instead, the court pointed the finger at NMFS.

The terms of the original approval required the Navy to shut down or delay sonar use when a marine mammal was detected near the ships, and also banned sonar pulses near coastlines and in protected waters. However, the court ruled that the areas classified as “protected” by the NMFS were inadequate, in reality doing very little to shield vulnerable marine mammals from sonar-generated sound waves capable of reaching 235 decibels. To put that into perspective, the sound of a 12-gauge shotgun being fired is 165 decibels, while the average rock concert reaches just 115 decibels.

Underwater, sonar sound waves can travel for hundreds of miles. They are found in approximately 70 percent of the world’s oceans, and can measure up to 140 decibels at a distance of 300 miles from their original source. Scientists believe that this noise pollution causes severe stress for marine mammals by interfering with their echolocation and communication systems, and forcing them to alter their feeding and mating behavior. According to NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection Project Director Michael Jasny, “marine mammal species perceive these [sonar] sounds as a threat and react accordingly.”

Navy sonar exercises have been linked to several mass strandings, including the 2002 stranding of 14 whales in the Canary Islands. Autopsies showed that the whales had gas bubbles in their tissues, leading some to hypothesize that sonar may cause decompression sickness in cetaceans. At this point, it is not clear what the court’s ruling means for the future of U.S. Navy low-frequency active sonar. The case has been returned to the district court for further consideration, but it is hoped that scientists will eventually find a way for marine-mammal conservation and national defense to co-exist.

 

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Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/07/26/court-rules-favor-marine-mammals-u-s-navy-sonar-debate/

 

Tags: scuba diving, diving, mammals

Becoming a Drysuit Diver

Posted by Featured Author on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 01:42 PM

Open up your underwater world by becoming a drysuit diver.


Although so much of the ocean qualifies as cold water, the majority of divers learn the basics of scuba diving in tropical waters, and remain there for their entire dive careers. But there’s no need to restrict your diving horizons: it’s time to try a drysuit.

If someone asked me if I’d like to visit the Alps in winter to ski I wouldn’t say no because “the snow looks a bit cold.” I’ve always held the same philosophy when it comes to diving: You just need the correct clothing and equipment. A drysuit opens doors to explore everything from winter diving in the Mediterranean, to Scotland’s Scapa Flow wrecks, to ice diving.

A drysuit can be worn anywhere but is typically used in water that’s colder than 59 to 68 F (15 to 20 C). According to several diving historians, the first drysuit was introduced by George Edwards in 1838. It’s evolved over the decades but does essentially the same job. Where a wetsuit lets in a small amount of water that is subsequently warmed against the body, the drysuit is water and air-tight. Zipped into your trusty drysuit, you’re sealed at the neck and wrists to keep the water out and a layer of air inside, which is used to maintain body temperature and help control your buoyancy and positioning while in the water.

What’s the first step?

If you’re ready to take the plunge into drysuit diving, there are a few considerations and a slightly amended diving style you’ll need to become familiar with. Although there’s nothing preventing you from simply buying a drysuit and jumping in, you’ll do well to first contact your local dive center and enroll in a drysuit specialty training course. Most major training agencies such as PADI offer such courses. The training allows you to become accustomed to drysuit diving under the guidance of a diving professional, as well as to learn about the suits themselves, their valves, undergarments and accessories. You’ll also learn basic repair and maintenance of drysuits. In addition to the classroom sessions, there’s also some practical assessment. PADI and SSI, for example, include two open-water dives in their training program, during which you’ll practice new techniques. For example, a large part of your buoyancy control comes via air you’ll add to the suit, usually through an “Iron Man”-style inflator button on your chest. Gas is then vented via dump valves, usually located on your left shoulder or wrist.  This new skill takes a little practice and is best done with the advice and supervision of an instructor.

What type of drysuit should I get? 

Once you’ve taken the class and decided you like drysuit diving, you’ll most likely want to invest in one of your own, if you’ve got the financial means. First, make sure you purchase the correct type of drysuit for your environment and undergarments. Most major manufacturers sell off-the-shelf suits in standard sizes, but a made-to-measure suit is the way to go for the best fit and comfort.

Drysuits come in a range of materials, but most divers opt for neoprene or trilaminate. The foam neoprene or crushed-neoprene suits tend to be slightly thicker; on first wearing one, people often report that they feel bulky. However, the additional thickness makes the suits tougher and slightly hardier than their trilaminate cousins, which can be important if you’re wreck diving or working in a tougher environment. In addition, in the unlikely event that a neoprene suit floods, it will retain some basic thermal protection — not much, but some.

Under a neoprene drysuit you’ll typically wear thermal base-layers; many manufacturers offer their own bespoke base-layers. The number of layers you wear will depend on your own thermal characteristics, the length of your dive and, of course, the water temperature. Be aware that the more layers you wear, the more weight you’ll need to carry.

Trilaminate or ‘shell’ suits are thinner and more flexible than neoprene, which makes them easier to transport and, usually, to get on and off. They’re not quite as hard-wearing as neoprene suits, however, and being thinner means they’re slightly more prone to puncture either in transport, storage or if you’re a little careless on a wreck. Typically, these are worn worn with a thick under-suit that resembles a sleeping bag.

Whichever construction you choose, fit is most important. Consider the following:

  • Is the construction right for the environment, both in terms of temperature and activity?
  • What undergarments do I need to wear underneath to stay warm? Will they fit comfortably and still allow the suit to vent air safely?
  • Do the neck and wrist seal fit snugly, but not so snugly that restrict blood flow?
  • Are the boots sufficiently large enough to wear the booties or thick socks I’ll be wearing underneath?
  • Are the arms long enough to allow me to make adjustments to my mask, BCD and hoses?
  • Will my computer fit comfortably over my wrist?
  • Will my fins fit?

Once you’ve decided on the suit’s construction, you’ve got a few other decisions to make — Front entry or rear entry? Shoulder or cuff dump valve? Neoprene or latex wrist and neck seals? Dry or wet gloves? Pee valve or no pee valve? Boots included or rock boots?

The drysuit is an amazing invention, and when you master its use, you’ll realize you no longer need to feel intimidated by either its operation or cold-water diving. With the correct training and experience, drysuit diving opens up a brand new world of water.

BY MARCUS KNIGHT (THE SCUBA MONKEY)

Source: http://scubadiverlife.com/2016/06/08/becoming-drysuit-diver/

Tags: diving tips, diving, diving gear, night diving